We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Hamilton, ontario
3 posts
1 review
Save Topic
First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

From Canada looking for a 4 bedroom child friendly rental for all of Feb and March 2013. Not sure that the difference is between Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, and Holmes Beach. Can someone explain? Are these all on the same island? Want a heated pool and less than 3 minutes to the beach. Any information about this would be appreciated. Best part of island to stay etc.. Please feel free to outline all pros and cons. Thank you,

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
8,754 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Those are all sections of the same island, Anna Maria Island. For whatever the reason, the genius powers that be at the time decided to divide a 7 mile long island into 3 entities, each with their own police force and other separate political bodies. Totally unnecessary IMHO.

Hamilton, ontario
3 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Okay, thanks for clearing that up. Now, does anyone know if one area is more ideal than other, ie, safer, better beaches, etc..

thanks

Bradenton, Florida
Level Contributor
5,427 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

They are all safe. "Anna Maria city is the northern most part. it is mostly resiential, and the tip, Bean Point, is not really safe for swimming, due to currents from the Gulf meeting Tampaq Bay. There are undercurrents, but this is just at the tip of the island.

Holmes Beach is next, and more residential, but also th most built up, with mre stuf at least 3 stories and some at six.

Bradenton Beach does not go above 3 stories, but is more densley populated. There are more shops and restaurants here.

Check with the realtors: Mke Norman, Sato, Anna Maria Island realtors, etc. or the chamwer of comerce for more info.

Hamilton, ontario
3 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Thank you for the information. Very much appreciated!

Gaylord, Michigan
Level Contributor
983 posts
159 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

My favorite is the City of Anna Maria area which is on both the bay and the gulf. Cute, little village, piers, shops, restaurants. Nice areas for walking and biking. The beach is beautiful and good for swimming.

Edited: 22 March 2012, 03:00
Burlington, Vermont
4 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

If you want honest advice then I suggest you take a look at the comments section in both the local papers. I believe this island is being mispresented by a few regular posters on tripadvisor.com and for tripadvisor to continue to have any credibility they really need to address this. Otherwise I am wondering when I review places whether I am really getting the true picture. My credentials to comment on AMI - I have lived on the Island for over a decade. Like many I don't believe the changes over the last 5 years have been for the better for either residents or visitors. I think if you review the paper you will get the general idea about what is going on here and the views of both locals and visitors.

Here is an example of a post this week:

Comments: forget about trying to save this island, someone should have been paying attention a long time ago- paradise, are you kidding me.? I speak to many people both that live here and have visited a long time. The comments lately has been - what is happening, why are they ruining this island? My father loves this place and told one of his neighbors in Tampa to come and visit. he said he will never come back, the traffic is ridiculous, people everywhere and he wasn't one bit impressed! So sad, but I saw this coming a long time ago, too late to fix it now!

Please follow the links for more:

http://www.amisun.com/comments/index.php

www.islander.org/yourcomments/

Indiana
Level Contributor
97 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Wow Andrew Mc78 I certainly hope it's not "too late to fix it now." I have only been to Anna Maria once but am returning in a few weeks. I hope to find it as lovely as I did 2 years ago.

Over the years of vacationing in many towns along the gulf coast I have seen several ruined by over development. I pray this doesn't happen to Anna Maria. I can't think of anything worse for this lovely island. I hope local residents band together and do anything possible to stop it. There are almost no places left like this in Florida to enjoy. Greed seems to often win. I hop that it's not the case here.

To the original questioner I would say which area of the island is best depends on your personality. I found the city of Anna Maria to be much quieter. Not much going on but still a few nice restaurants and shops. Less traffic and Bean Point is amazing.

We stayed there, just around the point on the gulf side and the water was great for swimming. Bicycling and enjoying both piers on that end was lots of fun.

Holmes beach still had beautiful beaches but felt much more like a regular little town, just on the gulf. Shopping plazas and many more choices of lodging like hotels or condos as opposed to only single family houses.

Bradenton Beach had kind of a quirky beach feel to me with things spaced a lot more closely together. To me it seemed more touristy and geared toward a younger crowd. More nightlife etc. Although I don't think it was anything near a Panama City feel.

To me it was obvious which part you were in as soon as you crossed the city lines. Different ordinances for zoning being followed etc.

Bradenton, Florida
Level Contributor
5,427 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Wow. Two posters with 10 posts between them.

Yes, AMI is not what it was when I first started visiting in the 70's, or what it was lke when we moved here in the 80's. It has changed. But so has everything else. The places where I rode horses and swam when I was a teen are now covered with big box stores! Everything changes.

AMI is having some growing pains, and does need to get a handle on it now. Due to flood restrictions, any new construction must be above the flood plaink, or about 10 feet high for a first livable story. I also feel one of the things that has happened is that many of the small, old cottages havwe been inherited, and are being sold off. Developers are cashing in, and building huge houses, attracting large groups. It is fine if it is an exgtended family, but renting to younger folks, who then bring in their 12 best friends to party is not appropriate.

I still feel the magic of AMI every time I cross the causeway, which is twice a week or so during the spring, summer and fall, and once a week during the winter to eat out. We generally only eat out on the island, because there are so many great places to eat. Disclaimer: we have not been on the island in the 3 weeks before Easter and week after in many many years. We know better. We last ate on the island about a month ago, and will again this weekend. Yes, it is very crowded. Yes, servers sometimes get short with everyone. Yes, some of the part time help is not invested in their job, just like a lot of places.

The island will never again be the sleepy, lazy, quiet spot it was in the 70's. Bradenton itself has grown tremendously. I can remember when there was nothing past 43rd St West on Manatee Ave. Lakewood Ranch was a ranch. Parrish was really rural. All those are also built up. Even with the growth of the area (and the fact that a lot of folks from Tampa have discovered the joys of AMI) it is still pretty easy to find free beach parking, and walk onto a relatively uncrowded beach. The sand is sugar fine, white, and cool to the touch. The water is beautiful. Dolphins feed along the sandbar. The food is good,and the view is often great.

Boston...
Level Contributor
4,671 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

I don't think the number of posts a person has should affect their credibility. Many people read and never post, until they feel passionately about something one way or the other.

Tampa
Destination Expert
for Anna Maria
Level Contributor
4,810 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First time visitors - Looking for honest advice

Andrew - "I believe this island is being misrepresented by a few regular posters", that comment really bothers me and I dont believe that is true. These "regular" posters, including myself, take thier time to contribute to this forum to help vistors and give them our honest opinions because we have history here and we all share a love for the island. I dont believe any of us have said that the island is perfect or the traffic is not bad during peak season or that service can be difficult during the peak times. I often say that the island is not for everyone but guess what, its for me and Kris and Floridaner, Chuts Cbc and others who enjoy discussing this lovely place. We have no agenda, we dont own any business here, we have just been enjoying this island for many years, myself, over 50 years and it is paradise to me and always will be. You either get it or you dont, but please dont make it out that we are misrepresenting something because we are not.

Why not look at all the postivie trip reports and comments that are on this board from people all over the world who have fallen in love with AMI, I would say 98% are positive, what you think they are misrepresenting also?

I would love it if AMI was just like it was when I was a child, I grew up there but as Kris says, everything, everywhere has changed and especially along the coasts of Florida. I am a native of this state so I am very aware of the changes. My family was in the agriculture business, orange groves to be exact, until the freezes of the late 60 & 70's. AFter that FLorida had to look for another avenue to survive and tourism was one of the things that helped Florida grow. I am appreciative of our tourist who spend their hard earned money here, this has help put food on our tables and allow me to visit my little piece of heaven as often as I do.

Get answers to your questions about Anna Maria Island