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!

Top 10 Anna Maria Island Beaches – Things to Know!

It’s no secret that some of the most beautiful Gulf of Mexico coastline can be found on Anna Maria Island beaches. Powder white quartz sand, clear blue waters, exotic wildlife and endless sunshine make for the perfect place to relax all day and let your cares wash away.

Anna Maria Island Beaches

There are several things to keep in mind when visiting Island beaches. So, Island Real Estate has come up with our top ten list of things to know about Anna Maria Island beaches. From deciding which beach to visit to where to find parking, Here’s everything you need to know for fun in the sun.

Anna Maria Island beaches
Anna Maria Island has some of the Gulf of Mexico’s most beautiful powder sand beaches.

1. Sunblock

If you are a Floridian you have a complete understanding and respect for the necessity of sunblock. It only takes one really bad sunburn to learn your lesson, and no one should suffer from this mistake on vacation. Even on an overcast day it’s possible to get sunburned! It is extremely important to slather on the sunblock at least 20 minutes prior to heading to the beach to allow your skin to properly absorb sunblock. Be sure to reapply sunblock every few hours, especially on the kids. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are safe from the sun in the water; you still need to use every precaution to avoid a bad burn. In addition to sunblock consider a hat, sunglasses, lots of water for keeping hydrated and a loose fitting shirt to cover bare skin.

 

2. Places to Beach

Sunset on Anna Maria Island
Be sure to catch one of Anna Maria Island’s beautiful sunsets!

 

Anna Maria Island has over seven miles of beaches to explore, but finding the perfect beach for you is important for having the ultimate island experience. One great thing about Anna Maria Island is the abundance of public beach accesses all along the gulf and bay sides of the island; however, not all public accesses have available parking. With each beach offering a little something different, here are four options to better curate your beach excursion.

Manatee Beach

Manatee Public Beach Access is perhaps the island’s most popular, and therefore, busiest of beach spots. With just about all the amenities you could want for the beach, Manatee Public Beach is an island hot spot. Located at the very end of west Manatee Avenue, this public beach offers tons of free parking, lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, gift shops, concessions, changing rooms, free trolley and public bus stop, volley ball nets, tourist information, picnic tables under shady Australian Pines and a fabulously sandy playground for the kids. This Beach Access is truly the heart of the island beach scene.

Coquina Beach

Coquina Beach Access is located along the south end of Anna Maria Island running up the gulf side. This popular beach has tons of parking, grill and picnic areas, playground, lifeguard, bathrooms, trolley stop, concessions, and an absolutely gorgeous walking/bike path running along the sea oat sand dunes.

Bay Front Park

Bay Front Park Beach Access is located on the northern end of Anna Maria Island south of Bean Point running along Tampa Bay. This park has an updated playground, picnic grills and shelters, bathrooms, some parking, and nearby Trolley stop at the Anna Maria City Pier. The beaches are narrow along the bay side, but there are views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Tampa bay and gorgeous sunrises.

Bean Point

Bean Point Beach Access is one of the most secluded and sought after beach destinations on Anna Maria Island. Parking is extremely limited making this beach more accessible by foot or via bicycle.  Bean Point beaches are mostly deep and expansive with powder sand, sea oats, dunes and wildlife. Enjoy great views of Egmont key, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

3. Beach Safety

Beach Safety is an important thing to keep in mind when swimming and enjoying a day at the beach on Anna Maria Island. Be sure to observe all signs regarding swimming conditions including rip tide warnings. Look for one of the five colored flags posted to understand current swimming precautions.

4. Shells

Anna Maria Island seashell
Shelling and Beach Combing on Anna Maria Island is fun for all ages!

Beach Combing and shelling are a fun beach activity for the entire family when visiting Anna Maria Island. With so many different species of shells and wildlife you never know what you’ll come across when strolling the powder white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. There are plenty of places to find shells on the island with some of the best finds washing up after stormy weather.

5. Beach toys

No matter how young or old beach toys are a must for the beach. Making sand castles with bucket and shovel, throwing around a Frisbee or clinging to a noodle; beach toys are always a fun addition to your beach trip.

6. Temperatures

Regardless of when you visit Anna Maria Island the weather and water temperature are almost always gorgeous. In the summer expect seasonal afternoon showers, and bath like water temperatures. Some visitors even swim in the winter, but we’ll leave that up to your judgement.

7. Turtle Season, Birds, Dolphins, and Wildlife.

Black Skimmer and baby
Black Skimmer feeding baby during nesting season on Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island is fortunate to be the year round, and seasonal home of many different species of wildlife. Each year between May 1st and October 31st we find several species of Sea Turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. In the spring and winter months Anna Maria Island is home to many birds nesting on the beaches including the stoic Black Skimmers and Least Terns. Sea mammals like dolphin and manatee can be spotted around Anna Maria Island at various times throughout the year. With so much wildlife it is important to respect these beautiful inhabitants.

8. Respect the beach – Clean up

The beach is a beautiful public place that must be cherished and protected. There are wrong and right ways to utilize this resource. When visiting the beach follow all posted rules, avoid feeding the seagulls and be sure to clean up all your trash and debris when you leave. It only takes two minutes to keep trash and litter off our pristine beaches!

9. Surfing

Anna Maria Island may not be the first place that surfers flock to for huge waves, but the locals still enjoy our laid back surf culture and climate none the less. White Avenue in the city of Anna Maria is one popular surfing spot. If you aren’t into surfing try out wake boarding during your stay!

10. Day Trip to Egmont and Fishing

Egmont Key Florida
Egmont Key Light house

If you are looking for a great place to bring your boat and go for a swim Egmont Key is always fun and beautiful. Located just off the northern tip of Anna Maria Island, Egmont is a great short day trip into bay waters.

Stay up to date with everything about fishing on Anna Maria Island on the Island Real Estate local scene blog page Fishing Report. From the Intracoastal waterway to the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay there are plenty of great fishing opportunities.

When visiting Anna Maria Island be sure to stay safe, have fun, put on your sunscreen and enjoy lounging on beautiful Florida beaches!

Anna Maria Island Vacation Rental Homes and Accommodations

If you are looking for the perfect vacation rental home visit IslandReal.com today! Enjoy the largest selection of vacation rental accommodations to choose from on the island along with great customer service!

Anna Maria Island Club vacation rental and accommodations
Anna Maria Island Club is a picturesque direct beach front condominium complex located in Bradenton Beach. Anna Maria Island Club 44 offers accommodations for up to 6 guests with balcony views of the gulf from both the living room and master bedroom. Click on the image above to reserve your stay at Anna Maria Island Club 44 today!

 

Best Beaches For Splendid Seashells On Anna Maria Island

Best Beaches for Seashells on Anna Maria Island
Best Beaches for Seashells on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island has become famous for its pristine beaches, calm azure waters and unlimited Florida sunshine, but it has so much more than that to offer. People come here from all over the globe to get SEASHELLS!  Not just collectors or merchants, but real people like you and me can find absolute treasures.  Some of my favorites to find, and possibly the easiest are lion’s paws, tiger paws, clam shells, turkey wings and coquinas. The ones I love to find, and I sure everyone feels the same, are sand dollars!  You have to go pretty far out to get them intact, and you have to have some time to spend collecting Starfishthem from the sea floor. Here is a list of Anna Maria Island’s best shell finding beaches.

1. Manatee Public Beach at the end of SR64 – I am a fifth generation Bradenton Florida native, and this is the beach I grew up on. My parents brought me to this beach for the first time when I was only 6 months old. I learned to swim here, sunbathe here and my favorite beach activity to collect seashells.

2. Anna Maria City Beach at the end of White Avenue – Not only is the beach at the end of this road unspoiled it is mostly secluded. I remember finding seashells here that hadn’t even been touched by other beach goers. This is definitely where I am always able to find unbroken shells.

3. Bayfront Park on North Bay Boulevard – I find that this is a good place to find larger shells because there are not a lot of waves the on the bayside of Anna Maria Island. If you catch this area at its lowest tide you will be able to find shells like none other anywhere on the island.

4. Bean Point on North Shore Drive – This is a place easily missed by most vacationers to Anna Maria Island, but locals like me love to explore the northern most beaches of Anna Maria Island. I found a beaut of a large pink and white conch shell that my daughter swears she hears mermaids singing inside.

5. Coquina Public Beach on South Gulf Drive – The south end of Anna Maria Island is a great place to not only find seashells, but sharks teeth as well! Some great advice I got from a fellow local was to keep my eye on the water line, and that “shark’s teeth will tumble while seashells roll”. I have found the most sharks teeth just remembering that phrase!

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 Shelling
Shelling on Anna Maria Island

If you are looking for the perfect direct gulf front Anna Maria Island vacation rental check out our premium properties!