14 Things Locals Always Have to Explain to Anna Maria Island Vacationers

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.

Things Locals Always Have to Explain to Anna Maria Island Vacationers

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.

2. Sunblock

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.

3. Wildlife

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.

4. Bugs

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.

8. Locals

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!

9. Weather

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!

National Travel and Tourism Week – Faces of Travel 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.

National Travel and Tourism Week
Anna Maria Island beaches attract over 1 millions travelers each year. It’s easy to see why!

 

 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.”

Yvonne Callahan – Vacation Rental Owner – Mango Breeze in Holmes Beach

“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.”

Melissa Fletcher – Vacation Rental Owner – Beach Escape in Holmes Beach

“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”

Deb Wing – President Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce

“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”

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau – PR and Outreach Specialist – Kasara Morison

“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.”

Anna Maria Island Travel
From sunrise to sunset, you won’t find a better beach vacation destination!

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!

Anna Maria Elementary International Peace Day 2016

In observation of International Peace Day, Anna Maria Elementary hosted a celebration of Peace for all ages. Parents, students, teachers and locals all came together for a special day.

What is International Peace Day?

September 21st is The International Day of Peace. The United Nations established this special day in 1989, and is observed globally. The UN declared the day as “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”. This day contributes to a global culture of peace, and gives the world an opportunity to set aside differences, and practice kindness and understanding.

Anna Maria Elementary Peace Celebration

The school celebrated peace on September 23. It was truly a special day bringing together all ages in a commitment to peace. The Manatee County Rotary Club and Manatee High School Drum line also joined the elementary students.

Starting the day off, Principal Jackie Featherstone welcomed the crowd at this well attended event. School counselor Susan Tabicman organized the day in addition to the help of sponsorship from the Rotary Club. Next, the High School drum line and Elementary students marched in a parade across the campus. The High School students kept beat with a great cadence while the younger children held flags from around the world.

Students raised the U.S. flag and the crowd observed the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.

One student from each grade two through five spoke in front of the crowd. These students made powerful statements about the meaning of peace. Well spoken, these students truly moved the crowd and made proud parents. Each grade level sang a song about peace with the help of Teacher Wooten and Teacher Ruise. It was adorable to say the least.

Pictures from Peace Day

International Peace Day
The Anna Maria Elementary Peace Day Celebration was well attended!

Finally, the event closed with a song sung all together. The entire group stood and held up peace signs making for the perfect ending to the celebration.

Check out our Instagram for a short video from the day too!

Anna Maria Island Information -Video Tour

Welcome to the Island Real Estate Anna Maria Island Information video tour! Discover the old Florida charm of the Island and it’s three cities of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. This video will also provide you a great locals insight.

While visiting enjoy our beautiful sugar sand beaches! Also find luxurious gulf front accommodations, unique shopping, activities, and beach-side restaurants.

Our tour explores, Anna Maria Island paradise, hot spots, beaches, shopping, dining and sightseeing. We will interview several Island business owners, and locals about why Anna Maria Island is such an amazing destination! One of Florida’s best kept secrets, this is the perfect spot for your next holiday!

While on the Island there are a few must do activities too!

Anna Maria Island Information

If you are looking for accommodations Island Real Estate would love to help! With almost 300 vacation rentals you’re sure to find the perfect vacation rental in your budget. We offer several different types of Anna Maria Island vacation rental homes! Our selection includes beach side vacation rentals, Anna Maria luxury rentals, vacation rentals on a budget. Additionally find groups of Anna Maria Island vacation rentals for larger gatherings.

Enjoy the video tour, and we’ll see you on Anna Maria Island!