Anna Maria Island is one of the coolest, most laid-back and welcoming communities around—after all, that’s why we live and work here. But if you’ve never been, it helps to know a little bit about what to expect. Here are a few tidbits to help you get the lay of the (is)land.
Anna Maria Island is a narrow, 7.5-mile long barrier island in Manatee County on southwest Florida’s Gulf of Mexico Coast, and Cedar Cove sits right in the middle. The island is accessible from two bridges on the mainland—Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road—and it also connects on its southern end to Longboat Key, another barrier island. AMI’s west coast is a continuous stretch of white sand beaches along the Gulf; the east coast of the island offers fishing, boating, hiking and other activities along Anna Maria Sound/Palma Sola Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway that flows continuously between the mainland and the barrier islands from AMI south to Venice.
Gulf Drive to the south and Marina Drive to the north are the primary north-south roads. There are pockets of quiet, charming residential neighborhoods throughout. The northern half of the island is populated with shops and restaurants, including bustling Pine Avenue in the very north, while the southern half features a number of fantastic public beaches. Fantastic ice cream shops abound.
Do I need a car on the island?
Not necessarily. With its beachfront accommodations and fully equipped kitchens, Cedar Cove is a vacation destination all itself. And if you want to wander off the property, AMI is a great place for a stroll. Plus many businesses offer bike rentals for you to cruise the friendly villages and shopping districts nearby.
What’s the beach like?
AMI’s beaches feature super-soft white sand that is around 90 percent fine quartz. The Gulf waters are gentle and temperate, with typical conditions ranging from hip-high waves to bathtub-level calm. At the southern half of the island, long pier-like structures jut into the water to help prevent erosion.
What kinds of activities/restaurants/entertainment is available on the island?
All kinds! AMI offers a rich assortment of island-based tour companies and an incredible collection of stellar eateries ranging from beachfront casual to beachfront fancy, from burger joints and fish fries to New Orleans-style barbecue or award-winning European Continental cuisine. There are also plenty of friendly neighborhood bars with live entertainment and talented mixologists.