The Many Beaches of Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island boasts seven miles of beautiful beaches. Each one offers warm turquoise waters, powdery white sand (that somehow never burns your feet no matter how hot the sun gets) and unobstructed views of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see. And yet each beach has its own unique characteristics—from Zen-like and meditative to high-energy fun.While we recommend you experience all our beaches, it helps to know a little about them before you go. To help you find your perfect beach, here are five Anna Maria Island favorites.
The hidden beach
Bean Point is at the northernmost tip of Anna Maria. So, you’d expect it to be easy to locate. In reality, it’s one of the most private and secluded areas of the island. Because it’s a little off the beaten path, it’s been a hidden gem for many years. Now, one of our best-kept secrets has become a must-visit destination. It’s also the most natural of all the beaches: no parking lots, only some limited on-street parking. Also, no facilities, no restaurants and no lifeguards.
Instead, this natural treasure is home to many species of local birds and other wildlife, breathtaking scenery (including views of the stunning Sunshine Skyway Bridge) and sweeping vistas of where the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay converge. The only downfall of this natural phenomenon is the strong currents and riptides it can produce. Swimming is not recommended. But we dare you to find a more picturesque spot on the island. Perhaps not the best beach for families with young children, but a great spot for singles and couples to up their Insta game.
Family-friendly with lots of options
Just down from Anna Maria Public Beach is the busy Bayfront Park, a great destination for a family picnic. Opposite of the peaceful and quiet Bean Point, this beach and park are full of activity. It offers a family everything they could want for a fun day of making memories—including pavilions, grills, restrooms (with showers) and even a playground for the kids.
Bayfront Park offers another great perspective of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as well as Egmont Key. And right next door is the wide and welcoming City Pier, which features one of the best seafood restaurants on the island. Several beachfront Anna Maria vacation rentals are close to this beach park. But if you’re staying a bit further away, the free trolley stops nearby, making it easy to get from here to just about anywhere else on the island.
The center of it all
If you’re looking for action, you’re in the right spot. Manatee Public Beach, centrally located at the heart of Anna Maria Island, is a seven-acre beach with something for everyone, especially for families. The beach is wide and spacious with plenty of parking. There are restrooms and showers, a playground for the kids, lifeguards on patrol, and even a beach café and bar. Want to do more than lounge? How about a game over by the beach volleyball courts (there are X of them!).
Need to get out of the sun? There are plenty of restaurants and shopping in nearby Holmes Beach. If you like to be in the center of the action, surrounded by people and the conveniences that come with civilization, Manatee Public Beach is where you want to be.
Where the surfers are
Heading further south will bring you to calm, quiet Cortez Beach. Like the more northern beaches, Cortez offers no-frills, all-natural beach bliss. You won’t find any children’s playgrounds, volleyball courts or cafés here. (Although, there are restrooms and a pavilion you can reserve for larger functions.) Instead, what you get are tall trees lining the beach with welcoming shade from the sun, native grasses, sand dunes and sea oats.
Shell hunters’ paradise
Down at the very southern end of the island is the number-one spot for shell hunters: Coquina Beach. Boasting the longest uninterrupted stretch of sand on Anna Maria, the vibe of the beach depends on where you are: the northern end tends to be quieter. The southern end, down where the concessions and facilities are (including ample parking, a café, pavilions and the like), tends to be a hub of activity. Along here, Coquina is lined with tall pines—offering a shady place to enjoy a meal over by the picnic tables.
But what Coquina is best known for are the shells. Colorful and beautiful shells are the ideal souvenir of any beach vacation. And from the banded tulip and the Murex to the coveted horse conch, Coquina has them all. There’s also an abundance of shark’s teeth, which adds another layer of adventure to the fun—especially for younger shell hunters, who can get bored easily. For the best of both, watch the waterline, where sharks’ teeth tumble while seashells roll.