Florida: Anna Maria Island -- Tortuga Inn and white sand beaches

The most important fact about Anna Maria is that it is makes-your-eyes-hurt beautiful.  The soft, white sand is postcard-perfect, wide and expansive Photo: Tortuga Beach Resort

The Beach

The most important fact about Anna Maria is that it is beautiful.  Makes-your-eyes-hurt beautiful.  The soft, white sand is postcard-perfect, wide and expansive.  The clear blue-green water is calm, because it is on the Gulf of Mexico rather than an ocean, and you can find shells, starfish, and other marine life along the shore.  One excellent access point for visitors is Coquina Beach, just before you cross to Longboat Key on the southern tip of the island. 

The white sand and aqua water of Coquina Beach.

The white sand and aqua water of Coquina Beach. (Photo/L. Ruth)

This public beach has plenty of parking, a concession stand, a playground, and volleyball courts.  It also has a picnic area complete with grills and a boat ramp.    Pine trees engulf the entrance to the park, giving scenic shade to over-sunned visitors. 

Across the street from Coquina Beach is Coquina Bay Walk.  The boardwalk allows visitors to see an abundance of birds and other wildlife, including fiddler crabs and other marine life, and natural vegetation.  Locals and visitors alike frequent the Bay Walk daily, especially in the winter when temperatures are pleasant.

Anna Maria offers a wide range of accommodations, from cottage and home rentals to bed and breakfasts and resorts to everything in between. 

Visitors can reserve rooms in historic homes, with a taste of “old Florida,” or modern beach condos.  Again, there are no motel or hotel chains, but travelers will find plenty of variety for their visit.  The Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a listing of quality choices. 

Each unique property has charm, character, and flavor, and the abundant choices offer amenities for every type of visitor.  Perhaps the best part of staying in Anna Maria is the moderately inexpensive price.  You get first class beach-accommodations at a bargain.

However, the jewel in the crown of Anna Maria lodging is Tortuga Inn Beach Resort

Owner and developer David Teitelbaum created a property that mirrors the values of Anna Maria — inviting, warm, and wonderful.  It is unpretentious but elegant, welcoming but non-intrusive, and provides updated amenities with a traditional charm. 

Every detail of the property is perfect.  The tropical plantings, the three pools, the private beach and private boat dock protect guests from the hustle and bustle of mainland, letting them relax and enjoy. 

Stepping past the beach and property landscaping  is a marvelous lead-in to the actual lodge.  Tortuga has six buildings, each with its own configuration and amenities to meet the needs of any guest or party, regardless of size or budget.  No matter which accommodation a guest selects, they will find beautifully furnished, comfortable rooms decorated in warm, tropical themes. 

Beach towels, beach chairs and beach umbrellas are complementary. 

The Palm Court at Tortuga.

The specific accommodations are the Bayfront Villa North, Bayfront Villa South, Gulf View Studios, Palm Court North, Palm Court South, and Tortuga Gardens. 

  • The Tortuga Gardens building contains luxury, well-appointed apartments in every size from hotel room to two bedroom – two bath units.  Accommodations surround a center courtyard with a 15-foot waterfall and tropical plantings.  Kitchens are modern, with granite countertops and full-size appliances and washers and dryers in many units.  Large bathrooms include Jacuzzis, dual-headed showers, and double sinks.  Barbeques and furnished patios are also in most units. 
  • The secluded Bayfront Villa North houses two large units in a stand-alone villa overlooking Sarasota Bay.  The two bedroom, two bath apartments have full kitchens and large decks where guests can watch spectacular sunrises over the Bay, a private heated swimming pool and private lush gardens as well as a barbeque and proximity to the boat dock and fishing pier.
  • Bayfront Villa South has four units directly on Sarasota Bay.  There are two two-bedroom, two bath units and two spacious studios in the Villa, all of which have full kitchens, tropical furnishings, and sunrise views over the Bay.  Like Bayfront Villa North, there is also a private heated swimming pool, private gardens, barbeques and private parking.  The Villa is next door to the fishing pier and boat dock.
  • The three large Gulf view Studio Apartments are designed for romantic get-aways.  All three units overlook the Gulf of Mexico, providing daily viewing of the exceptional sunsets, and well-stocked kitchenettes.  The tropical, comfortable furnishings and open floor plan are wonderful, but the highlight of the three units are the enormous, luxurious bathrooms with Jacuzzis, double sinks, bidets, and dual shower heads.
  • Palm Court North is a favorite location for families because of the large sized units and proximity to the beach and the pool.  The name comes from the towering palms that surround the building, further reinforcing the privacy tropical feel of the property.  Each two bedroom, one bath apartment has a full kitchen and barbeques.  Families with kids particularly enjoy the second-floor units with their tree-house feel.
  • Palm Court South, on the south side of the court created by towering palm trees, offers a variety of accommodation options in a single building.  Guests can choose from a hotel room, a studio, one bedroom – one bath unit, and two bedroom – two bath units.  Some units have full kitchens, and all are near the pool.  Like the second floor units in the sister Palm Court North, second-floor units in this building have the feel of a tree house. 

Sandbar wedding at Tortuga

Resort manager Katy and front desk attendant Anitra complete the experience.  They deal with any emergency with a calm smile, soothe even the most frantic bride (or mother-of-the-bride), offer restaurant suggestions, and generally help in any way they possibly can.  It’s like having your own private concierge, always genuinely happy to do whatever they can to make your vacation complete.Weddings at Tortuga are exceptional as its Western location offers incredible daily sunsets and the Inn hosts many a nuptial and also serves as a base for on the island ceremonies due to the variety of accommodation options they offer.  

From the rehearsal dinner through the ceremony, a Tortuga Inn is perfect as the private beach, the multiple pools, and the gardens all provide romantic settings while the capable staff smoothes arrangements making the entire process easy and stress-free.

One recent resort guest summed it up, “Staying at Tortuga Inn is like stepping into paradise.  It is one of the few places I’ve been that is better than I expected.  I’m a perfectionist, and I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change.  Not one thing.”  However, she then added, “The downside is that I really don’t want to leave.”

Tortuga Inn
1325 Gulf Drive North
Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
1-877-867-8842

Read Part I, Inviting, delighting Anna Maria Island, here.

Read Part III, white sand to white tablecloth dining here.


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Lisa M. Ruth

Lisa M. Ruth started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service and analysis.  After leaving the government, she joined a private intelligence firm in South Florida as President, where she oversaw all research, analysis and reporting.

Lisa joined CDN as a journalist in 2009 and writes extensively on intelligence, world affairs, and breaking news. She also provides investigative reporting and news analysis. Lisa continues to write both for her own columns and as a guest writer on a wide variety of subjects, and is now Executive Editor for CDN and edits the Global, Family and Health sections.  She is also a regular contributor to Newsmax and other publications.

Contact Lisa M. Ruth

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