Anna Maria Island: Florida's Best Secluded Beach
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Anna Maria Island not only has the best secluded beach in Florida, it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds that other beaches in the Tampa area attract. It has white sand as soft as flour, water clear enough to see the ocean floor on a calm day, and sunsets you will never forget.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(out of 5)
Difficulty: VERY EASY Easy Moderate Hard Very Hard
Terrain: White sand beach, clear water, some boardwalk and grassy areas
Time: 1 hour to all day
When to Go: Anytime of the year
THINGS TO BRING
Beach toys, umbrella and chairs
Snacks, lunch, water
Life jackets/floaties for children who need them
Bathrooms located at Manatee Beach a few miles away
Restaurants on Anna Maria Island
When we moved to Florida, I made it my quest to find the best beach in the State. Who would have guessed that we found it on our first try?
After going to more than a dozen beaches on the Atlantic and gulf coasts, in the end, Anna Maria Island remained our favorite beach in Florida!
The main beach on the island is called Manatee Public Beach, which is located in the City of Homes Beach on Anna Maria Island (a bit confusing, I know). Although, the main beach is as good as several other beaches in Florida, our favorite beach on the island was actually a bit more secluded, and until recently, we did not realize it was technically a city park.
This more secluded beach on the island has the softest sand and clearest water that we found in our many beach visits around the state. Our days were filled with swimming, sand castle making, tubing, kite flying, skim-boarding, kayaking, snorkeling and many, many smiles.
Anna Maria Island rarely sees the same number of crowds that other touristy beaches get. There are no hotels on the island, only privately owned homes—many of which are right off of these more secluded beaches. It is a great place to rent an Airbnb for a few days.
As you enter you enter the water, its good to do the "stingray shuffle." Essentially, you just shuffle your feet across the ocean floor to detour any small sting rays in the area. Don't worry. We are talking about little guys that are few and far between.
We own kayaks, so we would often times bring them with us. On calm ocean days we would dive for sand dollars, sea stars and other sea creatures in the clear water off the kayaks.
On one occasion we found over 20 whole sand dollars. My husband called it a “sand dollar graveyard.” However, be careful not to take live sand dollars from the ocean, if you are lucky enough to find one. We also loved dolphin watching from the kayaks.
There are several places to rent kayaks on Anna Maria Island, such as Beach Bums, which is located at 427 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216. They offer paddle board, kayaks, bike, and golf cart rentals. Check out their web page www.beachbumsami.com .
The water is the most calm and clear in the morning hours and then the waves usually pick up in the afternoon. We loved to snorkel to to find shells and fish when the water was calm and clear.
Most of the time the waves are minimal compared to the waves on Florida’s Atlantic Ocean beaches. The waves are sometimes good enough to boogey board, but most of the time they were calm and peaceful waves, perfect to relax in a tube on.
The shallow calm water creates a perfect place to skimboard too. My brothers and husband loved this at Anna Maria Island.
With each visit we would stop at Manatee Public Beach to go to the bathroom prior to finding our beach spot elsewhere on the island. There is a large parking lot, picnic tables, showers and a small restaurant there.
Manatee Public Beach also has a free trolley you can catch to get a tour of the island. This is a fun way to add variety to a day at the beach.
We loved the calm tranquility of this Gulf Coast beach. The water temperature in the summers can reach 86 degrees while the winter temperatures can drop to the 60s. Anna Maria Island can be enjoyed any season.
PROS & CONS
Sand as soft as flour
Clear water on calm days
A few quaint shops and restaurants
No amenities at the secluded beach sites
Very limited street parking
Anna Maria Island is one hour south of Tampa or one hour and 45 minutes from Disney World.
The address to Manatee Public Beach on Anna Maria Island with amenities is 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.
The City Park beach that we loved to go to is accessed off neighborhood roads that are perpendicular to the beach. Google simply calls it "City Park." (Side note: Google states that it is part of Bradenton Beach, and sometimes Holmes Beach, but ignore that and read the instructions and maps below).
To get to the City Park beach, you have to drive north of Manatee Public Beach for a few miles on Gulf Drive. You can also get off of Gulf Dr. and onto Marina Dr. (which is what we would do), which it turns into Palm Dr. and eventually back into Gulf Dr. Either way, it almost seems like you are getting further away from the ocean as you drive through neighborhoods, but if you follow one of these roads, you should be good.
You will need to park in front of homes on side streets that serve as outlets to the beach. Pay attention to signs of where parking is allowed. The city does ticket. The main sides streets that we would park on were Palmetto Dr. or Willow Dr.
These are pretty close to the Anna Maria Island Creamery & Bakery and a few other little shops and restaurants. We would get Ice Cream there (and use the bathroom, but only if you purchase something).
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Siesta Key (50 minutes)
Tampa (1 hour)
Bush Gardens (1 hour and 15 minutes)
Disney World (1 hour 45 mintues)
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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