Posted on 9/6/2022

A Traveler's Guide to Holmes Beach, Florida

Welcome to Holmes Beach, Florida! This little seaside town in Manatee County on Anna Maria Island is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. Here you'll find miles of sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and plenty of activities to keep you busy. 

Whether you're looking for a fantastic vacation rental home for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Holmes Beach has something for everyone.

Best Time to Visit Holmes Beach

Phoro Credit: Pelow Media

The best time to visit Anna Maria Island, and more specifically Holmes Beach, is from March to May or from October to November. The weather is warm but not too hot, and the crowds are smaller than during the peak summer months.

If you're looking for a bargain, consider visiting during the shoulder season (April-May or September-October), when hotel rates are lower. The peak season for tourism is usually from mid-December to Easter, so if you're looking to avoid the crowds, it's best to visit outside of these times.

How to Get to Holmes Beach

Holmes Beach is located on Anna Maria Island on the west coast of Florida, right on the picturesque Gulf of Mexico.

The closest airport is Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which is about a 30-minute drive from the beach. There are also a few smaller airports in the area, such as Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, which are about an hour's drive away. 

If you're driving to Holmes Beach, it's located about midway down Florida's west coast, just off of Interstate 75.

Best Things to do in Holmes Beach, Florida

Bask in the Sun at Manatee Public Beach

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If you're looking for a place to relax in the sun, you'll love the beaches on Anna Maria Island, with Manatee Beach as a top fan favorite. With its wide stretches of white sand and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, it's no wonder this beach is one of the most popular in Florida.

Whether you're swimming, sunbathing, or simply taking a stroll along the shore, Manatee Public Beach is sure to provide you with a memorable experience. However, there's more to this beach than just sandy shores and crystal waters. 

Located just off of Gulf Dr., there are also public grills and picnic tables, bike racks, and plenty of benches, making it a great spot for a seaside picnic. Head to the grocery store, pick up some things to grill, and head to Manatee Beach for an idyllic day on the Gulf shores. Just don't bring any glass or alcohol with you. And be sure to leave Fido at home, as this beach is not dog-friendly. 

Don't feel like cooking? No problem. There's a concession stand on the beach, or you can head to Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe.

Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe

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When you visit Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, you'll feel like you're in paradise. The restaurant is located right on the beach, so you can enjoy stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico while you eat. The menu features fresh seafood dishes, as well as burgers, salads, and sandwiches. And don't forget to try one of their famous frozen drinks.

If you're looking for a fun place to spend the day, Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is the perfect spot. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is laid-back. Sit at a table on the beach, wiggling your toes in the sand while sipping a rum runner. 

Daily entertainment starts at 5:30 PM. It's the perfect way to wrap up your day spent at Manatee Beach. However, if you want to spend the entire day at Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, you can rent a chair, an umbrella, or two chairs and an umbrella. 

Price for one chair starts at $8.50. For one umbrella, the price is $19.99. For two chairs and an umbrella, the price is $29.99.

Hours: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM; No reservations

Take a Boat Tour

There are a number of tour operators working out of Holmes Beach, FL. Whether you're in the mood for a romantic sunset cruise, a family-friendly dolphin tour, or a tour around the perimeter of the island, you' ll find plenty of options of tours and boat rentals.

You can also rent kayaks or canoes from most of the tour operators as well, if you'd prefer to not go with a group and want to do your own thing.

Peruse Island Gallery West

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If you're looking for a unique art experience, look no further than Island Gallery West in Holmes Beach. This gallery features the work of local artists, as well as a variety of other items that are sure to please. You'll find everything from jewelry to pottery to hand-blown glass, and more.

Though the gallery is primarily meant to merely exhibit the art, you can make an appointment if you're interested in purchasing something. Whether you're looking for a memorable souvenir to bring home or a gift for a friend, you'll be impressed with the selection at Island Gallery West.

Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday

Test Your Balance on a Paddle Board Tour

If you're looking for a fun and unique way to spend a day in Holmes Beach, consider taking a paddle board tour. These tours are the perfect way to test your balance and see the island from a whole new perspective. 

The paddle board tours are led by experienced guides who will show you the best spots to paddleboard on the island. You'll get to explore the mangroves, paddle through the shallow waters of Tampa Bay, and even stop for a swim if you want. You can take the paddle boards out on your own too, if you wish.

The best part about these tours is that they're suitable for all skill levels. So whether you're a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, you'll have a great time on a paddle board tour.

Charter an AMI Pontoon Boat

Photo Credit: Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours via Facebook

Want to captain your own pontoon boat for the day? AMI Pontoon Boats are available for groups of up to 10 people, for full day or half day charters. Spend the day fishing, exploring mangroves, or simply taking in the sights surrounding Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. 

There's a convenient boarding ladder for swimming, a shaded area in case you've had too much sun, a Bluetooth stereo to listen to your favorite jams, and GPS. Everyone on board can drink except for the driver (no exceptions - this is strictly enforced).

Cost: Half day rentals: $425; Full day rentals: $550

Try Your Hand at Jet Surfing

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Ever heard of a motorized surf board? The relatively new watersport, jet surfing, is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. 

Head to Surf's Up Watersports in Holmes Beach! They offer classes, rentals, and extra time to add on to hourly rentals if you want to spend more time out on the sea having fun. Surf's Up has two different models available to rent.

Cost: Classes $140 (approximately 1 hour); Couples Rental $240; Additional 30 minutes $60

Explore the City's Many Boutiques

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There's no shortage of shopping options in Holmes Beach, but if you're looking for something a little more unique, be sure to check out some of the area's boutiques. From beachwear to home decor, these shops offer a variety of items that you won't find at your average department store. There's a great selection of shops to choose from, and you're sure to find something that catches your eye.  

Even if you're not interested in purchasing anything, the eclectic assortment of items is still fun to browse! Some of our favorite boutiques in Holmes Beach include Irene's Resort Wear, Vintage Beach, and howluckyami. Each store has its own unique style, so you're sure to find something that you'll love.

Grab a Pint at the Ugly Grouper

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If you're looking for a great place to grab a pint in Holmes Beach, look no further than The Ugly Grouper. The perfect mix of locals and tourists come together in this quintessential Florida establishment, where you can also enjoy great live music.

The bartenders are always friendly and they have a great selection of beers on tap. The Ugly Grouper is also a great place to watch the sunset. So, if you're ever in Holmes Beach, be sure to stop by The Ugly Grouper for a pint (or two).

This local favorite is known for its casual atmosphere and delicious seafood, and it's the perfect spot to relax with friends after a long day. Trust us, the grouper sandwiches here are not to be missed. The Crab Green Tomatoes appetizer is also a crowd pleaser!

Or Something More Upscale at Beach Bistro

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Casual eateries aren't your thing? No problem. Beach Bistro is the place for you. With an award winning wine list and chef's tasting menus, Beach Bistro makes the perfect place for a romantic date night or adventure in fine dining.

This beachfront establishment has an excellent 5-course meal option which gives you options from which to choose and optional wine pairings.The Bourbon and Maple Grilled Shrimp is to-die-for!

Get Ready for a Great Beach Vacation

Holmes Beach is a beautiful area of Anna Maria Island that offers something for everyone. Whether you're looking to relax on the beach, catch some rays, shop til you drop, or enjoy some of the best seafood in Florida, Holmes Beach has it all.

If you need a place to stay while you're in town, be sure to contact us today. We would love to host you and show you why we think Holmes Beach is one of the best kept secrets on the Gulf Coast.

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