Between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay lies Anna Maria Island, the largest barrier island on the western side of Florida. Nowadays Anna Maria Island is mainly renowned for its beach resorts and its quality accommodations, especially at vacation rentals such as beachfront condos, cabins, cottages and homes.
Spanish explorers discovered this densely subtropical island, where they encountered Timucan and Caloosan Native Americans. Ponce de Leon named it Anna Maria Island in honor of the queen of King Charles II. This vacationer's resort is comprised of three cities: the city of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach.
The first white settler to live permanently on the island was George Emerson Bean, in 1892. He homesteaded and developed 140 acres, which roughly makes up the northern city of Anna Maria. Meanwhile, in 1896, Sam and Annie Cobb homesteaded 160 acres of land, where much of Holmes Beach is today. A year later Anna Maria Cobb was born, the first non-Native child on the island.
Anna Maria Island progressed with roads and bridges through the dense forests and swamps. Until 1921, The only way to reach the island was by boat, when the first wooden bridge was built westward from Cortez village to the island. After World War II, developer Jack Holmes created a 600 acre community. An airstrip was constructed. You can see what Hollywood saw in the airstrip, in the film "On An Island With You".
Over time, the city of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach grew to be distinct towns. Today population estimates are: Anna Maria City, 1,867; Holmes Beach, 5,100; and Bradenton Beach, 1,561.
Choosing for your getaway one of the many vacation rentals such as condos, homes, cottages or oceanfront cabins available on Anna Maria Island, Florida, is like investing your time and money in a little dream-like heaven. Temperatures don't often dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Time slows. In the scarlet sky the sun rises, the sun sets. Against your closed eyes, light shines. Tides ebb and flow tickling the bleached sand. Anna Maria Island will show you just what a subtropical island & beach resort is. The towns relax, some residential, some business, some resort. Because there’s no postal delivery door-to-door, it becomes a community and social event to get your mail. Once you are acclimated, there are points of interest to scope out. Nature beckons just outside your door, along the canal systems or in the seas, so you can explore and enrich your mind. Anna Maria Community Center runs camps for kids and teaches adult programs such as Tai Chi.
Society gives visitors a perspective into the island they may not know. Bridge Street is a historical district, blending both modern and old buildings. Piers as old as a century stand over the waters, where fish are still being caught daily. The flora and fauna of Anna Maria Island are protected and preserved. In Bradenton Beach, a 96 acre forest of pines shades visitors. You may glimpse a plethora of birds, sea turtles, dolphins, and the rare, gentle manatee. Within a two and half hour drive is the most magical place on earth, Disney World. Sea World, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens are just as close.
Shops, restaurants and special events can entertain during the time you’re away from the beach. Check the calendars for events such as Movie Nights, Mardi Gras, Car Shows, Art Shows. It is hard to miss live music, which fills the island with song. There's a soft spot for art on Anna Maria Island, Florida. Many artists display and sell their paintings, crafts and jewelry in art and craft galleries around every corner. If you need the latest fashion or sports gear, stop at any of the boutiques and specialty shops and load up.
Romance the evening with fine dining at sunset, or salute the daybreak with a Tequila Sunrise. Coffee brews at local cafes and especially in the Internet cafe, where you can keep abreast of the high speed world off-island. Anna Maria Island restaurants are sure to satisfy all appetites and its beachfront condos & home rentals all accommodation needs.
The outdoor activities which bring you to a beach resort like Anna Maria Island, Florida, are all here. Vacation recreation opportunities abound. Play tennis, golf, kayak, water ski, wave run, jet ski, charter a boat, sail, parasail, fish on- and off-shore, swim, walk on the beach, or just lie in the subtropical sun till your body bakes - all this and more.
Waves of heat, foaming crystalline blue water teasing the shimmering white sand, soft skies and billowing clouds, intense sunrises and sunsets, shades of green foliage, rainbow-hued flowers, gentle creatures like the dolphin, sea turtle and manatee; Mimosa in the morning, Margarita in the afternoon and ice-cool beer at night - let your imagination lead you to Anna Maria Island, a beach resort that has all of your accommodation needs! Many comfortable vacation rentals such as condos, homes, cabins and oceanfront cottages are just waiting for you.