Anna Maria Island Vacation Information
It’s not your very own private island, but Anna Maria Island is probably just about the closest thing you’ll find to it if you are searching for a beach vacation in Southwest Florida. A seven-mile-long barrier island situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, about 60 percent of this semi-tropical location is open beach. That means plenty of space to soak up the sun, build sand castles and search for sea shells without worrying about large crowds or a hectic pace. Life at this vacation destination, sometimes called Anna Maria Key, is slow and peaceful.
A picturesque place where people come to truly unplug and get away from city life, this barrier island has no high-rise condos, traffic jams, amusement parks or strip malls. Instead, it is natural beauty and a calming tranquility that is on full display here. The buildings here are no more than three stories high on, so you can look out for miles and enjoy the lush foliage, colorful and luxurious homes and shimmering white sands of this tropical paradise.
Anna Maria Island was first known by the local Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes, and was later discovered by Spanish explorers - including DeSoto - in the mid-1500s as they were entering Tampa Bay. It was then that this island was given its name, which honors the wife of Charles II of Spain. The barrier island is actually comprised of three communities – Anna Maria to the north, Bradenton Beach to the south and Holmes Beach in between. While they are certainly not bustling hubs, there are indeed quaint restaurants, shops and boutiques that dot the landscape in a pattern that is more like the suburbs than a city.
For nature lovers and adventure seekers, the island is small enough that a lot of exploring can be done on foot or bicycle. If you’d rather ride, there’s a free trolley service that makes getting around a breeze. However, there’s something magical about taking to the trails and paths and catching a glimpse of coastal wildlife in its natural habitat.
As its location is surrounded by water on all sides, of course you will find all of the usual water-related activities, from swimming to snorkeling , diving, parasailing and much more. Fishing is another popular pastime here, and there are several public fishing piers and local charter captains ready and waiting to accommodate a multitude of fishing experiences.
Round out your experience with some culture, including performing arts and a few museums and historical locations on the island. This charming, mostly isolated and nearly preserved area puts the “retreat” in a beach retreat to Florida. Fall asleep to the sounds of waves at night, get recharged daily with solar power and cool off with refreshing water activities. Plan a beach vacation to Anna Maria Island near the Tampa Bay area, and come discover the slice of paradise you’ve always imagined.