Anna Maria Island, on Florida’s west coast near the mouth of Tampa Bay, has been a popular beach vacation destination for more than 100 years. More than 100,000 visitors annually bask on the island’s beaches and enjoy its old-Florida, corporate free attitude. If you are planning a trip to AMI, or if you’ve already been there you might want to learn some things that make the island unique.
Here are five little-known facts about Anna Maria Island:
- The island has quartz beaches: Many first-time visitors are amazed by the powdery white sand covering Anna Maria Island beaches. There are two very different ways white sand can form. The first is via crushed seashells gathering and washing ashore over hundreds of thousands of years. The second is a rare phenomenon in which quartz rock is eroded by streams in high mountain chains and swept out to sea. AMI’s sand comes from a combination of erosion in the Appalachian Mountains washing to the Gulf of Mexico and seashell. In addition to soft white sand, the quartz is also a poor conductor of heat, meaning Anna Maria Island beaches don’t get as hot as other beaches.
- Beaches stretch 8 miles: Although AMI is approximately 7 miles long; the beach stretches around the north and south edges of the island to create more than 8 miles of uninterrupted beach. Northwest beaches face into Tampa Bay, while southwest beaches face Sarasota Bay.
- AMI is 3,000 years old: It’s impossible to predict exactly how old Anna Maria Island is. However, carbon dating and soil samples taken by the University of Florida suggest the formation of the land mass dates back approximately 3,000 years. AMI is a barrier island formed by the sediments carried to the shore of the mainland. Anna Maria Island’s northern portions are the oldest and the island continues to expand to south. Some southern portions of the island are less than 200 years old.
- Bean Point named for settler: Anna Maria Island’s first beach travelers arrived near the end of the 19th century. George Bean settled on the northern most point of the island. He and his partners used steam ships to transport tourists from St. Petersburg to enjoy the then secluded island. Bean Point still offers nearly 270 degrees view of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.
- Sea turtle nesting ground: Millions of green and loggerhead sea turtles made their great journey from next to sea on Anna Maria Island beaches. On a given year, as many as 200 turtles will build nests on AMI beaches. A typical nest contains 60 to 100 eggs.
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