Birds Nesting Anna Maria Island – Spring is Here!

The spring nesting season is upon us here on Anna Maria Island. At the north end of the island, near Bean Point, and also in mid-Anna Maria. Where the beach is extremely wide and covered with small dunes and patches of beach grass, the seabirds are nesting.

Nesting shorebirds

Terns, black skimmers and sanderlings are sitting on their nests. Little scrapes in the sand are shorebird nests. Additionally, nest scrapes are very difficult to see. Often the Audubon Society comes out and ‘ropes off’ the nesting areas with skinny stakes and string to keep curious beach goers out of the area.

It’s very easy to scare a bird off its nest without even noticing that there os a nest. So, if you’re out walking at the north end of Anna Maria Island, please be careful.

The Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird monitoring is an excellent Anna Maria Island shorebird resource. This non-profit organization is responsible for turtle monitoring. In addition to their turtle efforts, AMITW tracks shorebird development each spring.

Holmes Beach Skate Park Under renovations starting 11-2019!

Join our excitement to see the ALL NEW Holmes Beach Skate Park under construction as of 11-2019!

Built in 2003, the Holmes Beach skatepark has been well loved and enjoyed by locals yet after 15 years became in need of repairs. With help from one of the designers of Bradenton’s Riverwalk skatepark, the city looks to ride the momentum of what is considered by skateboard enthusiasts as not only a sport, but a lifestyle.

The Holmes Beach park, located at 5901 Marina Dr., closed in 2017 for repairs. The city took the opportunity to look at ways to enhance and expand the park. It remained closed throughout 2018 as early conceptual designs for a new park mimicked a lot of what is already there and residents rejected what was being offered.

The city went back to the proverbial drawing board and in December, Tito Porrata of Pivot Custom Skateparks, working with city engineer Lynn Burnett, presented an updated design that was widely accepted by the community and elected officials.

The city commission agreed to move forward and pledged $150,000 toward the redesign. A drop-in bowl is still being considered for the new park.

The toddler park that was next to the skatepark is being moved close to the pavilion at City Park to the north of City Hall. Titsworth said it’s to make room for the new skatepark, but also gives a better separation of the smaller children from those using the skatepark.

Other improvements coming to the city is a proposal to add a kayak launch and nature trail at Grassy Point and the city is making improvements at its dog park. The baseball field is being redesigned as a multipurpose field, which will leave room to relocate the existing large dog park and make improvements, while the small dog park will remain at its current location.

Holmes Beach Skate Park

5801 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
(941) 708-5800

Bradenton, FL Easter Egg Dash

If you have never witnessed 100’s of children running over a 100 feet to 36,000 Easter Eggs, come to Anna Maria Island for the Easter Egg Dash! Make the 10 minute drive out to G.T. Bray Park, in Bradenton, at 9:30am on Easter Sunday.

The Easter Egg Dash!

At G.T. Bray Park, they run an unbelievable operation where 36,000 Easter Eggs are laid out over 4 baseball fields.  They categorize children by ages to ensure the fairest of play.  This year they had 10 grand prizes.  The grand prize…a period of time in the Money booth.  Whatever you catch is yours and believe me there were not coins in the money booth.

Along with the Easter Egg dash they brought the Easter Bunny! The large pirate ship is sure to get everyone ready for the dash. We also enjoyed the blow up play areas and prizes given out.

My son recieved a prize for smiling and saying “please.”  If you just cannot wait until next year take a look at the pictures below.  It just might get you through the year but I dare you not to smile when staring at the pure elation on the children’s faces running towards the thousands of Easter Eggs.

Link to Easter Egg Dash You Tube Video

Local Medical Centers Anna Maria Island

There are a few medical centers within a 20 minute drive of Anna Maria Island.

Local Medical Centers Anna Maria Island

Blake Medical Center is closest to the island, and is located at 2020 59th Street West
Bradenton,  FL  34209
Telephone: (941)792-6611

Blake offers an ER with short wait times, and any emergency service you will need.

Manatee Memorial Hospital is located in the heart of Bradenton at
206 Second Street East
Bradenton, FL 34208
(941) 746-5111

Manatee Memorial Hospital is farther from the island, but does have a full facility and services available.

Manatee Urgent Care walk in clinic is located on Manatee Avenue at 4647 in Bradenton, FL 34209.
941-745-5999

If you find yourself in an emergency while on Anna Maria Island call 911. Island emergency services also have quick response times.

If you need information about pharmacies on Anna Maria Island visit our Pharmacy information page.

Anna Maria airport transportation

Flights To Anna Maria Island Florida

If you need to fly to the area the choices are Tampa Airport or Sarasota Bradenton International airport. The Tampa airport is about an hour and a half drive from Anna Maria Island. Sarasota Bradenton Airport is about 45 minutes away.

Some less used airports to fly into are the St Petersburg/Clearwater airport. This one is about the same distance as the Tampa Airport.  For international flights another alternative is one of two Orlando airports. Orlando also offers some very competitive airfares. The one way car trip takes about 2 hours in light traffic. Many guests also enjoy visiting Orlando for the theme parks.

Click the link for more information on transport services to Anna Maria Island from the Tampa International Airport or Sarasota/Bradenton Airports.

Travel to an Anna Maria Island rental by car

Traveling to an Anna Maria Island rental by vehicle is also a choice. Many guests come from with in Florida. Anna Maria Island also has many guest from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Many of these guests also travel by car. See below for estimated mileage from a few major North American cities.

Montreal, Quebec – 1550 Miles  :  Toronto, Ontario – 1400 Miles
Milwaukee, WI – 1300 Miles       :  Chicago, IL – 1220 Miles
Syracuse, NY – 1325 Miles          :  New York, NY – 1175 Miles
Boston, MA – 1420 Miles             :  Pittsburgh, PA – 1075 Miles
Orlando, FL – 122 Miles               :  Atlanta, GA – 500 Miles

Nearly all Anna Maria Island beach rentals offer wireless internet. Find information on Wireless Internet Hot-Spots on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island Newspapers

Anna Maria Island Newspapers are a great way to see what is going on in the community. There is nothing more fun than a small town newspaper! The island is fortunate to have two local papers and one covering Bradenton and Manatee county.

Larger Local news coverage

The Bradenton Herald is the largest local newspaper and primarily focuses on the mainland (Bradenton).  Anna Maria Island is covered within the newspaper, however Bradenton normally overshadows the events on the island.

Anna Maria Island newspapers

We have two local newspapers that primarily cover Anna Maria Island.  The first local newspaper is the Anna Maria Island Sun which covers island life as well as news and events.  Courtesy of Island Real Estate, we will arrange for a copy of the Sun to be mailed to any address in the United States for six months, free of charge.  Please send your postal mail address as well as “I want the Sun!” to Island Real Estate.  The second local newspaper, the Islander also covers Anna Maria Island news, etc.   Both approach news on the island with different philosophies so you choose which best suits your needs to keep abreast of island events.

The Longboat Key and News covers primarily Long Boat Key however it does cover some news on Anna Maria.

Anna Maria Island Gulf Water Temperatures

Anna Maria Island gulf water temperatures are gorgeous. Northern visitors may even swim all year long! The Gulf of Mexico as well as the Tampa Bay offer warmer swimming temperatures amazingly early in our Spring season. On warm days you can usually see a child or even adult taking a dip in our gulf waters any month of year. However, the length of time you might want to swim in the Gulf or Bay has much to do with the month of the year.

Anna Maria Island gulf water temperatures and safety

As usual we suggest all the same common sense safety practices while swimming with children.  Keep younger children in a water height that will easily allow them to get their head above water.  They will  also need to gather their footing quickly if they are knocked over by a large wave.  Normally the Gulf is very calm and a toddler can play in the Gulf with little to no effort.  If you are concerned about a toddlers swimming safety purchase some arm floater’s at anyone of the local shopping centers on Anna Maria Island or in Bradenton.  Take a look below at the AVERAGE sea temperatures to give you an idea of what time of year you find swimming in the Gulf acceptable.

High                Season                 Low
85                   Spring                   77
89                   Summer                80
86                   Fall                        68
77                   Winter                   65

Anna Maria Island Shelling – DIY Souvenirs

Shelling for free souvenir’s and free sunsets…

Some of the most relaxing moments in an Anna Maria Island beach rental vacation can be searching for the shells. Family in toe, it sometimes seems all too easy to get the entire group focused on a fun task that everyone can participate in. Thankfully shells don’t get you stopped in the airport security lines as you are sure to bring back the best of the best shells to help you remember a more relaxing time while vacationing on Anna Maria Island.  Below are some tips regarding shelling however don’t make the scavenger hunt too serious.  Remember the shells themselves are not the reward but the journey with your family to find the shells is the true once in a lifetime treasure! Also, here’s more on shelling.

Shelling for the best

You typically find the best shells after a good storm. Even better, if you visit Anna Maria Island during a re-nourishment project you are sure to find fabulous shells. Florida and Manatee county laws strictly forbid taking of live shells, shells with a living organism, starfish, Queen conchs or sand dollars. A Florida Fishing License is required to take living shells, and has a bag limit of two of any species per person per day. Collect shells in a bucket or “green” container, and be sure not to take too many. Shells, dead or alive, play a vital role in the Florida ecosystem. Perhaps limiting yourself to less than a pint sized bucket is a good ethical measure. If necessary use a mixture of 50/50 bleach and water to rinse your shells.  If you are searching in water be sure to shuffle your feet to disturb resting sting rays.

Anna Maria Island Three cities – Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach.

Anna Maria Island three cities; Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria City all offer a unique vacation. Anna Maria Island is approximately 7 miles long and 8 blocks wide.  There are three access points to the island all requiring you to pass over drawbridges. Typically the bridges open twice per hour and require only a five minute wait. Traveling South to North the access points to Anna Maria Island are Longboat Key (Gulf Drive),  Cortez Bridge (State Road 684), and Manatee Avenue Bridge (State Road 64). The entire island is in Manatee County and we have two zip codes of 34216 and 34217.

Anna Maria Island three cities’ beaches

ALL the Gulf of Mexico beaches on Anna Maria Island are open to the public.  Some prefer one cities’ beach over another, however, the difference between beaches are the amount of visitors on each. The softness of the sand, number of seashells, color of the sand, etc are similar if not the same for all gulf beaches.

There are public access points all along the island. We always suggest you ask how far the closest beach access is compared to where you are staying. In addition, if you have congestion expectations for the beach you visit, be sure to ask the vacation rental office for area suggestions on where to reserve. Try to get a definition in number of blocks, number of homes you have to walk past, or does it require a bicycle ride? It’s safe to say that you can bicycle to the Gulf of Mexico beach from anywhere on the island without much difficulty.

No high rises in Anna Maria Island three cities

Anna Maria Island’s uniqueness revolves around its gorgeous white powdery beaches and zoning guidelines for both commercial and residential properties.  No drive thru’s are allowed on the island.  The maximum height for all buildings on the island is 37 feet.  There are two buildings on the island taller than the 37 foot moratorium built prior. Zoning has ensured that no enormous buildings enter the island’s skyline. The miscellaneous zoning laws as well as the current City boards will ensure that Anna Maria Island continues to be considered “old Florida”. A quiet place families come to enjoy. The beach and a simpler life we all aspire to attain full time in our lives is here!

Shopping in Anna Maria Island three cities

There are gift shops, pharmacy shops, restaurants, deli’s, hardware, lumber, and one large grocery store all located on the Anna Maria Island.  Everything is within a short 5-10 minute drive. If you don’t want to leave the island during your stay we have plenty of choices to satisfy your needs.  There are many accommodations on the island including Hotels, Bed and Breakfast’s, and of course vacation rentals.   If a Vacation Rental does not fit your needs we strongly recommend the Harrington House which is a Bed and Breakfast right on the Gulf of Mexico. The Bed and Breakfast receives rave reviews and we promise you won’t be disappointed.  http://www.harringtonhouse.com/

Tourist Seasons on Anna Maria Island

High season is Feb 1st to end of April.  Mid-Season is June 1st to Middle August.  Outside of holiday’s, last minute stays can be found outside of the high season.  See the below city descriptions to view specifics of each city within Anna Maria Island.

BRADENTON BEACH:

Bradenton Beach is the most Southern city on the island, and is the most congested of all three cities.  Gulf Drive runs North/South and offers the only access from Longboat Key or Cortez Road (Route 684).  So, two of the three access points on the island must travel on Gulf Drive which is one of the reasons Bradenton Beach is a bit busier.

In addition, Bradenton Beach has the highest density of condominiums on the island and has a bit higher population per square mile. Of course everything is relative. It’s like asking a person from New York City what is busy and then asking a person from Honeoye Falls, New York what is busy.  Relatively speaking, their definitions are correct but it’s difficult to define “busy.”  The best way to explain it is if you stay on Gulf Drive you will hear some road noise. I have never had anyone complain that Bradenton Beach was too busy if they stayed off Gulf Drive.  In fact, complaints of guests that stay on Gulf drive are few and far between.  Many visitors choose Bradenton Beach because the rental rates can be a little less expensive and gift shops, restaurants and other shops are generally within a walk away.

HOLMES BEACH:

Holmes Beach is in the middle of the island and is extremely popular due to the large public beach at the end of Manatee Avenue (Route 64).  The middle city starts around 29th street and ends at Peppertree, about 55 blocks.  This area is considered quieter than Bradenton Beach and has many gift shops, restaurants, and the only major grocery store on the island.  Holmes Beach is considered quieter for several reasons.  Firstly, Holmes Beach has a mixture of condominium complexes and homes.  The mixture is about 30% condominiums and 70% homes.  Secondly, most of Holmes Beach allows for several routes that allow access North and South.  This provides for a lot less traffic congestion.  Holmes Beach has the widest section of the island and allows most of the East side of the island to view the Tampa Bay as well as the Skyway Bridge.

Key Royale is a more exclusive area of Anna Maria Island three cities.  All properties on Key Royale have varying degrees of water views, either canal or Tampa Bay views.  In addition, the area offers the only golfing on the island with a 9 hole par 3 Golf Course.   It is a private golf course and requires some significant networking to find a member to allow you to be their guest.  Don’t worry, there are plenty of public golf courses nearby.  For shopping, East Bay Drive offers the newest plaza’s on the island and the ¼ mile stretch gives you access to several restaurants, gift shops, pharmacy, grocery store, hardware store, etc

ANNA MARIA CITY:

Anna Maria City is the most Northern area of the island.  It is very popular for those that desire extreme quiet. Anna Maria City starts at Peppertree up to the most Northern tip of the island.  Anna Maria city also has shops and restaurants.  The city is populated with homes rather than condos so the population density is much less as compared to Holmes Beach or Bradenton Beach.  Walking or bicycling in Anna Maria City is fantastic as there is very little traffic and home watching is spectacular.  Anna Maria City has two piers that you must visit while on vacation.  Grab an ice cream at  Two Scoops and walk the public pier at the end of pine and take in the million dollar view of Tampa Bay.