Prepare to be transported by stunning sunset photos of Anna Maria Island beach in Florida! Perhaps these will serve as inspiration for where to go on your next relaxing vacation. My random solo “momcation” to AMI exceeded all expectations — and actually ended up being shockingly affordable. Read on to see why.
Where is Anna Maria Island?
Beautiful, chilled-out Anna Maria Island is located 34 miles south (as the crow flies) from Tampa, which is located in the middle of the western side of Florida’s panhandle, kissing the Gulf of Mexico. The closest airport is Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), which took me just half an hour via a ride share to get to AMI from. You could also fly into Tampa Airport, which is an hour drive away. Should you absolutely love longer drives, Miami is four hours by car.
Affordable Flights to AMI Beach
Here’s the good news: Both Tampa and SRQ airports are serviced by several low-cost airlines! Because I was flying from Cleveland (home of my in-laws, who kindly watched the kids while I took this sanity-saving trip in summer of 2019), direct flights to SRQ were highly affordable — one of the reasons I picked AMI as my solo vacation destination. Yes, this was a random last-minute trip!
Why Anna Maria Island?
I chose Anna Maria Island for my two-night mini vacation destination because I’d heard through the grapevine that the vibe is like old-time Florida: slow-paced, natural, and focused on just enjoying the beach. After spending some time in neighboring islands and towns, I can confirm that AMI lived up to this tranquil reputation.
Anna Maria Beach
As you can see, 100% of the photos of Anna Maria Island here are of the beach. Why? Because I achieved my dream during this mini getaway of doing nothing but walking up and down along the gorgeous ocean, decompressing. AMI is not a destination where you need to race around doing tourist things — all that’s needed is an appreciation of salt air and sunsets.
Swimming at Anna Maria Island Beaches
You may recall from my article about the dushi Curacao beaches in the ABC Islands of the Caribbean that I’m more of an ocean-watcher than swimmer — but I made an exception for Anna Maria Island beaches! The swim did not disappoint: warm water, calm waves, and no creepy party boys trying to make advances. Though I have heard you need to remain alert for warnings or swim advisories at times on AMI, my dip found the water clean and clear.
A Family-Friendly Travel Destination
Because AMI beach is so laid-back — no high-rises or wild clubs — it’s a perfect fit for family travel with kids. Though I was traveling alone (whoa, Mama did I need that reset time!) I loved seeing multi-generational groups playing together in the surf and sand. I was reminded of Folly Beach, SC and Luquillo Beach in Puerto Rico with regards to the friendly and welcoming vibe for all ages.
Anna Maria Beach Hotels
Here’s what made my Anna Maria Island getaway so affordable: you can get beach hotels right on the ocean for far cheaper than any Boston hotel. Even better: I was able to use credit card points (a silver lining of having so many expenses due to young children) to pay for both nights of my hotel!
Oceanfront Rooms in AMI
I ended up staying in two different Anna Maria beach hotels because I wanted variety and flair. (The following links are affiliates which provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.) The first spot I stayed was Bali Hai Beachfront Resort and Spa which I truly loved, and was RIGHT on the ocean! Note that it’s not super fancy, but it was perfect for my needs.
Haley’s at the Anna Maria Island Inn was my next Anna Maria Island hotel, and was welcoming and nice. Though it’s not directly on the beach, it’s a super short walk to get to the ocean. Oh — and they have a pool! Note that Haley’s is adults only, so for family accommodations, you might want to go with the option explained after this lovely sunset photo…
Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals
When traveling with a family, it’s almost always more economical to do a vacation rental (either a condo or a whole house) instead of a hotel, since there’s more room to spread out — and also kitchen access to save money on eating out. My favorite site for vacation rentals is Vrbo (no, this isn’t sponsored… I just like them!), and you can click this affiliate link to see Anna Maria rentals here.
Car Rental or No for Anna Maria Island?
I’m going to give you different advice than my previous article on car rental in Puerto Rico: it is VERY possible to have a great vacation in Anna Maria Island WITHOUT renting a car — as long as you’re ok with waiting up to 20 minutes for the FREE TROLLY that runs up an down the island all day, and spending a little money on ride share services to and from the airport — or for times you want to go further afield than AMI (for example, I ate lunch one day on swankier Longboat Key). Yet another reason why an Anna Maria beach vacation can be so affordable!
A Perfect Momcation
My short solo getaway to Anna Maria Island was one of my favorite momcations of all time. It offered the peace, solitude, calm relaxation, ease, and affordability that allowed a much-needed refresh and reset. Gazing at these photos again, I realize that I’m due for another trip soon for self-care and sanity… and I am excited to discover other destinations as fulfilling and lovely as Anna Maria’s beaches!
Thank You, Anna Maria Beach!
So what about you? If you’ve been to AMI, how was it? If you haven’t been yet, does Anna Maria Island seem like a place you’d like to go? Which are your favorite beach sunset photos here? Do share!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!