Guest Hook Travel Guides Anna Maria Insider Guide - Page 5

5 EXPERIENCES YOU CANNOT MISS... 1 Explore the Beaches... 2 Horseback Riding (& Surfing) on the Beach... 3 Explore the Island by Bike... 4 The Fish Hole Adventure Mini-Golf... 5 The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory... The first thing you must do when visiting Anna Maria Island is to—not surprisingly—explore its recently re-nourished beaches. Seven miles of powdery white sand stretch from Bean Point to Bradenton Beach, and each mile brings a different setting, with varied aquatic life, waving sea grasses, and a selection of beach-front restaurants offset by stretches of calm, uncrowded shoreline. One constant, of course, is the glittering, blue-green water capped in white foam. Experience the dream of riding a horse on a picturesque beach. Then, stay on horseback as your hoofed companion swims right into Palma Sola Bay. That's right—you can ride a swimming horse! Learn how to "horse surf" and "horse ski," which are pretty much exactly how they sound: balance on your feet on the horse's broad back as it moves through the water. You'll likely see a few dolphins swimming past during your adventure, too. On Anna Maria Island, you can explore almost anywhere by bicycle, including on the sand beaches and on the roads, where the slow speed limit and lack of traffic make cycling safe. Take time to enjoy wildlife like squirrels, native birds like the Blue Heron, and if you're lucky, sea mammals like dolphins or manatees. Terry recommends ABC Rentals, which will pick up and deliver bikes right at the doorstep of your accommodations. The Fish Hole offers family-friendly entertainment with a nautical theme. Going beyond traditional miniature golf, The Fish Hole has waterfalls, lagoons, treacherous handicaps, and a bit of local history and fishing education mixed in. Each of the 18 holes is named for a different fish, like the Black Tip Shark and The Barracuda. Looking for more adventure? Head to Smugglers Golf where you can play 18 holes surrounded by live alligators! Touch pools, working labs you can peek into, and fun interactive exhibits will introduce you to the exciting research happening at Mote Marine Laboratory. Here, there are 100 species of marine life to see and learn about, plus several eco-tours including the renowned Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari, and private charters on board the Miss Explorer.