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Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

Dallas, Texas
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Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

We will be renting a condo in Holmes Beach on AMI in a few weeks and would like the best tips on beach access, restaurants, excursions, etc....Also, how safe is the area? Do people walk on the beach at night at all like in the 30A area of Florida? I have heard great things about how safe AMI is and how laid back it is (Old Florida Style). Would just like any helpful hints that anyone can offer for a 1 week stay at the end of July :) Thank you! :)

Bradenton, Florida
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1. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

It will be hot, and will likely rain every afternoon for an hour or so. Access to the beach is at the end of just about every E/W street. Holmes Beach is nice, very laid back, and generally friendly. Yes, you can walk the beach at night, but please use red filters on flashlights as it is turtle nesting season. Also, make sure to fill in holes and level sandcastles before you leave the beach in the evening. For us, it is a requirement for everyone to go down to the beach at sunset. I have not seen better sunsets anywhere.

Bloomington, Indiana
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2. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

For such a small island, there are an abundance of dining choices. You might want to search past threads to see many recommendations. As for us, some of the restaurants we visit each year are:

Blue Marlin - fine casual dining

Rod & Reel - great grouper sandwich and other fresh seafood with views of the bay

Starfish - fresh seafood consumed on the fish company dock - in Cortez

Oma Pizza - authentic Italian food

Poppo's - fresh Tex-Mex

eat here - little brother of the renown Beach Bistro (and cheaper)

Skinny's - dive bar burgers

That should get you started. Others may have other favorites. Have a great visit.

cleveland
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3. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

So many tips depend on your style of travel and what specifically you are looking for...things we've learned:

a) Don't overplan. The beach calls. Time to breathe, relax.

b) Visit the piers (we prefer Rod and Reel) the first or second day...chances are, you'll want to visit at least one more time for food ... or to fish... or for the view. Rod and Reel has best grouper sandwich on the island...we don't like the dinner selection with sauces. Also, ask for Ted's homemade gumbo -- it's remarkable. Made out of whatever fresh fish on hand.

c) Rent bikes (local companies like Beach Bums will drop them off at condo and pick up for free...also kayaks, beach umbrellas, all sorts of things)

d) Walk out onto the beach to celebrate sunset most if not every night. The biggest crowd is near Sandbar restaurant (where you'll need to go at least an hour before sunset to get a seat). But even if you don't get a seat, they have a walk-up bar...and you can grab a drink and lean on the rail with toes in sand. To us - food and drinks not that great...it's all location, location, location.

e)Consider renting a pontoon for the day (search this board for recommendations) or rent a charter

f)Others will disagree (and that's great with me...I'm just expressing what we have come to believe), but we think there is little great dining on the island or nearby. We often ended up buying fresh seafood, a bag salad and a loaf of bread and doing something simple ourselves for dinner. That said, we have some favorites --

--havarti/jalepeno burger at Duffy's

--whatever's on special, served in a box on picnic tables, at Star Fish in Cortez...also have bad wine for something like $3.14 a plastic glass...and that, and the view, makes wine spectacular

--sandwich of the day (without bun) at Rod and Reel and a cold beer

--anything at Poppo's tacos (on Pine)..craft beer bottles

--Eat Here in Holmes Beach -- casual, tasty (Eat Here's original menu said something like this under it's burger listing -- "Turn right and go to Duffy's" Duffy's is not related to Eat Here, so this was a remarkable (and deserved) compliment).

--Bortell's for dive bar and local characters

--The Waterfront (across from city pier for craft cocktails with fresh herbs (smoked margarita, yum).

We think Anna Maria, particularly the far north end where there are fewer day trippers (especially off season), is about as safe a vacation destination as there is in Fla. BUT, as with any travel destination, there are people who prey on travelers who let down their guard too much. So you still have to be smart. That said, I wouldn't think anything about my husband and I strolling beach after dark...or walking anywhere after dark. Also, we find our fellow travelers especially friendly on AMI and sometimes make friends we run into (or plan to meet) again and again. If you visit more than once, you'll start to recognize familiar faces...(residents and devotees alike).

Eastlake, Ohio
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4. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

btownindiana and amagar some great tips! My husband & I will be down in Oct for our 1st time & I have been constantly reading the forums to gather info for our stay. We will be staying in BB but all this info really really helps. We plan our vacations just to relax on the beach! I will be certainly saving your post for future reference.

Will try to get to Starfish on Cortez since everyone recommends and it sounds wonderful . Rod & Reel Pier is also on our radar especially since we constantly look at their webcam & watched it be rebuilt. Making notes on all the dining recs. Thank you

Newark, Ohio
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5. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

My family just returned from our first stay in Holmes Beach! We loved it! We felt very safe and greatly enjoyed how quiet it was! From where we stayed, we had easy walk to beach access on 50th Street, which was great. That area of beach was not crowded except for the weekend days (and still when I say "crowded" it still wasn't really). We also enjoyed Hurricane Hanks for pub-like food, the Waterfront Restaurant for a nice dinner, and we really liked the eclectic atmosphere of Ginny and Jane Es for breakfast. Anna Maria Donuts and Two Scoops ice cream were both excellent sweet treats! It is very easy to navigate the island by car. We did not take advantage of the free Trolley; rather we drove and always found parking near our destination. Bean Point was beautiful at sunset time, though I would recommend using a bug repellent there at that time of day. Enjoy your stay!!

Newark, Ohio
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6. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

My family just returned from our first stay in Holmes Beach! We loved it! We felt very safe and greatly enjoyed how quiet it was! From where we stayed, we had easy walk to beach access on 50th Street, which was great. That area of beach was not crowded except for the weekend days (and still when I say "crowded" it still wasn't really). We also enjoyed Hurricane Hanks for pub-like food, the Waterfront Restaurant for a nice dinner, and we really liked the eclectic atmosphere of Ginny and Jane Es for breakfast. Anna Maria Donuts and Two Scoops ice cream were both excellent sweet treats! It is very easy to navigate the island by car. We did not take advantage of the free Trolley; rather we drove and always found parking near our destination. Bean Point was beautiful at sunset time, though I would recommend using a bug repellent there at that time of day. Enjoy your stay!!

Washington...
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7. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

I made sure I seen the sun set every evening when I came down last month 16th -23rd it was the most peaceful thing I've ever saw in my life.... can't wait until next year to come back..

Atlanta
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8. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

Island Creperie in Bradenton Beach is a delightful cafe for a change of pace from beach food. Blue Marlin is excellent; while it is not fancy, it is a step up in quality, price and atmosphere from most of the dinner spots on the Island (but nowhere near as high end as Beach Bistro). We have celebrated a number of birthdays there...

Anna Maria, Florida
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9. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

Beach Access

Best bet for a little surfing is White Ave.

Best bet for quieter stretch is anywhere above 65th Ave

Best Bet for swimming close to a lifeguard is at Manatee Ave Public area

Restaurants

Best Bet to catch supper on the beach - The Sandbar

Most Romantic, Expensive & Delicious Meal overlooking the beach - The Beach Bistro

Best Bet for delicious supper overlooking the Bay - The Waterfront

Best Breakfast - Rod n Reel Pier

Best Donuts - AMI Donuts

Best Take Out Family Style - Vinnie and Cheryl's Italian Kitchen

Best Lunch - it's a 3 way Tie - Poppo's Taqueria, Tortilla Bay and Starfish Company in Cortez

Excursions

Best Experience - rent a pontoon boat and head to Egmont Key for snorkelling, swimming and sunbathing

Most Unique Experience - horse surfing with Beachhorses

Most Adventurous Excursion - Top Gun fly boarding

Take the free Trolley along the island and stop for shopping on Pine Ave in Anna Maria and walk along the pier

Bet you will want to come back because you didn't get to do everything you wanted the first time!

:)

10. Re: Tips for first timers to AMI please:)Staying in Holmes Beach

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