Coquina Beach is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever visited in Florida. I want to share 10 amazing experiences you can have there too. Here’s 1 reason:
And don’t worry, I’ve got a lot of other sunset photos I’ve compiled after visiting this beach for years that you’ll also see here.
My history with this location and why it’s important:
This location is very special to me because I have been visiting it and enjoying the 10 activities I will be laying out for you, for years. Since I was 6, I would visit Florida anywhere from several weeks to even a whole month with my grandfather. And every time we would visit, this location would be the one we would most frequently check out.
And while we did also explore MANY other beaches along the gulf coast, Coquina remained number 1 for us, because of the 10 reasons I’ll give you. Sadly, my grandfather passed away several years ago, but I kept up the tradition in visiting this place every time I would come down to Florida.
Every time I am there, the nostalgia of the adventures I would have there with my grandfather come flooding back to me and I want to share with you all the awesome experiences this place has to offer…
This particular spot is in my opinion great for the following people (everyone actually):
- People who enjoy scenic experiences and just want to relax.
- People who enjoy adventures (jet skiing, scuba diving, parasailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, ect…).
- People who enjoy seeing sea animals (it’s quite safe there).
- People who enjoy sunsets (See more sunset pictures below).
- People who want to spend a relaxing, fun time with their families.
- People who enjoy great food and restaurants near the water (there are plenty of those here).
- People who enjoy scenic drives on the coast. I assure you, this place has that too!
- People who enjoy partying on sandbars (yep this location has it too).
But these actually aren’t the official reasons I wanted to give you to visit this spot. They will be coming up very shortly though.
Where is Coquina Beach located? Here is the map:
This place is accessible from 2 roads, both of which offer their own scenic views (which I’ll get into). But I prefer sticking to the area (green) where there’s less people and more peace. Here is the map location.
It is located in Bradenton Florida, on the gulf coast side of the state, specifically in Manatee County.
Bradenton is very well known, but it is near Sarasota if you need reference
10 reasons why Coquina is one of best beaches in the gulf coast of Florida:
10) It is very peaceful in most of the area.
I personally do not like any spot that has large crowds and areas where swimming and enjoying the nature is hard.
Usually most of the better known spots in the gulf area (like Siesta Key, Turtle Beach and others) have too many large crowds and I find it’s difficult to listen to the waves and enjoy the scenery. Here however, this is not a problem, especially if you get to this spot early.
But if you are the sort of person who loves crowds, this place has it too, just nearby (which is number 9).
The walk from the parking area to the water is extremely short and there is a forest in most of the areas there where you can hide from the sun in if it gets too hold or dangerous.
Overall, one of my favorite memories is sitting on the beach early in the morning or around sunset and enjoying the scenery there. It’s very peaceful.
And this picture basically shows how few people there are in this location (which I love!). While weekdays are usually the best times to visit this location, even on weekends, you will find that there aren’t that many people either, except when there’s a holiday.
9) Anna Maria Island.
This is the spot most people who visit this location go to. Anna Maria also has it’s own beaches and entertainment areas.
8) You’ll find lots of beautiful wildlife in Coquina.
Now I know most people will probably think of sharks when I say wildlife, but as far as I know, Coquina has had VERY few sightings over all the years I’ve been there. The reason why is because there are many dolphins there which are known to keep sharks away.
You’ll also find manatees (I’ve had numerous run ins with them, they are very peaceful), sting rays, manta rays, all sorts of wild birds, and more. Here’s an actual encounter I had in 2016 with some (manatees):
I’m not recommending you touch them if you see them, nor would I recommend you disturb the wildlife, but as you can see, there’s lots of opportunities to get close to these beautiful animals (of course, be safe).
7) The sunsets.
It’s obviously true that you will have beautiful sunsets in just about any beach in Florida, but with all the other things I have come to enjoy about this spot, adding an unforgettable sunset only makes it better.
Before camera phones, I used to take pictures with old school cameras and I still have a shoe box filled with old pictures of sunsets I used to take when I would visit this spot many years ago.
And here’s some more:
And more Coquina beach sunset photos:
And keep in mind, all these sunset photos were taken during different dates. It just shows how amazing it is here. I just wish I could show you the photos I had before camera phones came around. They were also amazing, but here are others I’ve taken on my phone:
Now you do have to “time” the sunsets in this region, because they won’t always be this beautiful. Sometimes cloudy or stormy days can prevent sights like these and there are also times where these very same conditions open up enough space for the sunset to set in a way that’ll create the kinds of photos you see.
6) Water activities.
You will find PLENTY of that. On the actual beach itself, you obviously have the ability to option to swim, play volleyball and when there’s conditions for it, you can even surf and do body boarding. But Coquina is itself on a long island and on the other side of it is a bay which has many activities you can enjoy. As I mentioned earlier:
Jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving, fishing, partying on a large sand bar and island hopping with boats, kayaks and so on. And speaking of Kayaking, if you’re in this area, 30 minutes away, you’ll find a place called St. Petersberg, where there are AWESOME kayaking trails like these.
5) Let’s talk about the bay for a moment…
While most people enjoy the relaxing nature in Coquina, if you really want to party and enjoy outdoor activities, the Bay on the other end of the beach is where you’ll want to go. Here is a map and personal places I’ve checked and explored that you can too:
- 1 This is the sandbar area. The whole circle I put up is a place that many boats and people stop at and party in. I kayaked here, got off on the sandbar and walked around quite a bit. It’s very enjoyable here.
- 2 and 3 are spots where you can rent boats, kayaks, jet skis, mopeds, and more.
- 4 is Leffis Key.
- 5 is a scenic area you can paddle board or kayak to. It has small islands that are spectacular to view.
- 6 is pretty much the same as 5 but it is known to have more wildlife like manatees there.
- 7 is an area further north of the bay that has other beautiful views, one of which is Skyway Bridge in the distance.
- 8 is an island you can see while driving on the bridge from Coquina, but it is accessible on boat or kayaks. And you can stop there and enjoy scenic walks or even camp out and have a party there.
Now I did list the activities you can do and most of them you’ll be able to do here. I have jet skied, paddle boarded and kayaked across many spots on this map and I have to say, if you want the most freedom, rent a kayak (there’s several spots along the beach where you can do this).
You can legally go through most of the places in the bay with a kayak, whereas with a jet ski, there are many restrictions, no wake areas and wildlife refugee areas that you can’t go on a jet ski with, but with a kayak you can (or paddle board).
4) Leffis Key.
Leffis Key is a park right on the other end of the beach, which has great, short scenic walks and great views of the bay. You can also see a lot of wildlife, ranging from crabs, different types of birds and other sea life.
3) Longboat Key.
If there is one scenic drive I do over and over again when I’m in Florida, it’s Longboat Key. Heading south from Coquina, this path takes about a good 30-40 minutes to cover and on it, you’ll see plenty of other beaches, resorts, restaurants and more.
I personally recommend renting a moped and going through it on that and stopping off at St. Armand’s Circle, an entertainment spot at the end of Longboat Key where you will find plenty of shops, restaurants and entertainment spots (as well as other bays and spots to swim, such as Lido Park).
2) Beautiful resorts are all along the Coquina area.
If you reserve it early, you can stay at one of the many beautiful hotels, motels and resort locations that are on the road all along Coquina Beach. If you can’t find anything or it’s all filled up, I would recommend either checking spots in Anna Maria Island or on Longboat Key.
1) Entertainment is everywhere in the Coquina area.
There’s a lot of restaurants on this island and other things such as marinas, mini golf, tourist stores, ice cream shops and SO much more.
Like I have said before, I’ve visited many beaches on the gulf coast and I will make a list of the most beautiful areas I have seen, but if you’re in Sarasota or Bradenton, Coquina is a must see and in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful spots on the gulf coast of Florida!