Your Guide to Bradenton Beaches

Editor's note: Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Bradenton beaches are privy to some of Florida's most beautiful sunsets. Soft sand and wide expanses that are perfect for walking and shelling define the area.

Anna Maria Island

This quiet Bradenton beach is a retreat if you are a beach-goer. A number of beachfront parks offer everything you'll need for your next vacation. Anna Maria Bayfront Park features more than 1,000 feet of sandy beach that overlooks the waters of Tampa Bay on the northern tip of this quaint island. An abundance of parking, lifeguards, restrooms, showers, picnic shelters and a view of the Sunshine Skyway bridge make this a family favorite. Anna Maria Beach is a quiet, undeveloped sandy Gulf beach that offers more than 3 acres of beautiful views and the soft sound of waves lapping at the shore. It's a quiet and secluded beach that's great if you are searching for some privacy.

Further south you'll find Holmes Beach. Located at the center of Anna Maria Island, this Bradenton beach features a full range of amenities including grills, a playground, showers and a picnic area, as well as, plenty of wide, sandy beach. This is a surfer's paradise when the waves are high.

Bradenton Beaches in Florida

Most of Anna Maria's family-owned restaurants and lodging are found at Bradenton and Holmes beaches, the latter pictured here. Public parking and restrooms are available.

- Bill Ward

Manatee County Beach

This Bradenton beach features 900 feet of sandy beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Cortez Beach showcases 140 feet of undeveloped beach. It has free parking, lifeguards on duty, restrooms, picnic tables and showers. Coquina Beach located on the island's southern tip is a popular public beach lined with towering Australian pines. A full-service concession stand, ample parking, barbecue pits, picnic facilities, a boat ramp, a playground, restrooms, showers and lifeguards make this beach a popular, bustling beach.

Beer Can Island Beach

This is a secluded peninsula at the northern tip of Longboat Key. Its 2,000 feet of sandy beach are excellent for shelling. It is best to come by boat or walk to the island at low tide.

North Longboat Key Beach

Longboat Key is for those who prefer secluded Bradenton beaches. These pristine beaches are a well-kept secret and public access is at a minimum. Try the undeveloped sandy beach extending from North Shore Road south to the county line, accessible at the ends of residential streets.