Is this Anna Maria beach Florida’s best kept secret?
By Helen Wright
When you think about Florida, palm tree-lined beaches, golden sand and orange sunsets immediately spring to mind and the reality doesn’t disappoint. Some of the sunshine state’s most famous beaches pop up on every bucket list and must-see itinerary. South Beach Miami, Clearwater and Daytona are arguably Florida’s most well-known beaches, but what if I told you there is a secret beach, hidden on the west coast that could very possibly be Florida’s best beach?
Anna Maria Island can be found roughly halfway down Florida’s western coast, just southwest of Tampa on the other side of Tampa Bay. The island is part of Bradenton, a coastal city with a huge choice of beaches and coastal spots. However, Anna Maria Island is by far the most idyllic location with a friendly coastal community and beaches for days. But, there is one Anna Maria Beach that is so gorgeous it’s often cited by locals as Florida’s best kept secret. Bean point beach
Florida’s biggest secret could be this Anna Maria Beach… bean point beach
We visited this gorgeous Anna Maria beach for the first time on our recent Florida road trip. Just 2hr 15 minutes from Orlando, Anna Maria Island is the ideal beach destination to add on to a Disney and Universal trip. Plus, you can also fly into Tampa, which is only an hour from the island.
Anna Maria is a barrier island, off the coast of Bradenton, reaching into the blue of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s truly an idyllic spot and at the very tip of the island is an unspoilt, semi-secret beach with fluffy white sand and unrestricted views over the ocean (making it perfect for watching the sunset too).
Bean Point Beach – the Anna Maria Beach that is perfect for everyone
On Anna Maria Island, you are spoilt for choice with beautiful beaches that all offer different things. Beach bars and cafes, family-friendly, watersports, wildlife watching, fishing and more. But, it’s Bean Point Beach at the northernmost tip that gets our vote for one of Florida’s best beaches. Not so much a hidden gem anymore (those who know the Island would agree this beach is a beautiful spot), but because of its slightly more remote location, Bean Point Beach is less crowded and more serene than the other Anna Maria Island beaches. Although, that’s not the only thing that makes it so perfect.
Coming from the UK, visitors looking for a Florida beach stay commonly head to Miami, Naples or Cocoa Beach. With around 700,000 Brits arriving in Orlando each year, I’ll bet not many of them know about *this* Anna Maria beach. That’s a bonus if you’re reading this AND you want to break up the mad theme park days with some chill out time, because you’ve found the ideal place.
Bean Point Beach, Anna Maria Island
Bean Point is the former home of the founder of the island, George Emerson Bean, who lived in a 160-acre homestead here in the late 1800s. After the Bean family came to the island, a community began to form, establishing streets, a functioning water system, homes and schools, all within walking distance to the island’s range of beautiful beaches.
The homestead is now long gone, but Bean Point Beach remains one of the most scenic places on the island and the most beautiful, unspoilt Anna Maria Beach. It’s also an ideal place to spot birds and wildlife and get away from the crowds that form at the busier, more facilitated beaches. Being a beautiful, natural spot, Bean Point Beach has no facilities like lifeguards, toilets, cafes and shops nearby. This is why the stretch is less busy than other Anna Maria Island beaches, but if you come prepared you can have a perfect day in this dreamy spot.
Things to do at Bean Point Anna Maria Island
The joys of this Anna Maria beach are the bright white sand and clear turquoise waters. Bean Point Beach is beautifully unspoilt, with a walkway from the street surround by wild grasses. You can’t help but wish you owned one of the mansions that overlook the coast here, but the real luxury is out on the seashore. Due to its location at the very tip of the island, Bean Point Beach has almost panoramic views across the Gulf of Mexico.
It looked so good, we didn’t even have time to unpack our beach towels before we raced into the water, diving head first into the gentle waves. The water is shallow along the beach, so ideal for families. The sea temperature in autumn, when we visited, was as warm as a bath. It’s so calm that the water here is ideal for Stand-Up Paddleboarding, kayaking or floating on an Orca inflatable if that’s what makes you happy. Our five-year-old, Finn, had no trouble swimming by himself.
On Bean Point Beach, the thick white sand is ideal for building sandcastles or just reclining back and topping up your tan. Just remember there is no shade and being surrounded by water may mean you won’t feel that Florida sun as much as you should – so don’t get sunburnt!
Can you see wildlife at Bean Point Beach?
The gorgeous Gulf of Mexico is home to manatee, dolphins and sea turtles, all of which have been spotted off the coast at Bean Point Beach. On land, you can often see local birds including eagles and hornbills. At the nearby Rod and Reel Pier, you might see stingray and tarpon swimming below and if you want to, you can go fishing ($5 per hour). This is also a great place to grab lunch and I highly recommend the grouper sandwich and a cold pint of beer (the chowder is great, too).
Sunset at Bean Point Beach – the best Anna Maria Beach at sundown.
It’s fair to say Bean Point Beach is a sun trap, but even more impressive is this location at sunset. By sundown, the sky turns from peach to pink to orange, before dusk makes way for a pitch-black night sky and a blanket of stars. The whole dramatic scene takes around two hours, so get there in time, bring a picnic and maybe even your swimmers for a dusk-lit dip. It’s majestic.
Where to stay for an Anna Maria beach weekend
As a family, we decided that staying in a holiday home with Anna Maria Vacation Rentals would suit us for this stop on our road trip. By chance, we got this two-bed bungalow from annamaria.com/vacation-rentals, which was just a couple of blocks from Bean Point beach. Unbeknown to us, this would turn out to be the most gorgeous part of Anna Maria Island. The great thing about staying so close to the beach was that we were able to easily get back to the home to use the bathroom, stock up on refrigerated drinks and grab some lunch.
However, even if you are not staying within walking distance to Bean Point beach, you can fill up a cooler with everything you need for the day. There is a large Walmart in Bradenton, before you cross to the island to stock up on supplies as well as smaller markets on Anna Maria Island itself. (For the toilet, we use this portable travel potty for the kids if there is an emergency moment!).
Can you park at Bean Point beach?
Because of the wild grasses behind the beach, the tunnel-like entrances to Bean Point beach feel like secret passages. You can find the little openings on North Shore Drive, Fern Street and North Shore Drive, with signs marking the beach access points. There isn’t a lot of parking but there is street parking on nearby Fern Street, Gladiolus Street and Jacaranda Road. Wardens frequent the area, so make sure you don’t park somewhere you’re not allowed to.
If you are not driving, walking or cycling (we rented bikes during our stay from Beach Bums), there is also free trolley that serves Anna Maria Island which will drop you at the Anna Maria City Pier. From here, it’s a 15/20-minute walk to Bean Point beach.
Read our post on the best things to do when you are on Anna Maria Island
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