Anna Maria Island is one of Florida’s most scenic vacation spots, popular among all tourists. People get drawn explicitly to this location due to its Old Florida style, serene white sand beaches and clear water. Situated in Manatee County on the Gulf of Mexico, near Bradenton and Sarasota, the island offers a lot to visitors of a heterogeneous group. Most seasoned travelers know which places to visit and what to do on vacation here. However, if you are coming to the island for the first time, you may need help navigating all the things to do.
Here is an extensive list of the best tours near Anna Maria Island that can help you explore its entirety, understand its history and experience its culture.
Best Tours Near Anna Maria Island
Dolphin ToursThe 7-mile strip of the island is known for its population of bottlenose dolphins. Naturally, the first thing to do when you hit the beach is to take a dolphin tour. Many companies provide fully-guided private and group tours for multiple hours. You can experience the island’s charm, its beaches, crystal-clear waters and the scenery it offers.
Even though these tours are primarily meant for spotting dolphins, you may also see other marine creatures like sea turtles, manatees, eagles, birds, and osprey. A guided dolphin tour can be beneficial as the local guides possess extensive knowledge about marine wildlife and know how to deliver a great experience.
Another recreational activity that is a favorite among visitors to the island is boat tours. Many top-rated boat tour providers offer a relaxing experience. Like a dolphin tour, the boat tour also needs you to take a boat around the island’s water.
However, while the dolphin tour is only for spotting marine wildlife, the boat tour offers much more. The boat will take you to the best spots and indulge in activities like snorkeling, shelling, swimming and even sightseeing. There are many areas along the island where you can spot the Gulf Coast wildlife.
According to your requirements, some boat tours may also include parties, wherein your captain will take you to the best party locations on the island. You can ensure you unwind and have fun on your vacation in the pristine waters of Anna Maria Island.
Now that all the essential water-based tours are covered, there is another popular excursion that many tourists choose. Most people come to the islands to experience their beautiful white sand beaches. However, there are numerous famous beaches on Anna Maria Island, like Bradenton beach, Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach, Manatee Public Beach and more. If you are unsure which beaches to hit, you can book a coast excursion.
As the name suggests, this tour involves exploring all the renowned beaches on the island. Since the island is a marine life sanctuary, you can spend hours and days exploring its shores, collecting shells and interacting with the coastal marine life. You can further expand this tour to include a sunset tour. You can use it for cruising leisurely along the coast and watching the sun dip below the horizon.
Water sports and adventure tours are a must-have experience during your stay at Anna Maria Island. Here are a few adventures you can enjoy:
- Parasailing Tours
Parasailing ride services on the island are available year-round. You can experience the thrill of watching the coast from a different point of view by parasailing. It has been one of the favorite activities of tourists over recent years.
- Fishing Trip
Fishing is one of the most popular vacation activities preferred by tourists of all ages. Like a boat tour, a fishing trip involves you or your group of tourists taking a boat out in the open water. The boat’s captain knows the best spots where fishes reside and can help you quickly catch one.
- Snorkeling Tours
Anna Maria Island, specifically Egmont Key, is renowned among snorkelers. Here, the crystal clear water lets you view fantastic aquatic animals, shipwrecks and reefs. Also, snorkeling allows you to explore the island’s diverse shoreline up close.
- Hiking Tours
Nature hikes are also popular among tourists on the island. The island consists of Leffis Key Preserve, Grassy Pointe Preserve and Neal Preserve, which are ecological parks built to conserve the biodiversity of Anna Maria Island. You can stroll through the nature trails to discover the island’s hills, plants and natural beauty.
- Kayak Tours and Ecoventures
Once the water around Anna Maria Island calms down, you can choose kayaking or paddleboarding. It provides a better perspective on the island and allows you to interact better with marine life. You can easily rent kayaks from a beach shop to explore the waters.
Jet skis and adventure boats are the staples for every vacation, even on Anna Maria Island. For fun, you can ride the waves on jet skis, sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can also opt for snorkeling tours to ensure that you witness the true beauty of the Gulf of Mexico.
The island offers much more than its beaches and nature. It also has a lively art scene, museums, galleries and parks. Anna Maria Island is full of historical landmarks of monumental significance. During your vacation here, you can take a one-day sightseeing tour to visit the important areas of the region. Some are listed below:
- Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park is mainly a wildlife refuge and can be the best place to relax and unwind. The naturally and culturally significant park includes a lighthouse built in 1858 and is only accessible by private boat. Tourists visiting this place are fascinated by the history of the island and its purpose as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War in the 19th century. The island was also later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. The park’s monuments stand the test of time and serve as a reminder of the past.
- Anna Maria City Pier
Anna Maria Island City Pier is another historic landmark off Pine Avenue that you will want to see. It is located in Tampa Bay and gives you a stunning city view. You’ll be able to see the impressive Sunshine Skyway Bridge and enjoy the beach while having a good meal.
- Historic Green Village
The Historic Green Village, as the name suggests, is an area on the island that uses minimum energy by maximizing Florida’s natural resources. The village comprises multiple houses, some over a century old. The place is an ecological example, and people look at it as an inspiration for a sustainable future.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, located at 900 South Palm Avenue in Sarasota, Florida, is a 15-acre botanical garden. The Gardens feature preserved collections of epiphytes, and more than 20,000 living plants, including 3,500 bromeliads, 5,500 orchids and 1,600 other plants. They also have the world’s second-largest spirit collection consisting of vials of mostly orchid flowers in preservative fluids; and a library.
The gardens are a haven for nature lovers as they maintain banyans, bamboo, live oaks, palms, mangroves, succulents, wildflowers, cycads, bromeliads, a butterfly garden, a fragrance garden, an edible garden, a koi pond, a site bordering Sarasota Bay. They also have an interactive Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden designed to help children develop a lifelong appreciation for rainforest plants. You can visit this place as part of your sightseeing tour to learn more about the island’s natural beauty.
- Myakka River State Park Tour
Even though the Myakka River State Park is not on Anna Maria Island, it is just under an hour away. The park features 37,000 acres of untouched wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. It is one of the oldest and largest parks in the state and offers experiences like bicycling, boat tours, camping, and hiking. You can look for wild alligators and observe the wildlife from your boat. This park is the perfect place to spend a day on your island vacation.
- Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Tours
One of the island’s main attractions is the Mote Marine Laboratory. The laboratory and aquarium is an independent, nonprofit marine research organization based on City Island in Sarasota, Florida. They provide standard tours to visitors, including aquarium exhibits, where the audience can view several aquatic animals. They also explain the importance of marine conservation, research and education to promote awareness about marine life to people. You can also take their eco-tour as part of their aquarium experience.
If you like revisiting the past, you can take some excellent museum tours in and around Anna Maria Island. Some of these include:
- Anna Maria Island Historical Society
This museum features exhibits on local history and the city’s original jail. It also consists of artifacts, photographs and maps that show the island’s history as it spans from its earliest times. The historical complex features the original City Jail, the Belle Haven cottage that once sat on the City Pier, and a garden of plants native to Anna Maria Island.
- The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is a short drive from the island. Formerly known as the South Florida Museum, this natural history museum specializes in the history of Florida’s gulf coast. It houses exhibits highlighting Florida’s history from the prehistoric to the present. The museum is popular among tourists as it includes a planetarium, the parker manatee rehabilitation habitat and other attractions.
Now that you know the best tours near Anna Maria Island, you can easily plan an extended vacation to explore the same. At Anchor Down Vacation Rentals, we can help you find the best rental accommodations for your vacation.
We have a wide variety of rental properties that can be perfect for long as well as short stays. Besides, we ensure that our recommendations align with your requirements and provide homes that have private pools, are pet friendly, and are close to the beach.
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