When you arrive on Anna Maria it can be all too easy to see it as your little retreat away from the noise and bustle of the city. With vibrant Holmes a stone’s throw on the mainland, Tampa to the north and the metropolitan sprawl of Orlando a drive away, your vacation rental in Holmes Beach on the sliver of white sand that is Anna Maria Island can simply become your base of operations, as well as a place to escape the chaos. However you shouldn’t overlook some of the opportunities right on your doorstep. Sure, Holmes Beach might not have Busch Gardens or Disney World, but there’s plenty to do in this friendly town.
Holmes Beach, FL
Take a tour
One of the first things I did, after I’d taken in the astonishing ocean views and sparkling beaches, was to visit Zegway By The Bay. This quirky little company offers several guided tours of the island on segways. I know, it sounds a bit odd doesn’t it considering the island is only seven miles from tip to tip, but I found it a fun way to learn about the different areas of the island as well as get to grips with the segway itself. The tours are broken down into areas, and the Gulf Beaches tour will let you get a handle on Holmes Beach and its surrounding beaches.
Art and craft
Having had a motorized tour you might want to explore the town a little more closely, and if you enjoy the arts Holmes Beach has a couple of galleries you should definitely visit. Island Gallery West is run by a cooperative of local artists and has been running for more than twenty years. The gallery is staffed by the artists, and they’ll happily talk to you about their work. I’ve found some beautiful pieces during my vacations, from ceramics and jewelry to photography and oil paintings, all of which whisk me back to this island haven when I’m at home.
Anyone fancy some fishing?
If you fancy something to get your adrenalin pumping then why not charter a local captain to take you out to one of Anna Maria’s prime fishing spots? There are numerous charter companies on the island and Holmes Beach offers a great base for excursions out into the Gulf, as well as bay and backwater fishing. I promise you, a day out on the calm blue sea with the warm sun overhead as you land a twenty pound grouper is a memory that will stay with you long after you have left the island.
You’ll be looking for fuel to keep you going throughout your stay and Holmes Beach has a wide range of restaurants, from traditional grills to fancy bistros and everything in between. Why not keep with the fishing theme and head on over to one of my favourites: Lily Ocean Star Sushi. This family run traditional Japanese restaurant offers a huge variety of fresh sushi using in season catch, as well as a large menu of other Japanese dishes. Delicious.
Then at the end of the day you can catch some live music in one of the local bars before enjoying a drink and watching the deep orange sunset spilling over the ocean. Holmes Beach may not have the wild excitement of the big city, but if you know where to look you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this slice of Old Florida.
Holmes Beach Rentals, FL
On your vacation to Anna Maria Island you are assured of fabulous rental accommodation. Although hotel chains are mostly absent, your best bet would be to utilise a luxury vacation rental property. There are an abundance of luxury vacation rental properties on Holmes Beach. From 1 bed to 7 bed properties, including some spectacular beachfront rentals, all in close proximity of local shops and restaurants, allowing you and your family to feel special, with the relaxed ‘at home’ feel, creating the perfect ambience to sit back and enjoy the splendours Holmes Beach has to offer.
Anna Maria Vacations specialises in Holmes Beach rentals. Please visit www.annamaria.com/holmes-beach.html for more information and to make your online booking.
Photo 1: superkt