Anna Maria Stories and Tips

Looking for a Place to Stay on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Photo, Anna Maria, Florida

I’m always looking for a great beach vacation - somewhere with soft sand, clear water, good restaurants, some fun things to do, and nice, clean accommodations. Anna Maria is all that and more! The island is carefully zoned to keep out high rises and offers a tropical beach-town atmosphere. There aren’t many timeshares. Exchanging into them is difficult but not impossible.

I’ve stayed at one resort, Umbrella Beach Resort, and toured all of the others. I’ve spoken to the management, looked at rooms, and walked on their beaches. Here is an overall assessment from my perspective.

The only two timeshares that are located directly on the beach are Via Roma and Resort Sixty-Six. These are both Bluegreen Resorts. They are very similar in type and units. If you are looking for a beautiful beach and convenience and not interested in a lot of amenities or deluxe luxury, either of these would be suitable. Both have nice pools. The rooms are not five-star quality. They more resemble converted motel rooms. However, for that inconvenience, you get the most beautiful beach right outside your door. It seems that most people don't trade these weeks. Why would they?

Via Roma offers one- and two-bedroom units. The one bedrooms can be directly gulf-front or across the road. What a difference! If you can snag a beachfront, you’re lucky. Across the road isn’t as nice. Two-bedroom units have a distance gulf view beyond the pool. Another fortunate trade.

Smuggler's Cove, Gulf Stream, Penthouses at Gulfstream, and Umbrella Beach Resort are all affiliated with VacationProperty Management. Activities are held at one resort or the other for all guests.

Penthouse units are directly across a two-lane road from the beach, with nothing in front of the building. You can definitely see the beach from these units. You couldn't be closer unless you were on the beach.

Smuggler's Cove and Gulf Stream are adjacent but continue all the way to the bayside. A walk to the beach could be a few feet or a block depending on your unit. More of Smuggler’s Cove is bay-front and two-bedroom units. The pool is very small at these resorts. They do, however, have a fishing dock off the back. I wasn't as impressed with these units as, some seem to have a lousy parking-lot view, particularly at Gulf Stream. However, the resort is well maintained and goes out of their way to please.

Umbrella has the largest units of these, but it is a half block from the beach, with the public beach next door. If you want comfort and room to spread out, then this would be your ideal exchange. Each unit is a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium residence that comfortably sleeps six. There is a washer and dryer in each unit; other resorts don’t offer this convenience.

So, each resort has its own attributes depending on your preference.
Prefer direct beach access and gulf view? Via Roma and Resort Sixty-Six.
Prefer large two bedrooms, a garage, and a washer and dryer? Umbrella
Prefer two bedrooms with a gulf view? Penthouses
Prefer bay view and fishing? Smuggler’s Cove
Prefer a clean one-bedroom to use as a home base? Gulfstream

Oh, one last thing, you can rent loads of houses on the island, and there are a few bed-and-breakfast-type places and inns, too. I looked into these, too. One of the biggest realtors that specializes in vacation rentals is Mike Norman Realty. They aren't cheap! You can also get a small room at one of the inns on or somewhat off of the beach. There are no big, fancy hotels anywhere. In my opinion, the timeshares are some of the nicest accommodations.

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