Anna Maria Island, off Florida’s west coast near the mouth of Tampa Bay, has been a popular beach vacation destination for more than 100 years. More than 100,000 visitors annually sunbathe on the island’s beaches and enjoy its corporate-free old-Florida attitude. If you’re planning a trip to AMI, or if you’ve already been there, you may want to learn a few things that make the island unique.
Here are five little-known facts about Anna Maria Island:
- The island has quartz beaches: Many first-time visitors are amazed at the powdery white sand that covers Anna Maria Island’s beaches. There are two very different ways that white sand can form. The first is through the collection of crushed seashells and washing ashore over millions of thousands of years. The second is a rare phenomenon in which quartz rock is eroded by streams in high mountain ranges and washed out to sea. AMI’s sand comes from a combination of erosion in the Appalachian Mountains reaching the Gulf of Mexico and seashells. In addition to the soft white sand, quartz is also a poor conductor of heat, meaning the beaches on Anna Maria Island don’t get as hot as other beaches.
- 8-mile long beaches: Although AMI is about 7 miles long; the beach stretches around the northern and southern edges of the island to create more than 8 miles of uninterrupted beachfront. The northwest beaches face Tampa Bay, while the southwest beaches face Sarasota Bay.
- AMI is 3,000 years old: It is impossible to predict exactly how old Anna Maria Island is. However, carbon dating and soil samples taken by the University of Florida suggest that the formation of the land mass dates back approximately 3,000 years. AMI is a barrier island formed by sediments washed ashore from the mainland. The northern parts of Anna Maria Island are the oldest, and the island continues to expand to the south. Some parts of the south of the island are less than 200 years old.
- Bean Point named after the settler: Anna Maria Island’s first beach travelers arrived in the late 19th century. George Bean settled on the northernmost point of the island. He and his associates used steamboats to transport tourists from St. Petersburg to enjoy the then isolated island. Bean Point still offers a nearly 270-degree view of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.
- Sea turtle nesting area: Millions of green and loggerhead sea turtles made their great seaside journey on the beaches of Anna Maria Island. In a given year, up to 200 turtles will build nests on the beaches of AMI. A typical nest contains 60 to 100 eggs.
Click here to find even more information about Anna Maria Island, as well as great deals on booking accommodations, shopping, dining, and more.