The Waffle Press

Anna Maria has a new walk up snack option with the Waffle Press, located next to Pineapple Junction at 425 Pine Ave. This cozy spot specializes in Liege waffles, a sweeter and smaller cousin of the well-known Belgian waffle. Liege waffles are dough based and yeast raised, caramelized on the outside and with crunch of pearl sugar throughout. Each fluffy, crispy bite is amazing!

Waffle Press has a few yummy creations to choose from such as the Grand Slam which includes peanut butter, chocolate and bananas yet you can still create your own masterpiece with any mixture of toppings. If you are a purist, order the aptly named Purist which is a simple waffle with a sprinkling of cinnamon or sugar. It may have a simple name yet the taste is anything but simple! During my visit I opted for the Canadian which had maple butter and bacon on top of the hot freshly made waffle. There are also savory options and my friend tried the Birdie which included turkey, bacon, avocado and tomato jam. Both were amazing!

Smoothies, coffee including espresso and cappuccino are featured as well. Nondairy mylk options are available plus a few locally sourced baked goods. The day I was there the bagels looked amazing and I was tempted to indulge yet resisted, knowing I can go back.

Stop in the Waffle Press next time you visit AMI for breakfast, a snack or maybe dessert after enjoying dinner at any of the island’s fantastic eateries.

Waffle Press wall menu
Specialty coffees available

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!

There’s an App for that! Track the Free Island Trolley with the myStop App

The day where you can track the Island trolley in real-time is finally here! There is now a phone application, called myStop, that will provide you with real-time Anna Maria Island trolley info. The days of guessing your pickup time are over with this FREE app you can download easily.

myStop Mobile is an awesome tool to get trolley stop details, and to see if the trolley is on time or late to its next stop. Make sure you pick the “5 AMI Trolley” option to get our specific trolley’s information. A map will display stop locations – remember that north destinations pick up on the east side of the road and south destinations pick up on the west side.

If you for some reason don’t have a smart phone on you, but are near a computer, juts visit this site to view the trolley info/times.

As if the free trolley here on Anna Maria Island could get any better! Tip from a local: make sure you have your shoes ON, not just in your beach bag when getting on the trolley, the drivers are very strict!

Dog Park at Central Park in Holmes Beach

If you have traveled to AMI with your furry friend before, you have probably been to the dog park before! But if you and your dog are Island newbie’s, you may not be aware of the small dog park in Holmes Beach.

Let me give you the run down. There is a park on Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach called Central Park. Here, there is a small area just for dogs to run around and do dog stuff.

It’s nothing much, but there are benches to relax at and some shade. And with dogs being NOT PERMITTED on the Island beaches, it’s nice to have a place just for them.

*This park is managed by the City of Holmes Beach*

Market Update: Taxes!

Tis the season, Property Tax Season that is! I wanted to provide a little information on Anna Maria Island property taxes for this newsletter.  Let’s discuss the Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice that is normally sent out Mid-August each year.  It is critical within a few days that you check your TRIM statement, as the deadline for appealing your property tax assessment is 25 days from the date of the notice.  For those that do not receive the TRIM notice real time I suggest you make arrangements to receive the TRIM notice electronically or late August sign in to ManateePAO.com to review your TRIM notice.  Over the years I have appealed my property assessment twice and have found compromise with the County both times.  Once using and attorney and once on my own.

Using an attorney to help is not inexpensive, the service can run $3,500 and up.  In most cases an attorney is utilized when a comprehensive market price analysis of similar properties is complicated, the building is newly erected AND the potential property tax savings exceeds the attorney fees.  In my case there were less than a handful of similar properties on Anna Maria Island and the market value of the property is a combination of income generation and real property value.  The attorney helped the most with the process of how to appeal however I would not suggest using an attorney if you want to save your own time on the appeal.  I found I did a great deal of the heavy lifting as it related to the analysis of comparing similar properties and making a case why the market value of my property was excessive. 

My second appeal was much less complicated so I handled the appeal on my own.  I would hazard a guess most Anna Maria Island owners can handle an appeal on their own if needed.  Reminder, your property taxes are calculated by taking millage rates multiplied by your Assessed value.  Millage rates are determined by local governments and are passed via public budget meetings you can attend.  The below process is to determine if your assessed value has been improperly estimated and should not be confused with the total proposed property tax increase.  Assessed value and property tax are apples and oranges.  Here is my suggested process for determining if an appeal is even worth your time: 

1. Compare your assessed value last year to this year as a percent increase.

2. Is your Anna Maria Island property Homestead? 

YES, then the assessed value increase is CAPPED by the 1995 Save Our Homes act.  Skip to #3

NO, ok likely you are seasonally renting your property so Homestead is not available.  Skip to #4

3. Congratulations, your assessed value is normally CAPPED around 3%.  The CAP DOES change from year to year based on the Consumer Price Index.   Is your year to year change more than the CAP?

If the answer is YES, Skip to #5. If the answer is NO, Skip to #6. 

4. Ok, your Anna Maria Island property is not homestead.  The challenge now at hand is to determine what the average increase is for most other Anna Maria Island similar properties.  You can do that by calling me, talking with a few friendly neighbors, or staying in tune with market appreciation on the island by reviewing our newsletters.  The most important part of this analysis is to ask if your assessed value percent increase from last year is within reason? 

If the answer is YES, skip to #6.    If the answer is NO then move to #5.

5. Ask yourself in the last 18 months or so, have you performed renovations to your property that required a permit?  For example, adding a pool, adding square footage under AC?  Permits add value and hence your assessed value may increase more than the CAP or more than your neighbors increased year over year assessment.  Renovations made?  Considering the cost of the added PERMIT value does your assessed value increase now make sense? 

If the answer is YES, Skip to #6. If the answer is NO, move to #7.

6. Move on to more productive matters like going to the beach.  Filing for an appeal this year will likely not be a productive exercise.

7. So after all your analysis your TRIM notice still seems to high.  Call (941) 741-4058 and with your percent increase of assessed value at hand ask for details on why the increase is so high this year.

I hope this information is of help.  Here is the 2019 TRIM supplement offered by the County. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to call me or your Anna Maria Island Sales professional.  We can help! 

Publix – Anna Maria Island Grocery store

Publix is located in central Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. It is the only major grocery store on Anna Maria Island. The prices are normally 5% more however most locals save a half an hour round trip off the island to visit the Publix found on 7310 Manatee Avenue in Bradenton, Fl.

Publix located on Anna Maria Island
Publix located in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island

Publix of Holmes Beach is located on 3900 East Bay drive next to CVS. You can load their mobile app to order deli orders or subs before-hand to make the most of your Anna Maria Island vacation. The lines for making sub sandwiches at lunch can get lengthy. Publix sells beer and has a large wine selection. They have typical deli selections with a small hot section usually including chicken nuggets, fried potato wedges, mac-n-cheese. They do not have a cold deli with salads etc.

For a quick visit, Publix offers pre-made salads, sandwiches, sushi and cold varieties of pasta salad, potato salad, etc. Publix of Anna Maria Island has a fairly large produce section, frozen section and all the staples you would need. Publix has a bakery where you can pick up bread or preorder cakes, they have a seafood section as well as a floral section. If you are looking for specialty items you may need to visit the off the island Publix which is significantly larger and offers more varieties of groceries but most of the time unless you are a chef you will find what you need at the local Publix.

Publix is on the free Anna Maria Island Trolly route if you want to leave your car at home or your vacation rental. Publix does offer grocery delivery visit the Publix page for more information.

Pharmacies on Anna Maria Island

Both Anna Maria Island pharmacies are in the central portion of Holmes Beach. You’ll find Walgreens at the corner of Gulf Drive and East Bay Boulevard. CVS is at the corner of Manatee Avenue and East Bay Boulevard. CVS also offers a one-hour photo center. Both CVS and Walgreen’s offer the normal variety of miscellaneous beauty supplies, minor groceries, and beach toys.

CVS
611 Manatee Avenue
Holmes Beach, Fl, 34217
(941) 778-1411
Store #: 3953

Walgreen’s
3248 East Bay Drive
Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
(941) 778-0451
Store# : 1801

Walgreens on Anna Maria Island
Walgreens in Holmes Beach, FL

Bean Point – Anna Maria Island’s Secret Serenity

Bean Point is a must stop spot on Anna Maria Island. it’s a local secret that provides the most breathtaking views of the sunset on a pristine beach.  Named for George Emerson Bean, the first permanent resident of Anna Maria Island, Bean Point is located on a secluded stretch of beach at the northern end of what was Bean’s original homesteaded property.

You won’t find a parking lot, or any large signs, to direct you to this treasure of nature.  To get there you’ll need to head North of the City Pier in Anna Maria on North Bay Blvd.  The “main entrance” to Bean Point is located at a small crossroads.  You will notice the tree lined path that divides the two properties at the the intersection of North Bay Blvd & North Shore Dr.  If you ride your bicycle, you can ride right up the path, and park just to the side of the classic, wooden footbridge that sets the tone for your Anna Maria beach experience.  If you drive your car, you have a few options.  There are actually entrances at the corners of Fern St & N. Shore Dr, and Gladiolus St. & North Shore as well.  Each of these entrances is marked by a small white posted sign that merely states “Public Beach Access”.  Using the intersection of North Bay blvd and North Shore will provide immediate access to the famed “Bean Point” but half the fun is getting there?  Using the public beach access point to the South will allow you to walk along the beach and take in the sites where the Bay and Gulf meet.  When parking you can choose a spot near any of these entrances, and take the path out to the beach.

Local Tip: parking regulations are strictly enforced on Anna Maria Island.  If it says No Parking, don’t do it. Unless you want a ticket. If you do park on the roadside be sure your tires are off the asphalt street. If just 1″ is on the street you most likely will return with a bad surprise after your leisurely stroll along Bean Point. There are spots along the side streets, including Gladiolus and Fern.  To park near the footbridge entrance, I would recommend heading down to Jacaranda to find an empty (and legal) parking place.

Once your car is settled, head up the nearest path to the gorgeous turquoise waters where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Tampa Bay.   After your leisurely stroll down the path, turn right when you get to the sand, and head north to the point, for spectacular views that include the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.    If the tide is low, you can see the sand bar just off the coast.  Just a little wading into the warm water will take you there, and you can shell ‘til your heart’s content!  The views are amazing, the water is inviting, and the atmosphere is relaxed and serene.  There are quiet spots to sit and enjoy the view, and watch the waters and the wildlife.  I love where the water collides as the tide shifts from the East side of Anna Maria Island to the West side.

There are signs of life relaxing all over the Point. There is always something to delight the bird watcher too, with several different types of birds to entertain you as they guard their beach turf from one another.

So head over to Bean Point and capture a quiet beach moment or a breathtaking sunset, and enjoy one of the most relaxing spots on an island famous for its relaxation.

Waste Collection Schedule for Anna Maria Island

If you are visiting or relocating to Anna Maria Island, it is important to be aware of the waste collection schedule for all three Island cities. Below, you will find the garbage and recycling pickup days for Anna Maria City, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach.

Anna Maria Island Waste Collection Schedule 

Holmes Beach:
Household Garbage (solid waste) – Collected on Mondays and Fridays
Residential Recycling – Collected on Tuesdays
Residential Yard Waste – Collected on Wednesdays

Anna Maria City:
Residential Yard Waste and Recycling – Collected on Mondays
Household Garbage (solid waste) – Collected on Mondays and Fridays.


Bradenton Beach:

Household Garbage (solid waste) –  Collected on Monday and Thursday
Residential Recycling – Collected on Thursday
Residential Yard Waste – Collected on  Wednesday