There are numerous community groups, clubs and organizations spread all along Anna Maria Island, from wildlife conservation programs in Anna Maria itself, to the WAVES project in Bradenton Beach. And with the three diverse cities of Anna Maria Island all taking up their own little space, there is something for everyone to watch, play, get involved in or take advantage of.
The city of Anna Maria runs along the island’s northern most shore. Along with the island itself, the city is thought to get its name from Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish conquistador who named the land after the second wife of Charles II of Spain, Maria Anna of Neuburg, on his voyage of discovery in 1513. Its original inhabitants, however, were Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes. George Emerson Bean is credited with homesteading the northern 160 acres of the island in the late 1800s and laying out its street and water systems. The city has approximately 1,800 permanent residents and many of the city’s other property owners are part-time residents.
Anna Maria is a major site for wildlife conservation and watching. The entire city has been designated a bird sanctuary, and in the water you are likely to see bottlenose dolphins and manatees. The city’s beaches are also a prime nesting ground for endangered loggerhead turtles.
Anna Maria Island Community Center
Offering a staggering 1.5 amount of cultural, educational, family support, recreational and social programs each year, the center offers sports for adults and youths – including basketball, soccer, roller hockey, baseball, swimming, tennis and volleyball – educational and cultural classes for all ages, performing arts programs, professional counseling and much more. With movie nights, concert nights and skate nights as well, this is one center that really does put its community first. annamariaislandcc.com
Anna Maria Island Historical Society
Founded in 1990 by two reporters from the Islander newspaper to preserve precious island artifacts which were being lost, the mission of the group is to collect, research, preserve, and exhibit materials relating to the early days of Anna Maria Island. They also run an educational program and members visit churches and civic organizations to make the history of the island come alive. The society also produces a regular newsletter and even has an online shop. amihs.org
Anna Maria Garden Club
The Garden club meets every third Wednesday of each month from October to April at Roser Memorial Community Church, 12.30pm onwards.
The City of Holmes Beach is the largest of the three island cities and stretches just over three miles with the white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico on its west coast and the calm waters of Anna Maria Sound on the east. With just over 5,000 permanent residents, Holmes Beach is home to a large number of vacation rentals with a good mix of restaurants and shops. Also included within its city limits is the adjacent bayside island of Key Royale, formerly known as School Key, which was uninhabited until 1960 when a bridge was built joining it to Anna Maria Island.
Rotary Club of Anna Maria
An active club which enjoys a large number of visiting Rotarians from around the world, especially in the winter months. The club was founded in 1966 and is actively engaged in a number of fundraising projects across the island and county. It also produces a weekly bulletin which will keep you up to dates with all its activities, published on its website. annamariarotary.org
Island Turtle Watch
A volunteer organization offering advice on what to do if you find a turtle (and what not to do), guided tours during hatching season, and information on when and where to see the turtles hatching. islandturtles.com
Anna Maria Elementary School
Anna Maria Elementary School encourage parents to join in a wide variety of activities including an active PTO, parent conferences and class trips. The school also benefits from many dedicated individuals who have volunteered their time and expertise to help. Among the school’s innovative programs is the Sunshine Math initiative, an optional program designed to teach responsibility and help students develop problem-solving skills, and critical and creative thinking. manatee.k12.fl.us/sites/elementary/annamaria/index.html
Bradenton Beach home to approximately 1,500 residents and is located at the southern end of Anna Maria Island. A popular spot with beach lovers and fishing fanatics the city boasts miles of uninterrupted supervised public sand on the Gulf side and excellent fishing from the popular City Pier, with its café and bait supply. Inshore and offshore fishing tours are also available. There are also a number of parks within city limits.
Tingley Memorial Library
The library is a non-profit corporation, independent of the county library system. Funded by generous donations (including that of benefactor, Beulah Hooks Hannah Tingley) and operated by friendly volunteers. Membership is $3 per year, children 14 and under are free. In 2000 Beulah Tingley was declared a Great Floridian by the state and a plaque attesting to that honor was placed above the front door of the library.
Anna Maria Island Newspapers
Launched in 1992 as The Islander Bystander, it carried just 12 pages for the first two weeks of production, before its popularity and the sheer volume of advertising pushed it up to 40 in its first season. The Islander staff now boasts many contributors from an assortment of former Island papers and has since dropped the ‘Bystander’ part of its name. The newspaper has earned numerous Florida Press Association awards for writing, photography, special sections, editorials and editorial cartoons and a coveted First Amendment Defense award. It has also earned more than 50 advertising awards from FPA. The paper is distributed free locally, but for those who want to stay in touch while away The Islander is mailed weekly more than 1,400 paid subscribers. The Islander also has an excellent website, where you can keep up to date with all the goings-on on the island.
Anna Maria Island Sun
First published in September 2000, the Island Sun is published each Wednesday, featuring news, business, entertainment, real estate and sports from the community with an average distribution of 16,000 copies. As well as bringing Anna Maria residents all the news, the Island Sun also reflects the importance of fishing to this community, with regular captains reports and features and advice for the pleasure angler. The Island Sun’s website also has a section for reader comments, where residents can discuss the issues affecting them. There is also a service to receive the paper by mail.