I’m lucky enough to call Bradenton home. So I know a thing or two about the beaches that make this coastal town so appealing to travelers from across the US.
Bradenton sits on the Gulf of Mexico and has a ton of beautiful beaches worth visiting. Most notably, Anna Maria Island, which borders Bradenton, is home to most of the beaches in the area.
So which Bradenton FL beaches should you head to first if you want crystal-clear water and powdery white sand? Here are the best beaches to check out while you’re in town.
On the southern end of Anna Maria Island sits one of the largest beaches in Bradenton, FL - Coquina Beach. It’s a long stretch of beach that takes up this whole section of the island. And there’s ample parking available - especially in the far southern lots.
This beach is known for its crystal clear waters, soft sand, and stunning sunsets. There’s also a paved multi-use path popular among cyclists and runners that stretches from the southern point of the island up north for a few miles along the sand. Coquina Beach also offers plenty of amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, showers, and a playground for the kiddos.
Coquina Beach is also a great spot for fishing, and there are several fishing piers and jetties located along the shore (mostly under the bridge to Longboat Key). And just across the street is Leffis Key Preserve, which is a nice place for a short hike through the mangrove forest.
Bradenton Beach is both a town and a beach. Yes, this section of Anna Maria Island is its own town called Bradenton Beach (nice and confusing, right?)
This is the southernmost town on AMI and is home to the Historic Bridge Street area, where you’ll find most of the shopping, restaurants, and bars. This is the place you’ll want to walk around in the evenings.
But during the day, make sure to walk across the street to the actual beach of Bradenton Beach. It’s laid-back yet lively, with plenty of crowds congregating here before grabbing dinner on Bridge Street.
This is the palace you’ll find the famous Beach House Restaurant which is the ideal spot for a seaside dinner with unreal views of the sunset.
Cortez Beach sits just south of Bradenton Beach. A short walk will span the distance between these two sandy destinations.
If driving here, all of the parking spaces are directly off the main road. There’s no dedicated lot, so if you see space as you are driving along, make sure to pull in and park.
Since parking is more limited than in Bradenton Beach to the north and Coquina Beach to the south, you’ll find far fewer crowds here. This stretch of beach is also much more narrow than other beaches nearby.
The main features of Cortez Beach (as you’ll quickly notice) are three concrete structures (that look like piers) extending into the water. They look like old construction and might make your view of the ocean a little less scenic.
But these structures actually break the waves and provide calm waters for swimming, making this one of the best beaches Bradenton has for kids.
Manatee Beach is probably the most popular beach in Bradenton, FL, sitting right in the middle of Anna Maria Island. If you take the northern bridge to the island (Manatee Ave/SR 64, you’ll dead-end at the Manatee Beach parking lot.
This convenient location makes it the first spot to fill up on a busy beach day. The lot is large, but on a hot day, it will fill up pretty fast in the mornings.
It’s absolutely worth a visit, though. This beach is known for its soft, white sand and crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and volleyball.
There are restrooms, showers, and changing rooms located on the beach, as well as picnic areas and a playground for children. The beach also has several volleyball courts and a cafe where visitors can grab a bite to eat or a cold drink. It’s quite famous for its pancakes, though.
Anna Maria Beach
Anna Maria Public Beach is just south of Manatee Beach. It’s so close together that they’re basically the same beach, and you’ll likely use the same parking lot to access both.
There are a few street access points, but limited parking will mean you’ll end up walking quite a bit.
This makes these beaches very relaxed, however, since there are hardly any crowds here. Most people at these beaches are staying at the nearby vacation rentals.
Bean Point Beach
Bean Point Beach is located on the northernmost tip of Anna Maria Island. It’s definitely one of the most scenic beaches in Bradenton. It’s also the most spacious and wild.
I love this beach so much that I wrote a separate post talking all about it. The dune grass and amazing views of the sunset make it a perfect spot for a family or couples photoshoot (which you can learn more about, and book, right here).
The beach area is spaced out considerably from all of the nearby houses, making it feel like you’re in nature, rather than in someone’s backyard. But there aren’t any amenities here - no bathrooms, chair rentals, restaurants, or anything else.
There’s not even a parking lot. However, there are dedicated street parking areas on all of the nearby streets. And there are three designated public entrances that can be seen from the main road.
If you’re staying on the island or in Bradenton, make sure to visit Bean Point Beach at least once. It’s the best beach in Bradenton FL for scenic views and a quiet, relaxing experience. Just make sure to pack anything you might need.
Palma Sola Causeway Beach
Palma Sola Causeway Beach is a beautiful beach located on the mainland side of Bradenton. In fact, it's one of the only Bradenton Florida beaches that aren’t on the island. This beach is right off the road that leads to the island.
As you drive along Manatee Ave, you can pull off on either side of the road to park right in the sand. There aren’t many rules here, so you can hang out in the back of a truck, bring your dogs, and even ride horses. (This is the main Bradenton dog beach - don’t bring your dog to any beach on AMI).
Because it’s right off the main road, it’s not very serene, since the sound of traffic is constant. But when the beaches on the island are too busy, or you don’t want to have to walk from a parking lot all the way down a big stretch of beach, this spot is definitely worth checking out.
There are plenty of other beaches near Bradenton FL that are worth the drive to reach, such as Longboat Key.
Longboat Key is just south of Anna Maria Island. But there aren’t many public beaches here. It’s a quieter island since most of the beach access is restricted to residents and those staying at rentals here.
But Beer Can Island (Gibby Point) on the northern tip does have public access and is absolutely gorgeous. It’s another fantastic spot for a scenic photoshoot, or just a nice beach walk without having to look at condos.
So Many Beaches to Choose From
Yes, there are a few other beaches in Bradenton, Florida that are worth checking out. But as a local, I don’t exactly want to share all my secrets. Gotta save one or two, right?
Though, if you want to book a photoshoot while you’re in Bradenton or on AMI, I’d be happy to share my favorite secret spots.
Click the button to learn more about family and couples photoshoots and to send me a message and book your shoot today!