Anna Maria Island, sometimes called Anna Maria Key, is a barrier island on the coast of Manatee County, Florida in the United States. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico, on the south by Longboat Pass (which separates it from Longboat Key), on the east by Anna Maria Sound, and on the north by Tampa Bay. Anna Maria Island is approximately seven miles long north to south.
Anna Maria Island was discovered by the local Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes, and later, by Spanish explorers (including Hernando DeSoto) in the name of the Spanish Crown. Hernando de Soto and his crew entered the mouth of Tampa Bay, north of Anna Maria Island, in May, 1539, passing it by to make their landfall on the mainland.
In 1892, George Emerson Bean became the first permanent resident on the Island, homesteading much of what is now the City of Anna Maria. After Bean’s death in 1898, the land’s ownership transferred to his son, George Wilhelm Bean, who partnered with Charles Roser, a wealthy real estate developer from St. Petersburg, to form the Anna Maria Beach Company in order to develop the area. The company laid out streets, built sidewalks and houses, and installed a water system.
Anna Maria Island today is divided into the three cities of Anna Maria in the north, Holmes Beach in the middle, and Bradenton Beach in the south. In 2005 the United States Census Bureau estimated the combined population of the three cities at approximately 8,500.
With its white sandy beaches and warm temperatures, for many years Anna Maria Island was considered a “hidden gem,” the sleepy island providing a rare slice of “Old Florida.” In the past decade, tourism development has been targeted as a key economic goal by island, county and state officials and millions of tax dollars have been invested to draw visitors to the island with national and international advertising and publicity efforts.
Recent sales prices range from $285,000 to $4.5M for single family homes to $249,000 to $1.7M for condos.