The Ultimate Guide to Great Beaches on Anna Maria Island

In Florida, there are two major attractions. And we know you’re not here for Disney World.

If we had to pick just one way to describe Anna Maria Island (AMI), which is just a short drive from Sarasota, we’d say “spectacular beaches.” We’re talking soft white sands that you can’t wait to sink your toes into. Picture-perfect golden beaches around our island promise fantastic shelling, glorious sunbathing, and take-your-breath-away views.

Because with 1,200 miles of coastline and nearly perfect weather, Florida beaches are forever receiving awards. And yet, even amidst such an excellent (and competitive) company, Anna Maria Island is superlative.

In fact, Anna Maria Island beaches are so impressive, that TripAdvisor named the island America’s #1 Beach Vacation Destination. Think about that for a moment: the best beach vacation destination in the United States. The same United States that is also home to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, SoCal, and even our neighbors, the Florida Keys.

So, let’s get into it: Here are the best beaches to explore on your Anna Maria Island vacation.

Bean Point Beach

Location: 793 N Shore Dr, Anna Maria, FL

Bean Point is known as one of the quietest and most peaceful beaches on Anna Maria Island and is located right where the waters from the Gulf of Mexico meet the Tampa Bay.

Bean Point sits on the north tip of the Island, but you won’t find a parking lot or any signs to direct you there. To find Bean Point, head north on North Bay Blvd. from the Anna Maria City Pier, and you’ll find it at the intersection of North Bay Blvd and North Shore Dr.

Parking at Bean Point is limited but can be found at either of the two beach access signs nearby. The beach access points can be found at the intersections of Fern St & North Shore Dr, as well as the corner of Gladiolus St & North Shore Dr.

Once you’ve made it to Bean Point, you’ll immediately know why it’s so special. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue, and the sand is soft to the touch. When the tide is low, you can wade through the warm waters out to the sandbar for some of the best shelling on Anna Maria Island.

If you don’t feel like getting wet, Bean Point is a beautiful, calming spot to stroll, sunbathe, or even build sand castles. Be sure to stick around for sunset at Bean Point, it’s one of the best viewing spots on the entire island.

Bayfront Park

Location: 316 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL

Bayfront Park offers direct access to a stretch of sandy white beach and the shallow waters are calm enough to be family friendly. There are several shaded picnic areas with first-come-first-served picnic tables, so bring along some lunch to make a day of it.

This popular park is a well-known fishing spot and it’s also possible to see dolphins and manatees from the beach. For an extra special end to a day at Bayfront Park, head to Rod and Reel Pier where you can enjoy a bite to eat and spectacular views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

To get here, follow Gulf Drive North. When you arrive you’ll see the park on the right-hand side with plenty of free parking available. There’s also a free trolley service that runs up and down the island if you’d prefer not to drive.

Manatee Public Beach

Location: 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL

Manatee Public Beach is Anna Maria Island’s most popular beach, so make sure you set out nice and early to claim your spot on this wide, white sandy beach. Located in Holmes Beach, Manatee Beach can be accessed from 29th, 41st, or 42nd Street, and parking is available at the free parking lot located near the main beach entrance at Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive.

Families love visiting Manatee Beach because of the convenient amenities and walkability of the beach. You’ll find public restrooms before the beach entrance, as well as showers to wash off after a long day in the sand. The beach itself is well-maintained and very clean, and lifeguards are on duty during peak hours to give parents some peace of mind. There’s also a great picnic area with grills so you can enjoy a barbecue with friends and family.

Just beyond the sand of Manatee Beach, you’ll find gift shops, restaurants, and other amenities typical of any beach town. Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is a popular restaurant located just steps from Manatee Beach and offers beachfront dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s even a full-service bar serving some of the best drinks on the island. If you need to rent any beach equipment such as umbrellas or beach chairs, they have you covered.

Cortez Beach

Location: 698 Gulf Dr. S, Bradenton Beach, FL

Cortez Beach lies south of Bradenton Beach town and is a hidden gem that is perfect for a tranquil day by the glistening Gulf Coast.

In terms of amenities and activities, swimming and sunbathing are the main attractions at this quiet beach, and you won’t find the picnic areas and beach volleyball courts that are common on our other beaches.

However, there’s plenty to do if you enjoy watersports. Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available to rent, or you can try kitesurfing if you happen to be there on a breezy day. Snorkeling is also a popular pursuit thanks to the calm, clear waters. Cortez Pier lies to the south of the beach and is particularly popular for kid’s activities, so check it out if you’re in AMI with your family.

There’s limited free parking available but this tends to fill up quite quickly so if you can, we recommend using the free trolley service instead.

coquina Beach

Location: 2651 Gulf Dr, Bradenton Beach, FL

Coquina Beach is perched on the southern end of the island and is the best option for a quiet beach on AMI. This flat strip of sand is lined by dunes and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The beach is also a great choice for families with kids because there’s an adjacent playground, plenty of shade to protect delicate skin, and there are lifeguards on duty to ensure you stay safe.

This is the kind of beach where you need to bring your own entertainment because there’s not much going on down here. There is, however, plenty of space to throw a frisbee around, and shelling is a popular pastime.

Coquina Beach is at the southernmost end of Gulf Drive so is very easy to find. As with many of the other beaches on this list, making use of the free trolley is the best transportation option.

Which Anna Maria Island Beach Will You Visit First?

 Anna Maria Island’s beautiful beaches and old Florida charm make it the perfect destination for a coastal getaway. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination or somewhere for you and your friends to have fun in the sun, Anna Maria Island is the perfect beach town for you.

The ideal finishing touch to a wonderful adventure exploring the beaches of Anna Maria Island is having a modern and comfortable condo rental to come home to. Choose from our beachfront vacation rentals to be steps away from some of America’s white sand beaches and the clear water of the Gulf of Mexico.

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