Anna Maria Island Beaches
Updated: Dec 16, 2018
With over 7 miles of beach, there's plenty of enjoyment for you and your family on Anna Maria Island. We are often asked this question: "Which is the best beach on Anna Maria Island?" That's a really tough question because each beach offers something a bit different. Our community and our beaches are truly old Florida at it's best. Endangered sea turtles and shore birds call Anna Maria Island home and nest here annually. Dolphins are often and manatees are sometimes spotted just off the shore line. Large groups of stingrays sometimes visit the Rod an Reel Pier. Our sunsets never disappoint, and are amazing wherever you are on the beach.
There are seven beaches on Anna Maria Island. At the very northern tip is Bean Point, which is part of Anna Maria Beach, and and at the very southern tip is Coquina Beach. In between these beaches are Holmes Beach, Manatee Public Beach (part of Holmes Beach), Bradenton Beach, and Cortez Beach. And, on the side of the island at the north end, just opposite from Anna Maria Beach, on the east (bay) side of the island, is Anna Maria Bayfront Park.
The below provides a brief overview of each of the beaches, how to access them, and what each have to offer as far as amenities. Information on Beach Access Points, as well as parking, restrooms, and lifeguards, may be found by clicking on an interactive beach access map.
Anna Maria Beach
Anna Maria Beach is located at the northern tip of the island. Windswept and peaceful, it is oftentimes the least populated. Many shore birds are found taking in the sand and surf. At the very northern tip of Anna Maria Beach is Bean Point, which was named after the first settler of Anna Maria Island in 1893, George Emerson Bean. Here' you’ll be at the meeting point of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay with views of Egmont Key and the Skyline Bridge, which spans Tampa Bay. There are dangerous rip currents here, so be careful as the water flows quickly with the two bodies of water meeting during changing tides. See below for more information about rip currents. If you're looking for that great photo opportunity, this is it!
Anna Maria is best suited for snowbirds, families, and residents due to it's quiet and tranquil beach:
A wild and natural beach, with protected sand dunes
Shorebirds and Sea Turtles nest; the sand dunes are a nursery for their hatchlings
One of the most photographed areas for sunsets on the island
No lifeguard station
Little to no parking available
Note: No dogs are allowed
For a wonderful dining experience, whether at lunch or to watch the sunset, the Sandbar Restaurant is located on Anna Maria Beach.
Anna Maria Beach Access (from North to South)
Best for Bean Point Access:
Jacaranda Road. & North Shore Drive (limited parking)
North Bay Blvd & North Shore Drive (limited parking)
Gladiolus Street & North Shore Drive (limited parking)
Fern Street & North Shore Drive (limited parking)
Other access points:
Seagrape Lane/Newton Lane & North Shore Drive
Sycamore Avenue (ADA accessible)
Elm Avenue (ADA accessible)
Pine Avenue (Trolley stop at Gulf Drive)
Spring Avenue (ADA accessible)
Magnolia Avenue (limited parking)
Palmetto Avenue (limited parking)
Willow Avenue (limited parking)
Mangrove Avenue (limited parking)
Park Avenue (limited parking)
On Gulf Drive between Pine and Coconut Avenues
Intersection of Jacaranda Road and Fern Avenue
City Hall parking lot at the corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue
Other ADA Accessible/ADA Parking
Gulf Front Park area between Magnolia to Oak Avenue
Holmes Beach is located in the middle the island, serving the local residents, vacation rentals, and condos of the city. It runs from White Avenue at the north end, down to 28th Street at the . south end. There is public access on almost every street in Holmes Beach. There is public parking offered on most streets, but it is limited because most are residential streets. On this beach you will find more visitors and beach goers due to the low rise condos in the city.
Holmes Beach is best suited for vacationers staying in the beachfront condos and nearby vacation homes and residents living in the city:
Shaded picnic tables at 77th Street
Shorebirds and Sea Turtles also nest along this beach
No lifeguard station
Note: No dogs are allowed
Holmes Beach Access (from North to South)
79th Street (limited parking)
77th Street (limited parking)
74th Street (limited parking)
73rd Street (limited parking)
72nd Street (limited parking)
71st Street (limited parking)
70th Street (limited parking)
69th Street (limited parking)
68th Street (limited parking)
67th Street (limited parking)
65th Street (limited parking)
Corner of Gulf Drive between 54th and 52nd Streets
52nd Street (limited parking, ADA accessible, ADA Parking)
50th Street (limited parking)
46th Street (limited parking)
45th Street (limited parking)
37th Street (limited parking)
36th Street (limited parking)
35th Street (limited parking)
34th Street (limited parking)
33rd Street (limited parking)
31st Street (limited parking)
30th Street (limited parking)
28th Street (limited parking)
Don't forget to check out the Free Trolley map at: http://www.ridemcat.org/bus-routes/ to see all of the stops. Download Beach Express Trolley map in PDF format.
Manatee Public Beach
Manatee Public Beach is located in the center of Holmes Beach right off of State Road #64 also known as Manatee Avenue as you cross the Bridge from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island. This beach has a large parking area between 42nd Avenue and slightly past 39th Street. ADA Parking is also available as is ADA floatable beach wheelchairs. Also onsite is a gift shop, beach rentals, picnic tables, a playground and more. It's best known for the abundance of sports activities, including volleyball and is a favorite spot for local teens. This is the busiest beach on the island. The best spot for shelling on the island is on Manatee Public Beach. Just head south of the Cafe toward Bradenton Beach at low tide.
Manatee Beach is best suited for local manatee county residents and visitors interested in sports activities and action and desiring various accommodations:
ADA Parking/ADA Accessible
Shaded picnic tables
Note: No dogs are allowed
Manatee Public Beach Access (from North to South)
Manatee Avenue/State Road #64 (Trolley stop)
Bradenton Beach is located in the small city of Bradenton Beach. This is a quiet beach that runs from 27th Street at the north end where Holmes Beach ends, to 4th Street South at the south end (two blocks south of Bridge Street, just before where Cortez Beach begins. This beach has very limited parking. ADA (disability) parking area and public beach access is also limited. The beach serves the island's residents of Bradenton Beach and the visitors staying at the beachfront condos. Directly on Bradenton Beach you will find The Beach House and Gulf Drive Cafe restaurants. The Gulf Drive Cafe has a huge tiki thatched pavilion where the local crowd gathers to watch the sunset. There are lots of boutique restaurants and shops on Gulf Drive South (east side of the street), which often overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
Dive or snorkel the Regina shipwreck directly off of 7th Street North, just 2 short blogs north of the intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road. You should be able to see the buoy. The Regina was a sugar barge that sunk off Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island during a storm on March 5, 1940 carrying 300,000 gallons of molasses from Havana to New Orleans. Its in about 12 to 20 feet of water and about 75 yards or 150 feet or off the beach. It is marked with a buoy.
The Regina is Florida's 10th Shipwreck Underwater Archaeological Preserve. Rich in sea life, the ship itself is broken with most of it's structure submerged in the sand. The wreckage is over 200 feet long. It's coordinates are 27 28.135 ' N and 82 42.139' W. This site is frequented by divers and snorkelers because of it's easy shore access. Rich in sea life. If you arrive by boat, be aware of divers and snorkelers in the water from the site to the shoreline. It is best to avoid this area completely and look for the diver down flotation flags, which are red with a diagonal white strip from upper left to lower right and look like this:
Bradenton Beach Access (from North to South)
27th Street (limited parking)
26th Street (limited parking)
23rd Street (limited parking)
2nd Street (limited parking)
Bridge Street (Trolley stop, limited parking)
3rd St South (limited parking)
4th St South (ADA accessible)
Cortez Beach is located just south of Bradenton Beach, but before Coquina Beach, the most southern beach on Anna Maria Island. Cortez Beach starts at 4th Street South, where Bradenton Beach ends, and extends south to 13th Street South, which is the last street on the island. Cortez Beach sits on Gulf Drive South on Anna Maria Island. Plenty of parking exists along the road, so you should be able to find parking during most times of the year.
The beach begins where the development along the beach ends and the natural dunes with beautiful grasses meet the path that runs along Gulf Drive S. Trees line the path and offer shade for walking or riding your bike, a nice alternative choice to walking on the beach when the sun is high.
There are no life guard towers, so you swim or surf at your own risk. Also, there are no amenities like children’s playgrounds, volley ball areas, or beach chair rentals. This beach also does not have the picnic tables like you find at Coquina Beach, but restrooms are nearby. If you're looking for a quiet, restful beach, this one may be for you. It is one of the best beaches along the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's Sun Coast.
Note: No dogs are allowed
Cortez Beach Access (from North to South)
4th Street South to 13th Street South (Parking available all along this strip, ADA Accessible at 6th Street South)
Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island has the best island beach sand in the United States and the fifth-best in the world, according to the Conde Nast Traveler in 2015.
"Coquina Beach, on the southern end of Anna Maria Island, is the opposite of Miami's South Beach: It's laid-back, bordered by towering pines, and boasts perfect, unspoiled sand as fine as powder," according to Conde Nast. "It's also the longest stretch of sand on Anna Maria; uninterrupted, but for remnants of old piers jutting out into the water." See more about Conde Nast's survey results below.
Coquina Beach stretches from 13th Street South all the way to the southern end of the island at the Longboat Key Pass Bridge. This beach is also narrow, but as it's name suggests, is great for shelling and has lots of public amenities. Coquina Beach is a perfect spot for visitors looking for covered picnic areas and grills. Similar to a state park, the beach has a large parking area with lots of ample parking. Beautiful Australian Pines and a quiet area on the bay side, there are no homes or restaurants for much of it's length. Leffis Key Preserve and Coquina Bayside Park are found across Gulf Drive on the East side. Don't forget to look up: the Australian Pine trees are home to seasonal wild parrots.
There are dangerous rip currents here, in-between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, where the ocean meets the bay, so be careful as the water flows quickly with the two bodies of water meeting during changing tides. See below for more information about rip currents.
Coquina Beach hosts an Outdoor Market from 10am - 4pm each Sunday - November through July (excluding Easter). Admission is free and convenient with the free trolley stop right at the entrance.
Coquina Beach is best suited for local manatee county residents and visitors interested in sports activities and various accommodations:
Multi-Purpose Trail (paved)
Wheelchair (Beach) - first-come, first-serve
Note: No dogs are allowed
Contact Manatee County for more information about the Pavilions at Manatee County Website.
Coquina Beach Access (from North to South)
13th Street South all the way to the Southern tip of the island before crossing the Bridge to Long Boat Key (Parking available at the main entrance to Coquina Beach and offers ADA access/designated parking)
About the 2015 Conde Naste Results
The results are based on a survey of Conde Nast Traveler readers. Here's the complete "Top 10 Island Beaches for Perfect Sand:"
1. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
2. Cayo de Agua, Los Roques, Venezuela
3. Cocoa Island, Maldives
4. White Beach, Boracay, Phillippines
5. Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island
6. Shoal Bay East, Anguilla
7. Vamizi Beach, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
8. Kaihalulu Beach, Maui, Hawaii
9. Playa Falmenco, Culebra, Puerto Rico
10. Playa Negrita, Vieques, Puerto Rico
Anna Maria Bayfront Park
Bayfront Park is located on the east side of the north tip of the island, in-between Anna Maria City Pier and the Rod n Reel Pier, overlooking Tampa Bay. Both piers offer tasty casual dining restaurant options. This beach is narrow, but it is a great spot to seek out calmer waters. The sandy beach is not as pristine as the Gulf side, but it does allow for nice protection from the Gulf winds from the trees and sea oats during the winter months.
The views are expansive and take in the magnificent Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Egmont Key, and Passage Key (when it is not submerged).
There are plenty of spaces for families to gather at picnic tables under the Pavilions, barbecue grill, explore the playground and more. There is a short bike path available that meanders over a hump back bridge. There are benches to stop and take in the views. There are great photography viewpoints in this location! Don't forget to look up and spot a Bald Eagle or Osprey. Contact Manatee County for more information about the Pavilions at Manatee County Website.
The free trolley stop is located at the Anna Maria City Pier parking lot, right under the huge pavilion. Take a tour of the entire island starting off at it's most northern stop.
Anna Maria Bayfront Park is visited by locals and visitors alike. It offers day visitors and large groups needing extra picnic tables and grills. Amenities include:
Note: No dogs are allowed
Bayfront Park Access
Access the Main Entrance at 310 North Bay Blvd (Parking available and offers ADA access/designated parking)
Rod n Reel Pier offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Anna Maria City Pier offers lunch, dinner and happy hours
Drive slowly Pedestrian crosswalks are everywhere. It is required by law to stop and give right of way to pedestrians.
Park in a designated parking spot with ALL tires off the street and parked facing the correct direction.
Each Public Beach Access is marked with a white "Public Beach Access" sign to guide you.
Selected areas are restricted during sea turtle and shorebird migration and hatchling season
The months of May to October are considered Turtle Season. All lights must be dimmed, beach toys/equipment removed, and holes filled in. This avoids nesting turtles and their hatchlings from running into hazards.
Information on Beach Access Points, as well as parking, restrooms, and lifeguards, may be found by clicking on an interactive beach access map.
Important Safety Tips:
Rip Currents account for 95% of the Manatee County Rescues. Here are the facts about how to get out of a Rip Current:
Most rip currents along Anna Maria Island are about 10 - 20 yards wide and 50 yards long
The further you get dragged away from shore the weaker the rip current.
If the ocean conditions are rough, there is most likely a strong rip current, if the ocean is calm, there are usually none.
Once the current weakens it is safe to swim parallel to the beach first for about 15 yards, then swim directly towards shore (see diagram below).
Always swim at a life-guarded beach, Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach have lifeguard stations.
There is a flag on each lifeguard station that tells you the surf conditions.
Know your limits and those of your family.
Parents should ALWAYS be nearby their children in the water.
This "Warning Flag System" is in place on our lifeguard towers at Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach. With a quick glance at a lifeguard stand, beach-goers are able to keep abreast of existing water conditions and know that the guards will monitor conditions and will change the flags throughout the day in order to keep patrons informed.
Florida’s beach warning flag program uses flags in four colors accompanied by interpretive signs along the beach to explain the meaning of each color: