Anna Maria Island and COVID-19

BREAKING NEWS! ANNA MARIA ISLAND ISLAND IS NOW OPEN FOR SHORT TERM RENTALS! Visit our Island Real Estate Information Page for more information.

Our Island Real Estate office has reopened, taking extreme precautions to keep visitors, sales professionals and staff safe. Our office is open to the public Monday through Friday with staff in the office on Saturday answering any and all telephone calls.

Anna Maria Island restaurants are open to 50% capacity and hair-nail salons were opened May 11th. Vacation rentals continue to be closed to guests with under 30 night stays for the entire Island. We are seeing irresponsible management companies as well as vacation rental owners putting their guests at risk by allowing immediate arrivals less than 30 nights. Code enforcement IS actively pursuing guests checking in and ARE evicting guests. There are a great number of theories regarding when Vacation Rentals will be opened however one thing is certain, no one yet knows for sure. One additional challenge vacation rental owners are finding is their local management companies have no staff on hand and thus properties during this epidemic are not actively being managed. Of course Island Real Estate Vacations continues to have our full staff on hand to continue with monthly maintenance and any owner requests. Visit our newly formed property management information page if you are considering a change.

Surprisingly, Anna Maria Island Real Estate Sales continues to remain healthy. We have seen a few closing delays and cancellations due to COVID-19 but the lion share of contracts have closed. Real Estate professionals are beginning to hold open houses with lack luster results. What we are seeing is the serious shoppers are still viewing properties physically or reviewing a virtual walk through. New contracts on real estate property are occurring albeit at about a 60% pace. Look for our June/July newsletter which will provide statistics on the pace of real estate sales on the Island. March and April closings have remained steadfast and on pace for a normal 375+ real estate closing year.

For up to date COVID 19 information visit our Island Real Estate Information page. If you need anything give us a call. We are here and ready to help if you think we can. Stay safe!

How to find the elusive sand dollar on Anna Maria Island.

Sand dollar on beach

Sea cookies, snapper biscuits, sand cakes, pansy shells, or cake urchins. It doesn’t matter what you call them, we all want to leave the beach with at least one perfect specimen to add to our shell collection.


While many visitors come to Anna Maria Island for the ocean breeze, the turquoise water, and the sunshine, you can also add shell collection to the list. The Florida waters are home to thousands of different forms of sea life that wash up on our shores, but few are more sought after than the elusive sand dollar. They adorn frames, vases, candles, necklaces and so much more. It is often said that the sand dollar is worth more than the real dollar.

I find the best beaches on Anna Maria Island for sand dollars is Bean Point. With some good detective work you can find them on Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach or Anna Maria City Beach and everywhere between.

Rule #1~ Know and love your tide chart. Sand dollars are often found just slightly beneath the mean low water line. In other words, the lowest level reached by the sea at low tide. They can be found on top, or just beneath the surface of the sand in those areas.

Rule #2~ Use your very best sleuthing skills. Scour the sand for round patches or depressions in the sand. The natural holes around petal shaped middle will allow sand to fall in, creating just a hint of a round depression.

Rule #3~ Gently dig to the very bottom of the natural piles of shells. When the shells aggregate on the shore there is usually at least one hiding in there somewhere.

Groups of live sandollars
And you thought your house was crowded!

Rule #4~ Look for the spare change. (That’s what my family calls the little broken pieces of sand dollars.) Living sand dollars love to hang out together. According to the brilliant folks at The Bishop Museum of Science and Art there can be as many as 600 in a single square yard. If you find a lot of broken pieces in the same place then look a little further out into the water. There just may be an intact sand dollar that hasn’t washed up yet.

Rule #5~ Never, EVER, take a live sand dollar (or anything else living for that matter) from the beach. There are many cities where it is illegal and the fines are substantial. The legality aside, it would be a poor environmental choice. The ocean is a very delicate ecosystem. The clear, clean water we enjoy is brought to you in part by the living sand dollars. Sand dollars feed on small food particles in the sand, typically microscopic algae and tiny fragments of other dead animals. You wouldn’t want to go body surfing in that! If the sand dollar still has spines and feet then gently place it back in the water.

Sand dollars can somewhat tricky to find, but that is why it is so exciting when you find one! Hopefully you learned a trick or two that will help you in your hunting. Worse case scenario~ you spent a great day at the beach!

How to clean seashells: Anna Maria Island Insider Tips

seashells bradenton beach
Good day at the beach!

Day 3 at your Anna Maria Island rental and it is starting to resemble a seashore in its own right. Bags of moon snails, calico scallops, kittens paw, and banded tulips spill out onto the kitchen table as though they are trying to escape. You even managed to find a few of the elusive sand dollar and even one sea fan skeleton. There are at least two bags dedicated to the coquina shells because your daughter says “they look purply and I want to make necklaces for my friends”.

It is a beautiful day and you have the window open to enjoy the smell of the ocean breeze when something less pleasant catches a ride on the air. After a moment of investigation you realize that it is the bags of beach bounty that seem to be the source of the offending odor.

Have no fear, the pool water is here! I learned this on my first vacation to Anna Maria Island before we moved here. We had so many shells from Bradenton Beach that I think we paid twice the baggage fee on the way home!

That same bucket you used to make the epic sand art earlier in the day can come in handy once again. Start by brushing most of the sand out, then rinsing with water to not get sand in the pool. Fill half way with water, then simply add shells so that they are all completely immersed. Leave overnight and voila most of that ‘not quite the beach smell you like’ is gone! No pool because you went for a direct waterfront property? No worries. Some hydrogen peroxide and water from your local Publix at a 10:1 ratio in the same multipurpose bucket will also do the trick.

Fast forward to unpacking the luggage after the flight home. You now have your own personal collection of bubble shells, fighting conch, tritons trumpet, and yes, even lightning whelk. Because, as your son astutely pointed out, you didn’t have those ones yet.

As you sort through your treasures you find some perfect specimens. Alas, more often than not they have a bit of a green tinge and a crusty, leathery outer coating in places. That simply won’t do! You have big decorating plans for those shells. The good news is that there are simple ways to get those shells back to their former luster.

Conch
Crusty!

The eco friendly ways~

1~The miracle of Vinegar! Simple, easy and cheap. Poor a small amount of vinegar into a bowl or cup. Use a soft toothbrush saturated with the vinegar and gently scrub the shell. You may have to do this several times. Then wash with soap and water. Don’t soak in the vinegar though, it will cause a reaction between the acid in the vinegar and the calcium carbonate of the shells. The shells will actually dissolve. It is kind of fun to watch it happen to at least one though:-)

2~ Another cleaning wonder is hydrogen peroxide. Simply put the shells in a bowl and poor enough peroxide to sufficiently cover the shells and let soak for several hours or until a film covers the top. The peroxide has invasive properties making easy work of any bacterial cleanup. Rinse thoroughly and place to dry on a towel.

The not-so eco friendly ways~

1~ Soak your seashells in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. The length of time depends on the type of seashells and the number of seashells being cleaned. Just be sure to remove them when the periostracum (that crusty, leathery covering that I mentioned earlier) is gone. I am not a huge fan of bleaching because the shell can absorb the smell. It can also lighten the color. If you try bleaching your shells, try not to leave them in the solution too long.

2~ Without question muriatic acid is the fastest and easiest way to clean your shells. It will almost magically strip the shell of any barnacles or algae and bring the color to back to life! Use only glass jars and plastic tongs due to the caustic reaction with muriatic acid and metals. Wear gloves and eye protection. In your first jar place 3/4 of a cup of water and 1/4 of muriatic acid. Fill the second jar with plain water. Take the plastic tongs and dip in the first jar for about 3-4 seconds then immediately place into the jar with water and place on paper towel or rags to dry. Be careful not to splash any of the liquid onto your skin. It can cause a nasty little burn. You can pick up muriatic acid at a local hardware store or pool supply company. Some states won’t allow you to flush hydrochloric acid unless you neutralize it first. Neutralize hydrochloric acid with baking soda. Wearing your protective garments and working in a ventilated area well away from children, pets, heat and metals, prepare a base mix. Mix 1 lb of baking soda with plenty of water. Slowly add the hydrochloric acid. The mixture will fizz. Add more baking soda until the fizzing stops. This means the hydrochloric acid is neutralized and can now be flushed down the sink with large quantities of water. I have only used this method once. It made me extremely nervous to work with such a strong acid.

There seem to be about a million and one ways to clean shells. My neighbor uses ants to remove any decaying material. I have heard that boiling works well. Some sites will tell you to bury them or freeze them. One of my friends puts her shells in the dishwasher. I have not tried any of those yet….. but you never know. If you know of another effective way please let me know by commenting below.

Now that you have a treasure trove of clean shells check our next blog at islandreal.com for suggestions on how to preserve them and some fabulous costal design tips using your new collection!

Best coffee shops on Anna Maria Island!

coffee on Anna Maria Island

One of the beautiful things about Anna Maria Island is the escape from the norm. You won’t find many of your run of the mill coffee places, you will discover something better! As a fellow coffee connoisseur I may have a few suggestions on where one might find the perfect cup on the island. This list is in no particular order, consider it a map.

If your vacation rental is near Bradenton Beach then you will more than likely visit the fabulous staff at Back Alley Treasures on multiple occasions, sometimes twice in the same day. To start with…great coffee, locally roasted and fresh ground. Add to that the fresh baked goodies and a great little wine selection and you have the makings of a perfect little pit stop! You can also order online if you are on a mission to be the first footsteps on the beach.

If you chose a Holmes Beach Vacation rental then you will more likely find yourself getting your caffeine fix at the Island Coffee Haus. This little coffee house has everything you need to kick start your morning, from rich espresso to full leaf teas and cold pressed green juice. They also have a wonderful medley of pastries and little breakfast sandwiches.

If you opted to stay at The Blue Bayou in Anna Maria City you have a great option that is probably within walking distance, or at least biking distance! Aptly named the North Shore Café, this is a great new addition to the northern coast of the island. This coffee shop is located directly at the end of a canal on Pine Ave with a spectacular backyard with tables, chairs and even cornhole. Great smoothies, homemade granola and some expert baristas make this a must stop. The café does not have a website yet but I will add a link as soon as they do.

I would wager that most of the Anna Maria Island rentals have a coffee maker, but you are on vacation after all. Sometimes it is just nice to pamper yourself and let someone else do the brewing for you. The best days always start with coffee on the beach. Enjoy!

coffee on the beach
This is where I want to be!

Island Driving for City Slickers

Anna Maria Island – For most folks, all it takes is crossing over the causeway for the stresses of the real world to be washed away by sunshine and salty air; others may need a reminder or two. Once you see that beautiful “Welcome to Anna Maria Island” sign, you can relax, you should relax, you paid good money to relax, you came here to relax, that should include when you are behind the wheel of your car.

You work hard all year, meet deadlines, crunch numbers, pay bills, raise kids, fight traffic so that you can come here and chill. There are no hurries or traffic jams in our magical paradise.

So, during your stay here take a deep breath and ‘cruise’. Try to remember what it was like to actually enjoy a scenic drive. Because you will be hard pressed to find better scenery than this.

To help you transition into ‘Zen Island Driving’ here are some handy tips:

#1 You must stop at a designated crosswalks WHEN pedestrians are present.

#2 You DON’T stop at every designated crosswalk when there are no pedestrians present and I am behind you on my way to work!

#3 The trolley is NOT a school bus. If you are in oncoming lanes, you don’t

Anna Maria Island trolley
Anna Maria Island Locals LOVE the free trolley!

need to stop. (unless you are at a crosswalk and there are pedestrians present.)((Or unless it  isn’t a trolley and it IS a school bus!))

#4 It is easy to get distracted by all of the palm trees swaying in the breeze, but keep an eye out for unexpected stop signs, bicyclists,  club cars, golf carts, segways, beachgoers and most of all, other distracted drivers!

#5 There is no rush on Anna Maria. PERIOD! So slow down! Our speed limits are set to protect our residents and guests and they are    STRICTLY  enforced!

#6 Forget your car has a  horn– they upset our wild parrots and whoever you are beeping at is probably lost or doesn’t care.

#7 Take the FREE trolley! There are trolley stops up and down the island    and you can hop on and off as much as you like all day, every day!

The whole point of being here for visitors and residents alike is to be in paradise. As a guest on Anna Maria Island, we welcome you and hope you enjoy every ray of sunshine and every wave dancing up to the beach. We also want you to be safe and happy, so go do it.!

Segs By The Sea On Historic Bridge Street

Segs By The Sea On Historic Bridge StreetDiscover the Charm of Old Florida with Segs by the Sea.  Segs by the Sea offers: scenic tours and custom rentals of the very popular and innovative SEGWAY Personal Transporter.  You can also rent electric bikes, beach cruiser bikes, and paddle boards.   So make sure that you stop in to Segs by the Sea and find your Anna Maria Island adventure.  Conveniently located in the heart of Historic Bridge Street, just 1 block from the beach!

 

SEGWAY Tour Options Include 1 Hour – 1.5 Hour – 2 Hour:

Continue reading Segs By The Sea On Historic Bridge Street