There’s quite a bit to enjoy on Anna Maria Island, from the colorful family attractions to the vivid vistas overlooking the gulf. Hidden within secret alcoves along the coast and along major preserve areas near the island, you can find seriously incredible places to take a boat rental.
Some of the best locations are right outside some of the finest Anna Maria Island real estate. It’s a paradise no matter where you turn. The below is your guide to some of the most rewarding areas for boat travel, whether you are snorkeling the waters or cruising for dolphins.
Tips Before You Head Out
Whether you’re an experienced boater or newer to it, you’ll want to follow a few safety guidelines before you head out:
- Always wear a floatation device.
- Obey all navigational warnings including idle-speed and slow speed zones.
- Learn the rules of the waterway, including “red, right, returning, left leaving” for channel markers, i.e. when returning from sea, the red markers are on your right, and when leaving to sea, the red markers are on your left.
- Consider taking a boating education course before you go out. Learn more.
- Stay sober
- Be aware of weather conditions
- Pay attention to what is occurring around your boat
- Don’t litter and properly dispose of all trash
Get more information on the specific slow speed/minimum wake zones and other boating regulations by downloading the Manatee County Boater’s Guide.
Leffis Key for the Wildlife Viewing
Location: Gulf Dr S Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Leffis Key is a preserve area of isolated marshlands, and it offers some exquisite wildlife viewing. Take your boat into its nearby waters to spot bouncing dolphins and a variety of bird species.
Bear in mind that there are slow speed/minimum wake zones in the waters around Leffis Key/Jewfish Key and along much of the shoreline of Anna Maria Island.
Before or after you head out on boat, you can explore the boardwalk trails to see it up close. The area is known for its migratory bird population, featuring temporary homes for snowy egrets, herons, Ibas, and the fierce-looking Belted Kingfishers.
Egmont Key State Park
In the mouth of Tampa Bay, north of Anna Maria Island, you can discover an untapped expanse of beautiful foliage and secluded beaches at Egmont Key, a very popular boating destination.
The area is uninhabited and only accessible by private boat. You can see the deserted ruins of Fort Dade, a base during the Civil War along with the oldest working lighthouse in Florida. You can snorkel its shoreline, bask in its sunny isolation, and even watch the sunset fall over the gulf.
The Regina Sugar Barge for the Snorkeling
Location: Parallel in the waters to 105 7th St N, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
The Regina Sugar Barge sunk due to a vicious storm in 1940. The site has remained part of the iconic identity of the island. It is marked with a buoy about 150 feet out into the water.
You can anchor your boat rental in the area and explore the gathered reef if you’re an experienced snorkeler or scuba diver. An impressive display of tropical fish and marine life has collected over the decades across the 200 foot barge, 20 feet under the water.
The barge can be found directly west of Sea Kat Divers, a local scuba instructing team. Contact them at (941) 779-0100 to consider guided tours down to the barge.
Thankfully, there are many ramps available so you can enter the waters with ease. Virtually every area above is accessible with a nearby boat ramp. Others are a few miles out. Below are a few for your convenience.
- For access to Leffis Key, Jewfish Key and the Coquina Beach area – There are 2 boat ramps at the Coquina Bayside Park, the North Ramp is at 2651 Gulf Drive South while the South Ramp is located at 1465 Gulf Drive South.
- For access to the Anna Maria Sound near the Historic Bridge St Pier waters and the Neal Preserve area – Kingfish Boat Ramp – 752 West Manatee Ave., Holmes Beach, FL.
- For access to Egmont State Park and northern Anna Maria Island – Memorial Park Boat Ramp – 63rd Street East & Marina Way.
These are just a select few of the available boat ramps in the area, there are a few more off the island, but these will be the most convenient when you’re staying on Anna Maria Island. Several vacation rentals also have their own private docks.
You can fish. You can seek out wildlife. You can cruise on a boat and snorkel atop the waters. It’s a water enthusiasts’ paradise, never short of activities for you and the whole family.
Contact us at (800) 367-1617 or (941) 778-6696 to learn more about other boating destinations here.
We can also share some of the best Anna Maria Island homes for sale with you if you fall in love with the area as so many boating enthusiasts have!
Or we can connect you with the perfect fully equipped Anna Maria Island vacation rentals for your upcoming trip here, many with their own private docks!