Anchoring in Longboat Key, on Florida’s West Coast can be a bit challenging in a small anchorage with current ripping in and out adjacent Longboat Pass bridge. But it’s also great fun, a beautiful barrier island and somewhere we’ve always wanted to anchor, just a bit too far north for our usual cruising routine.
This year was our chance. And we loved it, stayed 4 nights, did the daily anchoring dance in the current, almost got hit my numerous boats – and enjoyed what the barrier islands have to offer.
6+ Fun Things To Do Anchored at Longboat Key
Oh, yes, beaches everywhere. Not as prolific with sharks teeth or shells to our disappointment, but maybe that’s because there are too many people waiting to snatch them up? We enjoyed three beaches during our stay …
Walking across Longboat Key to the public beach on the gulf side opposite the anchorage…
The easy beach by the Longboat Pass Bridge on the north end of the island – an easy dinghy ride – but often crowded with daytripper boats competing for beach space to pull up the boat!
Happy Hour Restaurants.
In the anchorage there used to be two restaurants – a long time institution, Miller’s Seafood appears to be permanently closed, but Mar Vista Dockside is very popular with daytrippers who create havoc in the anchorage zipping in and out, despite the presence of Sheriff and Conservation boats who regularly stop them and give them tickets for their wayward boating habits.
Be SURE to ask about the Happy Hour Special at Mar Vista – when we were there, it was in the Pub only, although you could bring your food and drinks out and sit in the empty chairs you see on the beach in the distance in this photo. During regular hours, the food and drinks were good, although not inexpensive.
Watch out for the weekends! We had NO idea that literally 400 daytripper boats of varying sizes would appear on the sandbar just down the inlet from the bridge. They pull up, drop an anchor in a foot or less of water and party from mid-morning to dark. The blaring music would be OK if there weren’t multiple different genres of music competing within a few boatlengths of each other. But kids, dogs and adults seemed to be loving it. And David loved it because the “view” wasn’t bad either. 🙂
Dinghy to Anna Maria Island, ride the free shuttle (and stop at Publix on the way “down island” for a few reprovisions)
What a delight! Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island offers a free dinghy dock within a dinghy ride from the anchorage at Longboat. And a free trolley bus to explore the island! We were told to be SURE to eat lunch at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar. We looked all over the island but couldn’t find it.
Only when we were leaving, did we realize that AMOB … the name of the restaurant beside the dinghy dock was actually the Anna Maria Oyster Bar! Dang! Good thing we ate lunch there, not knowing!
Dinghy to Anna Maria Island, enjoy Coquina Beach Park
The famous Coquina Beach Park on the south end of Anna Maria Island – reachable by dinghy across the pass. There’s a boat launch ramp with a dock where no one seemed to mind if we left our dinghy while enjoying the park – just make sure you’re out of the way of launching boats.
Longboat Pass Bridge from the Coquina Beach Park….
Strolling through Longboat Key on our way to find a gulf side public beach, we kept hearing strange sounds. Then out of nowhere appeared a peacock sitting on a front porch railing. OK, strange. Down the block a bit was another peacock enjoying his time in the shade. After asking, we found out that the south end residential area of Longboat Key has multiple peacocks – roaming free – and no one could tell us why or anything about where they came from …
And now for the mundane stuff…
The anchorage shown on the charts is deceptive. It appears large enough, but when we were there, there were several “live-aboards” as well as derelict boats anchored in all the prime spots. Transients had to either go way up front (and dodge a very shallow shoal) or anchor way back, in the current, closer to the old Miller Seafood Restaurant. After driving around the anchorage, we opted for the latter but it made for some tense moments.
The current is often stronger than the wind, meaning either your boat lies sideways and rocks with the wind or has the wind blowing up the stern aft cockpit, which is always a bit disconcerting. Especially as we watch other boats dance around their anchors and hope we all have out the same amount of anchor chain. It’s not a bad idea to dinghy over, introduce yourselves and find out how much anchor chain neighboring boats have out. You may want to be sure to be onboard at least the first time the current switches, so you can see how the boats are lying, and take up anchor chain if necessary. It’s not a huge problem, but it is worth taking note. Make sure your anchor is well set.
So after the usual disclaimers, ENJOY Longboat Key. We did and we know you will! Did we miss your favorite spot? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan & David