Last updated on February 24, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Florida, Keys & Miami

Best places to stay in Anna Maria Island, Florida – TOP AREAS & HOTELS

Maria Island is one of the few places in Florida that has escaped the massive condos that define most of the east coast and a few islands on the west coast of the state.

It is a real paradise, made of white sand beaches, crystal clear water, limited building height (30-37 feet) a beautiful sunny weather all year around and a unique chilled out vibe

Let me try to answer your question in short. The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island is Bradenton Beach, and I will tell you why.

Best areas to stay in Anna Maria Island
Best areas to stay in Anna Maria Island

However, there are other areas that may be more appealing to you if you want to stay, for example, in a more isolated or romantic area or you are on a tight budget.

In the following sections, I have outlined the pros and cons of each of the 3 best cities to stay in Anna Maria Island (AMI): Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria

Moreover, I have dedicated also a section to the best Anna Maria beach resorts, the perfect spot to spend your vacation under the sun

Without further ado, let’s have a start.

Best places to stay in Anna Maria Island Florida
Best places to stay in Anna Maria Island Florida

Bradenton Beach – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island overall

Bradenton Beach - The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island overall
Bradenton Beach – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island overall

Bradenton Beach is the best place to stay in Anna Maria Island because

  • The white sand beach is just so beautiful and dreamy
  • That is where you will find the widest selection of cafes, bars and restaurants on the island.
  • There is a good mix of chilled out vibe and beach culture, where you can enjoy sunbathing as well has having a few drinks later in the evening
  • It is the best city in Anna Island for couples that look for more than just beach time
  • It works so well also with families with grown-up kid for the organized activities
  • It is well priced in the middle-low range of the island wide choice
  • Perfect place for a first-time visitor
  • Home to the best hotels in the island

The weakest points:

  • It is the busiest part of AMI, still not that busy but also not that secluded

Friendly locals, a rich culture, and that Old Florida charm, Bradenton Beach is an ideal spot for vacationers.

With just 1,500 permanent residents, plenty of space has been left to for the shorelines – you’ll just need to drive to the southern end of Anna Maria Island to get all that Bradenton Beach area has to offer.

Whether you simply walk to take a stroll on the beach, get scenic shots on the sand dunes at the nearby Coquina Beach, jet ski or even go shelling or on a parasailing tour to soak in the views of the island, you can do it all here.

For a brief adventure, you can also easily reach the beautiful beach of Gibby Point, in the nearby Longboat Key.

Parking is free, there are picnic tables around, and playgrounds for the little ones – with lifeguards keeping an eye out for those taking a dip in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

For some shopping, head to Bridge Street, the heart of Bradenton Beach and, of course, have a stroll over the Historic Fishing Pier heading into the Sarasota Bay

You will have many options for dinner, however, make a point to visit Blue Marlin for its excellent seafood and live music

Here below 4 of the best Anna Maria Island hotels that you should check out for your stay in Bradenton.

Bungalow Beach Resort ($$-$$$)

An accommodation that’s right on the beach with well-kept air-conditioned rooms and friendly staff – Bungalow Beach Resort is all about comfort and convenience.

It’s been around since the 1930s, giving you that historic feel while still providing the modern amenities needed for your holiday – including an outdoor pool and free WiFi.

Decorated rooms add to the ambience during your stay, and each comes with its en suite bathroom, flat-screen cable TV, refrigerator and coffeemaker.

Be sure to catch the sunset from the deck and even enjoy your evenings at the firepit. Parking is free.

Check price at Bungalow Beach

Silver Surf Gulf Beach Resort ($$)

The property is right across the street from the beach – with its own private beach access, like in a luxury hotel.

There are plenty of water sports for you to enjoy – right after starting your day off with a continental breakfast from the resort.

While the breakfast is free, note that it is limited to the early morning – so don’t slumber way all your morning before showing up.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available. There’s an outdoor pool here, and rooms come with a microwave, refrigerator and coffeemaker. Bike and scooter rentals are available as well.

Check price at Collector Inn

Birds Nest 2BR Townhouse ($$$)

This is spacious accommodation that’s close to the beach, with spectacular garden views, especially from the patio.

Rooms in the Birds Nest come with cable TV and a seating area, as well as a private bathroom complete with free toiletries to use during your stay.

The coffee making facilities, dishwasher, microwave and fridge add to the amenities available for you to use, as well as free WiFi.

Check price at the Birds Next

The Anna Maria Island Beach Palace 4BR ($$$)

Here you get to check into a spacious villa where you can even have a barbecue.

The beach is just a quick four-minute walk from the premises, and for those days where you want to spend time on the property, there is a pool for you to take a splash in.

The Anna Maria Island Beach Palace comes with optimized air-conditioning, a critical factor with Florida’s heat.

The TV and DVD provided enable you to catch up with some entertainment while indoors, with the kitchen being well equipped for you to easily prepare your meals.

Check price at the Beach Palace

Holmes Beach – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island for a quiet time

Holmes Beach - The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island for a quiet time
Holmes Beach – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island for a quiet time

Holmes Beach is the best place to stay in Anna Maria Island because

  • The beach is just unbeatable, again made of fine white sand
  • Less busy and more laid-back atmosphere than Bradenton Beach
  • You will find more homes than condos
  • It is the best area to stay in Anna Island for romantic couples that want to have a quiet and secluded time

The weakest points:

  • Mainly a residential area with a limited number of bars and restaurants, there is less of a beach village vibe
  • Usually more expensive than Bradenton Beach
  • It does not offer any low budget accommodation

The beach is in the heart of Anna Maria Island and got its name after a developer – Jack Holmes – that created a 600-acre community here after World War II.

However, activities on this beach date back to 1000 A.D., when Native American tribes of farmers, fishermen, and warriors inhabited the region. 

The most popular spot in this part of the island is Manatee Public Beach with plenty of sun and sand to enjoy, playgrounds for the kids, as well as grills and picnic tables.

For those after an adrenaline rush, then going parasailing or hopping on a jet-ski will definitely be a treat.  

The Island Gallery West and the Bob Brown Art Gallery take you into a dive of the local art scene, and when it comes to shopping you’re spoiled for choice, with the plenty shops and boutiques that are stocked with everything from essentials to use during your visit, souvenirs to take back with you, and even jewelry to get styled up.

Given that this is mainly a residential area, most accommodations are rental homes – with the amenities provided to give you a “home away from home feel” justifying the extra cost.

Here below are 3 of the best vacation rentals to stay around Holmes Beach

Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages ($$)

With this accommodation, you get a private beach area and garden, and the spacious property comes with family rooms for you and your loved ones to be comfortable in.

Units at Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages have a terrace, and some of the rooms have private patios that’s complete with a garden view.

It’s a quaint place with that small-town feel – a stark difference to the hustle and bustle of conventional Florida accommodations. Parking, beach chairs and umbrellas are all free here.

Check price at Cedar Cove

Beach Place 1BR with pool ($$$)

Staying at this beachside complex gives you access to a heated pool and the tropical gardens that adds to the ambience of the property.

This 1-bedroom unit can actually sleep four, thanks to the arrangements that include a king-size bed as well as a queen Murphy bed with a 9″ foam mattress.

Amenities to make your stay comfortable, and feel like home, include flat-screen TVs (a 50” in the living room and a 42″ in the bedroom), a well-furnished lounge area and an equipped kitchen – with even two gas grills available.

Bookings here are for a minimum of a one-week stay.

Check price at the Beach Place

Palm Cay 1BR with pool ($$$)

The welcome treat of a Home Suite Holmes wine bottle and craft beer sourced from local craft breweries is just the start.

Here you get a spacious condo that’s just a 3-minute walk to the beach.

It’s part of the 10-unit Palm Cay complex, with access to a heated pool, and features like the tropical landscaping that add to the vacation vibe.

On-site laundry facilities enable you to handle those soiled clothes from the beach and touring activities.

The condo itself comes with a Smart TV with premium cable, king-size bed, free WiFi, hot tub and shower, as well as toiletries.

Check price at Palm Cay

Anna Maria – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island with a big family or group of friends

Anna Maria - The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island with a big family or group of friends
Anna Maria – The best place to stay in Anna Maria Island with a big family or group of friends

Anna Maria is the best city to stay in the island because

  • It offers a great variety of big houses, from 2BR to four or even 5BR
  • Very quiet, almost secluded
  • It has probably the most beautiful and deserted section of the beach, Bean Point Beach, right in the north end of Anna Maria Island
  • It is the best area to stay in Anna Island for a big group of people, either a family with many kids, families sharing a house or a group of friends
  • The best value for money on the island

The weakest points:

  • It is a residential area with a bunch of eateries, lacking a bit of that beach vibe
  • You are 4 to 6 miles from the Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach bars and restaurants

This small and family-friendly Old Florida town, in the north end of Anna Maria Island, credits its name to Ponce de Leon while on his famous quest for the Fountain of Youth.

It has a small population of just 2,000 residents, with the island being surrounded by miles of white coastline and calm and crystal clear waters.

This little paradise gives you a blend of everything – from that sun and sand, galleries showing you local history and culture, parks to explore, as well as bars and restaurants to grab a bite at – though the eateries are not as many given the residential nature of the area.

Whether you want to spend your time strolling in the sugar-like sand, going fishing or dolphin watching, or even water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding, you’ll be able to do it all here.

This is the best area of the island to catch that stunning spectacle of the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico.

Here below are 3 of the best places to stay around Anna Maria

Once Upon a Time 3BR ($$$-$$$$)

Your story here will be one of garden views, cozy accommodation, and a stay that feels like being in your own home – complete with a flat-screen TV, spacious lounge and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen.

Guests can use the terrace, and the property is a walking distance of the beach.

Air-conditioned rooms, free parking as well as private patios on the beachfront property add to the convenience of checking in here.

Check price at Once Upon a Time

Canalfront Anna Maria Cottage with hot tub and pool 2BR ($$$)

This holiday home comes with an outdoor pool where you can take a relaxing dip during your stay, as well as a patio to catch those sunrise and sunset views. 

The Canalfront Anna Maria Cottage features two bedrooms, cable TV, and a kitchen that’s stocked with all the equipment you will need to prepare your meals, as well as a washing machine to handle your laundry.

The bathroom here has a hot tub, and the host provides towels and bed linen for you to use. Parking is available, as well as free WiFi.

Check price at the Canalfront

Beach to Bay Getaway 4BR ($$)

Set in a quiet street, this spacious property is capable of handling large families or groups or friends.

The air conditioning keeps the rooms comfy, and while here you will have access to the private pool, which has jets that are quite relaxing to the muscles.

The rental comes with a 65′ flatscreen TV, including Netflix and Hulu Plus – where you use your own credentials to login though.

The gas grill available allows you to host cookouts for your vacationing group

Check price at St George Inn

Still undecided on your stay in the Florida West Coast?

Check out instead the lovely hotels and rentals of Siesta Key, with its beautiful beaches

Or why not a stay in the areas and hotels of Sanibel Island, experiencing its amazing beaches

Clearwater is another option, with its wide selection of accommodations.

The remote Cedar Key with its charming rentals and Inns will take you back to the old Florida, as it used to be

Frequently Asked Question about Anna Maria Island (AMI)

Can I find a cheap hotel in Anna Maria Island?

You will not be able to find dirty cheap places to sleep, or hostels. In saying that, you can find affordable solutions like the three hotels mentioned below:

What are the best Anna Maria beach resorts?

There are a few, and it’s always difficult to pick only a few. In saying that, I suggest checking out the before mentioned Bungalow Beach Resort, in Bradenton Beach, and Cedar Cove Resort, in Holmes Beach.

The third option is the Anna Maria Beach Resort, between Holmes Beach and Anna Maria, because of its terrific location and water views

Is Anna Maria Island crowded?

Simple answer: the island is not crowded. It is certainly busy during the school holidays, but it does not receive the crowd of other places in Florida.

If you are still worried, I suggest booking in Anna Maria, in the north end of the island, or Holmes Beach, the two quietest places in the island.

Are three cities in Anna Maria Island?

Yes, these are Anna Maria, in the north end of the island, Holmes Beach, in the center, and Bradenton Beach, in the south.

They have the own character and building style. Bradenton Beach is the busiest.

Can I reach Anna Maria Island by airplane?

There is not an airport directly on the island. However, the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is less than 15 miles from the AMI.

You can fly there and then either rent a car or take a taxi to your resort or vacation rental 

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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