Snorkeling on Anna Maria Island (10 Best Spots + Practical Tips)

Want to go snorkeling on Anna Maria Island but not sure where the best spots are? Then read on to discover 10 of the best snorkeling places on the Island.

If you’re looking for a picturesque, sun-soaked destination with plenty of exciting activities, then you won’t want to miss out on Anna Maria Island.

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, this charming island boasts pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for your next vacation.

Anna Maria Island is not only a beach lover’s paradise; it’s also a fantastic destination for snorkeling.

people snorkeling on Anna Maria Island

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The warm, shallow waters and diverse marine life provide an incredible underwater playground that both newbies and experienced snorkelers will appreciate

But if you’re not sure where to go, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explore 10 of the best places to go snorkeling in Anna Maria Island.

We’ll also be including other things to do in each place so that you choose where to go knowing everything that’s doable there.

Planning a Trip to Anna Maria Island In a Glance
Here is a snapshot to help you plan your trip to Anna Maria Island!

How to get around: If you don’t have your own car, you can book one via Discover Cars. Alternatively, you can rent a golf cart in the many rental shops on the Island, use the free Anna Maria Island trolley that goes around various parts of the Island, rent a bike, or join guided tours.

Must-do tours and experiences: Speaking of joining tours, the ones you shouldn’t miss include; this Parasailing Adventure (5/5) to take in the beauty of Anna Maria from above, this guided kayak tour through Mangrove Tunnels in Sarasota (5/5) to spot Manatees and Dolphins.

Where to stay: Compass Hotel by Margaritaville Anna Maria Sound (9.0/10) is the best hotel to stay at in Bradenton for a luxurious vacation. You can opt for Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, Autograph Collection (8.9/10) which is in the heart of Holmes beach and overlooks the ocean. With stunning views of the ocean and located right on Bradenton Beach, you can’t go wrong with Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages (8.8/10).

What to pack: Don’t leave sunscreen (take this one that is eco-friendly with SPF50), this beach cooler with rollers, this sand-proof beach mat, this wide-brim beach hat, a swimsuit, a beach coverup, and more.

Best Places for Snorkeling on Anna Maria Island

Without any further ado, here are the best places to snorkel in Anna Maria Island! Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, one of these Anna Maria snorkeling spots will meet your needs.

1. Coquina Beach

Coquina Beach is one of the best places to go snorkeling on Anna Maria Island.
Coquina Beach is one of the best places to go snorkeling on Anna Maria Island.

Coquina Beach is a fantastic snorkeling place on Anna Maria Island thanks to its crystal-clear water, warm, shallow waters, and abundant sea life, and not forgetting the soft white sand, and swaying palm trees that make it an overall perfect beach destination.

When you’re not snorkeling, you can take advantage of the beach’s many amenities from ample parking, restrooms, and showers, to changing facilities.

You’ll also find a children’s playground, volleyball courts, and shaded areas with picnic tables and grills, making it a great spot for a family day out.

For food and refreshments, Coquina Beach Cafe offers a casual dining experience with a menu featuring a variety of delicious options. (It’s also one of our favorite breakfast spots on Anna Maria Island.)

The beach also hosts a popular weekly market, Coquina Beach market (most times of the year except in the off-season) where you can shop fresh produce, handmade crafts, jewelry, and more.

2. Manatee Public Beach

Lifeguard tower at Manatee public beach

Manatee Public Beach is a bustling and lively spot on Anna Maria Island, attracting snorkelers and beach lovers with its gorgeous sandy shores, clear waters, and numerous amenities.

The beach can get crowded, especially during peak season, but its popularity doesn’t detract from the excellent snorkeling opportunities it offers.

Take a break from snorkeling to refuel with a tasty meal while enjoying the stunning ocean views from Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe!

When it comes to amenities, Manatee Public Beach has plenty to offer snorkelers. You will find ample parking, restrooms, showers, and changing facilities, as well as lifeguards on duty to ensure the safety of swimmers and snorkelers.

The beach also provides a children’s playground, picnic areas, and beach volleyball courts for additional entertainment.

3. Egmont Key State Park

Egmont Key State Park is one of the best places to visit on Anna Maria Island.

Egmont Key State Park is a fascinating and diverse destination near Anna Maria Island that offers a unique experience for visitors.

Accessible only by boat, this state park combines history, natural beauty, and adventure, making it a must-visit spot for snorkeling enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The park’s most iconic landmark is its historic lighthouse, which has been guiding sailors and ships since 1858, but there are various historical sights, including the remnants of Fort Dade, a military base built during the Spanish-American War.

The park is also home to several shipwrecks, which have become artificial reefs teeming with various other marine life making snorkeling here even more enjoyable.

On top of snorkeling, you can also enjoy the park’s hiking opportunities, with several trails winding through its diverse habitats, search for shells since its pristine beaches offer an abundance of beautiful shells, or spot birds like shorebirds, gopher tortoises, and even the occasional dolphin or manatee swimming offshore.

You should however note that since this park is secluded, there are no stores or concessions, so make sure to carry your own food and water.

From its historical landmarks and hiking trails to its unspoiled beaches and diverse wildlife, this park is truly one of the best Anna Maria Island snorkeling spots for those looking for an all-around adventure.

4. Bean Point Beach

Bean Point Beach is one of the best beaches in Anna Maria Island.

One of the most beautiful beaches on Anna Maria Island is Bean Point. Located at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island, this hidden gem offers a tranquil and picturesque setting for beachgoers and snorkelers alike.

Though it’s well-known for its pristine white sand, it’s also a perfect spot for snorkeling, thanks to its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. But one of the highlights of Bean Point is the opportunity to spot manatees and dolphins!

Getting to Bean Point is also relatively easy! You can access it via several residential streets with the most popular access points being at the intersections of North Shore Drive and Fern Street, or North Bay Boulevard and Gladiolus Street.

Keep in mind that there’s no designated parking lot for Bean Point, so you’ll need to find street parking in the nearby residential areas, but pay attention to “No parking” areas as parking is heavily controlled on Anna Maria Island.

And although amenities are limited (make sure you pack your food and water since there are no shops), the pristine white sand, clear waters, and breathtaking sunset views make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a memorable adventure of snorkeling on Anna Maria Island.

5. Bayfront Park Beach

One of the best places for snorkeling at Anna Maria Island is Bayfront Park Beach. This picturesque spot is known for its shallow waters, stunning views, lush greenery, and fantastic amenities.

Located on the island’s northern end, Bayfront Park Beach Park offers a unique experience for beachgoers looking for a tranquil and scenic retreat.

One of the most striking features of Bayfront Park Beach is the panoramic views it offers. Gaze out across the clear waters and you’ll be able to sight the Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and the city skyline in the distance.

The park is also surrounded by a green shaded area, providing a refreshing and peaceful atmosphere.

In terms of amenities, Bayfront Park Beach has plenty to offer! It has ample parking, restrooms, showers, and changing facilities. Picnic areas, pavilions, and grills are available for those who want to enjoy a meal!

Beyond snorkeling, Bayfront Park Beach offers a range of activities from kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming.

There is also a chance of spotting manatees swimming along the shores, while fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of the nearby fishing pier.

The park’s location also makes it an ideal starting point for a leisurely stroll to explore the nearby shops and restaurants on Anna Maria Island.

6. Cortez Beach

Cortez Beach is one of the best places to snorkel in Anna Maria Island.

One of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island is snorkeling and one spot you can’t miss is Cortez Beach.

Located on the southern end of Anna Maria Island, this charming and tranquil spot offers a fantastic opportunity for snorkeling enthusiasts to explore the vibrant underwater world.

With its pristine sand, clear waters, and diverse marine life, Cortez Beach is a favorite among visitors and locals alike.

You can expect to see various fish, crabs, and occasional sea turtles, and a chance to spot manatees and dolphins which can often be seen swimming close to the shoreline.

Besides snorkeling, Cortez Beach is also a popular spot for shelling and fishing thanks to its various fishing piers which also offer scenic views.

And at the end of the day, you can stroll along the nearby Cortez Fishing Village to experience a taste of the old Florida charm or check out one of the many Anna Maria bars.

7. Regina Sugar Barge

Regina Sugar Barge is one of the best places for snorkeling in Anna Maria Island.

Photo by Amanderson2/Flick

Regina Sugar Barge is a unique snorkeling spot on Anna Maria Island, offering underwater explorers a chance to discover a historic shipwreck.

The barge, which was carrying molasses, sunk in 1940 after running aground during a storm. Over time, the wreck has transformed into an artificial reef, attracting a diverse range of marine life.

The shipwreck is located about 200 yards off the shore of Bradenton Beach, near the intersection of Gulf Drive and 28th Street.

Snorkelers and divers can access the wreck from the beach, making it one of the easily accessible spots for snorkeling on Anna Maria Island.

Besides seeing the wreckage of the ship, you’ll also be able to see colorful fish, corals, and other marine creatures.

Plus, the waters here are shallow making it suitable for snorkelers of varying skill levels.

8. Holmes Beach

Holmes Beach is one of the best beaches on Anna Maria Island.

If you want to go snorkeling on Anna Maria Island in a less crowded and more tranquil atmosphere, then head to Holmes Beach.

Known for its emerald waters and calmer waves accompanied by a wide and white powder sand stretch, this beach is an ideal spot for snorkeling enthusiasts who prefer a quieter environment. And the fact that the waters are calm makes it ideal even for beginners.

While Holmes Beach has fewer amenities compared to other beaches on the island, it still provides a delightful experience. One of the unique features of this beach is the dog park known as Paw Playground, perfect for those who want to come with their furry friends.

In addition to snorkeling, Holmes Beach is also a great spot for paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, jet skiing, and other water sports.

9. Jewfish Key

Accessible by boat only, Jewfish Key, is a lesser-known Anna Maria Island snorkeling spot, providing a unique and secluded experience for those seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures.

As a private island with less than 10 homes, Jewfish Key offers a tranquil setting away from the crowds.

One of the highlights of Jewfish Key is the presence of swimming holes, which create an intriguing and exciting experience, and the clear waters around the island that make it easy to spot a variety of marine life, including the occasional manatees.

10. Beer Can Island

Beer Can Island Beach is one of the best Anna Maria Island beaches.

Photo by OutlierForLife/Flickr

Also known as Greer Island, Beer Can Island is a distinctive and lesser-known snorkeling spot near Anna Maria Island, which can be accessed either by boat or by car.

This sandbar, connected to the northern end of Longboat Key, offers a unique and secluded experience for water enthusiasts.

It has clear waters which are perfect for spotting a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, crabs, and even manatees and dolphins if you’re lucky.

There are also some shells and sand dollars that add to the appeal of this hidden gem, making it a delightful location for snorkelers and beachcombers alike.

However, you should note that there are no facilities on-site, so it’s essential to come with your food, trash bags, and anything else you might need for your beach day.

Additionally, the area is excellent for birding, with a variety of species and it provides a unique backdrop for photography, thanks to its weathered driftwood, though much of it was removed in 2021.

With its unique environment and abundance of shells and sand dollars, Beer Can Island Beach is indeed one of the best places for snorkeling near Anna Maria Island.

Practical Tips for Snorkeling on Anna Maria Island

man snorkeling

To get the most out of your adventure of snorkeling on Anna Maria Island, be sure to follow these practical tips.

Choose the Right Gear

Having the right snorkeling gear is essential for an enjoyable and safe experience. Make sure to invest in a high-quality mask, snorkel, and fins that fit you well.

A well-fitting mask will prevent water leaks and provide better visibility, while the right fins will ensure efficient swimming and help you conserve energy.

Alternatively, you can rent your gear from one of the many rental shops on the Island.

Check the Weather and Tides

Before you head out to snorkel, make sure to check the local weather and tide conditions.

Calm waters and good visibility are crucial for a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience.

Avoid snorkeling during rough seas or when there’s a strong current. If you’re unsure about the conditions, consult local lifeguards or experienced snorkelers.

Couple snorkeling

Buddy Up

Snorkeling with a buddy is not only more enjoyable but also safer. Having someone with you can help in case of emergencies or if you need assistance. Make sure to communicate your plans and always keep an eye on each other while snorkeling.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It’s important to be aware of your surroundings while snorkeling. Keep a safe distance from boats, jet skis, and other watercraft.

Be cautious around rocks, reefs, and underwater structures to avoid injuries. Also, be mindful of local marine life and avoid touching or disturbing them.

Protect Yourself and the Environment

Sun protection is crucial when snorkeling. Make sure to wear a high-SPF, water-resistant sunscreen. Also, make sure that the sunscreen you wear is reef-friendly to prevent damage to coral reefs and marine life.

Respect Marine Life

While snorkeling on Anna Maria Island or anywhere else for that matter, it’s essential to respect the marine environment and its inhabitants.

Avoid touching, feeding, or disturbing marine life. Observe from a safe distance and leave the underwater world as you found it.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places for Snorkeling on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a snorkeler’s paradise, offering a variety of stunning beaches and picturesque locations for unforgettable underwater adventures.

From the serene Bean Point to the bustling Manatee Public Beach, each spot offers its unique charm and diverse marine life to explore.

Wildlife enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to spot manatees and dolphins while shelling and fishing opportunities abound for those seeking additional activities.

With year-round warm weather and crystal-clear waters, Anna Maria Island truly provides an idyllic setting for snorkelers of all skill levels to discover its captivating underwater wonders.

But before you go, consider sharing these best Anna Maria Island snorkeling spots if you found the article helpful!

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