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!

Anna Maria Public Parking – 6 Tips

Both commercial and residential streets offer Anna Maria Island Parking. When visiting the north end of the island by car often times drivers become frustrated looking for places to park. Avoid the frustration, and discover new little side streets and lesser known parking places in the city of Anna Maria. Lesser known spots may not be next to your destination, but a short walk away. Read our guide below for Anna Maria public parking tips.

Anna Maria Island Parking Guide

1. Follow Posted Signage

As you cruise through the city streets be on the lookout for parking signs. Along all the city streets you will see small white signs with either green letters or red letters. The signs with green lettering indicate where you may park, and the signs with red lettering indicate where you may not park. Anna Maria public Parking may be in unexpected places, so be on the look out for signs.

2. Be Willing to Walk

You will not find large public lots for parking in the small city of Anna Maria. Unlike many suburban communities, Anna Maria doesn’t have large businesses with large attached parking lots. First find your destination in Anna Maria. If there is no parking available immediately near the destination try driving around the block, and look for street parking. Anna Maria is a walkable community with many safe walkways for foot and bike traffic. When it comes to parking, you may just have to walk. Let go of the idea that parking should be next to a destination, and embrace a city dwellers approach to park and walk.

3. Relax

Don’t let yourself get stressed out finding the closest spot. Relax on island time, and go with the flow of this laid back community. If you are in the city of Anna Maria chances are you’re enjoying leisure time, so allow yourself to enjoy the paradise surrounding you. Why get upset over parking? Worst case scenario, you’ll have to park a few blocks away, and enjoy a walk through this quaint village community.

4. Use Alternative Transportation

Anna Maria is the perfect area for bicycles. There are many safe bike trails, and car traffic moves slower at 25 MPH. If you are staying on Anna Maria Island consider renting a bike to get you around. You won’t regret a beautiful bike ride in gorgeous Florida weather. Check out the Anna Maria Island Bicycle Guide.

In addition to bikes, hop on the free trolley for a great method of alternative transportation. There are trolley stops all along the island, so you can take the trolley to almost any destination. There are several trolleys circulating from Pine Avenue in Anna Maria all the way down to Coquina Beach in the city of Bradenton Beach. Typically the trolley will come by every 20 minutes, but occasionally the trolley schedules do change due to traffic flow.

If you get tired while bike riding you can always hop on the trolley, and use the bike rack located on the front of this great air conditioned public transport.

5. Avoid a Ticket

The city of Anna Maria strictly enforces parking laws. You WILL get a ticket if you don’t follow the basic rules of parking. The city enforces laws that are common to parking laws found in any city or town, so use common sense driving rules. When parking on the street be sure to keep your tires off of the road and sidewalk. This is the biggest rule to follow, and keep in mind when parking. Always park in the direction of street traffic, and never with your vehicle against the flow. Street parking is not allowed between 10pm and 6am. Always double check for signs. Anna Maria street parking signs are easy to read, and never provide conflicting information. Read this guide on Avoiding a ticket if you need further clarification, or receive a parking citation.

6. Be in the Know

Knowing the side streets and lesser know parking areas will be a tremendous help. This is especially true when looking for Public Beach Accesses. The best beaches on Anna Maria Island have the least amount of nearby parking. Click on the images below to see what street parking looks like around Anna Maria. Each image offers information about parking locations.

Anna Maria Public Parking Suggestions List

Streets List at a Glance:

Pine Avenue
Peppertree Lane
Park Avenue
Mangrove Avenue
Willow Avenue
Palmetto Avenue
Palm Avenue
Magnolia Avenue
North Shore Drive
Intersection of Fern Street and Jacaranda Road
South Bay Boulevard South of Anna Maria City Pier
Bay Front Park North Bay Boulevard
Limited Public Parking near the Rod and Reel Lot

Here is a google Street Map to assist you in finding your way around Anna Maria Island.

 

Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals and Accommodations

Island Real Estate has the island’s largest selection of vacation rentals to choose from. Visit IslandReal.com first when looking to reserve the perfect Florida vacation destination on Anna Maria Island!

Anna Maria vacation rental
Mon AMI Beach House is a gorgeous Anna Maria vacation rental home accommodating 8 guests. When you visit this home you’ll never have to worry about finding parking in the City of Anna Maria. This Mon AMI Beach House is located directly on Pine Avenue, and offers parking for up to four vehicles. Walk everywhere while spending a Florida vacation in the heart of Anna Maria Shopping and dining! Click on the image above to reserve Mon AMI Beach House today!