Florida is known for its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters and swaying palm trees which is why thousands of people are drawn every year by its splendid beaches and rich biodiversity.
Apart from the big and popular beach cities of Tampa, Miami, and Naples, Florida is also home to some of the most charming barrier islands in the US.
And one such island is the barrier island of Anna Maria, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, known for its laid-back and tranquil vibe and Old Florida charm.
If you are planning a visit to the island for the first time you might be wondering, Is Anna Maria island worth visiting or not?
Here are a few reasons why we say yes and a few cons that you should know to make your decision.
Is Anna Maria Island Worth Visiting?
There’s something about the soft, white sand and crystal-clear water at Coquina Beach that just makes you feel at peace. Maybe it’s the way the sun glitters off the waves or the sound of the gentle surf crashing against the shore.
Whatever it is, this beach has a way of washing away all your troubles and leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world, after all the tranquil and less commercialized beaches on Anna Maria Island are what separates it from other beach destinations in Florida.
And shouldn’t everything above what a day at a beach be about? Just sit back and relax while you feel the cool breeze on your skin and soak in the mesmerizing beauty of the Gulf Coast.
Apart from being a place to relax and enjoy activities like swimming and fishing, the beach is loved by all due to plenty of amenities on the beach from changing cabanas, beach cafes, and outdoor games to even a gift shop.
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Visit the Anna Maria City Pier
The Anna Maria City Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks on Anna Maria Island. Stretching nearly a thousand feet into the Gulf of Mexico, it provides stunning views of the water and the island itself.
The Pier is a popular spot among tourists and locals alike for fishing, picnicking, and bird-watching.
I especially loved to watch the sunset at the Pier. It was just simply breathtaking.
As the sun was slowly setting indicating the end of a wonderful day the sky was ablaze with vivid colors and the spectacular beauty of the island below made the scene even more spell bounding.
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One of the main highlights and best places to enjoy the beauty of the island and spend a relaxing day is Bean Point.
With spectacular scenery, soft white sand, turquoise blue waters, and plenty of parking space Bean Point is an excellent place for families with kids or couples to spend a day just sunbathing or swimming on the beach.
You can also enjoy beach combing as there are plenty of shells that wash ashore during high tides.
Bean Point is also known for its spectacular natural beauty and rich wildlife and is an amazing place for bird-watching you can often spot a pelican or two gliding across the water.
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If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, head to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. This paradise is perfect for those who enjoy soaking up the sun and relaxing on the sand.
If you love beachcombing then this place is a paradise for you as there are plenty of shells of all shapes and sizes that were ashore compared to Bean Point.
There are plenty of amenities and lifeguards on the beach which makes Brandenton Beach a must-visit attraction on the Bradenton Beach.
Enjoy Kayaking through Mangroves
The barrier islands in Florida make for an excellent place for an eco-kayak tour due to its rich mangrove tunnels that are bestowed with diverse bird and marine species.
Anna Maria Island is no exception when it comes to offering an amazing kayaking experience. The calm and clear waters around the mangrove tunnels make it a perfect place for exploring biodiversity at a leisurely pace.
Your kayaking tour will take you through a dense mangrove tunnel where you can often spot Dolphins or manatees swimming around or you might even spot a turtle or two sunning themselves on a log.
There are plenty of rental shops on the island, so you can easily find a kayak that suits your needs. Plus, there are plenty of spots to begin your kayaking tour from.
Anna Maria Island Historical Museum
A great way to explore a place apart from sightseeing is to get acquainted with the history of that place, and on Anna Maria Island the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum is the place to do so.
The museum is located in the historic district of Anna Maria and is housed in a restored 1916 schoolhouse.
You get to learn about the fascinating history of the island through an extensive collection that includes artifacts and exhibits from its early days as a fishing village to its development as a resort destination today.
Visitors are also educated about the island’s unique culture and traditions including information on the annual Mullet Toss.
The museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and admission is free for members of the historical society.
Historic Bridge Street
How about ending your vacation on Anna Maria Island with amazing retail therapy and lots of fun?
Historic Street on Anna Maria Island is a unique and charming place and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, all housed in colorful, historic buildings.
A leisurely stroll down the street transports you back into a more laid-back era when things were simple and beautiful. For all its rustic charm, the street is also home to some of the island’s best dining and shopping outlets, perfectly blending the past with modernity.
So, whether you’re looking for a souvenir back home to remind you of your most cherishable moments on the island or simply want to enjoy a leisurely stroll, make sure to add Historic Bridge Street to your list.
Cons of Visiting Anna Maria Island
Although these CONS shouldn’t let you from exploring the island and they are certainly not something that would drastically hamper your vacation experience. These are just a few things that you should know before you visit.
Traffic during peak season
The crowds and the traffic can be a bit too much to deal with during peak season. Being a small island there are not enough parking spaces and those that are available are mostly private parking spaces. So, make sure not to visit during peak season.
Being a small island with a limited area it should come as no surprise that the accommodation options are quite limited on the island.
This lack of availability increases the prices of accommodation drastically and most of the beachfront lodging options are either mid-range or luxury stay options.
And when peak season arrives the accommodation prices skyrocket taking a huge chunk of your vacation budget. Even after the high prices, you might still find it difficult to book your desired lodging option due to the large number of tourists.
Limited restaurants and bars
It should go without saying that if you are looking for a lively nightlife scene then Anna Maria Island is definitely not the place for you.
The island is known for its old Florida charm and laid-back vibe and there are only a few limited restaurants and bars to choose from, so those looking for late-night parties that last till the wee hours of the morning are sure to be disappointed.