How to make the most of a beach vacation to Anna Maria Island. 

Step foot onto Florida’s Anna Maria Island, and you may never book a return trip home. From hidden, white-sand beaches and crystal-blue water to Instagram-worthy sunsets and delicious seafood at waterfront restaurants, you can experience all the trappings of an exotic, tropical vacation without even having to leave the United States.

On the west coast of Florida, neighbored by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, this seven-mile-long island invites travelers to soak up the vibes of its three cozy towns: Bradenton Beach in the south, Anna Maria in the north, and Holmes Beach nestled in between. The island maintains its chill vibe with speed limits that top out at 35 mph, and a consistent aversion to commercialization and towering condominiums. Yet still, the island is quickly growing in notoriety among beachcombers.

Here’s how to visit Anna Maria Island now—before everyone else figures it out. 

Eat Plenty of Fresh Seafood

One of the promises of Florida island life is the fresh seafood—and Anna Maria Island is the rule, not the exception. Order the catch of the day (paired with crab cakes and chowder) on the covered deck at the Blue Marlin. You can even go on a weekend for live music while you dine.