On the western side of Florida’s Central Gulf Coast sits Anna Maria, a quaint picturesque beach town on the Florida Gulf Coast that is a great destination for snorkeling.
Also, it is one of the most attractive places in Florida, from watching gorgeous sunsets to relaxing on the beach, Anna Maria Island has a lot of exciting things to do.
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The area is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, Intracoastal Waterway, and Tampa Bay making it ideal for divers, snorkelers, and beachgoers.
From seeing Florida’s aquatic life to alleging floating and unique rock formations, Anna Maria Island is famous among snorkeling enthusiasts.
Did you explore Florida’s hottest beaches for December? During this time, South Florida looks amazing! For now, let’s dive into some of the best Anna Maria Island Snorkeling spots.
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Best Time for Snorkeling Excursion on Anna Maria Island
January to March is the best time for snorkeling in Anna Maria Island, Florida. During the time the crowd is less, the weather is not so hot and it is full of natural beauty.
Late winter and Fall season is the best time to snorkel in the water of Florida. The algal blooms often in the Fall season, which is another great scene to watch.
In these seasons the wind is calm and very mild not affecting the waves or the movement of the water too much. Hence, the underneath remains calm.
However, windy weather is the worst time for snorkeling. In such a situation, wait by the shoreline and let the wind die out and then enjoy your diving story.
Tumultuous waves, rain, and drizzling will only affect your Anna Maria snorkeling experience. It makes the water murkier decreasing the water’s visibility.
Anna Maria Island Snorkeling Places
Facing the Gulf of Mexico, Anna Maria is home to gorgeous beautiful beaches. Let’s see what snorkeling at Anna Maria Island look like.
1. Egmont Key
Egmont Key Island sits 3 miles just off the north end of Anna Maria Island at the mouth of Tampa Bay. The view of 3 sunken forts from the 17th century is unique!
While many spend time playing on the beach, I recommend going snorkeling. It is a great adventure to dive into.
You’ll not only experience the surreal pleasure of being under the water and watching algae floating, spotting sand dollars, and sand fishes but sometimes manatees too! Know the spots where you can legally swim with manatees in Florida.
Egmont Key is a Florida state park featuring a varied type of flora and fauna, which you can also use for your personal adventure pleasure.
Moreover, it is better you opt for Anna Maria Island snorkeling tours who take you to the incredible blue spots. This water is clear with good water clarity.
I took the tour with Viator. The coaches were well-prepared and well-oriented. It also has a lighthouse that was built over 163 years ago.
Egmont Key Island is the best snorkeling on Anna Maria Island as here you can relax on the pristine beaches, or collect shells and soak in the cultural history.
Dive into Egmont Key snorkeling to watch out for amazing wildlife like Bald Eagles, Gophers, Tortoises, Bald Eagles, and a lot of subtropical fishes.
The water is shallow and transparent. Here you’ll see people of all ages snorkeling and narrating to their loved ones about its clarity, and beauty.
Its location just southwest of Fort De Soto Park makes it ideal be the most offbeat spot for beachgoers and snorkelers. You’ve to take a ferry or boat to reach here.
From here you might go to Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge. You learn about the history of Egmont Key Island and observe the wildlife that you never dare to see.
I saw a hummingbird and so many seabirds. Seeing them in the park improved my overall happiness and mental well-being.
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2. Holmes Beach
Snorkeling in Anna Maria Island is itself one of the most fun activities a Floridian can have! The turquoise watercolor beach is everyone’s favorite.
Holmes Beach sits in the middle of Anna Maria Island and has the best Anna Maria Island snorkeling spots. Actually, I am sitting now at the beach while writing this.
I am staying at Palm Tree Villas, a quaint hotel to spend the weekend. Talking about the beach, the sand is soft and the waves are calm making it an incredibly relaxing spot.
The one reason why Holmes Beach is the best snorkeling spot on Anna Maria Island is because of its location the waves are calmer and more transparent.
Snorkeling in the emerald green waters with sweet octopuses, gorgeous starfishes, and tropical fishes, and watching the ocean floor with your own eyes is the most amazing feeling!
I recommend taking the cruise journey that departs between the 4300 and 5800 blocks of Holmes Beach. They take you to the best snorkeling spot!
When the sun is directly overhead the visibility rate is so high. During this time spotting the underwater world is splendid!
On those hot days, you can have a great swimming experience feeling fresh and cool down. You can check out manatee beach too.
Holmes Beach has its own vibe and atmosphere. From here you can easily head north or south for the day.
3. Piers between Bradenton Beach and Coquina Beach
Since I was 8, I would visit piers between Bradenton Beach and Coquina Beach several times with my grandmother. Definitely, the best time to visit here is sunset!
The memory of family and nature makes this spot the most treasured and special spot in my heart. Sadly, my grandmother passed away a year ago, but I kept up with the memories.
I want you to come here and experienced things which I had once with my grandmother. This side of the island is the best place to snorkel in Anna Maria.
Bradenton Beach sits in the south of Anna Maria Island. You can have food from my favorite restaurant – the Gulf Drive Café.
The pier is the best spot to snorkel with a manatee and stingrays! The location is perfect for snorkelers of various skills.
You can also take a snorkeling tour guide for a better experience. Head to Bradenton Beach for a great waterfront dining experience.
If it is your first time in the water, be careful while checking out the school of colorful tropical fishes, and crabs. Snorkeling or kayaking with manatees is a great experience!
Note: Try to come to the Coquina Beach Market that happens in November, every Sunday. You’ll get local things at a very affordable price.
4. Regina Sugar Barge
Did you know the white sand beach at Anna Maria has a real-life shipwreck? Yes, a molasses ship sits just 200 yards out from the shore.
Just off of Bradenton Beach across the street of Gulf Drive from Seatrek Diver shops sits the famous snorkeling opportunities in Anna Maria Island, Sugar Barge.
It is one of the popular spots among snorkelers and scuba divers! So, if you’re the one looking for the best Anna Maria scuba diving spot, come here.
This spot was named the 10th addition to Florida’s 12 Underwater Archeological Preserves. This ensures you’re in the best spot to enjoy your life!
In 2005 the wreck was coined as the U.S National Register of Historic Places. From sea urchins to odd dolphins, and crabs, Regina Wreck is a very exciting spot in Florida to watch marine animals.
You’ll hear people calling it a “Molasses Barge” or “Sugar Wreck”. Snorkelers of every stage can explore this place. You can expect water depth from 15 -20 feet.
The wreck is scattered and broken. You’ll spot the boiler of the ship, the winch, parts of the sterns, colorful tropical fishes, and varied sea life. The visibility rate is good!
In 1940 due to the storm, the barge sank off Bradenton Beach and now sank 20 feet of water on a sandy bottom. For snorkeling in Bradenton Beach, this is the best spot!
5. Manatee Beach Park
However, do not confuse the beach by its name. You can see the majestic creatures, and manatees in the shallow waters or bays but not on the island.
If you’re looking for a spot to explore in Florida in the month of February, look no further than Manatee Beach Park, an ideal getaway with white sandy beaches.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach, also be careful of the turtle nests. Only, during February month you can spot manatees.
Manatee Beach Park is ideal for snorkeling near Anna Maria Island as the shallow blue clear warm water is great! It sits just off Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.
The place is very safe as the lifeguards are always on duty. It has a free parking lot. The place has every type of amenity.
Manatee Beach’s waves are perfect for swimming, the sand is perfect for building sandcastles, and the beach is perfect for playing volleyball. Everything is so darn good!
6. Jewfish Key
For secluded snorkeling trips on Anna Maria Island, Jewfish Key is the best spot. It sits inland in northern Sarasota Bay between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.
It is also one of my favorite and biggest sandbar areas. It is a private island sitting on a 38-acre of land. The Sandbar is ideal for snorkeling, paddle boarding, and relaxing.
The gorgeous setting and clear water make it ideal for romantic couples and family people. It is a lesser-known barrier island near Sarasota Keys.
You’ve got a great chance to relax and explore sea creatures. At the edge, there are swimming holes ideal for beachgoers.
If you move towards the west, close to the bridge the tidal current increases, and the sands become rockier. Here you’ll only find ten homes.
If you dream of an exciting adventure or spotting the aquatic wildlife of Florida or witnessing a diverse ecosystem, then Jewfish Key is the best Anna Maria island snorkeling spot.
You’ll spot countless species, so enjoy spotting them, bathing in the water, and much more. You’ll surely enjoy it!
Tips for a Snorkeling Adventure on Anna Maria
- It’s better to take Anna Maria Island snorkeling tours from an experienced guide as they know the places better and also teach you to swim in highly submerged conditions when fish, rock, or algae comes in front of you.
- Snorkeling tours in Anna Maria also include sites like Jewfish Key, Beer Can Island, Passage Key, and Egmont Key
- Always be on the spot. Please do not try to be more adventurous. I’ve heard people sometimes have seen sharks in the ocean too
- Dolphin is a common fish available in Anna Maria. Apart from it, there are countless species. So, be prepared to see younglings, eagles, jellyfish, starfish, and storks
- You can rent snorkeling gear, wetsuits, pairs of goggles, and other pieces of stuff from the shop nearby. Those are not expensive but affordable. It’s around $40
- Do not book a hotel in the Bradenton area because that place is very crowded. Rater book beach rentals
- Please check the website to know the Anna Maria Island beach rules before hitting the beach
The water of Anna Maria is home to different fishes and dolphins. If you want to swim with them then these Anna Maria Island snorkeling spots are the best.
Coquina Beach is also famous for shelling. The calm water and tidal patterns of Anna Maria Island are best for shelling, snorkeling, and swimming.
If you want to buy a home near Anna Maria Island, Siesta Key is the cheapest beach town in Florida to live in.
In that case, your dream to live along the shoreline can come true! You’re on the top of the best places in Florida.
So, plan a trip to Anna Maria, Florida because I’m sure you do not want to miss the chance of spotting jellyfish, starfish, dolphins, and numerous types of fish.
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FAQ: Anna Maria Island Snorkeling
1. Is Anna Maria Island a good place to snorkel?
A. Yes, Anna Maria Island is a good place to snorkel to see the limestone reefs, corals, tropical fishes, and a life that you never imagined seeing. AMI has some unbeatable snorkeling spots that offer a new perspective to diving.
2. Are there reefs on Anna Maria Island?
A. Yes, Anna Maria Island has around 60 reefs. These reefs are home to tropical young fishes. As per the news, one small reef filters 30,000 gallons of water daily.
3. Where can I snorkel on Maria Island?
A. You can snorkel in Egmont Key, Holmes Beach, Regina Sugar Barge, Manatee Beach, and Coquina Beach. These places offer varied types of snorkeling excursions from fishing to sunset cruises and dolphin spotting.
4. Are there alligators or crocodiles on Anna Maria Island?
A. Yes, Anna Maria Island has alligators. So, it is always advisable to stay at the designated spot close to your guide.