Anna Maria Island is made up of three cities; Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria City. Anna Maria Island is approximately 7 miles long and 8 blocks wide. There are three access points to the island all requiring you to pass over drawbridges that typically open twice per hour and requires only a 5 minute wait if you are unlucky enough to catch the draw bridge going up. Traveling South to North the access points to Anna Maria Island are the
following; from Longboat Key (Gulf Drive), Cortez Road (State Road 684), and Manatee Avenue (State Road 64). The entire island is in Manatee County and we have two zip codes of 34216 and 34217. ALL the Gulf of Mexico beaches on Anna Maria Island are open to the public. Some prefer one cities beach to another however the only major difference between the beaches are the amount of visitors on the beach. The softness of the sand, number of seashells, color of the sand, etc are similar if not the same for all three cities beaches. There are beach access points all along the island and we always suggest you ask how far the closest beach access is compared to where you are staying. In addition, if you have congestion expectations for the beach you visit, be sure to ask the rental office for area suggestions on where to reserve. Try to get a definition in number of blocks, number of homes you have to walk past, or does it require a bicycle ride? It’s safe to say that you can bicycle to the Gulf of Mexico beach from anywhere on the island without much difficulty.
Anna Maria Island’s uniqueness revolves around its gorgeous white powdery beaches and zoning guidelines for both commercial and residential properties. No drive thru’s are allowed on the island. The maximum height for all buildings on the island is 37 feet. While there are two buildings on the island prior to the 37 foot moratorium the zoning has ensured that no enormous buildings enter the island’s skyline. The miscellaneous zoning laws as well as the current cities boards will ensure that Anna Maria Island continues to be considered “old Florida,” a quiet place that families come to enjoy the beach and a simpler life we all aspire to attain full time in our lives.
There are gift shops, pharmacy shops, restaurants, deli’s, hardware, lumber, and one large grocery store all located on the Anna Maria Island. Everything is within a short 5-10 minute drive and if you don’t want to leave the island during your stay we have plenty of choices to satisfy your needs. There are many accommodations on the island including Hotels, Bed and Breakfast’s, and of course vacation rentals. If a Vacation Rental does not fit your needs we strongly recommend the Harrington House which is a Bed and Breakfast right on the Gulf of Mexico. The Bed and Breakfast receives rave reviews and we promise you won’t be disappointed. http://www.harringtonhouse.com/
High season is Feb 1st to end of April. Mid-Season is June 1st to Middle August. Outside of holiday’s, last minute stays can be found outside of the high season. See the below city descriptions to view specifics of each city within Anna Maria Island.
Bradenton Beach city is the most Southern city on the island and is the most congested of all three cities. Gulf Drive runs North/South and offers the only access from Longboat Key or Cortez Road (Route 684). So, two of the three access points on the island must travel on Gulf Drive which is one of the reasons Bradenton Beach is a bit busier than the rest of the island. In addition, Bradenton Beach has the highest density of condominiums on the island and has a bit higher population per square mile. Of course everything is relative. It’s like asking a person from New York City what is busy and then asking a person from Honeoye Falls, New York what is busy. Relatively speaking, their definitions are correct but it’s difficult to define “busy.” The best way to explain it is if you stay on Gulf Drive you will hear some road noise. I have never had anyone complain that Bradenton Beach was too busy if they stayed off Gulf Drive. In fact, complaints of guests that stay on Gulf drive are few and far between. Many visitors choose Bradenton Beach because the rental rates can be a little less expensive and gift shops, restaurants and other shops are generally within a walk away.
Holmes Beach city is in the middle of the island and is extremely popular due to the large public beach at the end of Manatee Avenue (Route 64). Holmes Beach city starts around 29th street and ends at Peppertree, about 55 blocks. Holmes Beach is considered quieter than Bradenton Beach and has many gift shops, restaurants, and the only major grocery store on the island. Holmes Beach is considered quieter for several reasons. Firstly, Holmes Beach has a mixture of condominium complexes and homes. The mixture is about 30% condominiums and 70% homes. Secondly, most of Holmes Beach allows for several routes that allow access North and South. This provides for a lot less traffic congestion. Holmes Beach has the widest section of the island and allows most of the East side of the island to view the Tampa Bay as well as the Skyway Bridge.
Key Royale is a more exclusive area located in Holmes Beach. All properties on Key Royale have varying degrees of water views, either canal or Tampa Bay views. In addition, the area offers the only golfing on the island with a 9 hole par 3 Golf Course. It is a private golf course and requires some significant networking to find a member to allow you to be their guest. For shopping, East Bay Drive offers the newest plaza’s on the island and the ¼ mile stretch gives you access to several restaurants, gift shops, pharmacy, grocery store, hardware store, etc
Anna Maria City is the most Northern area of the island. It is very popular for those that desire extreme quiet. Anna Maria City starts at Peppertree up to the most Northern tip of the island. A few restaurants, gift shops, bars, etc can be found in Anna Maria City. The city is populated with homes rather than condos so the population density is much less as compared to Holmes Beach or Bradenton Beach. Walking or bicycling in Anna Maria City is fantastic as there is very little traffic and home watching is spectacular. Anna Maria City has two piers that you must visit while on vacation. Grab an ice cream in Bayview Plaza and walk the public pier at the end of pine and take in the million dollar view of Tampa Bay.