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Our trip to Anna Marie Island - August 2006 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

We decided to have a break from our “villa owner” chores, and booked a five night stay at Anna Marie Island.

Anna Marie Island is approximately a two hour, very pleasant, drive from our villa in Kissimmee. The Island is just seven miles long and located on the Gulf Coast, near Tampa. You connect to the Island either via Manatee Avenue or Cortex Road from Bradenton.

There is basically one long road on the Island; Gulf Drive South and Gulf Drive North. We stayed in the Coquina Beach area, in the southern part of the Island. As the Island at the Southern part is just a road width wide, we had views from our accommodation, of the Gulf Coast on one side and the Intra-coastal waterway on the other. It was absolutely stunning and unbelievable. We could watch the fish and the boats on one side and on the other side was the beach, it really was such a breathtaking view, that you could just sit and watch and chill for hours!

The wildlife in Anna Marie is really abundant and we regularly saw Puffins, Flying Fish, Dolphins, Pelicans, Egrets, and Herons. We were told that some Manatees had been spotted out in the Gulf, but unfortunately we had just missed them.

We visited a great pier at the Northern End of the Island. The pier is very traditional made of wooden weather-beaten boards. Lots of fisherman sit on the edge and again we saw lots of dolphins. There is a restaurant at the end, which we didn’t eat at, but it looked great - there were masses of people eating and waiting, always a good sign to me of great food! There was a little bar area and you could purchase drinks and sit and dangle your legs over the edge, if you were brave – I never trust what is in the water and my thoughts always turn to Jaws! There were little stands selling jewellery and crafts and hair-braiding stands.

Our favourite restaurant we could walk to – in fact you could easily walk everywhere in Anna Marie Island. Pedestrians are given priority on the road and the speed limit is a strict 30mph. You can hire bicycles with ease or you can use the Island trolley, which runs from one end of the Island to the other. So going back to our favourite restaurant – this was called The Beach House Restaurant. On one level with an inside and outside. We sat outside every night we went there and you are basically sitting on the beach. The sunset is absolutely spectacular and really romantic – just to the place to propose I would guess! The food is great too and I would thoroughly recommend this restaurant.

My husband, Kevin and my son Matthew hired a jet ski one day – we drove over the Cortez Road and on the left near The Sea Hagg was a place where you could hire every kind of boat you desired. I sat and chilled on the water’s edge which they jetted around, again we spotted some dolphins!

Because we are theme park addicts, we decided to spend at day at Adventure Island Waterpark right opposite Busch Gardens. It took approximately an hour to drive there. We were so impressed with this park we purchased a discounted ticket for the next day. There is a great area there called Paradise Lagoon with a 20ft platform jump that my son, aged 7, just loved diving off. He was so brave! !

Well not one to missing my shopping, we spent a day at St Armands Circle, an exclusive and upmarket shopping area, built in, as the name suggests, a circle. It was a great drive there through Longboat Key and the exclusive properties that are built alongside the sea. They were absolutely stunning and had their own private beaches! Well when my numbers come up on the lottery – that’s where I will head!

We would thoroughly recommend Anna-Marie Island; it is such a tranquil and unspoilt area, a real contrast to the hustle and bustle of Orlando and its attractions. And if, like us, you still need your fix of a theme park, try Busch Gardens or Adventure Island Waterpark, just an hour’s drive away.

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