Where to watch the Anna Maria Island Sunset
By Helen Wright
We recently took a road trip around Florida and Anna Maria Island was one of our favourite stops on the itinerary. We absolutely loved this chilled out beach town with its beautiful unspoilt beaches, friendly community and spectacular sunsets. In fact, watching the Anna Maria Island sunset was one of the highlights of our whole trip and the sundowns here are some of the best in Florida.
Why is the Anna Maria Island Sunset so beautiful?
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island just 20-minutes from the city of Bradenton, between the turquoise Gulf of Mexico and peninsular Florida. This beach community has a truly local vibe, beautiful white-sand beaches and unrestricted views of the horizon.
Regulations in place on Anna Maria Island mean that buildings cannot exceed a certain height, so wherever you are on the island, you’ll get a glimpse of sunset glow at the end of every day. However, it goes without saying that that the best place to watch the Anna Maria Island sunset is along the western coast of the island, which has seven miles of white sandy beaches.
Where is best place to see the Anna Maria Island sunset?
Anywhere along the coastline will give you a stunning view of the changing sky, but there are a few key spots to watch the Anna Maria Island sunset that make it extra special. This is our definitive list of the best places to go for sundown on the island:
1. BEAN POINT: the best anna maria island sunset
We are big fans of Bean Point beach over here at Passport Stamps! We have a whole post on the wild beauty of Bean Point but it’s also the very best place to watch the Anna Maria Island sunset. Bean Point is at the very tip of the island, with almost panoramic views of the Gulf and of Tampa Bay. If you walk to the end of the beach, you can actually follow the water as it curves around the island. This part of the coastline is totally unspoilt, focusing on Florida’s raw, natural beauty. The back of the beach is populated with wild grasses and the whole area feels like the setting of a Nicolas Sparks movie (it’s very romantic).
There are no facilities here, so if you’re planning on heading to this spot for the Anna Maria Island sunset, bring supplies like snacks and drinks, but take everything with you when you leave to keep the area beautiful. The wild nature of the beach means there is no light pollution, making the sunset view as perfect as it can be. Once the sun has gone down, the orange glow gives way to a sky of stars, which is just as magical. It’s worth packing a little torch for the walk back as it really is pitch black!
2. ROD AND REEL PIER
A short walk from Bean Point is the Rod and Reel Pier. This is where we suggest grabbing some lunch if you are visiting Bean Point Beach, but it’s even better as the sun goes down. Grab a spot on the pier with a cold beer and a fried Grouper sandwich (market price) from the bar and grill at the end. From the pier, you’ll get a great vantage point of sunset and the island, and a different perspective to the traditional beach view.
3. MANATEE PUBLIC BEACH for an Anna Maria Island sunset & a party atmosphere
Manatee Public Beach is further down the coast, just off Gulf Drive in the Holmes Beach area. In contrast to Bean Point, this area is livelier and has a lot going on. As well as facilities like toilets and beach showers, there are nearby bars, restaurants and shops. It’s still a great beach to enjoy both in the day and at nightfall. The best place to catch the Anna Maria Island sunset here is at the casual AMI Café. This laid-back beach bar has chairs and tables on the sand, live music every evening and fantastic cocktails. Get there early to secure a spot and share the Island Catch platter ($20) – lashings of fresh fish and plenty to share as the sky dances into darkness.
4. THE SANDBAR Restaurant
Another premium spot to watch the Anna Maria Island sunset is at The Sandbar, a popular restaurant on the beach, close to Pine Avenue. Prepare to wait for a table (I recommend getting there at 4pm to be on the safe side), but there is an excellent bar and you can enjoy a drink on the beach as you wait for a table.
The Stuffed Shrimp ($30) is delicious and the kids Mac n Cheese was a hit too ($6). The best bit – you can sit and enjoy a drink along with the stunning sunset while the kids play on the sand in front. The ultimate parent luxury. The service is slow, but in reality you’re there for the view and not the dinig experience, so it doesn’t really matter. I highly recommend and its definitely worth the wait.
Read more about The Sandbar, Pine Avenue and things to do at Anna Maria Island on our dedicated Anna Maria post.
5. COQUINA BEACH – where to watch the Anna Maria Island sunset as a family
Coquina Beach at the south of the island is the longest stretch of beach in the Bradenton area and another excellent location to take in the flirtatious Anna Maria Island sunset. This is nice beach for families to spend the day and stay for sunset as there is a great playground and other facilities such as beach showers, toilets and cafes. Lifeguards are also on duty during the day. If you want to get some great photos, you can sometimes catch a silhouette of the sailing boats in front of the sunset and that looks really nice. This is also the easiest place to get a parking spot after-dark too, so a good one if you don’t have a lot a time and plan on coming in by car.
6. BEACH HOUSE RESTaurant
Beach House Restaurant, on the southern beaches is another Anna Maria Island sunset staple. More elegant than The Sandbar, but equally popular, a glass of wine here while the sun goes down is the epitome of a relaxed Florida holiday. What to eat? You can thank me for this later, but order the ginger soy brussels sprouts with siracha aioli ($10) because… Wow. The Crab Tostada is also fantastic, but not on the main menu (market price). The good news if you have time to chill, they also have Happy Hour between 11:30am and 4pm with half price bar snacks and $6 Margaritas. Cheers!
7. WHITE AVENUE
A less crowded place to watch the sunset on Anna Maria Island is at White Avenue Beach. It’s surprising that this area isn’t busier during the sunset as there is ample space to park and it’s easy to pull in on the drive over from Bradenton. Nevertheless, it’s a serene place to catch the sun down and you might even see the odd wedding or proposal here, it’s often used for private events. If the waves are right, this is also a popular surfer spot so you may have some oceanfront entertainment too.
8. Gulf Drive Tiki Café
Nothing says Florida like a beach hut tiki bar with sea views and the sand in your toes. Add a cocktail in a coconut and now it’s a holiday! The Gulf Drive Tiki Café is a small beach bar with a jolly atmosphere and stunning sunset views. Nightly live music makes this a top spot for the sunset and beyond. We like to snack on a selection of starters and graze as the sky goes from pink to peach to orange. Go for the Baked Crab dip, the beef nachos and the roasted Feta. A twilight delight!
We hope you catch a spectacular sunset! If you found our post on the best Anna Maria Island sunsets helpful, we would really appreciate a follow on Instagram and Facebook. Your support on social media helps us continue to create authentic, helpful content.
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