We love to visit Longboat Key. We recently spent a few weeks there hanging out on the beach and taking in gorgeous sunsets every night. The only problem with this area, is little to no services are available for cruisers with no car. That’s where Anna Maria comes in. There is a dinghy dock (free) at Brandenton Beach. Just below the Cortez Bridge there’s a fishing pier (currently under construction). The dinghy dock not only gives you land access, it has trash and recycling receptacles and fresh water can be found on the pier. There are mens/womens restrooms on the pier as well as a shower with hot water. These are free for your use, but of questionable cleanliness.
The anchorage at Brandenton Beach is to be avoided in our opinion. It’s full of derelict boats and possibly some derelict people as well. Shady looking group of liveaboards and local vagrants hang out here. It’s much nicer to anchor at Longbeach, on the north end of Longboat Key. The dinghy ride to BB is two miles. Anna Maria runs a FREE trolley that will take you to Publix or Walgreens. The trolley stop is two blocks from the dinghy dock. Perfect!
As you can see, there are two options. The anchorage near the restaurants is the preferred one. It is sometimes crowded though, especially in season. If you are forced to chose the Jewfish Key area, beware of strong current that flows through from Longboat Pass. The open area between Longboat and Jewfish has swinging room for a small freighter, but man the current is wicked.
Entering the anchorage from the ICW can be slighty tricky. There is severe shoaling just off the channel which has been marked with floating buoys. Do not try to shortcut this area. Stay well inside the markers until you approach Jewfish Key before turning west. Plenty of water inside, and the holding is good. The beach is a quick dinghy ride and weekends feature large gatherings of locals on a sandbar inside the Pass. It’s just a fun place to hangout and the sunsets are incredible. We even saw our very first Green Flash.
The water was nice and clear while we were there. There were plenty of dolphins and even a few manatee to entertain us as well. Happy Hour at Moore’s Stone Crab is 4 to 6. Eat in the bar not the dining room. Happy Hour at Mar Vista is from 4 to 7, but only applies at the bar itself. (important info there)
This is a recommended stop for anyone traveling the west coast of Florida. Don’t pass it up.