Holmes Beach is a small city that occupies the heart of Anna Maria Island on the Gulf of Mexico coast in the Manatee County of the US State of Florida. Holmes Beach is bordered by the cities of Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach to the north and south, respectively. Holmes Beach is one of Anna Maria Island’s three municipalities and forms part of the “Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice Metropolitan Statistical Area.”
The city of Holmes Beach covers 4.9 sq. km, of which 0.60 sq. km is occupied by water and 4.4 sq. km is occupied by land. As per the recent census, about 3,010 people live in the city of Holmes Beach. The city has a population density of 692.50 inhabitants per sq. km. The neighboring bayside island of Key Royale is also included in the city limits. Key Royale remained uninhabited until 1960, and development commenced only after a bridge was constructed to connect Key Royale with Anna Maria Island’s Holmes Beach section.
Like all the other cities on Anna Maria Island, the city of Holmes Beach also provides access to the island’s many well-known white, sandy beaches. The Manatee Public Beach is the most popular of these beaches and offers several recreational activities for its visitors. The Holmes Beach also serves as a favorite destination for those who need a relaxing gateway. Some of Anna Maria Island’s most popular rental homes, resorts, and vacation stays are situated in the city of Holmes Beach that provides accommodation for the visitors. In addition to this, there are many mouth-watering restaurants such as the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, Island Coffee Haus, Beach Bistro, Holy Cow Ice Cream, etc., in Holmes Beach. The city also hosts several shops and boutiques like the Sun & Surf Beach Shop, Westcoast Surf Shop, etc., where the visitors can buy anything from jewelry, home decor, souvenirs, and many more. The tourists can also visit the Island Gallery West and the Bob Brown Art to experience the city’s local art scene.
It is believed that the Bradenton region was originally inhabited by several ancient Native American tribes that consisted of fishers, warriors, and farmers. In 1539, Hernando Desoto arrived in the area and enslaved a major portion of the Native American population. In 1896, Sam and Annie Cobb first homesteaded a 0.65 sq. km area in the central part of Anna Maria Island that eventually developed into the present-day Holmes Beach. John R. Jones and Jose Casanas soon joined the Cobbs. In 1897, Anna Maria Cobb – the daughter of Sam and Annie Cobb was born in Holmes Beach and became the first official “non-Native” to be born on the island. In 1902, the first post office was established on the island in the home of the Cobbs. In 1948, an airstrip was built for small commercial aircraft to arrive and depart from the island during the tourist season. Although the Cobbs were the initial settlers of the area, the city was named after the property developer John E. Holmes, Sr., who settled on Anna Maria Island after the Second World War and is largely responsible for the island’s massive expansion. On March 13, 1950, the city of Holmes Beach was incorporated, and Halsey T. Tichenor served as its first mayor. In 1952, the Manatee County Public Beach located at the junction of Gulf Drive and Manatee Avenue was opened. The adjacent subdivision communities of Casanas, Ilexhurst, and Jones were annexed to Holmes Beach in 1954 and slowly, the entire Anna Maria Island were brought under the jurisdiction of the municipal governments. Due to the excessive-high maintenance cost, the airstrip that was initially built had to be closed down in 1973. The land on which the airport was built was redeveloped by the municipal government between 1975 and 1980.