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Tag: Beaches

Planning the Perfect Romantic Getaway to Anna Maria Island

Whether you have an anniversary, new relationship or maybe just need time away – planning a romantic trip to Anna Maria Island is a wonderful place to start. From a quaint small beach town feel, to the amazing amenities you can access, there are many memories to be made here on Anna Maria Island. We have compiled a wonderful list of amazing things to make your romantic getaway perfect.


  • A Paradise Vacation Rentals has Anna Maria Island vacation rentals to suit your needs. Browse the collection of vacation rentals on Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Longboat Key to find your perfect vacation accommodation.


  • Ginny and Jane E’s – This cafe is located in the Historic City of Anna Maria, a quaint “Old Florida” area on the north end of Anna Maria Island. The store is a unique collection of local art and unique finds. The cafe offers preservative, steroid, and hormone-free food. The bakery is made fresh every morning.
  • Waffle Press – The core of the menu is the Leige waffle, a sweeter, smaller cousin to the well-known Belgian waffle.


  • Body & Sol Spa and Wellness – The day spa is located in the historic IGA building in Anna Maria. With 4,000 sq ft, we are the largest natural full-service spa on the island of Anna Maria.


  • Dips Ice Cream – Don’t be fooled; this ice cream shop is more than just a place to go for a sugar rush. Dips is also a candy & sports shop. Adults will enjoy the many throwback candies, including bottle caps, wax lips, and jawbreakers.  Kids will like the dotted ice cream pellets and the general abundance of delicious refined sugar. 


  • Sandbar Seafood & Spirits – Dine with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand on the beach deck here. Enjoy fresh local seafood options with amazing drink menu features.
  • Slicker’s Eatery – attempts to be intentional with their ingredients, our choices, our relationships, and our impact. Everything from investing in their team, partnering with local charities, steering away from frozen or fried foods, and opting for fresh and locally sourced ingredients as much as possible.
  • Wicked Cantina – all the food is hand-made in-house daily. They specialize in delicious, Austin-style Tex-Mex as well as tasty American classics. Fresh food, a fresh, modern, family-friendly vibe, a full liquor bar, and ample parking await you.


  • Salty Dolphin 2 – There is truly no better way to experience Anna Maria’s stunning views and vibrant wildlife than from the water. Sit back and relax as the setting sun paints the Gulf Coast in a stunning array of hues, and playful dolphins swim alongside your boat. 

Find a perfect backdrop for your romantic getaway on Anna Maria Island. From gorgeous sunsets, to couples massages, you will feel refreshed and more in love than ever leaving this beautiful haven. We look forward to greeting you soon and hope you have a memorable getaway here.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

Anna Maria Island’s 3 Cities: What’s the Difference?

While planning your vacation to Anna Maria Island you may have noticed that on this quaint 7-mile island there are three distinct cities. A lot of people seek guidance on which one to book in, so we’re here to help share the differences between the cities of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach.

ALL the Gulf of Mexico beaches on Anna Maria Island are open to the public.  Some prefer one cities’ beach over another, however, the difference between beaches are the amount of visitors on each. The softness of the sand, number of seashells, color of the sand, etc are similar if not the same for all gulf beaches.


The City of Anna Maria is on the northern tip of the island and has mainly of residential properties, making it much less crowded and much quieter. There are two piers and shops you can explore while you visit. The main street of ‘downtown’ Anna Maria is Pine Avenue runs the width of the island from bay at the Anna Maria City Pier to the Gulf and is voted one of the ‘Greenest Main Streets in the USA’. 

Move further down the island to reach Holmes Beach in the middle. This section of land is home to the popular Manatee Avenue and its widest beach. You’ll find more homes than condos, and numerous gift shops and restaurants as well as the island’s sole major grocery store. This area is considered quieter than Bradenton Beach and has many gift shops, restaurants, and the Public Beach.


Finally, the southern side of the island holds Bradenton Beach. This section is usually the busiest but it is also the most walkable. The narrowest and the southernmost town on the island, has recently taken seriously its downtown atmosphere and created a foot friendly Bridge Street: the heart of the town. Close proximity to the accessible Coquina Beach and all of the Bridge Street attractions if you’re looking for things to do!

While the cities aren’t far apart, and are virtually indiscernible while you’re passing through, we’ll try to sum up the minor differences to make booking your vacation in paradise a breeze. We offer beautiful and affordable A Paradise accommodations in all three areas, and really as long as you’re on Anna Maria Island you really can’t go wrong.

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Shelling On Anna Maria Island

It’s a great way to make your beach walk feel purposeful, focused, and for the more competitive and driven types – like a fun scavenger hunt right here in nature! Sprawled out generously across miles of our beaches and nestled into our white powdery shoreline, unique and beautiful shells are found in an abundance. So grab your bucket and let’s get shelling!


First things first, an important reminder to check your shells before taking them with you. There are many living creatures inside of shells. Only pick up ones that are empty! Finding sand dollars on our coast is absolutely possible but please remember to only take dried white ones. The brown sand dollars are still living animals and deserve to stay safe in their Gulf home!

The biggest tip is to go in search of shells during low tide, in the morning, and after a storm. This helps push some shells closer to shore for you to find more easily. Also, begin your search in tidal pools and flats, sandbars, and around the AMI piers. This is where shells will get caught and will be easy for you to snatch up.

Here are just some of the more popular shells you can find here on Anna Maria Island beaches. Feel free to look up some photos for clarification so you can know what to keep your eyes peeled for especially.

Olive (Snails)  – These are smooth, shiny, elongated oval-shaped shells. The shells often show various muted but attractive colors, and in this area especially can be found as “lettered olives” most commonly.

Lightning Whelk – Almost like a conch, they’re long and cone-like with a fractal shape radiating out. This species has a left-handed or sinistral shell.


Cockle Shell – The distinctive rounded shells are bilaterally symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. They have been compared to looking like a small clam.

Coquina Shell – These tiny, cute looking shell are what we call coquina shells. They are not any bigger than a dime and will come in a variety of colors and patterns. You can see thousands of them burrowing into the sand as the waves return to the shoreline.

Junonia Shell – This shell is one of the rarest that you will come across on the island. This shell is cream-colored with brown spots. The shell is spindle-shaped and swirls itself into a point.

Shark’s Teeth — Though not technically a shell, we couldn’t do a list for your beachside shell scavenger hunt without telling you to look for shark’s teeth! These small, black teeth reflect the sunlight well and are an awesome souvenir!

Next time you’re on a beach walk on AMI, see how many of these different species you can find! If you want to take up shelling on your next Anna Maria vacation, be sure to call our team and we can point you to some of the best spots on the island to spot some goodies! Main Office: 941-778-4800 

Photos courtesy of