Island locals proudly share their Island gems and inside info with you. Anna Maria Island area residents and businesses share their local insight to help you plan your island time, and enjoy all the area has to offer.
There are a few things locals know about Anna Maria Island. Experiencing the island life like a local is the best way to enjoy your time here. Find Anna Maria Island’s best of the best with this helpful guide.
Top 7 Things Locals Know About Anna Maria Island
Once you read this guide you’ll surely feel like a local too!
1 Getting Around the Island
Locals know that Anna Maria Island is a fabulous community for public transportation. When visiting during the peak season, street traffic can make getting around by car a bit difficult. Along with creating limited public parking high season brings busy roads. Locals love walking or bike riding to their destination. It’s an amazing way to enjoy our gulf breezes and tropical scenery. If you’re going from one end of the island to the other the free trolley is absolutely perfect! Also consider renting a golf cart or scooter for a fun way to get around in style.
2 Island History
Furthermore, all locals know a thing or two about the history of the island. A community rich in Florida culture, Islanders love to reminisce. Learn about Anna Maria City Pier, the first bridge connecting the island to the mainland, the first island settlers and the “day trippers” culture that still enlivens this beautiful vacation destination. Visit the Anna Maria Island Historical Society on Pine Avenue to enjoy the Island’s history. Also head over the bridge to the Florida Maritime Museum to learn about the historic Fishing Village of Cortez.
3 Fishing and Seafood
Naturally Anna Maria Island has always been a fabulous place for fishing, and fresh seafood. Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Island is perfectly situated for premium fishing. Additionally, many local seasonal specialties such as Stone Crab, Mullet, Spiny Lobsters and Sunray Venus Clams can be found at restaurant serving seafood. Visit The Island Real Estate Fishing Report page for local fishing updates and conditions.
Anna Maria Island is a unique shopping destination offering only small shops and boutiques. Find fabulous wares from beach accessories, to jewelry, local art, high end finds and souvenirs. When visiting the Island during peak season enjoy fabulous local markets too!
With over seven miles of coastline, Anna Maria Island also offers tons of great beach spots. From secluded Bean Point to the busy Manatee Public Beach access read all about Anna Maria Island beaches here. Once you’ve visited these gulf coast beaches you’ll just have to come back again!
Anna Maria Island locals are crazy about our wildlife. With great efforts from organizations animals are looked after. Anna Maria Island Shorebird and Turtle Watch and Wildlife Inc animal rescue are among groups on the look out. Additionally, many types of animals can be found around the Island including Bottle Nose Dolphins, Manatee and Turtles. Visitors often wonder about the possibility of seeing Crocodiles or Alligators. However, locals can tell you these kind of critters haven’t been spotted around the island in decades.
If you’re looking for the best vacation rentals on the island visit IslandReal.com. You’ll find almost 300 great homes!
There are things locals always have to explain to Anna Maria Island vacationers. While you may be an expert at the island life, chances are at one time you were new to the scene.
14 Things Locals Always Have to Explain to Anna Maria Island Vacationers
Anna Maria Island is a quirky little island that both locals and vacationers love. Here are 14 things you may, or may not, have know about this place we call paradise.
1. Three cities
Anna Maria Island might only be seven miles long, but we have three distinct cities. The north end is called Anna Maria or the city of Anna Maria. In the middle we have Holmes Beach, and to the south Bradenton Beach. Each has it’s own vibe, but all are beautiful.
Sunblock is crucial, and you need to put it on BEFORE you get to the beach. Lather SPF on at least 20 minutes before you plan on being in the sun. REAPPLY every 2 hours. Yes you can get sunburned while in the water. The sun also reflects off the surface of the water and sand, so under an umbrella doesn’t make you safe from damaging rays. Higher SPF’s are better protection, and spray on sunblock, though convenient, typically isn’t as effective. Also, drink lots of water.
Please mind the wildlife and NEVER FEED THE GULLS. Don’t let the kids chase birds, stay away from turtle nests, and call Wildlife Inc. if you find injured or sick animals. Not only does Anna Maria Island have nesting sea turtles, but we have two species of tortoise. If you find a turtle on the beach and it doesn’t have flippers then leave it on the beach. It’s likely a box turtle or Gopher tortoise. They live in the dunes not the water. From May to October DO NOT leave anything on the beach, fill in holes and flatten sand castles. Be sure all beach facing lights are off, so nesting turtles and hatchlings don’t become disoriented.
Bugs happen. They just do. Invest in a bottle of deet spray if you are a mosquito magnet. Even the cleanest homes, shops and restaurants will have the occasional pest. Welcome to Florida! Luckily Florida also has Lizards, Geckos and a unique wildlife food chain to help keep bugs in check. Here is a link to the Manatee County Mosquito Control Schedule.
5. Where is the…
Before you come to the island, take a look at a map. You’ll notice there is really only one main road that runs the length of the island. It does change names, Gulf Drive, East Bay, Marina Drive, and isn’t necessarily straight, but it is the main drag. Often tourists wonder about getting lost, and ask how to get places. Getting around is extremely simple once you catch your bearings. The free trolley is a great way to get a feel for the area. Often if you are unsure where your destination is the trolley driver can help. Island Real Estate does offer local maps too!
6. Gators don’t like the beach
Yes, Florida is home to some crazy prehistoric, bite your arm off, big scary Alligators. However, salt water is not the natural habitat of the gator, and none have been spotted on AMI in decades. Ask any Anna Maria Island native and they’ll laugh at the idea of a gator on the beach. If you plan on visiting any fresh or brackish water (a mix of salt and fresh) that is an entirely different story. Any non-salt body of water is fair game for gators. Even if you don’t see “do not swim” signs near fresh water, it’s probably best to avoid getting in or near it.
7. Respect the Gulf of Mexico
While visiting the beach always check for the color coded swimming condition signs. The gulf is a powerful body of water. On a rough day even the strongest adult swimmers can be quickly caught up. Always use extreme caution, look for rip tide warning signage, swim with a buddy, and never allow children to swim without an adult. If your group has inexperienced swimmers consider avoiding the very northern beaches where under currents are strongest. Always respect the power of the gulf.
Yes, people do live on Anna Maria Island year round, and no they are not all fat, happy, tan retirees.
Anna Maria Island is a unique community. We have our own elementary school, people work full time jobs, and no our houses are not completely filled with tons of sand. Okay, maybe our houses have a little bit of sand though… The island community is unlike anywhere else in Florida. If you are looking to make the island your full time home contact an Island Real Estate Sales Agent!
Don’t even try to figure out EXACTLY what the weather is going to be like for your stay.
Trying to figure out the rain is like herding gators. Pointless and stressful. Visitors love to ask locals what they think the rain will be like. Nobody likes a vacation ruined by rain, but there isn’t one solid answer.
Predictions change regularly, but some trends are constant. Florida is a sub-tropical climate so we get rain all seasons of the year. During the summer months we have rain roll in around 4-5pm, almost daily, for an hour and then it clears before sunset. Late summer is usually the wettest. Winter is mild. Spring and Fall are warm and sometimes hot.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1st through November 30th. If you get travel insurance for your trip you’ll be covered for evacuations due to named storms. The great thing about modern weather tracking is the ability to closely monitor large storms. In the rare event that the island needs to be evacuated you’ll have ample time to do so.
10. Don’t collect live shells.
Shells play an important roll to local ecosystems. Collecting living shells is not only illegal without permit, but ethically in poor judgement. You must hold a saltwater fishing license to collect any living shell including Sand Dollars, Starfish, Whelks, Conchs, Urchin and many others. Bag limits are 2 per person per a day.
People love to collect Sand Dollars, but be sure they are white in color as these ones are already dead. Living Sand Dollars will be more of a gray color. It is okay to gently touch them but please put them right back.
While beach combing is relaxing and fun please don’t over collect dead shells. Limit yourself to less than a quart size container. Even dead shells play an important roll in the gulf. If you take all the dead shells where will hermit crabs live?
11. Pick it up!
Don’t leave any trash on the beach. Millions of sea and shore birds around the world die every year due to ingesting plastics and garbage. Sea life can become entangled too. Trash on the beach isn’t just dangerous, but unsightly. If you do see trash, do your part to help, and pick it up!
12. Stingray Shuffle
The Stingray shuffle might sound like a funny dance move, but it is a sure way to avoid a ray run-in. Stingrays are extremely non-aggressive animals but they carry a unique defense mechanism. By simply shuffling your feet you can avoid a painful trip to the beach.
13. Where to park.
Parking can be limited on Anna Maria Island, but we have a few suggestions. First, if you can avoid driving and use alternatives such as the Trolley, Uber and local shuttles you won’t have to deal with parking. Here is our guide to alternative transportation.
Also be sure to read our Anna Maria Parking Guide to help you find less popular parking areas and avoid getting a ticket too!
14. Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals
Anna Maria Island vacation rentals are absolutely fantastic! AMI offers a huge selection of rentals and none are too far from the beach! Typically rentals are offered Saturday to Saturday and ALL beach rentals have a 3 night minimum. Book your next stay today!
Now you can enjoy your next Anna Maria Island vacation in the know. You won’t even have to ask the things locals always have to explain to Anna Maria Island vacationers!
For decades now, researchers have studied and proven the health benefits of green space, but more recent findings point to blue space as a far superior influence on the health of people and communities.
What is green space and blue space?
Green space is a term referring to an area of grass, trees and foliage often found in urban areas. Green spaces are typically created for recreational, aesthetic and environmental purposes. Blue space is similar to green space, but refers to rivers, marinas, ponds, lakes, fountains, oceans and bodies of natural or man made water.
Both green and blue spaces have a great impact on human health, but a 2016 study has concluded that blue spaces have greater benefits than green spaces. Researchers note that blue space has a much more dramatic effect on our mental health than green space. People feel less depression and psychological distress with blue space. While green space does have benefits, blue space has more of a profound impact.
Blue space makes people healthy and happy.
A trip to Anna Maria Island is the blue space you need. There are tons of reasons why spending time with the clear blue gulf waters surrounding the island are good for your health!
Blue spaces gives us down time.
It seems like everyday our brains and lives are filled with things to do, schedules to stick with and obligations to complete. When you visit Anna Maria Island you get time to relax and unwind from the stress. Everybody needs down time to do nothing, think about nothing and quietly gaze at the blue gulf waters.
Blue space makes us calm.
Staring at liquid blue brings us to a state of calm. Watching the waves crash, smelling the salt air and feeling the warm breezes all lull us into a perfect state of calm and serenity.
Blue space is uplifting to our emotions.
Enjoying blue water views sends the blues away. Blue space has proven to help with depression. Everyone gets a little down, and for some, depression and anxiety are a daily battle. Spending time at the beach with water helps clear negative thoughts and emotions that lead to depression. Perhaps looking at such a large blue body of water like the gulf makes our own problems seem small in comparison to the great big world.
Blue space makes us more creative.
It’s hard not to be inspired by blue hues. The beauty of water is memorizing and lets our brain drift to our aspirations. Those who spend time meditating on blue scenes are better able to unlock the creative portions of their brain. When you aren’t feeling the stress and worries of daily life, your brain can take a step back and re-approach problems and ideas from a more creative perspective.
Blue space brings people closer together.
When you visit these spaces with friends and loved ones its hard not to form closer emotional bonds. The collective experience of enjoying blue space is infections like the domino affect of a yawn. The color blue is psychologically associated with honesty, loyalty and trust so its easy to see how blue surroundings can make us feel those emotions toward our friends and family.
Many studies site blue as the most popular favorite color, so it’s no wonder that people love these environments. Anna Maria Island is surrounded by blue making it the perfect place to get a dose of the blue stuff!
Here are 6 ways to celebrate World Oceans Day on Anna Maria Island. While the powder fine sand and blue water on Anna Maria Island are worth celebrating everyday, follow our guide on how to help keep AMI waterways beautiful on this special day.
6 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day on Anna Maria Island
It’s easy to help keep Anna Maria Island beautiful. Follow our guide for World Oceans Day, not just on June 8th, but eveyday!
Clean it up!
The best way to celebrate World Oceans Day is by picking up garbage on the beach. Even though our beaches are wonderfully pristine, there is a good chance you probably encounter at least a little bit of garbage every time you visit. Today be the change, and pick it up!
You don’t have to spend hours walking along the coastline to feel like you made a difference. If you only spend two minutes picking up trash you have helped! You’ll be amazed at how much stuff you’ll find in even a short period of time. As you look for garbage on the beach check out clumps of seaweed and the areas around sea oats. Litter and trash tend to get caught up in these areas. However, be sure to keep off the sand dunes and sea oats as they are a very fragile and important environment.
When you start picking up trash there’s a good chance onlookers will see you, and be more cautious about their own garbage. You may even find your actions cause others to join in!
Every year millions of birds and marine animals die from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastics and litter. The health of these animals depends on you to help!
Another great way to help save the Oceans is by donating to organizations who support this cause. Mote Marine Laboratory is a fantastic organization that will be accepting donations for World Oceans Day. They will be hosting a 48 hour giving event June 2-4, but donations are welcome any time!
Mote Marine is an amazing facility that not only works to save Marine life, but educates people of all ages about the unique species and environments in Florida. Every year they rescue tons of endangered sea turtles along with many other programs that help humans gain better understanding of the world.
Practice Responsible Boating
A great way to help world Oceans is by boating responsibly. Never throw garbage into the water, and if you see floating debris try to pick it out. Be sure trash is in a safe receptacle to ensure it doesn’t blow off into waterways.
In Florida it is safe to say all bodies of water have marine animals. Always be aware of your surroundings when boating, and be on the lookout for wildlife. Follow signage and idle zones marked specifically to warn of Manatees. Dolphins, Manatees and Sea Turtles are too often hit by boat propellers. Do your best to avoid speeding through the areas where they are known to live.
Keep your boat in areas that are appropriate for your make and model of vessel. Running your boat aground in Florida waterways can damage sea grasses that provide food and shelter to marine life. Never tie your boat up to Mangroves or allow your anchor to drag through reef environments.
Eat Sustainable Seafood
Sustainable Seafood is always the best alternative. Sure we all love those high-end Tuna cuts, but there are so many different species of seafood that often go over looked.
Over fishing is a global problem. Without careful conservation some species could disappear from the worlds oceans in just a few decades. When you choose sustainable fish you choose healthy oceans.
There are many questions to ask when purchasing sustainable fish. Was it net or line caught? was it farm raised or wild? Domestic or import? Asking these questions to your local fish monger will allow you to find more ethically sourced seafood.
You can help reduce the effects of climate change on our oceans by reducing your carbon footprint. This isn’t a new idea, and there are tons of ways to be mindful of your energy use. Leave your car and walk or bike when you can. This is easy to do on Anna Maria Island! Everyone knows you can bike all over, hop on the free trolley, or even walk to your destination while visiting the Island.
Other ways to reduce your energy consumption include taking the stairs, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and don’t over set your thermostat. Making tiny efforts to change the way you consume energy is a great way to reduce carbon and the negative effects of climate change on world oceans
Take time to learn about oceans and waterways, and inspire others to help make a difference. When you learn how oceans are vital to a healthy earth you’ll find yourself taking steps to protect it.
Visit local aquariums, science centers and wildlife attractions dealing with marine life. Educate yourself about oceans then take your knowledge and inspire others to help save the ocean!
Do your part this year and celebrate World Oceans Day on Anna Maria Island!
National Travel and Tourism week is an event marking the large impact travel has on the U.S. economy. Established by a congressional resolution in 1983, travel and tourism professionals across the country host a variety of events, rallies and out reach programs to strengthen this fun and amazing component of local and national economies. Yes! Travel isn’t just good for your mental health, but for success as a country too!
National Travel and Tourism Week – Faces of Travel May 7-13, 2017
This year the U.S. National Travel Association chose the theme “Faces of Travel” highlighting the millions of individuals who work to keep the industry alive. Each year over 15 million people work in jobs supported by travel!
Anna Maria Island – Faces of Travel
In keeping with this years theme, Island Real Estate is highlighting some of the amazing local faces who both thrive on and support our local travel industry. Because travel and tourism are such a strong economic factor in Florida, we applaud those who keep Anna Maria Island travel a driving force of local viability.
We reached out to industry locals and asked, “Why do you think Anna Maria Island is the best beach vacation destination in Florida?” Here’s what they had to say.
Jo-ann Lefner – Owner of Bella by the Sea Boutique on Anna Maria Island
“The sun on your face, the sand on your toes, credit card in hand to shop the cutest boutiques all on one island. Ask me what’s better than that…maybe a Margarita at sunset!”
The Ciardullo Family Frank, Kathy and Kristi – Vacation Rental Owners – Fernweh in Holmes Beach
“We had never heard of the word Fernweh, but once we discovered its meaning we knew it was the perfect name for our home as it could best describe the feelings that Anna Maria Island brings, being homesick for a place you’ve never been.”
Larry Chatt – Owner of Island Real Estate of Anna Maria Island
“I have made it a point to travel within Florida to A LOT of beach destinations. Over the years I get a lot of questions like, “What is Anna Maria Island like compared to xxxx , Florida.” So over the years I have visited at least 20 beach locations in Florida so I knew the question to that answer!
Cedar Key, Siesta Key, Englewood, Fort Myers Beach, Clearwater Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Boca Grande, St. Augustine, Destin, Panama City, Fort Lauderdale, Flagler Beach, Cocoa Beach. With the Exception of West of Panama City Beach and areas of Miami Beach I have driven the entire coast of Florida and have stayed in at least 20 beach communities. Of course every location has it’s pros and cons but using the following criteria there are no other locations I have seen in Florida much less the world that measures up to Anna Maria Island.
Quality of the sand and beach. Our sand is like confectionery sugar. Other Gulf Coast locations have a similar whiteness but it is littered with shells and is not as soft or the beach is absolutely packed with patrons. I have been unable to replicate our beach anywhere along the coast of Florida or for that matter on the EAST coast or West Coast of the United States. There is plenty of beautiful soft sand beach for everyone due to the low rise nature of our destination!
Family friendly. Too often Florida beach destinations have a high rise nature to them and have been commercialized. It is hard to explain, we occasionally visit an establishment within a location that gives authenticity to the destination but we often waste the rest of our vacation looking for lightning in a bottle again. I have personally witnessed this in several locations across the world let alone Florida. I could never find more than one place per destination that gave me that feeling we all yearn for when taking family vacations. A togetherness as a family captivated and enhanced by the authentic overall feeling provided by the destination. It is difficult to describe but once you find it you want to experience it over and over again as a family. Anna Maria Island is littered with similar stories of successful corporate leaders that found paradise on Anna Maria Island. They quit their job to live and work in paradise. I am a perfect example of such a story.
Dining friendly. Anna Maria Island dining choices measure up against beach communities 10 times as large! The best way to explain it is old Florida but with plenty of authentic places to shop and eat. You can dine in a different location every night of the week and not have one bad meal. I will admit I have found some very old Florida locations along the beach coast but I would have to travel 25 minutes to have more than a few restaurant choices.
In summary I have not found any beach locations with the quality of our sand, low density nature of our beaches but with plenty of authentic shopping and dining choices. Anna Maria Island is not just one retail location that creates an old Florida feeling. The authentic nature of our destination is emulated across our entire community. Whether it be a free trolley ride down to one of many dining choices in one of our three cities or a walk along the beach grabbing a cocktail at a beach front restaurant. If you yearn for the three main amenities our destination provides, you won’t be sorry finding a way to visit Anna Maria Island. I have done A LOT of research on the subject and across our wonderful coastal state I have been unable to replicate anything close to the amenities Anna Maria Island has to offer families searching for authentic old Florida.”
“The island is laid back paradise with life in the slow lane, no high rise hotels and the small quaint streets with many fun casual dining places and beaches with white sand for your toes.”
Caryn Hodge – Marketing Director of Chiles Restaurant Group – The Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista
“Anna Maria Island is unlike any place in the world. Although most well-known for its pristine, sugar-soft sand beaches, Anna Maria also offers visitors an opportunity to slow down, step back to a time when things were simpler, and to experience old Florida in a variety of ways.
On Anna Maria you can park your car and forget about it as you ride the free trolley, walk or bike to your destination for dining, boutique shopping, live music, a stroll on the pier or whatever way you want to experience all the island has to offer.
Void of high rises and not overrun with corporate stores, the island hosts mostly locally owned, independent businesses that offer one-of-a-kind products and services. Award winning dining, excursions for every level of activity, and friendly locals make us a repeat destination for many visitors. Affordable, rich in history, enjoyable and unique. Anna Maria is the perfect place to experience true Old Florida the way it was meant to be.”
“That smell, that beachy smell and oh the sunsets. Nothing describes the beautiful colors in the night sky! From the fun activities at Holmes Beach to the warm breeze at Bean Point! The Tiki bars at Bradenton Beach to the ice cream at Two Scoops! This island is my home away from home!”
Captain Kyle Taylor – Anna Maria Inshore Fishing Charters
“Anna Maria Island has some of the best beaches, weather, lifestyle, dining, and fishing that people look for in a travel destination. Some travel destinations can only claim one or two of these qualities. We have it all here, in one quaint package and we call it Anna Maria Island.”
Emma Brooks – Vacation Rental Owner – Beachy Blue in Holmes Beach
“This beautiful island is our little piece of paradise, the sun makes your heart shine! Stay at Beachy Blue steps away from the turquoise seas and close to some great restaurants and wonderful boutiques”
“Anna Maria Island (AMI for short) definitely lives up to its award winning accolades with clear turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, year round warm weather, eco-friendly terrain and abundant wildlife. Personally, I find it to be the most beautiful, laid back and least developed island on the West Coast of Florida, which is why I find it so appealing. The resorts, accommodations, restaurants, beauty and things to do in this paradise attract national and international travelers. AMI offers a taste of just about everything that people find charming about Florida – with dolphins playing, manatees swimming, turtles nesting, beautiful birds fishing, as well as an impressive history and culture – it’s a #1 destination”
“There are many reasons why Anna Maria Island is the best beach vacation destination in Florida. A year-round summery vibe and warm, secluded feel work wonders on Anna Maria, making this the ultimate Florida beach retreat. Whether a nature lover, serenity seeker or beachgoer, there’s something for everyone on this easy to explore, coastal gem. The cozy and quaint feel of Anna Maria Island, makes it feel like a trip back in time to this paradise that hasn’t changed much since the 70’s and definitely has that “old Florida” feel. The numerous award-winning beaches, restaurants and events make Anna Maria Island the perfect relaxation spot for your next vacation.”
As you can see from their responses, locals who make our travel industry thrive absolutely love Anna Maria Island!
And we can’t forget! A super big thank you to the over 1 million travelers who come to Anna Maria Island every year! You too help maintain the economic vitality of our little island community!
Plan a trip to Anna Maria Island today during National Travel and Tourism Week!
There are some really great Anna Maria Island May Activities going on this year! From Mother’s day to Cinco de Mayo, and new shopping spots to live music, May is great for island time!
Anna Maria Island May Activities
Check out what’s happening on and around Anna Maria Island this May with our top activities guide.
Cinco De Mayo
Florida’s biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration will be going on Saturday, May 6th at Sutton Park in Palmetto. While the holiday falls on a Friday this year, event organizers planned the celebration for Saturday to allow families to join in on the fun.
The Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce is organizing the event with tons of amazing sponsors. Expect to find vendors, food, music and more during this amazing community event.
The event is free to attend. Find Sutton park at 6th Street West in Palmetto from 2-8pm.
DIY work shops at Makers Market
While visiting the area enjoy a little DIY fun at the new Makers Market shop. Learn new skills, and make something beautiful too! Flex your creativity and come home with a lovely wall hanging, tote bag and more. There are a variety of projects to pick from, and you can even make it into a party with friends and family.
Find the Makers Market Workshop at 6650 Cortez Road in Bradenton.
Pickin’ Picnic will also be Saturday, May 6th. Find this event happening in Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk Park from 1-9pm.
The event showcases local music, craft beers, top-rated food trucks, vendors and Bradenton’s millennial culture at its finest.
Bring a blanket or chair and sit on the green lawn at this family friendly annual event. Organized in collaboration between Realize Bradenton and Independent Jones this event is free to attend.
Mother’s Day is a fantastic time for a visit to the beach, or brunch at one of many great local restaurants. Treat Mom to both this year, and reserve her a beach rental on Anna Maria Island!
Mother’s Day brunch will be in full swing at several local restaurants across the area.
May is a fantastic time of year to do a little Pier fishing on one of Anna Maria Island’s three piers. With mild morning weather still swirling around the island, take the family out for a day of angling. All three island piers have blanket fishing licenses, so you won’t have to hold your own. You can rent fishing gear at each location.
Manatee Rare Fruit Council Tree Sale
Sunday May 21st the Manatee Rare Fruit Council will be selling trees at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. Enjoy over 5000 plants from 22 reputable vendors. Parking and admission are free, and the event runs from 10am-4pm.
Find the Convention Center at 1 Haben Boulevard in Palmetto.
Memorial Day Beach fun and Cook Outs
While Memorial Day falls in the Spring, this event really signals the kick-off of summer fun on Anna Maria Island. There is nothing better than a grilled hot dog on the beach with family and friends enjoying a day off. The water will be warm and the sun will be shining!
None of the public beaches allow personal grills, but you will find charcoal public grilling facilities at Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach and Bay Front Park.
Enjoy family fun with these great Anna Maria Island May Activities!
Wondering what to pack for your Anna Maria Island Vacation? While Anna Maria Island may have mild winters and hot summers, if you aren’t from Florida you may not know what to bring with you.
What to Pack for Your Anna Maria Island Vacation
We have put together a list of what to bring for each season, the items to expect in your beach rental and things to buy when you arrive on Island Time.
Our list isn’t just the things you’ll need. We have also included fashionable examples of the styles you’ll see people wearing on the island. Florida has a regional style unlike that of New York or California. This list will give you some ideas of what the locals wear too.
Packing for the Season
The four seasons in Florida aren’t exactly what you might expect. Fall is green and warm, Winter is mild and sometimes dry, Summer is hot and wet.
Summer Packing list
Summer is hot on Island Time. Ask any local and they’ll tell you a typical summer day includes a warm morning, blistering mid day sun, mid afternoon rain showers, and beautiful balmy evenings with a slight breeze.
Tropical patterns are the best clothes items! Summer is the time for being lazy and letting it all hang out. Embrace your inner tacky tourist and pull out that old Hawaiian shirt. You’ll fit right in with the locals too!
Big Floppy hats and Sunglasses are a must.
Shorts, skirts, T-Shirts and blouses.
Beach clothes such as cover-ups and thin loose fitting items to throw on over a wet bathing suit.
If you sunburn easily, a really thin long sleeve shirt is a good idea for beach days. This is especially true for children on vacation. Sometimes your skin is ready to leave the beach before your brain is.
At least one nice-ish, but still casual, outfit for dining out in the evening.
Unless you plan on dining somewhere super fancy like Beach Bistro, leave all your pants at home for the summer. If you are planning a high-end dining or evening experience a little black dress and nice slacks are great.
A rain coat or umbrella is nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
A walking shoes for sightseeing.
Strappy sandals are nice for ladies and a boat shoe is nice for guys.
For small children a hat with a chin strap is a good idea.
A reusable beverage container with a lid. You WILL get dehydrated on the beach. A reusable container is preferred over disposable water bottles. The environment will thank you.
You might want a cardigan or thin sweater. Floridians keep the AC on full blast, so you’ll find restaurants and businesses to be cold inside.
Spring packing list.
Spring is a lovely time to visit. Typically we don’t have lots of rain, and the day time temperature ranges from the upper 70’s to low 90’s. Night time temperatures don’t really go below the low 60’s.
Expect to bring all the things on the summer list plus a few additional items below. Bright pinks, yellows, and crisp whites really make a fashion statement for spring on Anna Maria Island.
A thin sweater for sure. If visiting in early Spring you may even want a heavy sweater too.
A colorful spring dress is great. A Maxi dress and a wedge sandal make for an elegant spring beach style.
A pair slacks and a button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up are always great for guys. Men’s Leather sandals are also appropriate for all occasions on the island.
Winter packing list.
Typically Anna Maria Island winters don’t get cooler than the upper 50’s in the day time and no lower than the upper 30’s at night. Many people still swim in the gulf this time of year, but usually you won’t catch the locals in any water that isn’t heated.
When visiting in winter, you’ll notice the daily temperatures can fluctuate greatly. The key to dressing comfortably for this time is many thin layers. The morning will be cold, but mid day will be considerably warmer and you’ll likely want to peel a layer off.
Bring flip flops, but also bring a closed toe shoe and socks. Most people can still wear sandals in the day, but you might just be more comfortable with an extra layer on your feet.
Definitely bring pants. You won’t need long underwear, but pants are a good idea.
Tights, leggings and yoga pants are nice winter options for ladies. Since its not snowing, you’ll likely be able to wear a dress or skirt with something to cover your legs. Yoga pants and a cute top are always acceptable women’s attire on the island.
Scarves and shawls are great, but you can leave your gloves and mittens at home.
A winter hat might be nice for morning beach walks.
Bring a jacket, but not the one you keep on hand for snow. A nice leather or denim jacket with a thin long sleeve shirt is usually sufficient.
A thin sweater or cardigan and a thick sweater.
If you are from up north some winter months you’ll feel comfortable swimming, so bring the swim attire. Also, many Anna Maria Island beach rentals have heated pools and spa, so you’ll want your bathing suit.
A sport coat is a good idea for men’s evening wear especially for that special night out.
Ladies may want closed toe dress shoes for evenings, and a dress pant or dark blue skinny jean makes nice casual evening wear.
Fall packing list.
Anna Maria Island’s Fall season is considerably warmer than you might expect. Days range from warm to still hot in the early fall, and nights are pleasant with cool breezes. You will definitely be swimming this time of year.
The Spring and Summer lists are very close to what you’ll need for fall, but we have some other suggestions too. Fall is also a time of year where you will feel comfortable in darker colors. Shades of navy, rust and red aren’t as common in the summer months, but make great fall island attire.
You’ll want to bring all the swim wear, flip flops and beach things.
A stylish ankle boot with a short dress or skirt is nice for ladies. Strappy tank tops with a loose knit shirt or mesh blouse are great fall fashion items.
Again bring tights or leggings to go under skirts on cooler nights.
Pants options are good for evenings, but you’ll want shorts too.
No winter hats or coats, but a thin and thick sweater are good.
Flat front pants or nice jeans with a tucked in polo and a boat shoe are very stylish for Men in the fall.
Tank tops and thin scarves are very stylish for women, and work great for both night and day.
What you should always bring no matter the season.
Some basics go with out saying. Obviously you need underwear and a toothbrush we don’t need to tell you this. However, there are some extras to remember for all visits.
Travelers checks or back up forms of currency.
Health Insurance cards in case someone gets sick.
Everything your pet will need. Yes there are places to purchase pet food and even a veterinarian, but make sure all members of the family are comfortable traveling.
Medications and prescriptions
Special health equipment
Kid and baby comforts. Spending a night away from home can be a lot when you’re little. You may want to bring a special blanket or toy to make your little one more comfortable in a new place.
What to expect in your beach rental.
When you arrive at your beach rental you’ll always find all the bedding, towels, wash clothes and hand towels you’ll need. You don’t need to bring these items. Some rentals do offer baby items, so always ask ahead of time. If you need special baby gear you can bring it, or check out what is available to rent from abc baby rentals.
There will be a roll of toilet paper in each bathroom plus one roll of paper towels and a small container of dish detergent and a dishwasher packet. There will be just enough of the basics to get you through the first night of your stay. You’ll be responsible for everything after that. There is a Dollar Tree on Anna Maria Island that offers any toiletry you’ll need. This is a great option for those who have smaller groups. You’ll also find all those items at the local Publix Grocery store.
Before you bring chairs and accessories, consider renting them. We recommend holding off on these items until you arrive at your rental. You never know what kind of extras will be laying around. Take an inventory first, then contact one of the many local rental equipment companies to supply you with the things you want.
What to Buy when you get to the island
Some things might be easier to buy when you get here.
Sunblock. You will need lots of sunblock, even in the winter months you WILL get sunburned. You can pick up sunblock at the grocery store, pharmacy and many tourist shops. APPLY YOUR SUNSCREEN 20 MINUTES BEFORE YOU ARE IN THE SUN! You need to let the sunblock soak in, and then you need to reapply it at least once every two hours after. Over exposure to the sun and sever sunburn can cause serious illness. No matter your skin color, we promise, you don’t have super man strength skin. Yes, sun rays do penetrate the water. Even if you spend all day swimming, you need to follow our guidelines on sunblock.
Obviously you need food. The island offer a fantastic Publix grocery store plus a few specialty shops too.
Alcohol and other beverages. These things are all on the island, don’t travel with more than you need.
House things. You’ll need laundry detergent, trash bags, optional cleaning supplies and those type of items. All are available locally.
Enjoy an Anna Maria Island vacation any time of year! Now that you know what to bring, book your vacation rental with Island Real Estate today!
Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida is nothing like you’ve ever had. Sourced directly from the water around AMI, this is one product you must bring home from vacation!
Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida
Sea Salt Florida is a new local company to the Manatee and Sarasota area. Owner and Salt Master Tim Norwood develops only the highest quality sea salt. While he has big plans for the future of this specialty item, the entire process is a labor of love that started off small.
How did Sea Salt Florida get started?
Tim Norwood and his wife always thought they would open a winery. However, after moving to Florida that idea changed to salt. Florida isn’t known for having the best wines, but it does have plenty of salt water!
Like wine making, salt making is an intense process requiring a great deal of knowledge. At times the outcome can be unpredictably amazing, but always requires a creative mind and dedication to hard work. Essentially, Sea Salt Florida became Tim Norwoods Winery.
At 55 years old Tim spent the majority of his career as an engineer with a degree in architecture. Tim has made up tons of innovative ideas working for large companies, but saved one of his ideas just for himself.
He spent a great deal of time developing his craft. After two years of working a full time job during the day while experimenting with salt production all night, Tim became a Salt Master. He has learned everything about producing only the highest quality sea salt. Tim focused on ancient thousand year old techniques of production and believes his to be the best in the United States.
How do you make Sea Salt?
If you are wondering exactly how Sea Salt is made, keep guessing. Tim Norwood keeps this secret closely guarded. With that said, he will gladly tell you the body of water where the salt comes from. In fact, Tim is proud to harvest salt water from Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Venice and Treasure Island.
He mentions Anna Maria Island is his favorite harvest, but that may be due to his fondness of the area. Tim elaborates that the Siesta Key harvest has the most unique flavor of his products, and the Anna Maria Island salt is his most popular seller.
Tim is currently looking to relocate his production to mainland Bradenton where he has been looking at potential facility sites. Once Tim gets his new facility running successfully he just might consider giving tours. Until he knows his company is completely secure, he’s not giving away ANY of his salty secrets.
The goal for Sea Salt Florida is to produce 12,000 pounds of salt a year to supply local and international markets. Tim Norwood is creating a company that is really something special. The type of operation that he can leave to his grandchildren while also bringing permanent jobs to Manatee county.
A truly tasty souvenir.
When you first taste Sea Salt Florida’s Anna Maria Island harvest you will instantly feel like you’re back on the beach. This salt really does taste like the gulf waters of Anna Maria Island. Once you try Tim’s salt you’ll never view store bought products the same. Tim points out, “Sea Salt Florida won’t get your bags checked at the airport like a bottle of wine will”! When leaving Anna Maria Island, you MUST bring home some local salt to go with your new tan.
Where to buy Sea Salt Florida
The secret of Sea Salt Florida is its amazing mineral content. That is where the flavor is. Sea Salt Florida contains as many as 80 different minerals. Iodine is NEVER included. “This is the type of salt people are supposed to eat” mentions Tim, “This is a healthier natural product”.
Sea Salt Florida can be found at a ton of different local retail shops, or on the website.
On Anna Maria Island you can buy Sea Salt Florida at the following:
The Olive Oil Outpost and Anna Maria Historic Society Museum in the city of Anna Maria.
Island Fresh Market and Looney Dunes in Holmes Beach.
Cortez Fish Market, Cortez Maritime Museum and The Sea Hagg in Cortez Fishing Village.
Sarasota Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota.
Tim doesn’t like for his vendor to compete, so you’ll find different products at different locations. Not only does Sea Salt Florida have different harvests, but Tim also offers flavored salts and scrubs.
If you head over to Looney Dunes you’ll find Tim’s salts for sale next to the flavors of wine that the salt has been infused with!
Find a variety of scrubs at the Sea Hagg. Salt Scrubs are not the biggest seller in Tim’s inventory, but he believes his are far superior than other beauty products on the market.
Sea Salt Florida is about community.
Tim has really enjoyed the community aspects of selling salt. He regularly gets thank you letters from buyers. Tim explains, “Giving salt is an ancient form of friendship”.
Local restaurant have begun to approach Tim because his salt is the best. He has even started designing flavors to match Florida seafood like his Lemon Zest flavor created for local fish mongers.
A popular salt on the market is Italian Black Truffle. In Florida we don’t have truffles or a really reliable source to bring them in fresh. Tim had the bright idea of creating a Portabello infused salt because we grow them in Florida and it makes a great substitute for Truffle salt.
Salt really has an interesting history, and its special to continue those traditions. Tim also mentions, “Sea Salt Florida isn’t a political issue because it brings everyone together that is looking for healthier living. Coming together is something people need right now.”
If you run out of salt, just send Tim an email and he’ll gladly send you more. This is the best way to order salt online as Sea Salt Florida doesn’t have a fancy online store set up yet.
Visit local vendors, or head over to SeaSaltFlorida.com for a complete list of flavors as there are many!
Bring Island flavor home with Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida!
Anna Maria Island April activities aren’t just about Easter. There is so much going on in the area as Florida Spring Breakers head home and warm weather moves in.
Anna Maria Island April Activities
Throughout the month you’ll find new things to do and see including art, food, outdoors and family fun. live it up while on Anna Maria Island this spring!
Beach N’ Food Truck Festival
The second annual Beach n’ Food truck festival will be April 8th from 10am-10pm. Find it at Coquina beach on south AMI. This event offers all of the area’s best food trucks with a large variety. Also find crafts, live music, classic car show and a kids fun zone. While there is lots of parking around Coquina Beach, patrons are encouraged to ride the free trolley. Trolley service ends at 10:30pm.
Salty Buddha SUP Yoga
Try something new on your trip to Anna Maria Island with Stand up paddle board yoga from Salty Buddha! This is a fantastic way to stay both active and relaxed while connecting mind and body in tropical AMI paradise. Join instructor Rachael Croll for a one of a kind experience on the water. Classes are designed for all levels of skill. Her 90 minute session will include paddle board instruction followed by an hour of guided yoga. Schedule your class today!
Easter Egg Hunt at The Sandbar Restaurant
Bring the entire family to the beach for a fun toes in the sand Easter Egg Hunt! This year’s egg hunt will be on Saturday the 15th at 9am sharp at the Sandbar. Arrive early. After the dash for eggs everyone will proceed down Pine Avenue for refreshments, games and an Easter Bonnet contest. The Easter bunny will also be making an appearance. Everyone is welcome to come, and kids under 10 can join in on the egg hunt. Be sure to bring your Easter baskets!
Recycled Teen Fashion Show at the Downtown Bradenton Central Library
See local teens compete in one of Manatee County Libraries most popular events April 22 from 1-3pm. Ages 13-19 will get the opportunity to experience what its like to be a real fashion designer. All styles are created using recycled materials. The day of the event models will take to the run way to show off these teens wonderful talent for fashion with a twist! The 2016 show drew a crowd of over 300 with 24 participants. Find the Downtown Central Library at 1301 Barcarrota Boulevard West in Bradenton.
Seas & Shore Fine Art Photography at Island Gallery West
While in Holmes Beach Stop by Island Gallery West to see the April featured artist Richard Stewart’s photography. His exhibit shows his fascination with the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island. The work is on display all month and a reception will also be held April 14 during the Artshop 5:30-7:30pm.
Enjoy the island life this these Anna Maria Island April Activities!
Anna Maria Island Spring Break Beach Rentals make for unforgettable vacation! Find perfect weather, great activities and a lovely spot to gather friends for an awesome beach rental experience!
Anna Maria Island Spring Break Beach Rentals
It’s not too late to plan your Spring Break! When booking last minute March dates be sure to ask about special promotions!
Runaway Bay 272
Runaway Bay 272 is a fantastic Bradenton Beach vacation spot for six guests! This condo is just a short walk from the beach, free trolley stops, and local attractions. Inside you’ll find two bedrooms and two bathrooms with an updated casual style. Enjoy the community heated pool, fishing dock on the bay and tennis courts. 2017 Spring base rates start as low as $1300/week.
La Casa Marie
La Casa Marie is a great spot for a luxury beach rental right on the beach. This three bedroom, two and a half bath rental condo sleeps six. You’ll have peeks of the gulf from the balcony along with updated amenities. Enjoy the fun wetbar with wine chiller and ice maker too! When you aren’t at the beach relax in the heated community pool and spa! 2017 Spring base rates start as low as $3150/week.
Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun is a fun Mediterranean style beach rental just a few short blocks to the most popular Anna Maria Island beaches. This three bedroom three bath rental sleeps up to six guests. You’ll love the private heated pool along with lovely balcony views. Pets under 25 pounds welcome with pet fee! 2017 Spring base rates start as low as $2000/week.
A Mermaid Crossing
A Mermaid Crossing offers stylish decor and a location just a short walk from the beach. This three bedroom three bathroom rental sleeps six guests with an extra touch of luxury. You’ll love the heated pool and sundeck too. The layout of this house is great for entertaining, and the master bathroom is stunning! 2017 Spring base rates start as low as $3325/week.
Waterfront Retreat is the ultimate destination for a large family Spring Break vacation. Here you’ll find six bedrooms three full bathrooms and two powder rooms. This rental was truly designed for entertaining. Enjoy a well equipped kitchen with bar area, a living room with excellent seating, fun games and heated pool. The rental is on canal front with a dock, so you can even bring your boat. 2017 Spring base rates start as low as $3325/week!
Anna Maria Island Spring Break Beach Rentals are the best way to enjoy a memorable Florida Vacation!
While Florida is notorious for its beach bar scene, the Anna Maria Island beach bar life offers some unique must see spots! AMI beach bars have a vibe that meshes well with that authentic old Florida charm that visitors adore.
Anna Maria Island Beach Bar Life
Below is our list of six Anna Maria Island Beach Bars. A few on our list have also been featured on BeachBarLife.com, so you know they are great!
These watering holes really have a laid back beach vibe, and the added bonus of being family friendly too. While these are fun spots, don’t expect an exact Key West style. Anna Maria Island has an atmosphere unlike any other Florida city. Come see for yourself!
The Sandbar and Beach House Restaurants
These sister restaurants are some of the most popular places for toes in the sand libations. Find The Sandbar on north AMI in the city of Anna Maria where Spring Avenue and the beach meet. The Beach House is on south island in the city of Bradenton Beach on Gulf Drive. Both were recently remodeled, and offer a slightly up-scale beach bar vibe.
You’ll always find something new to try when you visit. From hand crafted frozen drinks to fresh from the farm menu items. These two spots are a must when visiting Anna Maria Island. Looking for a beach bar wedding? The Sandbar and Beach House are amazing venues with tons of great services!
Gulf Drive Cafe and Tiki Hut
While Gulf Drive Cafe offers toes in the sand drinks and dining, they also have AMI’s largest Tiki Hut! Here you can relax in the shade of the Tiki, listen to music, and catch a great sunset. This beach bar offers a fun nightlife for dinner, drinks and dancing too!
Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe
Find Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe on the island’s most popular beach spot. Manatee Public Beach is the heart of the island where generations of visitors have enjoyed a day on the Florida coast.
This beach bar is always bustling with activity, yet still remains laid back. Enjoy tropical drinks from the their Tiki hut, or sit down at one of the tables and chill out. This bar is perfect for day long trips to the beach for the entire family. Not only will you find all the beach bar vibe, but great amenities like changing stations, beach shop, lifeguard station and even a playground for the littlest beach bums.
Coquina Beach Cafe
Coquina Beach Cafe is on the far southern end of Anna Maria Island. This is the last stop before crossing over the Longboat Key Bridge. Like Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, this is also a great spot for family day trips. Enjoy a tropical drink, or even catch breakfast here!
Enjoy the Anna Maria Island Beach Bar Life on your next visit, and check out our Beach Bar Photo Gallery!
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