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Birthday Bliss: Renting a boat on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island

renting a boat on anna mariaMy birthday (aka “Amyfest 2012”) just happened to be last weekend. But the birthday was the least important part of the week; the most important part was that my dear friend Shannon was coming to visit from New York City (the best birthday present ever!). Now, what do you do when a friend from out of town visits? Well, we beached it on Anna Maria Island for a day, did some shopping down Pine Ave. and lunched at the fantastic Waterfront Restaurant. Had an awesome day, but I thought if I wanted to show my friend what our area really had to offer, I had to get her out on the water. We’ve rented a boat in the past and it is literally life changing. Unfortunately, my family does not own a boat (not yet!), but — no worries! — just because you don’t own a boat doesn’t mean you can’t go boating. Just rent a boat! And I know just the place…Cannons!
boat rental at cannons marina
For people who have never boated before, don’t be scared to rent a boat! It’s no big deal. At Cannons, they give you a map, explain the mile markers and suggest some places you might want to visit. They also make sure they have your cell phone number so they can call you if you need to head back because a storm is approaching. And if you have a problem, you can always call them.
Enjoying renting a boat on Anna Maria IslandIt’s super easy (and not too pricey) to rent a boat at Cannons. Half-day prices start at $160. Not bad, right? (Check out the boat sizes and prices here.) I checked out a few other places for Sarasota and Anna Maria boat rentals, but Cannons still has the best deals…and nicest boats, Grady-White, Scout and Southwind boats – we’re talking the cream of the crop! If you’re gonna be out on a boat for one day, do it in style!We called Cannons the day before and they had plenty of boats to choose from. We selected the 24-foot Southwind deck boat, the perfect boat for cruising around, stopping to swim and enjoying the fun and sun (which was our exact plans for the day).
Getting the boat was easy. Cannons’ boat rentals start at 8am, so if you can get up and get out early, it’s the best time to be out on the water, and usually when you will spot some wildlife like dolphins or manatees. We came into the Ship’s Store and they had the contract and boat all ready. We signed the papers, got some ice for our cooler and were on our merry way.We got off around 9:30, which happens to be very early for me…especially on my birthday! Corey from Cannons helped us get on the boat and he answered all of our questions and made sure my three-year-old daughter, Olive, was wearing her life jacket (as all children 6 and under are required to wear a life jacket while the boat is in operation.) So we were all set up and ready to go!Egmont Key ruins
We cruised by the Sister Islands and went out the Longboat Pass to the Gulf then over to Egmont Key. Our best wildlife spotting happened when we anchored at Egmont and saw a huge Leopard Ray in the very clear water off the bow of the boat. We walked around a bit on
boat picnic on anna maria island boat rentalEgmont (gorgeous shells!) and then went back to the boat and headed toward Anna Maria where we saw a large group of boats anchored on a sand bar between Egmont and Bean Point. Maybe a good place to swim? Hmm…we couldn’t see a lot of clothing on these people…maybe because we were too far away? No, all was revealed when we pulled up next to two boats named “Grin and Bare It” and “Freedom”…yes, this was the nudie hangout. Hey, I’m all for it but my three-year-old daughter seemed a little confused (“Mommy, where are their bathing suits?”) So, we didn’t stop to swim, but it gave us a good story!
We saw another large group of boats anchored around Jewfish Key – and these people were wearing swimsuits. So, we anchored, enjoyed some swimming and had a little picnic on the boat.
I have to say, it was a great birthday. My friend from NYC had a great day; birthday girl had a great day. The Hubs was happy and Olive was only moderately whiney. Fun was had by all. Renting a boat was truly a great idea! Maybe a new birthday tradition? Yes-siree!