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!

Your guide to shelling on Anna Maria Island beaches!

Shell on Anna Maria Island Beach

It is storming on the island today. The kind of storm where the rain seems to be falling horizontally and the palms sway with such exuberance that you think they may snap. That is great news for anyone who is interested in shelling on any of Anna Maria Island beaches.

During a storm the wind and wave action can wash up all sorts of treasures. From fossils and bits of coral to some of the more rare specimens. The longer the period of time between storms, the more will wash up. When the waters are calm the shells accumulate on the edges of the sandbars. A good ole tropical storm will break up even the most dense aggregate and send them toward shore. If you walk the beaches hours, even a day, after a good storm you are in for a treat. More than likely you will wander across little hills of shells scattered on the sand. Spend some time gently sifting through the collection. Some of the best finds are at the very bottom!

The tide plays a significant roll in the amount of shells to be found on any given beach as well. You will often find more shells 2-3 hours prior to low tide or an hour or so after. You can access a simple tide chart for Anna Maria Island here. If you want to get really technical, the shelling may be even better if you can go the days closest to the full moon. With the full moon comes the increased gravitational pull that can cause tidal extremes. With those extremes comes the shells that are normally still under water.

Don’t be afraid to do the shell shuffle! I have made some of my greatest finds that way. Stand in the water at about waist high and slowly, gently dig around with your toes in the sand. Proceed with caution, some may be sharp!

While enjoying the bounty the ocean has provided, make sure you do your part to protect it. Any garbage is detrimental to the delicate ecosystem of our oceans. Bring two bags, one for shells and one for litter. Sometimes the litter can be its own treasure. You can make a game of it, like a trash treasure hunt. If you want to get really creative make a scavenger hunt list for each member of the shelling group and the winner gets a triple scoop of ice cream from any of Anna Maria Islands fabulous ice cream shops!

You will find shells on any of Anna Maria Islands fabulous beaches. Most people you ask will have their favorite spot. My personal favorite is the path less traveled, Bean Point on the northern part of the island. If you opt to stay in one of the Anna Maria Island waterfront rentals your favorite spot just may be your ‘front yard’. Happy Shelling!

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.!

Anna Maria Island – Top Ten Happy Hours!

You know what they say…..Its five o’clock somewhere! Nowhere is that more true than when you are visiting beautiful Anna Maria Island. We put together a list of some of the islands best happy hours to help stretch those vacation dollars.

Island Time Bar & Grill: Island Time Bar & Grill is located at the beginning of Bridge Street and right across the street from the beach. The location is picture perfect, not a bad seat in the house! Happy hour is Monday thru Saturday from 11:30am – 5:00pm with $2.50 drafts, $2.50 domestics, $6 signature drinks and $5 frozen drinks.  Call Island Time Bar & Grill for more details (941) 782-1122. For more information visit their page.

Island Time Bar and Grill

Island Gourmet Grill: Island Gourmet Grill’s motto is “Why limit happy to an Hour?  Monday through Saturday from 11:30-6:00. Happy hour specials include $5 cocktails, $5 wines by the glass and $2.50 domestic  beers. Island Gourmet Grill can be reached at (941)778-0333. For more information visit their page.

Island Gourmet Grill

Hurricane Hanks: Hurricane Hanks offers great food, great atmosphere and some of the best prices in town! Happy hour is Monday through Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00, with well drinks and domestic beers only $2.25! They also have glass wine for $3.50 and $5 bar bites. Call Hurricane Hanks for more information at (941)778-5788. For more information visit their page.

Hurricane Hanks

The Waterfront Restaurant: The Waterfront Restaurant is located on the northern end of Anna Maria Island offering spectacular views of Tampa Bay. Their happy hour is everyday from 4:30pm – 6:30pm with wine and beer specials (excellent craft beer selection). For more details contact The Waterfront Restaurant at (941)778-1515. For more information visit their page

The Waterfront Restaurant

Beachhouse:  This one is my favorite!!! The Beachhouse is located right on the beach with incredible views! Monday thru Friday from 2pm until 4pm at the bar you can enjoy reduced priced appetizers and HALF OFF ANY DRINK! Go for happy hour….stay for the sunset! For more information call The Beach House at (941)779-2222. For more information visit their page.

The Beachhouse

Gulf Drive Cafe: Visiting Gulf Drive Cafe is like walking onto a scene from a movie. On the beach, Tiki hut, live music, toes in the sand, and your dog is welcome too!   Happy hour varies but its a must see for guests of the Island. Contact Gulf Drive Cafe now for more details (941)778-1919. For more information visit their page.

Gulf Drive Cafe

7 Bridgetender Inn: The Bridgetender Inn is a dockside bar located at the end of historic Bridge Street. Great for boaters! Happy hour is Monday through Friday and offers $.50 off beers, well drinks and house wine everyday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm unless there is entertainment. For more information call The Bridgetender Inn at (941) 778-4849. For more information visit their page.

The Bridgetender

Slims PlaceYou are in paradise but sometimes you still need that football fix. No better place on the island than Slims Place, home of the “No Shower Happy Hour”. Monday through Friday 3:00 to 5:00 with great specials like a $4 dollar Electric Lemonade and a $6 Cheese Steak and many more. For more information call Slims Place at (941) 567-4056. For more information visit their page.

Slims Place

The Doctor’s Office: Tucked away in an old timey doctors office carefully refurbished you will find The Doctors Office. At the time of this blog we are unsure of any traditional happy hour specials. We give The Doctors Office an honorable mention though because one drink alone will make you pretty happy, heck, even the menu will make you laugh. Call The Doctor’s Office for more details at (941)213-9926. For more information visit their page

The Doctors Office

10 Dcoy Ducks: Dcoy Ducks (or better known by the locals as The Duck) is a favorite spot for the locals of the island. Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm to 9pm you can enjoy 2 for 1 drinks then the band starts at 10pm. One of the few places on the island that is open till 2am on the weekend.  Call Dcoy Ducks for more details at (941)778-5888. For more information visit their page.

D'Coy Ducks

Anna Maria Island vacation rentals and accommodations!

Island Real Estate has multiple vacation rental properties perfect for any Florida getaway to tropical Anna Maria Island. Book your stay today!

Tropical Storm Debby for Anna Maria Island – Hurricane Season 2012

This is an information page that is used when there is a tropical storm headed for Anna Maria Island.  The storm for this blog is specifically Tropical Storm Debby for Anna Maria Island.  Island Real Estate does this for all tropical storms that show to be headed for Anna Maria Island.

UPDATE:  2:00 PM – Wednesday – June 27th – by Larry

Good bye Debby.  Debby is officially over the Atlantic and no longer going to bother our little piece of paradise.  It is a nice change of pace.  Was not happy to see her arrive but happy to see her go.  That is it for now, Anna Maria Island should be in tip top shape in the next few days.  This will be my last post.  Thanks so much to all for your kind words via email.  I am happy to be your eyes and ears on Anna Maria Island!  Thanks to the National Hurricane center for the picture below.

Continue reading Tropical Storm Debby for Anna Maria Island – Hurricane Season 2012

Manatee Public Beach and Playground on Anna Maria Island

Sorry!  The Playground has been removed.   As of 2019 no playground can be found on the beach.  Manatee Public Beach is located in Holmes Beach where Manatee Avenue runs right into the Gulf of Mexico.  Manatee Public Beach has free parking, picnic tables, volleyball nets, public restrooms, a café right on the beach with food and drinks, and a lifeguard on duty.

The playground is directly on the beach and contains swings, a wall to climb, ladder, a larger straight slide as well as two toddler slides, and the normal accessories most modular playgrounds offer.  This playground can be busy all week long as mainland locals use this playground very often as well as families that want a combined day at the beach and playground.  There are a few benches that parents can use to sit and relax however an inexpensive beach chair located close to the playground can work best.

For a bite to eat try out Cafe on the beach,  located at the public beach to get drinks and hot dog meals etc.  There is also a small gift shop located at the Manatee Public Beach.

Anna Maria Island Manatee Public Beach

The Anna Maria Island Manatee Public Beach is very popular!

Manatee Public Beach

located in Holmes Beach, it allows for easy access since it is at the end of Manatee Avenue/SR64. This is one of three access points to the island.

The Public Beach boasts a very large FREE parking area that handles 120 parking spots however there are plenty of times that the parking is not adequate for the demand. Manatee Avenue does have additional street parking, however, be sure to mind no parking signs. There is a trolley stop at the public beach too!

Manatee Public Beach offers great amenities.  Lifeguards, showers, volleyball courts, small slides, gift shop, bathrooms, concessions, and covered eating area with picnic tables make this a great beach spot.  It’s a great place to spend an afternoon people watching, or just relaxing at the beach with family.

The public beach is officially 900 feet in width although it’s difficult for even locals to see where the park really ends since the entire island has public beaches. Within a walk to the beach is a popular restaurant called Skinny’s that serves alcoholic drinks and concessions.  Bring plenty of water and some snacks for children as the heat can quickly take its toll on active children.  For more information call Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department at (941) 742-5923.

Baseball Softball Field Anna Maria Island

Enjoy the baseball softball field Anna Maria Island style. Get a baseball game going at Birdie Tebbetts Field in Holmes Beach on beautiful Anna Maria Island!

Baseball Softball Field Anna Maria Island

The baseball diamond is open to the public so anyone can hit the ball around.  It’s always a good idea to stay flexible. Have an alternative plan in the case that the field is already in use.

Baseball Softball Field Anna Maria Island

Just South of the diamond, there’s a large open space. Play baseball or softball here too. There is a trolley stop very close to the baseball diamond. It’s located in front of the skate park, so you don’t have to drive or worry about a place to park.

Anna Maria Island boasts several large open areas and the public space in Holmes Beach is no exception. Just east of Marina Drive between 59th Street and 62nd Street there is a very large open space. This is also very close to the Island Real Estate Marina Drive location.  In this area you will find the only public baseball or softball diamond on Anna Maria Island.

Holmes-Beach-Baseball-Diamond

 Anna-Maria-Island-Baseball-Field

In summary, enjoy a ball game in Holmes Beach at 5901 Marina Drive!