Anna Maria Island is located to the South of Tampa and to the North of Sarasota on the South West coast of Florida. Anna Maria Island is West of Bradenton not to be confused with Bradenton Beach. Access to the island is over three draw bridges. State Route 64 otherwise known as Manatee Avenue is the most Northern route to Anna Maria Island directly West from Bradenton. The middle route which also requires crossing a draw bridge is across State Route 684 otherwise known as Cortez Road and travels West-East to Bradenton. Finally the most Southern access point to Anna Maria Island is from Longboat Key a barrier island to the South of Anna Maria Island along Gulf Drive or State route 789. Anna Maria Island is well known for its laid back nature and low density of properties. The island is made up of vacationers and a strong contingency of year round permanent residence with a strong population of snow birds that stay 6 months out of the year. Anna Maria Island is best known for it's flour like sand and low rise nature of our buildings. No high rise buildings on the beach on Anna Maria Island. There is a 36' moratorium on building heights which leaves the beaches reasonably populated even on the most popular days. Anna Maria Island is not known for it's night life but families love the no attitude beach environment created over decades of family businesses and permanent residences molding our environment through zoning and statutes such as no fast food drive throughs allowed.
Due to the restricted access points on to Anna Maria Island from the mainland, traffic can be challenging during high peaks of the year. More specifically February, March, June, July and the early part of April and August. During these peak times flow of traffic is heavy heading to Anna Maria Island from about 10 AM to 1 PM and traffic flow off the island is heavy from 3-6 PM. Of course if staying on Anna Maria island it is relatively easy getting to restaurants and shops. Locals know the times to leave and come on to the island to miss severe traffic.
Anna Maria Island is made up of three cities. Our most Southern city is Bradenton Beach. The middle City is Holmes Beach and most Northern City is Anna Maria not to be confused with Anna Maria Island. Anna Maria City is the most northern City on Anna Maria Island. We often get the question of which beach is the best on Anna Maria Island and there are idiosyncrasies with each beach but any of our beaches are a great bet and they all have soft white sand that feels like confectionery sugar.
Bradenton Beach is the most dense City on Anna Maria Island. The vast majority of properties in Bradenton Beach are condominiums. More specifically about 75% of properties in Bradenton Beach are condominiums and the other 25% are single family homes. In addition, Bradenton Beach at it's widest point is only about 3 blocks wide. Properties in Bradenton Beach have the luxury of being close to the Gulf of Mexico as well close to the intercoastal. The dense nature of Bradenton Beach along Gulf Drive provides for a very walkable vacation. Bradenton Beach visitors could walk to a different restaurant for a week and have plenty of choices. There is one gas station in Bradenton Beach and parking along the main shopping section of Bridge Street can be challenging. The Beaches at Bradenton Beach have beach groins which shelter the beach from the surf. The groins tend to promote shell deposits and a great place to go shelling. The most Southern tip of Anna Maria Island is known as Coquina beach and has parking for hundreds of vehicles with a sidewalk path just to the East of the beach that makes bicycling or walking 10+ blocks North and South away from the hustle and bustle of Gulf Drive.
Holmes Beach is the largest City on Anna Maria Island and is primarily made up of homes. There are about 500 properties located on the intercoastal with fingers that join to boat into the Tampa Bay. The widest point of Holmes Beach is about 10 blocks wide and would be a significant walk to the beach and most locals bicycle or take their golf cart when taking in the sun and surf of the beach. Holmes Beach also has several shopping areas along with lots of restaurant choices however the spread out nature of Holmes Beach can make a full vacation of walking a little more difficult. Most that leave the vehicle home utilize the free trolley that runs North and South on the island or visitors rent golf carts from one of several companies located on the island. Holmes Beach is the home of our only large chain grocery store, Publix as well as CVS and Walgreen pharmacies. There is one gas station at the Southern area of Holmes Beach with a gas station in the center of Holmes Beach. Holmes Beach has our three hardware stores on the island. Island Lumber, Ace Hardware and Home True Value. The largest shopping area is along East Bay Drive and a second shopping area can be found at the intersection of Gulf Drive and Marina Drive. Holmes Beach is home to a large skate park as well as the largest library on the island along with the fire station which supports Anna Maria Island. The Beaches of Holmes Beach are fairly wide with a combination of condominiums and homes directly on the beach. Access points to the beach are just about every block in most areas with the exception of 56th to 64th street. Most of Holmes Beach addresses will tell you the location to the beach. If the address starts with a 1 on a numbered street then the property is 1 block to the beach. If the address starts with a 2 then two blocks to the beach. Skip to the 5th block which normally means the property is on a canal.
Anna Maria City is the most North City and is primarily made up of single family homes. It is by far the quietest area of Anna Maria Island and Pine Avenue is the main commercial area of Anna Maria City. Pine avenue contains local very small restaurants and shopping with the largest grocery store being a convenience store. Just as everywhere on Anna Maria Island there are dessert shops, clothing shops, pizza choices and rental equipment companies. The largest commercial space is the Sandbar which is a restaurant located right on the beach just of Spring Avenue. The absolute quietest area of Anna Maria City is a few streets to the North of Pine Avenue where the island itself dead ends into the Tampa Bay. Grabbing a bicycle in Northern Anna Maria City is a perfect way to get around. Anna Maria City is home to our only two piers. The Anna Maria City public pier as well as the Rod and Reel pier. A large marina called Galati's can be found at the end of South Bay Drive where some of the biggest boats you have seen can be found docked ready for their owners head into the Tampa Bay. Many Anna Maria Island property owners purchase the property to dock the boat. It is not uncommon the boat costs more than the home and Anna Maria Island land costs a minimum of $500,000 going beyond $2,000,000 for a 50' X 100' lot on the beach.
Anna Maria Island continues to see high praises from visitors due to it's no attitude low rise nature. Our cities are friendly and honestly cannot go wrong with any choice of accommodations on the island. Some areas will allow for a more walkable vacation than others. Be sure to visit our sponsored vacation rentals as well as come back frequent and often to find out more about Anna Maria Island. AnnaMariaIsland.com is a visitor based website that is here to help find your perfect vacation get-a-way. If you have a specific question please ask or visit our popular Facebook Group - Anna Maria Island Vacation Travel. Be sure to check out our top ten lists of things to do if you are searching for some great ideas of where to go and what to do!