One of the greatest advantages of living on Anna Maria Island, as opposed to other islands along the Sun Coast, is our proximity to Tampa Bay . So much of the Gulf Coast is shallow, not only around the islands, but into the Gulf. In contrast, Tampa Bay is a wonderful, place for boating, especially for sailing. And, when you live on Anna Maria Island, Tampa Bay is your back yard.
When we first started looking at property along the Sun Coast, Siesta Key caught our attention. Maybe it was the write-ups that described it as a place inhabited by artists and writers. Or maybe it was the descriptions of its award-winning beach. When we visited there, and looked at real estate for sale, we noticed a huge premium was put on properties with “sailboat water.” So many of the properties on Siesta Key sit on canals that are crossed at some points by low bridges. It is therefore not possible to bring a sailboat or large powerboat in and out of these canals. Hence, the terms “sailboat water” is something associated with the more desirable properties on Siesta Key, and one sees it often.
In contrast, this term is not common on Anna Maria Island. An outsider might think that would mean Anna Maria Island does not have it. On the contrary: sailboat water is almost a given on Anna Maria Island. That’s why we don’t talk about it. Although there are a few locations where canals or lakes are cut off by low bridges, the majority of waterfront homes enjoy canals without bridges and easy, quick access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Tampa Bay.
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With seven miles of continuous Gulf of Mexico beaches, Anna Maria Island is a beachwalker’s paradise. Whether one walks at sunset or at dawn, the beauty is breath-taking, and ever-changing. Not only does the light change as the day progresses, but also as the weather changes. The wide-open horizon offers a vista in which every cloud for miles around can be seen.
Aside from the West Coast of the United States, there are no other places in the United States where one can watch the sun set over a body of water as large as the Gulf of Mexico. And not every Gulf barrier island has as terrific an aspect from which to view the sun set as Anna Maria Island. Perhaps even more stunning than the sun setting over the Gulf is the view of the full moonrise just before dawn.
In addition to the differences in light, there are many differences in how people can choose to walk the beach. It can be a solitary time for contemplation, or a social time for a good conversation with a friend. It can be a brisk walk or an easy stroll. Barefoot, wading, and walking slowly or with shoes on, avoiding the gentle rise and retreat of foam on the beach. Some walkers are focused on shells. Others are focused on birds. Some run to the beat of a different drum.
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It doesn’t get any easier than this. There is no need to travel or even go outside to do some bird watching on Anna Maria Island. In fact, at my house, sometimes the herons watch me at least as much as I watch them. As you can see from the photo, binoculars are not necessary to get a great close-up look at a great blue heron.
Anna Maria Island is a bird sanctuary. In recent years, important nesting of several species, including lesser terns, has taken place on the island shores near Bean Point. The area has been roped off so people won’t accidentally step on the birds, which are hard to see when they are nesting in the sand.
Continue reading “Bird Watching on Island Shores” »