The Ultimate Guide to Best Beaches on Anna Maria Island

  • Aerial view of the properties

Just off the coast in the Florida Gulf is the state’s hidden gem, Anna Maria Island, or AMI. At only seven-miles long, this small, gorgeous island is known as The Island in the Sun. With year-round temperatures in the 80s and an average of 360 days of sunshine, it’s a tropical paradise at any time.

Anna Maria Island is divided into 3 cities: the city of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, and Holmes Beach. While it’s easy to confuse Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach with actual beaches, instead they’re cities with many popular beaches speckled in.

At the northern tip of Anna Maria Island is home to the city of Anna Maria. Here, you’ll find more residential homes and less tourists. The Anna Maria beaches are much quieter than the beaches in the central and southern parts of the island. What they lack in amenities, they absolutely make up for in natural beauty.

Holmes Beach is in the center of the island and has more popular beaches for tourists. They have more amenities, like pavilions and other rental equipment for people to use for the day.

At the southern end of the island is Bradenton Beach. On Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, there are more vacation rentals and hotels geared more towards tourists than to locals. The beaches here also have amenities for day trippers to use.

Now that you know more about the island and I’ve got you ready to book the perfect beach house, I’m here to give you the inside scoop on the 6 amazing beaches on Anna Maria Island so you’ll be ready to enjoy the island to the max. Each beach has its own vibe, amenities, and features. You might just need to book at least a 6-day vacation so you enjoy one day at each of these beaches!

With all the beaches just off of Gulf Drive, the main road that runs the length of the island, enjoying your Anna Maria Island vacation is easy. Let’s dive right in to discover the 6 best beaches on Anna Maria Island you have to visit.

Manatee Public Beach

Manatee Public Beach is one of the most popular of the Anna Maria Island beaches. It’s perfect for families, and chock full of amenities, if you need a break from the sun. Its white sands and gentle waves make for a safe place for kids to play and swim. The beach is also staffed year-round by lifeguards.

There is a popular café nearby, which is a perfect stop for families looking to grab a quick lunch. You can find showers, water fountains, and public restrooms with changing tables nearby. Beach rentals such as umbrellas and beach chairs are also available.

Keep in mind this public beach is only open from sunrise to 10 p.m. so for any stargazing plans, be sure to head to one of the other great beaches on this list.

Shaded view of beach

Things to Do at Manatee Public Beach

Other than of course swimming and sunbathing, there are lots of other things to do at Manatee. Remember to bring you lunch and take your family over to the picnic tables to enjoy a beachside meal. You can also enjoy the public volleyball court or the surfside playground.

The beach features a bar where you can find virgin drinks as well as signature cocktails and beers. It’s hard to pass up on a cold drink with your toes in the sand!

When you’re ready to head out, you can spend hours exploring the nearby gift shops, cafes, and other stores in the area. It’s easy to jump on the trolley from here to get back to your hotel.

Coquina Beach

Coquina Beach

If you’re into beachside hiking, biking, or fishing, Coquina Beach is the perfect spot for you. Located at the southern tip of the island, Coquina Beach is near Longboat Pass, the bridge that connects Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key.

A unique thing about Coquina Beach is that it’s a popular place for nesting sea turtles. Turtle season is from May 1 to October 31. During that time, the beach has much more strict rules than usual, like no lights allowed on the beach after sunset and for people to stay clear of marked nests. Although these rules shouldn’t disturb your beach time fun during the day!

Things to Do at Coquina Beach

You can spend hours at Coquina relaxing in the sun or diving into the waves. The soft white sand and super clear water are a perfect place to spend the day.

Similar to Manatee Beach, there are a lot of amenities available for rent or free use at this beach. The sand is lined with shade trees, offering a cooler spot to enjoy a picnic. There are also lifeguards on duty and an abundance of nearby restaurants, water fountains, and public restrooms, making Coquina a perfect place to bring your family.

If you need a snack, there are concession stands and cafes galore, or bring your own food and help yourself to one of the many grills. You can also visit the nearby playground or volleyball court if you’re itching for a little more activity.

Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park Beach is on the north side of Anna Maria Island. Instead of facing the Gulf of Mexico like the other beaches on this list, it faces inland towards Tampa Bay. Here, you can enjoy beautiful views of the bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge while lounging by the water.

Like the other family-friendly beaches on this list, Bayfront Park offers many amenities for beachgoers. However, it’s important to note that lifeguards aren’t on duty here. There is a free parking lot, but the lot often fills up quickly, so it’s best to arrive early.

Woman walking a dog at Bayfront Park.

Things to Do at Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park is close to all the best action on Anna Maria Island. It’s within easy distance of restaurants, shops, and even historic sites of Old Florida. This is a popular place to go kayaking and paddle boarding, since the water is much calmer in the bay, and there are plenty of rental shops to get your hands on some gear or vacation rentals.

Bayfront Park is a popular spot for fishing. If that’s not your thing though, enjoy the nearby playground and picnic area or take a walk down the city pier. The beach is also right beside a vast range of top-quality restaurants. An island favorite is the Rod and Reel Pier so if you’re in the mood for locally caught seafood, this restaurant should be top of your list.

Bean Point Beach

Beach at sunrise.

At the northern end of Anna Maria Island, Bean Point is your destination if you prefer a solitary, isolated beach scene. Lacking the amenities other beaches on the island offer, this beach attracts less tourists and more locals.

The historic site is one of the oldest settled parts of the island and is actually named after the first permanent resident of the island. Here, there is nothing but sand and water. You won’t find lifeguards, public restrooms, or beach rentals. Instead, Bean Point is a quiet haven of wild natural beauty.

Here, you might spot some wildlife, such as dolphins leaping in the bay. If you love to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quiet beach walk, Bean Point is the perfect place for you. It’s truly a hidden gem of Anna Maria Island.

Things to Do at Bean Point

Just because there are no amenities or activities here doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Take a stroll along the beach, where the water changes from the Gulf of Mexico to Tampa Bay. It’s the perfect place to go for a long walk, enjoy the sunset, or watch out for rare marine or avian life.

Anna Maria Public Beach

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that an island called Anna Maria also has a beach called Anna Maria. This public beach is located right where the main bridge connects mainland to the island, making it an easy location to find. It’s also just a few steps south of Manatee Beach.

Due to its location, it’s a spot most day trippers to the island choose to visit so if you prefer somewhere quieter, this might not be the spot for you.

Anna Maria Beach pier.

Things to Do at Anna Maria Beach

There are a few beach access points to reach this spot, so you won’t have trouble finding your way here. There are also amenities like cabana rentals and a beachfront café for you to grab a bite to eat or a cold drink.

The Gulf Coast is stunning from north to south and Anna Maria Public Beach is no exception to the rule. Dig your toes into the soft white sand beaches and enjoy your surroundings.

Cortez Beach

Cortez Beach is a fantastic beach area to visit and one of many beautiful beaches on Anna Maria Island. It’s located in the southern end of the island in Bradenton. This area is less developed and provides visitors with a quiet getaway that will leave them in awe of the natural beauty of the area.

Things to Do at Cortez Beach

Cortez Beach lacks the amenities of other beaches on the island but is a great spot for someone looking more for natural amenities instead. Here, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, shelling, and walking on the beach.

There are also nature trails if you prefer not to walk or bike on the sand.

Anna Maria Island is a year-round paradise that you really shouldn’t miss out on. You’ll quickly see why people fall in love with the Island in the Sun and come back year after year. Whether you love a crowded beach with lots of activities or want something peaceful and secluded, there’s the perfect beach for you here.

Add the hidden gem of Anna Maria Island off the coast of Florida to your travel bucket list and trust me, you won’t be disappointed!