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About Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island off of the west coast of Florida. It is south of Tampa and west of Sarasota and you can fly into either city to get there. It is a 7 mile strip of land that varies in width.
There are three cities on Anna Maria Island – although as a visitor you will be hard pressed to determine when you are leaving one and entering another. The cities from north to south are: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach (not to be confused with the city of Bradenton which lies on the mainland about a 20 minute drive away.)
Beautiful Beaches on Anna Maria Island
Have I ever mentioned that we lived in Florida for many years? We lived across the state from Anna Maria Island in the city of Jupiter, Florida. In fact, all of our children were born in Florida and lived there during their early childhood years.
My middle child, Emily, and I write this blog together and she is a beach girl through and through. We love Florida and both agree that the beaches on Anna Maria Island are some of the best – not just in the state but in the US!
Definitely some of the prettiest beaches we have ever visited!
Also, here is a list of what we consider to be some essential items to take to a southern beach!
All of the beaches on the gulf side of the island are open to the public but access can be a bit difficult. You might want to stay in one of the small hotels and resorts that are right on the beach or in one of the many, many rental properties that are close enough to walk or ride bikes for easy access.
There are also public beaches with parking for those who are not staying right on the beach.
Here is a list of the best beaches on Anna Maria Island.
Bean Point Beach
This is our favorite beach on Anna Maria Island! Bean Point Beach is on the northern tip of the island and wraps around from the gulf to the bay. It is glorious! The beaches are wide and blindingly white and almost never crowded.
Bean Point was the home of the original founder of the island and I certainly don’t blame him for selecting this spot. It is one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen.
You can expect to see lots of birds and marine life on Bean Point. We saw dolphin and tons of birds on our visit and we were told that you can sometimes see manatee.
At Bean Point you will be able to experience both the gulf and the calm waters of the bay with just a walk around the tip of the island.
The only drawback to Bean Point is that there are no facilities and no easily accessible public parking. Yes, it can be difficult to find a place to park near Bean Point. Try checking first in the vicinity of the point on North Shore Drive. You will see small signs that indicate beach access points. These are basically small sandy walkways between houses.
Turn down some of the side streets near these access points. Several of them have roadside parking spots. You can also consider parking at Bayfront Park and walking around from the bay side beach there to the point. You could even park at the City Pier and walk around, but it will be a bit of a hike!
Despite the parking issues Bean Point is a must visit beach!
TIP: They do take parking very seriously on Anna Maria Island so make sure you are in a legal spot.
TIP: Consider arriving early to get a nearby parking spot.
This is a fun park with a beach on Tampa Bay. Bayfront park is located on the northern end of the island and has views of the Skyline Skyway Bridge as well as the Rod and Reel Pier and the City Pier. In addition to the beach Bayfront Park has gorgeous, large shade trees as well as some nice grassy areas.
In my opinion this is the perfect place to go for a beach day if you are traveling with children because Bayfront Park has everything you might need! You will find picnic tables and grills, pavilions and playgrounds, as well as bathrooms, outdoor showers to clean off the sand, and places to dispose of your trash.
The calm waters of the bay are perfect for the younger set to swim and wade and dig in the sand. You will even be able to find shady spots to set up all your gear. From Bayfront Park you can walk south to the City Pier or North to Bean Point.
Once again parking can be an issue especially on the weekends but it was almost empty on the cloudy day that we were there. In addition to those actually using the park this is a popular parking spot for those heading to Bean Point or to one of the nearby piers.
Manatee Public Beach
The Manatee Public Beach is on the gulf side in the city of Holmes Beach. It is a spacious and pretty beach that is easy to access no matter where on the island you are staying.
The Manatee Public Beach has just about every amenity that you might wish for. There is a good sized parking lot (although as it is with many places on the island the lot can fill up especially on the weekends.) Other amenities at the Manatee public beach include restrooms, changing cabanas, a gift shop, playground, volleyball courts, showers, picnic tables, and lifeguards.
Best of all there is even a cafe! The Anna Maria Island Beach Café is open for breakfast and then until 8:00pm most days. It even has a little tiki bar so you can have a tropical beverage during your day on the beach.
You don’t even have to lug all of your own stuff for a day at Manatee Public Beach as the cafe rents beach chairs and umbrellas at reasonable day rates.
Yes, this beach can get a little crowded so it probably isn’t where you want to go if you are seeking solitude. But it is a great place for family fun or for a good time with friends.
Coquina Beach is located on the southern end of the island in the town of Bradenton Beach.
Wow! This is a wonderful public beach.
My favorite thing about Coquina Beach is that between the parking areas and the shoreline is a beautiful stretch of natural area which is wooded and shaded by huge Australian pines. There are picnic tables and grills in the shade of these trees and the whole effect is incredibly picturesque.
This public beach is about a mile long and there are parking spots along the entire area which provides more privacy and seclusion than Manatee Public Beach. One of the other cool things about Coquina Beach is that it is on both sides of the road so you can be on the gulf side or on the Sarasota Bay side.
Coquina Beach has a very laid-back, old Florida atmosphere yet still provides plenty of amenities. In addition to the picnic tables and grills there are lifeguards, bike racks, changing cabanas, pavilions, playgrounds, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a multi purpose trail under the trees along the beach.
The Coquina Beach Cafe is a great place to grab a bite to eat. It is just steps from the ocean with tables in the sand and a fun and casual atmosphere. They have ice-cream and a tiki bar, umbrella and chair rentals, volleyball and games. The liveliest part of the beach is near the cafe or you can move further away to have a little more quiet and privacy.
If you go all the way to the southern tip of the island you will have a pretty view of the channel between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. From there you can watch the boaters and kayakers coming through the channel. It is a lovely spot.
BONUS: Beer Can Island Beach
This is a bonus because this beach is not quite on Anna Maria Island. It is across the bridge at the south end of Anna Maria Island just past Coquina Beach. You cross onto Longboat Key then take the first right and follow that through a neighborhood, at the end of the road you will come to a small area of parking for Beer Can Island Beach.
Apparently parking is a little iffy here as I’ve heard that the people who live near the beach don’t like people parking here. However, it is a public beach and there were people parking here the day we were there. In other words, parking is VERY limited here and potentially a bit iffy. But this is a really gorgeous and unique beach.
Many people also arrive to Beer Can Island Beach by boat.
This place is really a hidden gem. By the way, it is not actually an island, it is part of the north tip of Longboat Key. There are birds here in large numbers and wildlife as well as piles of gorgeous driftwood. It is a unique and special beach that is a photogenic landscape of fallen and weathered trees.
There are no restrooms, lifeguards, or trash cans. Please be careful not to disturb the mangroves as they are extremely important to the ecology of the area.
Hope you enjoyed learning about the beautiful beaches on Anna Maria Island. You really can’t go wrong! The are all amazing.
Which one is your favorite?
We have also compiled a list of about 200 of the best quotes about the beach!
Thanks for stopping by!