While all the area beaches are beautiful, you’ll find that each has its own distinct features. One is popular with dog lovers while another is preferred by surfers. Most are easily accessible, while there is one that is a little more secluded. Here’s a guide to find which beach matches your needs the best!
Anna Maria Beach extends around the northern tip of Anna Maria Island. With no condo towers hovering over the water’s edge, this cozy piece of paradise doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years. The beach may not provide any facilities, but does offer plenty of space for rest and relaxation and gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico. Accessing Anna Maria Beach is easy, as you can find plenty of public beach access paths at the west ends of most residential streets from White Avenue to Bean Point. If you need to drive, free parking is available in a lot at the corner of Spring Avenue and Gulf Drive.
If you do prefer a beach with facilities, then Anna Maria Bayfront Park, located at 310 North Bay Boulevard (Map), is a good place to lay your towel or chair. The park is situated between two of the oldest and most active fishing piers in Florida, “The City Pier” and the “Rod and Reel Pier” and with views the amazing Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key, this bayside beach park offers such amenities as restrooms, shower, benches, grills, pavilions, picnic tables, an ADA playground, and water fountains. Parking is free but limited. Hours of operation are sunrise to 10:00 p.m.
Manatee Public Beach is located in Holmes Beach at 4000 Gulf Drive (Map). This beach offers something for the whole family. Amenities include: lifeguards, a concession stand, outdoor showers, children’s playground, parking lot, public restrooms, volleyball courts, and free parking. Often visited by “day-trippers,” if you have an extended stay on the island then you may find a less busy stretch of beach just a little more north in Anna Maria.
Heading south the island is narrower and because of that, so are the beaches. The first beach is Cortez Beach (also known as Bradenton Beach) which has been pretty much left untouched for those visitors who like nature the way it was meant to be, without many amenities or distractions. With no more than 140 feet of beach area, the largest public beach access is near the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive, hence the name “Cortez Beach”.
Cortez Beach is right next to Coquina Beach. Nearly one mile in length, Coquina Beach is the longest stretch of beach on AMI and is located on the island’s southernmost end also in the city of Bradenton Beach. Amenities include: lifeguards, a concession stand, outdoor showers, a children’s playground, several public restrooms, picnic pavilions, barbecues, two public boat ramps, a personal watercraft launching area, a “multi-use” path, volleyball courts, handicap accessible area with picnic tables, and free parking. Public transportation is easily accessed as this is a main stop for the Manatee County and Sarasota County Transit Systems.
Palma Sola Causeway Park is located at 9000 Manatee Avenue West (Map) in Bradenton. Amenities include: boat launch, dock, covered picnic areas, grills, restrooms, water fountain, trash receptacles, kayak rental, easy beach access and free parking. This is the only beach that allows pets.
Please remember that other than Palma Sola Causeway Park, Manatee County’s Public Beaches prohibit dogs/pets, glass bottles and alcoholic beverages.
Rules and regulations for the Anna Maria Island beaches are governed by Florida State Law, the code of ordinances of Manatee County plus the additions and modifications within the island’s three cities — Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach.
Beaches are ‘parks’ for the purposes of applicable codes and enforcement of rules. Alleys and paths to the beaches are included as “entryways”.
We know you want to enjoy the beach as much as the next person. Therefore, please adhere to the following general public beach rules. Otherwise, engaging in prohibited activities may result in as much as a $500 fine.
The main regulations include:
- No consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages
- No glass containers
- No open fires or possession of fireworks
- No camping or overnight parking
- No vehicles or bicycles, except for wheelchairs, on beach
- No launching watercraft from beach or in designated swim areas, except surfboards, sailboats, catamarans and kayaks
- No throwing games or propelled objects, including balls, stones, arrows, javelins, or model airplanes except in areas set apart for such forms of recreation.
- No horseback riding
- No littering. Where receptacles are not provided, all refuse and trash must be carried away from the beach by the person responsible for its presence, and properly disposed of elsewhere.
- No plastic bags
- No disturbing or feeding wildlife
- No lights, unattended chairs and cabanas, screens, umbrellas, between sunset and sunrise during turtle nesting season between May 1 and October 31
- No removal of natural resources
- No disorderly conduct or public nudity
- No fishing from jetty or in swim areas
- No pets allowed, except service dogs (Palma Sola Causeway Park does allow dogs)
- No vending/concessions without proper authorization
- No assembly without a permit
In addition, any items or temporary structures, including but not limited to screen rooms, beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas, which have the potential for entrapment of sea turtles and which may interfere with the use of the natural beach environment for nesting must be removed from the beach nightly by the owner of the property upon which the item or temporary structure is located. If the item or temporary structure is not located on private property, it may be removed by a code enforcement officer.
Keep in mind some special rules may apply at the county public beach parks — Anna Maria Bayfront Park, Coquina Bayside Park, Coquina Gulfside Park and Manatee Beach Park — where there are facilities and areas zoned for specific uses and lifeguards.