The Beautiful Beaches of Anna Maria Island
Our Family Vacation on Anna Maria Island
Small town beaches, white sand, clear blue water, and amazing sunsets.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to escape to, look no further than the beaches of Anna Maria Island.
I’ve lived on the beach for my entire life, and I love my town, but I have to admit that our beaches just don’t compete with those on Anna Maria. The white sand, clear sea, spectacular sunsets… it just can’t be beat. Oh, and there aren’t any big condos or tall buildings. It’s a small town hidden gem!
We made the 3-hour drive to Anna Maria Island and stayed for 3 nights. This is a travel diary of our trip, and my recommendations on where to stay, eat and visit. I’ve provided helpful maps of everything as well.
Table of Contents
Map of Anna Maria Island Beaches
Here is a map of Anna Maria Island. It sits on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s central west coast.
The main part of town is the very north part of the island, where you see ‘Anna Maria’ and the road make a “z” on the map shown here. Park Avenue is the main strip of cute shops, and also where you’ll find a lot of the restaurants.
We stayed in Holmes beach, just south of the bridge. It was quieter & more secluded than the main part of the island. We brought our bikes with us and biked the 2.5 miles into town.
Bradenton Beach is another town to the south. I didn’t explore there much, so I won’t be including it in this article. However I will say that I perceived it to be much more “touristy” compared to Anna Maria and Holmes Beach. I jogged through during my morning run at 7:30am and the beaches were already crowded full of tents and beach chairs, so I can only imagine what it’s like mid day. Plus I observed a lot more condos. But again, this is just my first impression during an early morning stroll.
Anna Maria Island Beachfront Hotel
Stay somewhere right on the beach, if you can. Nothing beats being able to walk out your door directly onto the white sand. And there are endless rentals right on the beach.
But if you can’t stay right on the beach, don’t worry. The best part about this island is that pretty much everywhere is walking distance to the beaches of Anna Maria Island.
We stayed at Angelino’s Sea Lodge in Holmes Beach. It’s quiet and secluded, and we absolutely loved it! Best part is, it’s directly on the beach!
The property is a tropical oasis! I got major Costa-Rica vibes. You walk out of your room and are immediately surrounded by lush, tropical landscaping and white sand.
The owners, Richard and Lynn, live in the home and then rent out the four apartment-style units on their property. It’s the perfect family friendly rental on the beach.
If you are group of families traveling together, this place is even more perfect for you because you can rent out all four units and have the entire property to yourself!
Oh and there’s the COOLEST treehouse! It’s not currently open to the public, but it’s still cool to look at and take photos with! Everyone on the beach was stopping by to admire and take photos.
Getting Around Anna Maria Island
You can certainly drive around Anna Maria Island. We did from time to time, and never had an issue with parking.
But my favorite way of getting around the island was by bicycle. Anna Maria’s website has a section dedicated to where you can rent them.
You can also take Anna Maria’s free trolley! There are various stops up and down the island. More info here on their website.
Family Friendly Public Beaches
Even though we stayed right on the beach, we still explored the rest of the beaches of Anna Maria Island. We went on a LOT of beach walks!
If you’re walking to the beach, and don’t need parking, I noticed that you could walk to the end of pretty much any street and there’d be public access there, or really close by. I would recommend going to these beaches over the big public ones if you can, because you avoid the crowds.
If you need parking, here is a list of the main public beaches in Anna Maria Island with parking. Prepare yourself for crowds, and get there early because parking is mostly free and parking lots fill up quick.
- Bayfront Park
- Bean Point Beach
- Palmetto Ave Beach
- Manatee Public Beach
- Coquina Beach (South in Bradenton Beach; not pictured)
Anna Maria Island Restaurants
I will be 100% honest here (as I always am) and say that the food on Anna Maria Island wasn’t our favorite. With that said, we are vegetarians, so we are used to navigating this and it doesn’t really bother us.
Being on the sea, Anna Maria has a lot of seafood that I’m sure is amazing, we just didn’t eat it so I can’t comment on it.
Here is where we ate, and our recommended Anna Maria Island Restaurants:
Paradise Bagels – This was our #1 place. We loved it! It’s an old school, mom-n-pop breakfast joint. It doesn’t even have a website or wifi! But they have PROPER New York City bagels (if you haven’t had them, you’re missing out.) The staff was really friendly, and everyone was just enjoying their morning and drinking their coffee and having a nice conversation. It
was such a refreshing place to see still exists in today’s fast-paced “trendy” world.
The Waffle Press. Well, it’s more of a coffee shop actually. The food was absolutely amazing and it’s vegetarian friendly. But the service we experienced wasn’t great, unfortunately. Their coffee is really good, but their waffle menu is what makes it special. Their sandwiches have waffles as the bread. It’s SO delicious. I would still go back, I would just order to-go instead of eating there.
Probably the most popular restaurant on the island is Sandbar. We went there for dinner, and I found the food to be very average (again, not a great place for vegetarians.) However, the views and the drinks were absolutely spectacular. You sit at a table right on the sand, it’s really cool.
So yes, I would still recommend going to Sandbar on your trip. Next time I go, though, it will just be for a few drinks at sunset. Also, expect a long wait, it’s always packed. Oh, and it’s pretty expensive, too.
If you love a good burger, check out Duffy’s or Skinny’s. They are local rivals. We obviously skipped these, but they were always packed when we went by them. Definitely check them out if you love burgers.
Other popular restaurants that were highly recommended to us but we didn’t make it to:
- The Waterfront
- Rod and Reel Pier
- Ugly Grouper
- Island Ocean Star
The Perfect Pandemic Escape
This trip was taken in June 2020, right in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic. And we took all recommended precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks.
Seriously though… can you think of a better place to social distance than the relaxing beaches on Anna Maria Island?
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Hi, I'm Teresa!
Thank you for taking the time to read my little space on the internet. I’m a digital creator, blogger & environmental advocate.