The History of Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island has entranced visitors for centuries. Like the explorers drawn here over the past 500 years, current visitors to our Anna Maria Island rentals come for a variety of reasons.

The first Spanish expedition, led by Juan Ponce de Leon, sailed up Florida’s Gulf Coast in 1513, searching for the Fountain of Youth. Instead, it found a tribe of native Timucuans whose less-than-warm welcome for the Spaniards thwarted Ponce de Leon’s efforts to colonize the island he named Ana-Maria-Cay.In 1539, Hernando de Soto landed across the bay from Anna Maria Island at present-day Shaw’s Point. From there, he mounted an ultimately fruitless expedition in search of El Dorado, the fabled “Lost City of Gold.”

Not until 1892 did the island receive its first non-native resident, when George Emerson Bean settled near Bean Point, a gorgeous beach still popular today. In the early 1900s, Bean’s son, George Wilhelm Emerson, and Fig Newton inventor Charles Roser formed the Anna Maria Island Beach Company, which developed the island’s basic infrastructure.

Anna Maria Island soon began welcoming residents and visitors alike. In 1921, the original Cortez Bridge was built, linking the island to the little fishing village of Cortez on mainland Florida. A more modern drawbridge followed in 1957, making it still easier for visitors to reach the island. Today, tourists enjoying Anna Maria Island rentals are as much a part of the island’s character as the dreamers, fortune seekers and pioneers who enjoyed the area’s natural beauty in centuries past.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply