There are countless spots to catch spectacular Anna Maria Island sunsets along seven miles of glorious Gulf Coast beaches—from Bean Point on the north end of AMI to Coquina Beach at Longboat Pass. All seven miles face directly west and offer unobstructed views of sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
Below are a few of our favorite best places to watch sunset on Anna Maria Island and some of our Anna Maria Island sunset photos from those spots. We also include suggestions (and digital examples) for taking more interesting photos of Gulf Coast sunsets.
70th Street, Holmes Beach
Anna Maria Island sunsets are magnificent, whether you see them on its soft sugar beach sand or elsewhere. We like the 70th Street area for a few different reasons.
One, we often rent an Anna Maria Island beach house around here. Two, other than the Bali Hai, this area has mostly small rental houses and the sunset crowds on the beach are not overwhelming. Three, Bali Hai leaves beach lounge chairs and umbrellas out all day. Staff picks them up around sunset but they will tolerate you using them until they are ready to collect them all. Just do not abuse this paradigm.
But the 70th Street entrance has the above natural walls which block out most of the beach crowd and add some nice features to Anna Maria Island sunset photos. There are other similar beach entrance views but we do like this one.
Beach Bistro, Holmes Beach
Celebrate sunset and the end of another joyous AMI day in front of Beach Bistro. The celebration at Beach Bistro is definitely more subdued and low key than versions in Key West or Siesta Key and celebrants are likely to toast sunset with glasses of bubbly.
The 65th Street and 66th Street entrances to Anna Maria Island beach are popular because there are several benches at the top of the sand. Often during the winter season, the benches are occupied 30 minutes before sunset. They are great spots for older people and physically challenged to watch amazing Anna Maria Island sunsets.
Beach Bistro is one of our favorite Anna Maria Island Restaurants.
The Kokonot Hut, Bradenton Beach
Besides having a fun happy hour setting under a huge tiki bar, The Kokonut Hut is one of the best places to watch Anna Maria Island sunsets. I love using various property features to add elements to the brilliant Gulf Coast sunsets. While eating at partner Gulf Drive Cafe or drinking at either location, make sure you explore the spaces for your favorite sunset view.
A little further south, Beach House Restaurant, is a more upscale spot with but similar spectacular sunset over the gulf views.
See also our Fun US Gulf Coast Bars, Breweries, and Beverage Spots.
Behind Sand Dunes
All along the Anna Maria Island coast you will find many opportunities for remarkable sunsets. Here I tucked behind a sand dune and let the dune grass to add layers to the scene. Note that I did not walk on the sand dune to get this photo. This spot was along a designated path between the building and the beach. But I loved how this looks.
US Gulf Coast note: please DO NOT ever walk on any sand dunes on Anna Maria Island beaches, other US Gulf Coast beaches, or anywhere in the world. It is one of the Easy and Helpful Ways to LOVE the US Gulf Coast.
Manatee Public Beach (Holmes Beach) and Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe
You cannot bring alcoholic beverages to any Anna Maria Island beaches. But you can buy rum and vodka drinks at Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe and even keep the glass. Those souvenir glasses include a carved coconut, insulated cup, and hurricane plastic glass. Enjoy sunset views from every table and music nearly every afternoon into early evening. The cafe also has an extensive food menu (choose the blackened or grilled island catch) including all-you-can-eat pancakes every morning.
Include People in Anna Maria Island Sunsets
Most people take sunset photo selfies with their friends and families. And some of those photos even come out OK and look good. Ha, just kidding, but I definitely struggle with making the scenery and the people both look nice. I usually have to choose one or the other or the people or the sun gets washed out.
Silhouettes of people typically look better in my sunset photos than faces. Did you notice the boat in the sun glow above?
Here are two versions of a sunset with the addition of a person on a SUP. Which do you like better?
I loved the cloud formations that day so I wanted to include the vertical scene. Here is a close up and horizontal version.
Include Animals or Boats in Your AMI Sunset Scenes
Along with alcoholic beverages, dogs and pets are also not permitted on Anna Maria Island beaches. But you can still include animals in your Anna Maria Island sunset photos. Great blue herons are fun additions and dolphins swim by several times a day. Catching a dolphin in an AMI sunset scene is a special treat and not as rare as the mythical green flash.
Other Spots to Watch Sunset On Anna Maria Island
Some of the other best spots to watch Anna Maria Island sunsets include Cortez Beach, Coquina Beach, Bean Point, and Beer Can Island (at the northern tip of Longboat Key). But again, there are seven miles of Anna Maria Island beaches and all of it faces directly west into the setting sun. So choose any AMI beach spot and it will be fantastic.
Another beachfront restaurant with sunset views is The Sandbar Restaurant. On the bay side, Rod N Reel Pier Restaurant is a fun place to watch sunset, although the sun sets over Bean Point and is blocked by houses.
A favorite Gulf Coast sunset tip is to stick around and enjoy the post-sunset glow. Most people leave right after the sun drops below the horizon. But often it takes 15-45 minutes for the sky to really light up with colors. It is a great time to stroll the world’s best beaches and watch the sky palette materialize and transform.
Where is your favorite place to watch Anna Maria Island sunsets? Do you have tips for taking amazing sunset pictures?
Did you know that Anna Maria Island has a few of our favorite Best Grouper Sandwiches?
See also Photo Spots in Florida for Nature Lovers for more Florida Gulf Coast sunset spots.