Here it is, mid summer, and we still are enjoying our daily walks over to the beach. Most of us who live on Anna Maria Island are able to walk to the beach. It is wonderful not to have to drive. The island is so narrow at the south end that the beach is never more than three or four blocks away. Farther north, the island widens and the walk increases by a few more blocks. But the only areas from which a walk to the beach would take more than just a few minutes are Key Royale and the neighborhoods near Galati Marine at the southeast end of the City of Anna Maria.
Our house is exactly a half mile from the beach. We usually make that walk and then continue along the beach, toward the setting sun before we turn and head home. The beach part of the walk is spectacular every evening. Tonight the beach was particularly wide, and the sand looked smooth and white. The temperature was extremely pleasant—amazing for mid August! The water reflected the pink/orange glow from the low sun. There was almost nobody on the beach. This is the kind of “paradise” experience for which people travel long distances. How lucky we are to be able to walk to it.
Anna Maria Island is a great place to spend Spring Break, as long as you’re not looking for a party. Not every college student is an extrovert. Many are looking for something a lot more interesting than joining a herd of students who are experimenting for the first time with alcohol, sex and drugs. For those college students who are mature enough to already be clear about these things, and who are intelligent enough to want to do more with their time than run with the crowds, Anna Maria Island is a lovely destination for Spring Break or any other holiday.
On Anna Maria Island, when you see an empty lot with new construction about to begin, you know the new building will tower over the traditional Old Florida one-story homes in the neighborhood. Why? It’s the law, to some degree, at least. In 1975 FEMA made it mandatory that all new construction place the first living level at a certain specified number of feet above sea level, which means either having to raise the lot with a huge amount of fill, or building the living space on a second and, possibly, third floor. This coincided with the start of government involvement in flood insurance programs. When the government starts ‘taking care’ of you, it starts telling you how to do things.
One of the very best features of Anna Maria Island is how often you get to see the water. This may sound like an obvious part of being in an island paradise. However, many beach communities that promote themselves as paradise offer far less than Anna Maria Island does, when it comes to water views. Think about how rarely one gets to see the Gulf when driving the main roads of Longboat Key. Or Sanibel Island. Or Siesta Key. In most cases, it is only the people in beach front homes who get to see the water, and these large homes block the view for everyone else.
Thanks to the low density development of Anna Maria Island, we still get to see the water as we drive around and go about our daily business. I marvel at this and feel very lucky every time I fill up my car in central Holmes Beach—with a water view! In recent months it has been nice to have something to feel good about at the gas pump.