Millions around the world think of this part of Florida as paradise; it's one of the most popular destinations anywhere for tourism, relocation, and retirement. But those who actually live in southwest Florida know that the real Florida delight is Anna Maria Island, immediately west of Bradenton. It's a honeymoon paradise, a romantic getaway, and a lush, tropical delight with pure-white sandy beaches and some of the most coveted luxury homes and exclusive real estate for sale anywhere.
Although Anna Maria Island is not even eight miles long, its fascinating story parallels Florida's own long, rich history. Calusa and Timucua tribes exploited the island for hunting and fishing; conqistadorès sought for gold and a Fountain of Youth when Hernando DeSoto discovered the island in 1539. Enterprising Cuban anglers set up seasonal fishing camps at Anna Maria in the 19th century; it wasn't until after the Civil War that the first American settlers and developers arrived.
Today, Anna Maria Island is the site of three charming island cities (Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach), several sparkling, pristine-white beaches (including Anna Maria Beach, Manatee County Beach, Cortez Beach, and Coquina Beach), and a number of distinctive neighborhoods and extraordinary luxury homes in several sizes, styles, and attractive designs.
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Recreation is King on Anna Maria Island. Hiking, bicycling, birding, and roller-blading are popular, but it's the water sports that draw the enthusiasts: boating, fishing, skiing, parasailing, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing. The island is a literal boater's dream-come-true. And without leaving Anna Maria Island, you can buy, rent, or charter whatever you need to enjoy any of these hugely popular water recreations. Another great benefit of Anna Maria is that you can see so much fragile Florida wildlife up-close. The island is a bird sanctuary where pelicans, cranes, sand pipers, and seagulls are welcome and nurtured. Bottlenose dolphins can often be seen from both sides of the island, and sea turtles nest on the beaches every summer.
Anna Maria Island also offers some of Florida's finest dining and entertainment. It's the home of an artists' guild, a local theater company, and an excellent elementary school. Yet the most important element on Anna Maria Island remains the homes themselves. Anna Maria Island is the site for a variety of attractive single-family homes, stylish condominiums, and graceful luxury estates. Each community on the island has its own appealing style and personality, so there's a good chance you might find your dream home in one of Anna Maria Island's charming communities or near one of its beautiful beaches
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