An Island in Florida You Will Love – Anna Maria Island

Ted Snyder / January 25, 2018

Anna Maria Island is an island that is situated on the coast of Manatee County in the American state of Florida. This island covers an area of one square miles and has a population of about nineteen hundred residents. The island is bordered by Longboat Pass, Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Anna Maria Island was first discovered by the Caloosan and Timucan Native American tribes. Later on, the Spanish would find the island and claim it in the name of Spain.

One of these explorers, Hernando de Soto, entered the islands harbor in 1539, but passed it up to focus his attention on the Florida mainland. The first resident in the city of Anna Maria was George Bean who established a one hundred and sixty acre homestead on its northern portion in 1892. This homestead would go on to become the city of Anna Maria. Six years later, he formed a partnership with Charles Roser and established the Anna Maria Beach Company. The Anna Maria Beach Company was a vehicle used to develop the island.

Per the most recent census data, there were nine hundred households and five hundred and seventy-two families living on the island. The population density was at nineteen hundred per square mile and the housing density stood at fifteen hundred per square mile. The ethnic composition of the island was ninety-seven percent Caucasian, a third of a percent African American, almost a third of a percent Asian and a tenth of a percent Native American. Hispanic ethnicities compose almost two percent of the population.

Fourteen percent of the households on the island had children under the age of eighteen, fifty-five percent contained married couples and six percent had a female head of household with no male present. Twelve percent of the population were under eighteen, three percent eighteen to twenty-four, fourteen percent twenty-five to forty-four, thirty-six percent forty-five to sixty-four and the remainder were over the age of sixty-five. For every one hundred females over the age of eighteen, there are eighty-eight males. The median income for the island is $40,300.

Anna Maria Island is connected to the Florida mainland by two bridges, the Manatee Avenue Bridge and the Cortez Bridge. The main road on the island is Gulf Drive. This avenue begins on the southern end of the island and runs its entire length. Running north and south on Gulf Drive is a no cost trolley system that connects the Manatee County Area Transit System with the Sarasota County Area Transit System. Up until the 1920s, Anna Maria Island was only reachable by boat. In 1921, Cortez Bridge was erected to connect the village of Cortez with the island. From the spring to the fall, many different types of sea turtles nest along the islands shore. There are also Manatees in the area during the summer months. Besides these animals, the island is also home to a large number of birds, particularly seagulls, pelicans, crows, heron, parrots and sand pipers. In the Gulf, visitors can see a great number of Bottleneck Dolphins. They can be viewed from the shore or from the pier.

A popular attraction on Anna Maria Island is the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. This museum allows visitors to take a trip backward through time. It not only features a museum, but also features Belle Haven Cottage, Mangrove Walk Garden and City Jail. Located in the museum are several items of interest. These include records from the early twentieth century, rare photos, maps, videos of days past and old newspaper clippings. Anna Maria City Jail was constructed in 1926. Visitors can have their photos taken in front of this old jail for a nominal fee. Anna Maria Island has a large selection of antique stores, boutiques, gift shops and flea markets. There are several shopping centers in Holmes Beach and Bay View Plaza in the city of Anna Maria. The island also has several popular restaurants, cafes and hotels.

For more travel/vacation information on Anna Maria Island, see TripAdvisor’s page: