Welcome to Anna Maria Island! If you’re planning a vacation here, you can expect warm waters, dazzling sunsets, and lots of local shopping, dining, and entertainment. We aren’t like other beach towns, and it’s our unique qualities that keep visitors coming back every year.
At Anchor Down Vacation Rentals, we want to help you have the best possible experience. We love this part of Florida’s Gulf coast, and we’re proud of the properties we provide to travelers like you.
One of the first things you’ll have to decide when you’re planning your getaway is – where will you stay?
Anna Maria Island is a seven-mile barrier island just south of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. The entire island is divided into three separate towns. Each town has its own main street, full of restaurants, shops, art galleries, specialty shops, and opportunities for entertainment and recreation.
The towns on the island are:
- Bradenton Beach
- Holmes Beach
- City of Anna Maria
Anyplace you stay will undoubtedly be lovely. But, we want your vacation to be just right, so here are some of the things you’ll want to think about when you’re deciding where to stay when you visit Anna Maria Island.
Understanding the Anna Maria Island Towns
You won’t have to worry about large crowds, frustrating traffic, or views obstructed by towering condo buildings. Anna Maria Island is calm, serene, but lots of fun. Plenty of activities can be found here, including beaches, fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, shopping, and historical journeys into the early 1900s.
Don’t get confused about where one town ends and the next begins. Here’s how to sort out whether you’re in Bradenton or Holmes Beach, and how to find Anna Maria on the northernmost tip of the island.
Each of the cities is special in its own way. When you’re considering the City of Anna Maria, you’ll find that most of the vacation rentals there are residential properties, usually with more space and lots of privacy. You’re likely to find backyards, extra bedrooms, and an easy trip to Bean Point Beach, which provides astonishing views and is one of the quietest beaches on the island. You’ll find lots of shops along Pine Street, and there’s also a historic pier and an island museum that will tell you everything you need to know about the area’s journey through the centuries.
Bring a bike or plan to walk in the City of Anna Maria. It’s not going to feel very touristy, even if you spend a day people watching.
As you journey further down the island from north to south, you’ll find Holmes Beach right in the center of the island. Manatee Island is the main street here, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, nightlife, and even live music. The Manatee Public Beach is a popular spot for families and festivities.
Holmes Beach feels like a small town, with single-family homes and cottages available for rent. Visitors enjoy the water, of course, and also tour the gift shops and views of the Skyway Bridge. The largest grocery store in Anna Maria Island is in Holmes Beach, so you’re likely to make at least a few trips to this part of the island.
And then, there’s Bradenton Beach, at the southern side of the island. If there’s going to be a “busy” part of Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach would probably be it. You’ll find a lot more energy, a lot more movement, and plenty of visitors trying to get on or off the island. All sorts of vacation rentals can be found here, including homes and condos and apartments. It’s great for walking, so consider leaving the car at home and going on foot to where you need to go. Bridge Street is where you’ll find most of your restaurants and shops in Bradenton Beach. The beaches are calm, spread out, and delightful with white sand and sparkling clear water.
Get to Know the Beaches When Deciding Where to Stay on Anna Maria Island
We’re more than our beaches – there’s a lot to do that will keep people of all ages and energy levels busy.
But, this is probably a beach vacation, so when you’re choosing an area to stay in, you’ll want to be close to the beach that works best for you.
Let’s take a look at what separates one beach from another in Anna Maria Island.
Bradenton Beach – Coquina Beach
Coquina Beach is in Bradenton Beach, and it’s often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida by travel magazines. There’s beautiful white sand and calm, clear waters, and you’ll also be impressed by the line of towering Australian pine trees bordering the beach. In Florida, this is unusual.
In addition to gorgeous trees and great beach-going, Coquina Beach has all the amenities you’ll need while you’re sunbathing, swimming, or taking long walks on the sand. There’s free parking, restrooms, showers, and concessions. Pack a picnic and use the grills. Playgrounds are also on-site to entertain waterlogged children.
Staying near Coquina Beach is also a benefit if you enjoy local craft markets. Twice a week in the winters, vendors gather at the beach to sell food, art, clothes, and souvenirs. There’s also a restaurant right off the beach, where you can grab an early morning coffee or a midday lunch. Chair and umbrella rentals are available and the beach volleyball courts are never empty.
Choosing to stay near Coquina Beach means you’ll have a view of the boats making their way through Longboat Pass, which is the major access point for anyone roaming between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Bradenton Beach – Cortez Beach
Also in Bradenton Beach is Cortez Beach, which can be found right off Bridge Street, and close to restaurants, shops, and other beaches including Coquina. Staying in this area of Anna Maria Island will give you access to everything you plan to do on your trip, and you can walk there easily.
Most of the Gulf of Mexico is calm, but if there are going to be waves, you’ll find them at Cortez Beach. Surfers will want to stay near here. It’s also a popular place for people to fish. If you like a pier, Cortez Beach is the place to be.
Holmes Beach – Manatee Public Beach
If staying in the center of the island seems like the most sensible option, choose a spot near Manatee Public Beach. There’s a large parking lot, a lot of beach space, and a local beach shop that will help you get set up with anything you’ve forgotten, whether it’s a hat or sunscreen or an extra towel.
Five sand volleyball courts are available, and the water here is shallow and safe, making it a great place for kids to splash around. Plenty of lifeguards are on duty and the Anna Maria Island Café is on site to serve lunch and snacks.
Staying close to Manatee Public Beach will give you more than the idyllic beach experience on Anna Maria Island. It will also deliver great restaurants for burgers, pizza, and of course seafood. You can even cook your own food at the beach – grills and picnic tables are plentiful.
City of Anna Maria – Bean Point
Prefer the quiet to the constant activity and hum of beachgoers? You’ll want to stay at the City of Anna Maria, preferably near Bean Point Beach. This is one of the most secluded and stunning beaches on the island. It’s nearly untouched – with most of the beachy things happening further south. You’ll have to make some trade-offs, though. The calm and serene setting means there are no lifeguards and it’s not easy to park. But, the views and the tranquility will more than make up for it. Sometimes, you’re on the beach alone with only the herons and the willets for company.
Stay Where You Won’t Have to Drive
People love their cars – we get it. But, this is your vacation. And you’re not vacationing in any Florida town. You’re on Anna Maria Island, where we invite you to park the car and then leave it. One of the joys of staying here is that everything is easily reachable – wherever you happen to make your home while you’re visiting.
When you’re deciding where to stay, consider staying close enough to the spots you plan to frequent the most. You’ll want to explore the entire island, of course, but if you’re just a short walk away from your favorite restaurant or your preferred beach, you’ll worry less about parking.
In Anna Maria Island, you can walk almost anywhere. You can also take a bike or even better – hop on the free trolley that travels from Bradenton Beach through Holmes Beach to Anna Maria. It’s the easiest way to see the entire island and you won’t even work up a sweat.
We love helping people find the perfect place to stay when they visit Anna Maria Island. We’ve been renting out homes here for vacationers like you for years. Contact us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. When you book directly with us, you save money and get the personalized service that can make a huge difference in your vacation.