Pick from the island’s many charming accommodations, including the new Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club (5325 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL), a Marriott Autograph Collection property with luxury two-bedroom suites. Tampa boaters can skip the traffic and dock their vessel at one of the marina’s 50 slips then kick back at the resort’s private beach club or grab dinner at the Southern seafood spot Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen. Next door, unwind with a seaweed body wrap or herbal detox treatment at Acqua Aveda Salon & Spa (5311 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach).
With its 7 miles of nearly uninterrupted accessible white sand beaches, the whole island is known for its peace and calm, but residents say that Bean Point (793 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria) on the island’s northern tip is the best beach for quiet relaxation. No matter what your water sport fancy, there are plenty of charters, tours and fishing excursions to meet any adventure on Anna Maria Island. Get your heart racing with stand-up paddleboards from Happy Paddler (happypaddler.com), or explore Anna Maria’s waters by head-lamp and lighted kayak on the company’s guided Moonlight Tour.
By day, an abundance of snook, redfish, tarpon and permit make the island a fisherman’s dream. Snag a charter from AMI Charters (amicharters.com; $800 for one to two people, $50 for each additional person) to have a professional guide you on a one-of-a-kind fishing trip. Still not relaxed enough? Island Pearl Excursions (Bradenton Beach Marina, 402 Church Ave. N., Bradenton Beach) offers private cruises for up to six passengers to enjoy the beautiful Gulf sunset on the 33’ Bertram yacht Now and Then — which comes complete with an air-conditioned cabin and a full bathroom.
The number of diverse restaurants on the island will satisfy every palate. Seafood restaurant Beach Bistro (6600 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach) holds the highest Zagat rating in the state of Florida (4.9 out of five stars) For an extra indulgence, order the Food Heaven, a $96 extravaganza featuring Colorado lamb, butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster and Hudson Valley foie gras on top of brioche bread pudding that the restaurant served at a James Beard House performance dinner. For a more casual seafood experience, stop into the Blue Marlin (121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach) for fish caught on the docks a mile away.