You’ll want to reserve a trip on 1 of the best Anna Maria Island Boat trips you’ll experience while visiting, to capture, the truest, most natural essence of AMI, while leaving everything in its place (eco-friendly), but allowing you a front-row seat to dolphin viewing, manatees, and sandbar wading. and this particular boat tour on Anna Maria Island is undeniably the best bang for your buck between the overviews shared by its captains and what you’ll visit and experience.
Anna Maria Island in Florida is a beach-goers dream come true right in the good old USA, with tropical blue skies, beautiful beaches, biking paths, and tons of water to enjoy by boat or by the beach the taking an AMI boat tour is a great way to experience this!
Why You’ll Love The Captain Katie Scarlett Boat Tours On Anna Maria Island
When I decide to take a boat tour, I want to learn a little, experience a little, and see a lot, and Captain Katie Scarlett delivers BIG!
But the thing I was most looking forward to on the trip, was spending 2 hours on an AMI boat tour (Anna Maria Island), discovering Sarasota Bay.
- Not a touristy tour and you’ll see some of the more ‘out of the way’ areas which are perfection (the road less traveled)
- you might see dolphins and manatees might make an appearance
- supporting a woman-owned business (Captain Kathe is Captain Katies Mom and she tours too!)
- you’ll get to wade on a sand bar (if you want to) and it’s a blast
- while you can scoop the wildlife on the sandbar, this is an eco-tour so you will be leaving everything just as you found it.
- you’ll ride on a Pontoon boat, not a speed boat
- Sailor the dog might tag along and trust me, no matter the age of your child, smiles appear!
- riding under the drawbridge is pretty cool especially if it going up as you are leaving
- Beer Can Island is something you will see
- after the AMI boat tour, you will feel better acquainted with the area
Why Choose 1 Of the Best Anna Maria Island Boat Trips
- someone who was native to the area and knows Sarasota Bay like the back of their hand and the wildlife living in it as she has spent her life on the water and in the local water
- if you want an outfitter who respects the wildlife and can provide us with a better understanding of the living bay without being too ‘science-y’ in the discussion.
- if you want a great tour but really don’t want to overpay for it
Our 2 Hour AMI Boat Tour on Sarasota Bay
We followed our text from Captain Katie to head to the South Coquina Boat Ramp on Gulf Drive South but, our navigation system in our rental took us to the NORTH ramp, SMH!
I texted Captain Katie to let her know we were coming and apologized, and thankfully we were just about 3 minutes from the right Ramp!
Once there, we easily found the boat and the totally charismatic and friendly Captain Katie and Sailor the dog!
We were dressed like Captain Katie, in swim clothing and tees, with a bag of towels and ready for adventure.
But there was another group of people on the tour in jeans, hoodies, and jackets and they were not going in the water.
Albeit less sunny and a tad cooler than we expected, my family was there and ‘All In’ for the sandbar experience and clearly they were not!
The point is you don’t have to do what you do want to and yet you will get to do as much as you like!
Sailor the Dog: First Mate to the Captain
The dog, named Sailor will sit with you and among you and definitely is affectionate.
My son was super happy to have a traveling companion.
When Sailor senses a dolphin, he ran from the front of the boat to the back, barking, and yelping, not jumping out.
It was funny and entertaining at the same time.
Cpt Katie asked Sailor several times to ‘find the dolphins’ but in 99% of the instances, there were no dolphins until there were, but keep reading!
Where Did We Go With Captain Katie Scarlett Boat Tours?
We initially took a short ride towards the Tides Table Restaurant Marina.
Rounded it out with a quick journey through Palma Sola Bay, a bay in West Bradenton that opens to the Anna Maria Sound, and for more perspective, it is Southwest of Cortez which is where we headed next.
Coordinates of the Palma Sola Bay area > 27.4771917,-82.6698306.
Best Anna Maria Island Boat Trips Provide Extra Insight
When you book a boat tour, you obviously want an experience and we got that and more!
To The Cortez Bridge + The Eco Tour
From Palma Sola Bay, we headed towards the Cortez draw Bridge, via Bradenton beach, and there we got to observe and learn about Brown Pelicans vs. White Pelicans (with one black line under their wing).
Captain Katie gave us a pretty in-depth explanation of the difference between the brown pelicans who are very social, unlike the white pelicans who are very antisocial and kind of mean!
Who knew there were issues among the ranks of pelicans, lol, we do now!
From there we continued on and passed under the Cortez bridge and headed towards the Historic Fishing Village of Cortez.
Historic Fishing Village Of Cortez + Your Eco Boat Tour In Anna Maria Island
Here are a few things we learned during our tour.
- first, this is not a thriving fishing village, it’s kind of disappeared
- there is a great cash-only restaurant you’ll want to try it gets great word-of-mouth reviews
- apparently, and the key lime pie served there is made by Captain Katies Mom, Captain Kathe (so the passenger on our tour spilled the beans on that which was neither confirmed nor denied!)
- it’s very picturesque and along the way, you will even see a few sinking sailboats, etc.
You will see 1 boat that is a bit colorful in the same area, and 1 person lives on it and has for a long time.
He’s a musician, who plays locally but keeps just to himself!
We then passed the Guthrie Net Camp and wound up right at the heart of the historic fishing village of Cortez.
The Drawbridge: Cortez Bridge
On the way to the Sandbar, we would experience the drawbridge opening which was exciting to watch.
We would also pass Beer Can Island, which I have, to be honest, it might be beautiful by sunset, but it was NOT at all what I thought it would be.
The Sandbar Experience on Anna Maria Island
By far, this was the best part of the tour, because walking on the Longboat Key sandbar and scooping up some fantastic finds was exciting.
The nets were supplied by our tour operator at no additional charge and Captain Katie set up an aerator for the sealife we caught as it would be caught, enjoy, photo, and released (eco-tour)
But we did get to keep the incredible sand dollars we found and they were huge, bigger than any I’ve ever had in my hands to date!
There are seahorses, dead and alive sand dollars, sea urchins (huge), lightning whelks, fish, crab, and starfish, you don’t know what you might catch on the sandbar.
This part of the experience is where I would have preferred to be for long, as I felt like I experienced more of the area right in one little spot than on any other part of the trip.
We spent 32 minutes here and I could have spent 2 hours!
Dolphins Ahoy before Docking at Coquina Beach
During our trip, Sailor had barked a few times, and supposedly when he barks there are dolphins in the surrounding water.
But we really didn’t have dolphin sightings until we took off from Longboat Key and began our short journey to the boat ramp at Coquina Beach.
The sailor began barking and low and behold, another boat opposite us stopped too!
Dolphins, not more than a quick glance that I hardly captured, but 3 at one time!
We docked, grabbed our stuff, and vacated the boat as another group was waiting on our heels to tour!
Our trip was complete with a dolphin sighting, fun at the sandbar, sand dollars to keep, and a quick overview of the area.
Things You Want To Know About The AMI Boat Tour
I will call it an eco boat tour on Anna Maria Island because of the following:
- there are no guaranteed offers for dolphin sightings (the operator is NOT hunting them and if they do appear, she stops the boat and watches from afar.
- There is no food thrown at the animals and our Captain gave us a lot of info about their lifestyle and how they seem to be changing, etc.
- our tour shared the fact that by the Tides Table Restaurant and Marina, there is often wildlife that they assist, heal and return to the wild, so again helping the sanctuary, not taking from the sanctuary
- descriptions of wildlife, how the particular species affects the ecosystem, and the cycle of life, etc. all were part of our trip but never to the point of in our face too scientific, just a nice dusting of: here is what you are seeing and here is why you are seeing it.
- at no point in time were we speeding through the waters or casting lines to fish.
- the live sea life that we captured was maintained in an aerator then she shared with us what we captured.
- before we set it back into motion it was delicately (not dumped) returned to the sea.
- What we kept was not alive or it would not come with us, and the area then was no worse for the wear.
- We experienced living things in their own environment, and observed them from the boat
- Our full takeaway was a better understanding of the living from mangroves to dolphin nurseries
You’ll Want To Exerpience 1 Of The Best Anna Maria Boat Trips
I can’t wait to go back to Anna Maria Island and I will be going back with Captain Katie you definitely want to take your family on this experience too!
The price is currently $30 a person for a 2-hour tour and that is just too little for what you take away.
Katie is a local and knows her stuff inside and out, and at all times you will experience this.
The tour is a 2nd generation-run business, as her mother also works as Captain Kathe, so supports women in business.
Ladies, if you make the reservations for your family vacation, follow it up with a reservation here!
If the guys are going golfing in Bradenton, schedule this for you and the kids! It is family-oriented and as informative as you want it to be.
See you on the sandbar! ~ Dana XO
Dana Vento is an award-winning travel and food writer who loves uncomplicated adventures.