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.
Many wonderful places are surrounded by not-so-wonderful places. Often these wonderful places have been preserved, and protected from development, but the development has sprawled all around them. Eventually the small preserved spots can start to feel more like museum exhibits than like places where real life takes place. They are isolated. It may be fun to visit such places, but in my opinion it would not be enjoyable to live in them.
Sometimes things happen in the opposite way. It’s the new development that is nice compared to the older surroundings. This is how it is when an upscale gated community is developed in an area that was previously undesirable. All is fine inside the gates, but outside there is not much of appeal.
Anna Maria Island is a gem of a place, and it is surrounded by a wide variety of other kinds of places, all of which are appealing. This is one of the island’s greatest assets in terms of being a wonderful place to live. Not only is the island a remarkably small scale, natural Old Florida area, but it also offers its residents easy access to many other kinds of places. This makes life here more interesting and colorful. Within a short distance, the variety of surroundings and activities is remarkable.
To the south, Longboat Key is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. The professional landscaping is reason enough to occasionally take a drive or trolley ride down Longboat. At the top of Longboat Key is the historical village where peacocks have roamed freely for years, and where the art center is now a part of the Ringling School of Art and Design.
In 1970, Michael Galati, Sr., and his wife, Anna Maria, moved to Anna Maria Island and founded Galati Yacht Sales. It was a family effort, based on hard work and a strong commitment to taking care of the customer before all else. They have built their family industry into a company with 12 dealership locations around the Gulf of Mexico, including Palmetto, Cape Coral , St. Petersburg, Destin, and Naples, Florida; Orange Beach, Alabama; and Houston, Texas. They have 171 employees, according to Boating Industry.
Voted the number one boat dealership in the country, for 2007 and 2008, by Boating Industry, the commitment of the five Galati siblings has really paid off. Their Customer Satisfaction Index was 95 in 2008.
Boating Industry based their award of the number one spot on Galati ’s myriad ways of offering service. From the way the sales team is structured to the thoroughness of every service appointment to the friendly question of whether any help is needed every time a Galati boat is encountered, the management and staff take care of their customers very well.
One of the most enchanting spots on Anna Maria Island is the old City Pier at the end of Pine Street in Anna Maria. The enchantment comes from the simplicity of the shoreline and the structure. It has not been “gussied up” as a tourist attraction, and it retains the authenticity of a place enjoyed by real people from all walks of life. There is a certain feeling of camaraderie among all those who stroll out the pier, whether to fish or watch others fish.
The City Pier Restaurant at the end of the pier is casual dining in atmosphere, but not in its standards. Friendly locals serve very good food. Most of the dishes are seafood, not surprisingly. The large glass windows give open views of Tampa Bay, over to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Immediately outside the window people are fishing, just feet away from the restaurant patrons. The feeling of being on the water is enhanced by the frequent, though minor, vibrations of the entire pier due to wave action.
According to Carolyne Norwood, in her book Anna Maria Island: The Early Days, 1893 – 1940, the City Pier was built in 1911. By this time the small town of Anna Maria already had 60 homes and several stores. The purpose of the pier was to accommodate steamers bringing wealthy tourists from Tampa and St. Petersburg, so it was built 776 feet out into the bay. Continue reading “Anna Maria Island City Pier” »