Coming from an unforgettable trip to lovely Key West and the remote yet jaw-dropping Dry Tortugas National Park, we moved on to visit the beaches of Siesta and Brandenton, a 3.5 hours drive west of Miami.
We finally stepped on Siesta Beach after moving around the huge parking lot for 15 minutes trying to find a spot. One doesn’t have to pay for any parking fees here but since the beach is magnificent and it is insanely crowded, the parking lots are always full so arriving early in the morning is highly suggested. This beach has been adjudged as the #1 beach in the U.S.A. in 2011 by Dr. Beach.
The entrance area has shower and changing rooms, drinks/food dispenser and picnic tables and benches.
We spotted some security personnel on horses.
We only brought in a very unique nylon beach mat from the Philippines and we settled ourselves one crowd row away from the shore. Can you spot me sitting on the mat with a white cap and blue shorts?
This is how crowded the beach was. As you can also see the water appears crystal clear and the white sand looks sugar-fine.
Indeed this beach is unique. Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach’s sand is 99% quartz. Even on the hottest days, the sand is so reflective that it feels cool underfoot. It’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach on Siesta Key is millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachians and flowing down the rivers from the mountains until it eventually was deposited on the shores of Siesta Key.
Here are more photos of the beach.
This is me just sitting on our unique beach mat from the Philippines with the busy crowd as background.
That is my beloved wife after taking a swim in the gorgeous waters.
This beach proved to be really magnificent but disappointingly crowded. We promise we’d be back someday hoping there would be lesser crowd or we would try to base ourselves farther from the crowd either to the left or right side of the main entrance.
From Siesta Beach we drove up north to Bradenton Beach in Ana Maria Island. Compared to Siesta this place proved to be less spectacular based on the beach sand and water clarity. What it lacked on the whiteness and fineness of its beach sand were easily covered up by the amazing choices of the dining places especially during sunset time.
The beach is wider and less crowded. I did not even see people swimming on the beach.
This was taken from the Beach House restaurant where we checked in to have dinner watching as the sun would disappear into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.
As we waited for our table to be ready, we walked unto the shore and took some photos.
A very nice and somewhat tipsy lady offered to take a snapshot of my wife and me.
As we waited for our dinner to be served, we enjoyed the scenery around the al fresco and seaside area of the restaurant.
Sunsets are amazing and our sunset experience here in Bradenton Beach would become one of the best we ever had.
The restaurant ran a sort of a contest for all its customers to guess what time exactly would the sun actually disappear from the horizon. I did not win. Someone else did.
Ahhhh we were just amazed at the breathtaking sunset unfolding before our eyes.
Indeed it was a a day well spent. A few more minutes after the sun had set, we drove back to our base station in Fort Lauderdale to prepare for our flight the next day back to New York.