We talk to a lot of vacationers, and we’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of trip-takers.

  1. Those who pack methodically, 24 hours before departure, according to a detailed list.
  2. Those who throw random things into a suitcase minutes before it’s time to leave. 

Whatever kind of packer you are, we have some ideas on how to prepare for your Anna Maria Island vacation. This is a beach town, so you’re probably expecting to bring a selection of swimwear and sunglasses. That’s good – but it’s not a complete list of what you’ll need. 

Let’s take a look at what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going so you know how to pack accordingly.

Pack Your Best Walking Shoes 

Any good beach vacation usually includes flip flops, water shoes, and sandals. Those are all good things to pack. You might want to show off your pedicure in something strappy and sharp. Or maybe your winter feet are so happy to be free from the boots and the socks that you plan to wear those flip flops for the entire time you’re here. 

We get it. 

But, you’ll want some walking shoes too. And to understand why, let’s talk a little bit about the geography of Anna Maria Island and why walking is the preferred method of transportation. 

Anna Maria is an island located on the shores of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico. The island is actually divided into three separate towns, each with its own main street that includes restaurants, shops, and entertainment like live music. Each town has its own beaches, and everything is pretty walkable. 

There’s Bradenton Beach at the south end of the island, and its main street is Bridge Street, which leads right to a large pier. Coquina Beach is as popular as the local Bradenton Beach in this town. Next is Holmes Beach, which is in the center of Anna Maria Island, and has Holmes Beach or Manatee Public Beach. Main Street runs right through the middle of town. Finally, at the north end of the island is the City of Anna Maria. Pine Avenue is where you’ll find the shops, restaurants, and even an island museum and city pier. Bean Point is a quiet, serene beach with lovely views. 

You can drive from place to place if you feel like sitting in your car and finding just the right parking spot. 

Or, you can walk like most of the locals do. You’re also likely to see people on bikes and scooters. If walking sounds like fun in general but you’re worried about fatigue, don’t be concerned. There’s a free trolley that runs through the island. You can hop on and off whenever you want, bringing you close to some of the best beach bars, seafood restaurants, and shops that Anna Maria Island has to offer. 

This is why we recommend some comfortable walking shoes. Save the flip flops for the beach and the backyard. You’ll want to move comfortably around the island on your feet to really experience how special this place is. 

Pack for Warm Days and Lots of Sun

This is Florida, and we have more than our fair share of sunny days, even in the winter. It sounds nice when you’re suffering through another snowfall in the north, perhaps, but it can actually get pretty hot. The summers can even be uncomfortable and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself sunburned and/or dehydrated. 

You’ll need a hat and some sunglasses and some super-strong sunblock. You might be fooled into a false sense of security if it’s hazy or cloudy – the Florida sun will still make an impact. Wear your sunscreen and do what you can to keep the sun from wreaking havoc on your vacation. No one wants to have a great time on Day 1 and then spend Days 2 and 3 recovering from sun poisoning. 

When people ask what they will be wearing on Anna Maria Island, it’s of course a matter of personal choice. Maybe you prefer shorts and tank tops every day or perhaps a sundress is your most comfortable attire when it’s hot. 

Summers will be humid. Winters can get cold. So what you pack will depend on the time of year that you plan to arrive and what your tolerance is for heat. Bug spray is always a good idea, especially if you’re planning to take some hikes or walks along the beach. In the evenings, mosquitoes are especially hungry. 

Pack for Cooler Evenings and Air Conditioned Interiors

Evenings on the Gulf of Mexico tend to get cooler, especially in the winter months when you’ll absolutely need a light jacket or a sweater. Even in the summer, you can expect coastal breezes that might send you into a surprise shiver. Our recommendation is to pack layers and to prepare to be cool or warm on the same day.

There’s also the matter of air conditioning. 

Because it gets so hot in Florida, a lot of indoor establishments like restaurants and shops tend to keep the air conditioning running at a level of intensity that leaves you wondering if they’re trying to preserve meat. You might get cold after you’ve been sitting in a restaurant sipping iced drinks. 

Pack sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, and wraps. If you’re coming in the winter and you happen upon one of our strange cold spells, you might want something even heavier. It dipped into the 30s for a night or two this January, and our Anna Maria Island visitors were happy to have their warm clothes to unpack.

Ultimately, when you’re packing clothes, you can expect to enjoy a laid-back dress code. We don’t know any restaurants on the island who will kick you out for not having a jacket and tie. Pack what you like to wear when you’re on vacation. Keep it simple and cover all the bases. 

And…if you forget something, there are plenty of shops in the area that are likely to carry any of the weather-appropriate attire you might find you need.

Pack for the Beach at Anna Maria Island

There’s a lot to do while you’re at Anna Maria Island – you can take your time exploring some of our historical sites, including piers and museums. You can browse art galleries and shop. You can take long, slow nature walks or spend a day photographing wildlife along the coast and in the mangrove forests that inhabit the area. 

Most of our visitors, however, plan to spend a lot of time at the beach. 

There’s no need to pack up all of your beach gear if you’d rather travel light. There are several well-equipped public beaches that have shops renting:

  • Beach chairs.
  • Umbrellas.
  • Surf board, paddle boards, and body boards.
  • Strollers.
  • Beach-friendly, accessible wheelchairs.
  • Kayaks.
  • Canoes.
  • Jet skis.  

However, if you have particular equipment of your own that you’d like to bring with you – by all means, take it. At some of our beach vacation rental homes, we offer things like beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers that our guests can use. 

Focus on packing what makes you most comfortable while you’re at the beach. Maybe it’s your favorite swimsuit, the perfect beach towel, or a big floppy hat that keeps the sun off your skin. 

When you’re traveling with kids, consider packing all the sand toys and sports equipment that will give them a fun day at the beach. There are sandcastles to build and balls to throw. 

A beach bag is a great thing to pack, too. You want something flexible and full – able to hold everything you’ll need for your beach days. And, don’t forget your water bottles. When you come with a refillable bottle, you don’t have to worry about all those plastic bottles and buying a new supply every couple of days. Plus, an insulated water bottle keeps your water cold, even at the beach. We’ve seen some collapsible water bottles that also look like fun. They’re easy to pack when you’re flying, too.  

Don’t Bother Packing These Items for Your Anna Maria Island Vacation 

Pack BooksYou’re coming to Anna Maria Island to relax, and that’s exactly what you should do while you’re here. As you’re packing for the trip, don’t forget to bring all the books, magazines, and favorite comforts that make you feel at home. 

In a vacation rental home, you won’t have to worry about kitchen utensils, pots and pans, or the things you’ll need to put together a meal or a snack. All of that is going to be provided for you. We’ll also supply the linens such as bed sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. 

Our job is to help you feel at home while you’re on vacation. You pack the clothes and the essentials. We’ll take care of everything else.  

When you’re planning a vacation to Anna Maria Island and you’re looking for a place to stay, we hope you’ll contact us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. If you book directly through us, you’ll save money and receive our full attention. Contact our team at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals.