VIBE: Family Friendly
Manatee Public Beach, 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Updated February 16, 2023: Looking for the perfect beach destination for some family fun with an island vibe? Look no further than Manatee Public Beach near Bradenton! Renowned for its breathtaking sunsets that are often photographed, this spot is a must-visit for anyone looking for a tropical beach experience. We've visited this beach many times since moving to Florida, and we highly recommend it.
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Anna Maria Island is a 7-mile long barrier island on Florida's Gulf Coast. It is one of the most popular destinations in Florida, with over 400,000 visitors annually. The island has a population of about 3,000 year-round residents and a number of vacation homes and condominiums. Close to Tampa International Airport, Anna Maria Island has become a popular tourist destination. Grab your rental car and make your way to unique hotels and restaurants. It is especially nice for families with kids who can enjoy the calm Gulf water. We like Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach the best.
Manatee Beach Sand
We used to live in the Bradenton area and visited Manatee Beach as often as possible. It's such a beautiful ride along the popular causeway beaches. There are people fishing, jet skiing and riding horses in the shallow water. The sand at the beach is white, typical of a Florida west coast beach. It is more compacted than other beaches so make sure you have a shovel and stable base for your umbrella. The sand is a little different than Siesta Key Beach. It may get hot on your feet during the summer so bring sandals to wear until you reach your chosen spot. Then settle in and relax near the Gulf of Mexico shore.
Manatee Beach Water
Manatee Public Beach is a fantastic spot to see marine life up close. The clear blue waters allow for great visibility, with a variety of fish, dolphins, and even manatees frequently spotted. It's important to maintain a safe distance from these creatures, but snorkeling gear can provide a unique and memorable experience. Keep an eye out for jellyfish which can appear at any time. The warm, shallow waters are perfect for children to swim in with goggles, and are often calm. Make sure to pack your snorkeling gear to explore the underwater treasures and create unforgettable family memories.
Anna Maria Island Beach Parking
Parking at the beaches on Anna Maria Island is a challenge! The free parking located at Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is where we always try to park (Manatee Public Beach). It gets very busy, very fast. You must be prepared for a line up that starts back on the causeway. Unfortunately, it is only one lane. If you can’t get a spot at the beach, try to park on the streets. There is parking on Willow Avenue, Bay Boulevard, and Magnolia Avenue. Parking is strictly enforced so read signs carefully.
The bonus is once you are parked you don't have to leave. There is a cafe with enjoyable food: we recommend the Grilled Chicken Caesar. No reservations are required at the restaurant. They have breakfast and entertainment beginning at 5:30pm (subject to weather conditions). For more parking options, try Coquina Beach's large free parking lot a few miles away.
Showers and picnic tables are available. A Publix store is nearby if you forget your sunscreen but don't park there unless you are a Publix customer - you may get towed. Like Madeira Beach, there is a free Island Trolley. If you have an RV and need to park, try spending that day on Coquina Beach at the southern end of Anna Maria Island: the parking is free and plentiful. The closest RV Park is very close and just over the causeway. Holiday Cove RV Resort is less than a mile from the beach and has great reviews.
If you want to explore Anna Maria Island without a traffic headache, then try the free Island Trolley. It is air-conditioned. Several trolleys loop the island from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, up to the City Pier in the City of Anna Maria on the northern end of the island on a daily basis. From 6 am until 10:30 pm ride and relax on island time!
Do you love beach volleyball? This is the place to do it. If you love to swim, swimming here is very safe and enjoyable. The lifeguard stations are well-manned and the beach patrolled for safety by an award-winning crew. The main attraction on Anna Maria Island, however, is the fiery sunset at the end of your beach day. It is worth every ounce of effort you expend to reach this beach. Like Siesta Key Beach, the sunsets are breathtaking.
Look Out! this Could Happen...
We can't stress this enough: find out if Red Tide is at your desired beach BEFORE you go. Click here for updates. Do not miss this step with any of the Florida Gulf Beaches or you may be disappointed. The drive can take awhile and if Red Tide is present at high concentrations the beach may be uninhabitable. There are often dead fish and the odor can make it hard to breathe.
The other issue is traffic congestion and crowds so access this website to view the crowd meter. It will also tell you about tides, winds, water quality and temperature. They even have a sunburn meter! If you take these easy steps, you will likely have a wonderful beach day you'll remember forever. Make sure you head out early and plan to stay all day to witness the sunset!
What We Really Think About Anna Maria Island
The word is out and this is a popular beach for everyone! With a restaurant, live music and beautiful sunsets it's one of the best beaches you can visit. During out last visit we ate at Island Time Bar and Grill at 111 Gulf Dr. S., Bradenton Beach and had fish and chips. Parking can be a problem, particularly on weekends or during the tourist season. It's worth the time to go because the beach is groomed, very clean and the Gulf water is among best clarity you can find anywhere. It is as nice as Destin beaches!
Hotels on Anna Maria Island
Restaurants on Anna Maria Island
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.