Everything you need to know: Anna Maria Island
18th June 2020
Gavin is the Managing Director and also the America Specialist at Pillinger World Travel. Gavin has extensive knowledge of Florida, and the rest of the USA, and has been in the industry for 20 years. Gavin has travelled to many different places throughout the world, as well as repeated visits to Florida and the rest of the USA.
Where to start with this Floridian Gulf Gem?
Situated just of the gulf coast of Florida near Sarasota and where Tampa bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, lies Anna Maria Island. Primarily, a narrow sand-bank key which stretches almost 7 miles long. It is accessible by 3 causeways either from the mainland or the neighbouring island just south called Longboat Key. If you haven’t heard about Anna Maria island before now, once you have been you will wonder how it has been kept as a secret from you.
This island is simply described by many as ‘unspoiled true Florida’ which boasts plenty of old Florida Charm as it has no commercialised buildings such as high-rise hotels or even fast food chains. Once you have stepped foot onto this paradise, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. For example, cars will stop for you to cross the road wherever you are. Just one of the many highlights of the friendly locals. Flip flops are a way of life here and the speed-limit never exceeds over 30 Mph. You soon start to get a feel for the relaxed way of life that this Island has. On the western side of he island from the most southern tip to the most northern tip, runs a 7 mile long stretch of white sandy beach. The pure white sand and turquoise contrasting waters is unparalleled from anywhere else on the Gulf Coast. The island has a relaxed style of accommodation that suits the island’s easy feel.
Where to stay on the Island?
Pillinger World Travel Ltd can offer special rates staying at ‘Coquina Beach Club’ which is a perfectly situated 3 storey block of sea-facing, separate beach Condos. You’ll find everything that you need whether you are travelling as a family or as a couple. From different en-suite Bedrooms to a spacious lounge and kitchen Coquina Beach will have you covered. You can also step out onto your raised balcony which overlooks the stunning turquoise Gulf of Mexico. You’ll be able to enjoy the most spectacular sunsets while spotting dolphins, manatees, turtles and rays that all love to swim along the shore-line. With all year round sun and warm temperatures, the sea-water can be guaranteed to be bath-like temperature. The condos also have underneath car parking and a has a communal swimming pool.
Where is the best restaurants and nightlife on the island?
There are clusters of beach-front restaurants and tropical palm-tree roofed bars dotted around the whole island. From experience, the Pillinger team recommends the following 5 restaurants:
- Beach House Restaurant (10 minute beach-walk from Coquina Beach Club, pictured above)
- The Sand-bar Restaurant
- Water-front Restaurant
- Sword-Fish Grill (Located across the water)
- Wicked Cantina Mexican
Beach bars such as the Kokonut Hut is an excellent atmospheric venue, day and night, where you’ll find a large rectangular bar virtually on the sand which possesses large sports screens and a whole variety of ice cold draft lagers with a direct sea-view. Most restaurants in the evening will offer live music while you dine watching the sunset over the Gulf. For something rather more vibrant later in the evening, head to Bridge-street where you’ll find a small strip of livelier cocktail bars with a lively atmosphere including the newly opened Daiquiri Deck.
Things to do on Anna Maria Island?
Here is one of our sales consultants, Andy, kayaking with Dolphins during a previous trip to Anna Maria Island.
- Mangrove Kayaking
As much of a relaxing holiday that Anna Maria Island offers, this place is by no means short of activities. In-between the island and the mainland, you will see that there are mile-wide shallow waters that separate the two. This is a play ground for Dolphins and Manatees. By the Cortez Bridge, you will find Bradenton beach Marina, where you can hire double or single Kayaks, as well as speedboats. Paddle south along the mangroves where you are 99% certain to have dolphins and manatees swimming beside you. As you head a few miles south towards Long-boat Key, you’ll reach a stunning sandbank in the middle of the water where you can tie your kayaks up and have a spot of lunch. Alternatively, if you hire a speed-boat, we recommend travelling south to a waterside restaurant called the ‘Old Salty Dog’ where you can dock up your boat right next to.
- City Pier with Two Scoops Ice Cream Shop Visit
Two Piers are located on the Northern end of the island. Rod n Reel Pier and Anna Maria City Pier. Unfortunately we lost the City pier due to Hurricane Irma which it out completely. A newly constructed Pier is underway which is hoping to be opened by July 2020. When both piers are fully operating again, you can have a stroll on those to see dolphins, pods of sting rays, turtles and manatees all in there natural habitat, trying to intercept the locals fishing. The two piers will have restaurants situated at the end, or if you fancy something a bit lighter, we recommenced Two Scoops Ice Cream shop which can be found next to the Waterfront Restaurant at the beginning of Anna Maria City Pier. Here, you can buy endless varieties of Ice-cream, shakes, waffles etc. There is car parking at both of these piers and also a Trolley stop if you wish to get the Trolley bus. (10 minutes from Coquina Beach Club)
- Relaxing on the beach with a ‘Polar Pop’
A Pillinger favourite. There are numerous named beaches on Anna Maria Island, however they are all as beautiful as each other as they connect and form a long stretch of white-powder sandy beach. At the front of Coquina Beach Club, you are footsteps away from Bradenton Beach. A deeper section of the beach where you are guaranteed to have your own space using the sunbeds that the condominiums supply. In many of the supermarkets on Anna Maria, you’ll find a soft drink dispensers named ‘Polar Pop’. Here, you can grab yourself an ice-cold soft drink to take onto the beach. You’ll find the widest variety and flavoured choice of soft drinks you’ve ever seen where it is just 69 cent for any sized cup. Wonderful!
View from Coquina Beach Club.
How to get about on the Island?
”Once you have parked your car at your accommodation, it is safe to say you may not need it until you have to go off the island.”
- Monkey Bus
This fun filled bus will pick you up and a time of your choice and take you out for your evening and bring you back to base afterwards. Named ‘The Monkey Bus’ with a Caribbean theme about it. It is FREE for everyone and will only accept tips. You will also share this with other people who will be picked up along the way to your specified chosen restaurant or bar, and it will play Caribbean vibe music along with chance to do some karaoke!
- Island Hop on – Hop off Trolley Bus
This FREE Trolley service runs frequently during the day with different stops equally spaced out all around the island both directions. It is a great way of heading to different parts of the island whether it is a spot of lunch you’re after or you want to head to the pier late afternoon for an Ice Cream to watch the Dolphins.
- Bicycle Rental
Renting bikes is such an a fantastic way of discovering the island in all of its beauty as you can cycle down unbeaten path not knowing what you may find. You may even stop and speak to the locals who always have a story to tell of what the island was like before tourism. Cycling down Gulf drive, you may even see a dolphin following you in the water parallel to the road.
How to discover Anna Maria Island?
There are many ways of implementing a stay on Anna Maria island into your holiday. Most vacation rentals will only allow a minimum of week. Tampa Airport is the nearest airport to the Island, where you can fly direct to from the UK. Or, you may prefer to look at twin-centring Anna Maria with Orlando which will allow you to experience two different aspects of Florida in one holiday. For the following deals we have on Anna Maria Island, then please click the following link . For further information or new enquires please email enquires@pillingerworldTravel or call 01772337448 today and we will be more than happy to assist you further.