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Florida Guide > Places to Visit

Coquina Beach – Anna Maria Island

We had just spent the most idyllic couple of hours strolling along the beach at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island.

There were fine views across Tampa Bay to the Gulf resorts of Clearwater and Saint Petersburg, and over to our right the expanse of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge glistened in the morning sunlight. Out in the bay dolphins frolicked merrily whilst on the rickety boardwalks of the City Pier there were plenty of fishermen hoping to land a prize catch.

We were so impressed by our surroundings that we wanted to know what else this narrow strip of land off the mainland at Sarasota had to offer.

Our intention was to drive south on to Longboat Key and find a convenient spot to stop for refreshment and take in the coastal scenery, but we never quite made it that far. Instead we ventured down through the beach resorts of Holmes and Bradenton, marveling at some of the stunning properties that lined both the Gulf shoreline and intra-coastal waterway.

Designated a scenic highway Gulf Dive stretches the full length of Anna Maria Island and for those who don' t want to drive while constantly looking for parking spaces, a free trolley shuttle, which stops at all the main beaches, comes along at regular intervals.

As we crossed the bridge over to Longboat Key opening up to our right was an inlet with a beautiful expanse of white sand gently sloping into the clear water of the ocean.

This was Coquina Beach.

We immediately turned around and found a huge parking lot shaded by giant palms. From under the trees the aroma of charbroiled steak wafted through the air as families readied themselves for a lunchtime barbequed treat.

The sand on the beach was warm, deep and sugar white. We took off our shoes and let the cooling waters lap around our feet as we slowly walked around to the inlet we had seen from the bridge.

Lifeguards were on duty, looking forever alert as youngsters happily splashed about in gleeful exuberance as their parents and guardians took to some more serious swimming. We were content just to watch and take it all in.

It was a lovely location to spend a day in the sun and, in our opinion; this was just about the best beach we have visited so far on our trips over to Florida’s west coast. It’s well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

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Page added on: 16 October 2010
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