This exclusive seven mile long barrier island of Anna Maria lies just west of the town of Bradenton on Florida’s famous Gulf Coast. Reached by either of the two bridges from the mainland, our beautiful sub-tropical resort area has long been a favorite of visitors looking for relaxation and sunshine along one of the most picturesque expanses of white sugar sand beaches found in the world.
Take the time to visit the Anna Maria Island Historical Society office in Anna Maria City houses many old photographs that are invaluable for understanding the island way of life during the last century.
The Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes first inhabited the area, but the recorded history of the Island is said to have begun around1530 when Spanish explorers such as Hernando DeSoto claimed the entire area for the Spanish Crown. However, in1892 George Emerson Bean (after whom Bean Point was named) became the first permanent resident on the Island and homesteaded much of what is now the City of Anna Maria.
In the early 1900s, Bean began to develop the Island with the Anna Maria Beach Company, which laid out streets, built sidewalks and houses and installed a water system. During this time the pretty Roser Memorial Community Church, was built by George Roser in memory of his mother. He was the creator of the Fig Newton that he eventually sold to Nabisco Brands. This church still stands and is used by some Islanders.
The present Island Playhouse is typical of the early buildings. It was built on the mainland and later transported to the Island by barge, serving the community during its long life as church, school, social and city hall.
The Magnolia Avenue School was built in the early 1900s and has since been replaced with the Anna Maria Island Elementary School located in the City of Holmes Beach. The present school draws students from north Longboat Key as well as Anna Maria Island; it has a student body in excess of 400.
For years the Island was only accessible by boat. It was not until 1921 that a wooden bridge was constructed connecting Anna Maria Island to the mainland. The Bridge extended westward from the historic fishing village of Cortez over to the Island. Bradenton Beach fishing pier at the end of Bridge Street is the western end of that original bridge.
The cornerstone of the philosophy of the island’s governments has been preservation of the “Old Florida” heritage. Throughout the decades, local city governments have worked diligently to adhere to this aim and today, Anna Maria Island has just two structures that are higher than three stories.
The Island remains a mixture of residential homes, vacation properties and businesses existing in harmony with the landscape and enhancing the Island’s small-town heritage. The year-round and seasonal residents who enrich the local population come from throughout the Americas as well as Europe and the Far East.
All along the island you will find bike paths, marinas, water sports, sailboats, tennis courts and broad sweeping expanses of peaceful uncrowded beaches overlooking the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Quaint turn of the century fishing piers are a great place to drop a fishing line, walk off a sumptuous meal or pass the time of day with the locals.
Our environmentally protected beaches are home to loggerhead turtles, pelicans and herons and it is common to see dolphins playing in the waters of the Gulf. With year round sunshine, a warm tropical climate and sea temperatures averaging 80 degrees, the waters surrounding the island are known as The Nursery because of the large numbers of bottle nose dolphins that raise their young here.
The nearby Cortez village is a must to find the freshest fish such as grouper, red snapper or locally caught stone crab when in season. It is also the place to visit if you enjoy water sports such as parasailing or jetsking. Strolling on the beach looking for rare shells or fossils is a favorite occupation of many of our guests. Or just laze on the beach listening to the waves lapping on the sands, the choice is yours. Anna Maria Island Resorts is a friendly safe haven where you can enjoy your vacation to the full.
Dining on the island is an incredible culinary adventure with everything from casual beach cafes for breakfast or lunch, to fine restaurants with an international reputation. We have our own island supermarket which has a superb array of fresh baked goods, crisp fruit and vegetables and delicious steaks or lobster.
There are plenty of small shops and boutiques to browse around for gifts, craft items, silver and distinctive casual clothes. Just over on the mainland is the vibrant city of Bradenton with shopping malls, cinemas, bowling alley and other attractions. With the cosmopolitan cities of Tampa and Orlando just a drive away, you can spend a day or two in the hectic environment of Disney or Busch Gardens and then return to the peace of the island.