Escape to the Island and Ditch the Car – Anna Maria Island, FL

Shells on Beach at Anna Maria Island

One island, three cities, seven miles and lots of sandy beaches. It’s the beaches that draw people here but the whole island experience is much, much more. Snow white, crystal sand with spectacular shells against a setting of turquoise waters with some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable soothingly beckons on Anna Maria Island.
As the sun started to create its evening canvas of oranges, pinks and yellows, there were streams of people heading towards the beach to snap a memory to share with family and friends.

Ah, vacation has started. A week of no alarm clock, no meetings and no rush hour traffic. Get off the plane, grab the luggage, hop on the shuttle and head to the island. As soon as I step foot onto the island, I know I have found paradise. Anna Maria Island, Florida is like no other island I’ve visited. It makes me feel like I’ve taken a step back in time when life was simpler. No high rise hotels, no noisy spring break bars, no downtown streets packed with cheesy souvenir shops. Just a laid back, relaxed life with other tropical beach lovers!

Tropical Breeze on Anna Maria Island

Tropical Breeze Beach Club on Anna Maria Island

Upon arriving at my vacation rental cottage at Tropical Breeze, I begin flipping through brochures of the island’s activities and adventures. Most of what I’m interested in is not far from my cottage.
The next morning, I heard the beach screaming my name. And from my cottage, I only had about 50 steps to the toe squishing, foot massaging Florida beach sand. As I walk along the beach, I feel the scales of stress and depression start to fall away almost instantly.

Breathing in the warm, tropic filled air, I wonder what took me so long to find this attitude altering island. I willingly allow my senses to succumb to the sights and sounds of this Gulf coast beauty. The only expectation I have at this point is to hope that each day here will be half as rewarding as this moment.

As I come back to reality for a moment, I realize I need to somehow make it to the grocery store for some overdue food supplies. One of the most popular things visitors and residents alike do here is leave the car in the driveway and jump on or in alternative wheels to explore the island. That is a big reason I came to Anna Maria – five days of no bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, crazy drivers or stressful commutes. It looks like my options are bikes, scooters, golf carts, Segways and a free trolley.

So making my way back to the street, I head for the closest trolley stop and head to the north end of the island. It’s time to make some arrangements for transportation.

Transportation Options on Anna Maria Island

Free Trolley

The Anna Maria Island trolley is free and runs from the north end of the island at the City Pier to the south end at Coquina Beach. It carries travelers seven days a week from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm and has stops that can connect to regular buses. After an evening of dining and walking around, what a relief to hop on the trolley the rest of the way home.

Bikes and Golf Carts

There are a number of vendors who rent bicycles, starting with Beach Bums located at 427 Pine Avenue. They have cruiser bikes, tricycles, surreys, golf carts and even electric bikes. They also carry bike accessories such as trailers or bike seats to accommodate youngsters. The best convenience of all is they deliver right to my front door.

Golf Carts Anna Maria Island

Since the island is small and the main streets include bike lanes or sidewalks, safety is not much of an issue. Additionally, the maximum speed limit is 35 mph, but most streets are designated at 25 mph.
The golf carts at Beach Bums have seating for either four, six or eight passengers. So no matter what the occasion, there is always room for the gang. Since the carts are street legal, exploring all seven miles of the island is a piece of cake. At this point, I rent a golf cart for a day. Then, Beach Bums delivers a bike to my cottage for the rest of the week.

Scooters
Scooters Anna Maria Island

Another option for another day is renting a scooter from Island Scooter Rentals at 9908 Gulf Drive. The best part of using a scooter is that they get 100 miles per gallon! There are new scooters of all sizes that can be rented by the hour, day or week. They also rent water equipment including kayaks, body boards, stand up paddleboards and beach carts…all that’s needed for a sun-filled day at the beach.

Segways
Segways Anna Maria Island

For a really different ride, Segways were available for rent. Segs By The Sea is located in Bradenton Beach at 102 Bridge Street. There are two options – either a guided tour or a self-guided tour. Training and helmets are provided. There are different tours of the local area. The guided tour provides an opportunity to learn more about the island. They can even put together a special event like a scavenger hunt on a Segway.
So there are a variety of choices when it comes to exploring Anna Maria Island. By vacation’s end, I had been able to experience the full beauty of this quaint island by choosing alternatives to a car. If I had only rented a car to maneuver around, I would have missed out on one of the most complete and in-depth vacations ever experienced. As it happened, I boldly went where no car had gone before and had a whole lot more fun doing it!

If You Go

To get to Anna Maria Island, fly into either Tampa International Airport (TPA) or Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). Airport transportation is available through AMI Transportation or Island Sedan. The island is approximately 45 minutes south of Tampa.

Read reviews for Tropical Breeze Beach Club on TripAdvisor, a MilesGeek affiliate.

Joann Waggoner
Joann Waggoner

Joann Waggoner is a freelance photographer and travel writer based in Florida during the winter and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia in summer. Originally from upstate New York, she spent most of her years on the Pacific Coast (Seattle). During her years in the corporate world, she was involved in marketing, writing and website content. Since retiring, she has been exploring the southeast. Travels include the Caribbean, Peru, British Columbia and the Bahamas but believes that her best adventures are just ahead. She has always enjoyed the art of writing. Through photography, Joann has developed a deeper passion for beauty through the eye of the lens. Most of her adventures are preferably around beaches and back country roads. After attending a photography workshop in Palm Springs through Great Escape Publishing, she knew her life was going to be full of new adventures. Since her newfound love for photography, her husband tells people, “We take Sunday drives on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.” Joann’s next step in travel writing is to shoot travel videos on her future trips.

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