A Visit to Anna Maria Island, Florida

February is a tough boating month for most of the U.S. Fortunately, you can always head down South to explore fun destinations and boating hot spots until the warm-up begins. Today, we’re taking a look at Anna Maria Island, just south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Known for its exquisite white-sand beaches and a great collection of charming shops, galleries and eateries, Anna Maria is the perfect destination for your next Crownline vacation.

Where to Stay

For a true old-Florida experience, try the Bungalow Beach Resort, an island oasis of meticulously restored 1930s beach bungalows. Entering through the property’s gazebo is an almost ceremonial rite of passage that requires you to leave your worries behind and live in your bathing suit and sandals. The private, one- to three-bedroom bungalows feature white wicker furniture, hardwood floors, beadboard walls, and wood-beamed cathedral ceilings.

Travelers will also enjoy Cedar Cove Resort, a similarly priced escape that’s situated right on the beach. Each suite and cottage has its own unique decor and offers amenities such as private bedrooms with plush bedding, fully equipped kitchens, spacious living spaces, and breathtaking views of tropical gardens or the turquoise waters of the Gulf.

Where to Boat

A short cruise off Anna Maria’s north end, Egmont Key State Park and Wildlife Refuge is a popular a day trip. Enjoy pristine beaches, historic ruins from the Spanish-American War, hiking trails, wildlife watching, and a picturesque lighthouse.

If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the Regina Sugar Barge Wreck underwater archeological preserve. The barge sank in 1940 with 350,000 gallons of molasses on board, and the site has remained part of the island’s identity ever since. The wreck is marked with a buoy about 150 feet from shore. You can anchor your Crownline in the area and explore the reef if you’re an experienced snorkeler or scuba diver, or take a guided tour with Sea Kat Divers. A beautiful collection of tropical fish and marine life has gathered over the decades across the barge, just 20 feet underwater.

Where to Eat

Sandbar Seafood & Spirits is the most popular and established spot on the island and features beachfront dining with tasty seafood classics in addition to several vegetarian options. Another great option is the Waterfront Restaurant, an easygoing eatery featuring global seafood dishes, specialty drinks from the Craft Bar, and outdoor seating by the beach. Or try Rod and Reel Pier, seafood specialists serving all your fish favorites right on the boardwalk.

Where to Keep Your Crownline

The best place to park your boat is Keyes Marina on the east side of the island. Some hotels also offer a limited number of slips for patrons.

Get to Anna Maria Island

Anna Marina Island is a wonderful addition to any Tampa Bay vacation, but it also stands up as a destination on its own. With lovely shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, and miles of sugary-sand beaches, it’s a palm-treed paradise ready-made for a winter getaway.