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Spring break by the day on Anna Maria Island

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

At the Anna Maria City Pier, spring break doesn’t necessarily signal hoards of college kids, but fishers and diners multiply in numbers and the boards get plenty of use, even on a cold day such as this, March 12. Pier manager David Sork reports he’s pleased with tourist season, and he says fishers are catching sheepshead, small mangrove snapper, flounder and a few stray mackerel. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

A German tourist walks in the “moat” surrounding a sandcastle found March 16 on the shore near 75th Street in Holmes Beach. He spoke no English, but nonetheless indicated he found the work impressive. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Beachgoers at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach soak up the sun despite the chilly wind. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Sandbar Restaurant guests enjoy the sun, libations and the warmth of outdoor heaters on the beachfront. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Spring has sprung on Anna Maria Island as evidenced by the crowds gathering on the beach to enjoy the best the island has to offer of sun and sea.

Manatee County public schools and many Florida universities were on spring break March 11-15.

A look at Anna Maria Island spring break, day by day, March 11-15.


Monday, March 11

A sunny day with the temperature topping 72-plus degrees brought droves of beachgoers to the Manatee Public Beach and the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Many of the young people on the beach said they lived in either Manatee or Hillsborough counties.


Tuesday, March 12

Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for spring breakers or island businesses. A high of 59 and a cold wind from the north kept away all but the hardiest of beachgoers. Some headed to the Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant, while the Manatee Public Beach was nearly deserted.


Wednesday, March 13

Temperatures on Anna Maria Island were in the high 60s to low 70s — warm enough to bring spring breakers and visitors to the Manatee Public Beach. A cold wind from the northeast kept many people off the bay beaches in Anna Maria, while the Gulf of Mexico shoreline was better protected from the chilly breeze. On days like this, beachgoers hug the sea oats to stay out of the wind.


Thursday, March 14

Despite temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60s and a northeast wind that brought the wind chill temp to the mid-50s, beachgoers still headed to Manatee Public Beach and the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe. The cold wind hit harder on the north end of the island.

The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, saw outdoor dining diminish, although some customers braved the chilly winds. Some hardy folks took advantage of the sunny skies to lounge nearby the restaurant or take in the sun at the outdoor bar.

Even with the wind, quite a few visitors took the walk to the end of the Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant, 100 Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, although the beaches on both sides of the pier were vacant.


Friday, March 15

An east wind kept the wind-chill factor on the Tampa Bay side of the island in the mid-50s, but at Manatee Public Beach and the AMI Beach Cafe, people found pleasant conditions and temps in the mid-60s. There was plenty of volleyball played on the beach on the final weekday of spring break. Many beachgoers said they were from Tampa.


Weekend, March 16-17

The weather cooperated on the weekend and the beaches were filled to capacity as far as one could see. Warm sun, almost no breeze, and temps in the high 70s showed off Anna Maria Island in all its sun-loving glory.

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