cocquina beach in brandenton florida 01

10 Best Things to do in Coquina Beach Florida

For over 20 years I have visited Coquina Beach in Florida and let me tell you, it is in my opinion the best one in the whole state because of the 12 activities I’ll be showing to you here.

Obviously Florida has many beautiful beaches and I’ve been to many of them (most in the Gulf), but in my opinion what makes Coquina Beach so special (among personal reasons) is that it has a great combination of mixed activities very close together, and unlike other Florida Beaches and popular areas, it isn’t as crowded during most of the year!

The 10 best activities to check out in Coquina Beach Florida:

  1. The actual Coquina Beach (I’ll show you the least crowded spots).
  2. Check out Anna Maria Island.
  3. Check out the wildlife all across the beach.
  4. Make sure to catch a Coquina Beach sunset!
  5. Make sure to try kayaking and other water sports there.
  6. Check out the Bay on the other side of Coquina Beach.
  7. Explore Leffis Key Park.
  8. Do the scenic drive on road 789 (to Longboat Key).
  9. Check out the Bridge Street Pier (and restaurants there).
  10. Make sure to check out the Coquina Beach Market.

All of these activities you can try in Coquina Beach are excellent for anyone (families, and especially couples).

Why Coquina Beach is so special for me:

cocquina beach florida beautiful sunset photo 04

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, Coquina Beach would be the place we’d visit most (literally every single morning and sometimes around sunset, on the same day).

Some of my most treasured family and nature memories come from this spot. Sadly, my grandfather passed away years ago, but I kept up the tradition in visiting Coquina Beach every time I visit 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.

Details on all 10 activities to try in Coquina Beach FL:

Aside from my personal reasons for loving Coquina Beach, here’s everything else you need to know about this place:

Explore the actual Coquina Beach:

where to find coquina beach in brandenton 02

Obviously most people who visit this area do it to explore the beach itself. The truth is that Coquina Beach is very long and there are many places you can stay at there.

I’ve included a map with the exact spot I’d always go to during my endless visits to it. This is usually where I see the least crowds (I am often the only one in this area for most of the AM hours). And frankly, I have to say that unless there’s a weekend or popular holiday, you will rarely find tons of crowds on Coquina Beach, and it’s one of the reasons I love this place so much.

The area I stay at though, aside from being peaceful is very comfortable with a parking lot only about 70 feet away and trees for shade are also close by. You will also find some picnic and BBQ areas right by the parking lot there. Coquina Beach does have more official and larger parking areas but this one is typically one of the least crowded I’ve seen when I visit. The most popular area here is Coquina Beach cafe:

coquina beach cafe map screenshot 02

Despite my recommendation to go to the spot I personally like, if you like to visit beaches where you have more accomodations like food, tables and bathrooms, then you’ll want to check out Coquina Beach Cafe.

Just a note on bathrooms, there are at least 2-3 spots across the beach to access, but the closest ones by the beach are near the cafe. It’s a 2 minute drive from the spot I stay at but this is where most people who visit Coquina Beach stay at and it’s why I personally avoid it unless I want to get some snacks.

Overall if you enjoy sitting at a table with a palm tree shade overlooking you and you don’t mind crowds and possibly a lot of noise, then this is a great spot to check out. Just as well, this is also the area with the largest parking lot to Coquina Beach and there are also even more picnic and BBQ tables there, so if the cafe isn’t available to you, these are good secondary options to check out.

Explore all of Anna Maria Island (hotels, cafes, and much more):

anna maria island near coquina beach

Anna Maria Island is the long island on which you will find Coquina Beach. In addition to that though, there are several other beaches if you head further north:

  • Bradenton Beach (next door to Coquina Beach). I used to mistake it for Coquina Beach.
  • Holmes Beach (north after Bradenton Beach).

There are also 2 other beaches further north but aside from that, the further north you go on Anna Maria Island, the more hotels, restaurants, piers and tourist spots you will find.

See the beautiful wildlife in Coquina Beach:

cocquina beach florida manatee sighting 02

Now I know most people will probably think of sharks when I say wildlife, but as far as I know, Coquina Beach has had very few sightings over all the years I’ve been there.

You may often find 5 types of sea animals in Coquina Beach:

  1. Dolphins (I’ve seen them many times).
  2. Stingrays (I’ve even seen a giant manta ray one or twice).
  3. Many different fish obviously.
  4. Sea turtles (there used to be hatching events on this very beach).
  5. Manatees (I’ve had several encounters with them and even added a photo of one of those).

There is a flag system in Coquina Beach and if there are any dangerous animals, you will see a purple flag raised, but for the above 3 I have never personally seen that flag color show up, most of the time it’s green (safe).

The sunsets in Coquina Beach are something else:

cocquina beach florida sunset photo 01

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. I’ve seen amazing sunsets like in Gros Morne National Park and the west coast, specifically across the Pacific Coast Highway, but to this day, the sunsets at Coquina Beach are some of my top ones.

I’ll be adding a few more as this post progresses, because over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to witnessing more than a few of them! 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:

bradenton beach sunset one of the best in florida 01

Now you do have to “time” the sunsets in this region, because they won’t always be this beautiful. My advice is to come here between the fall and summer seasons (before August). 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.

There are many water sports available at Coquina Beach too:

jet ski coquina beach 02

Here are just some of the many popular water spots you can try in and around Coquina Beach and the greater Anna Maria Island:

  • Jet skiing (I’ve done it many times in Coquina Beach).
  • Kayaking (tried that a few times, it was great).
  • Paddle boarding (I did that at the bay around Coquina Beach, it was awesome).
  • Scuba diving.
  • Fishing.
  • Parasailing.
  • 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.

See the beautiful bay east of Coquina Beach:

map of what to do in coquina beach bradenton florida 01

Now aside from exploring Coquina Beach through the many water sports that are available, I highly recommend checking out the bay which is on the eastern side of Anna Maria Island! Just being able to ride jet skis, kayaks and boats would be boring if it was in open water and there was nothing to see. Thankfully, Coquina Beach and the bay next to it has plenty of exotic spots to explore, including the ones I’ve labeled on the map below:

Spot 1 on the map is a 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.

coquina beach sandbar area 03

Spots 2 and 3: These are areas where you can rent boats, kayaks, jet skis, mopeds, and more (Bradenton Beach Marina and Cortez Waterspots are 2 places I’ve tried so far and liked).

Spot 4 is Leffis Key: A very beautiful and small park.

Spot 5: Is a scenic area where you can paddle board or kayak to. It has small islands that are spectacular to view.

Spot 6: Is pretty much the same as spot 5 but it is known to have more wildlife like manatees there.

Spot 7: is an area further north of the bay that has other beautiful views, one of which is Skyway Bridge in the distance.

Spot 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.

See Leffis Key Park Preserve:

leffis key at coquina beach 02

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.

I’ve been to this small park a few times and there is a boardwalk around the area but there are some trails you can check out too. There are even mangrove trees encircling the park you can see. If you like these types of places (other than beaches), see this list of exotic places in Florida, as it has a lot to showcase!

=Do the scenic drive along road 789 (from Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key):

longboat key in sarasota 03

If there is one scenic drive I do over and over again when I’m in Florida, it’s Longboat Key. Heading south from Anna Maria Island and Coquina Beach, this road takes about a good 30-40 minutes to cover and on it, you’ll see plenty of other beaches, resorts, restaurants and more. Into scenic drives? Here are plenty across North America.

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).

Check out the Bridge Street Pier (more restaurants, scenic spots and hotels):

pier near coquina beach 03

Bridge Street Pier is an excellent spot to explore after you check out Coquina Beach as it’s a few minutes away from it. It provides you access to a lot of things to see and try including food, numerous restaurants, rentals for water spots, mopeds (and much more). And overall the actual Pier you can walk on is beautiful to check out during sunset. I’ve been to that pier twice and each time I prefer going there around sunset. There is a good fast food place on that very pier too grab some seafood at.

Visit the Coquina Beach market:

coquina beach market new 02

Even though I’ve explored so much of Coquina Beach, I was surprised to learn that there is an event called the Coquina Beach market there which you can check out twice a week (usually between spring and autumn on this beach). I’ve included a link to the event but overall you can buy foods directly from farmers there while enjoying the beach activities. It’s a very popular event which is right by the Coquina Beach Cafe (on the walkway between the parking lot and beach, you’ll easily see it) so it’s another reason why you may want to go there (or avoid it since it’s even more popular when the market event happens).

Questions about Coquina Beach answered:

Can you swim at Coquina Beach?

Yes, most of the beach areas across the beach are accessible to swimmers.

Does Coquina Beach have sharks?

On rare occasions sharks have been spotted in Coquina Beach, but you’re more likely to encounter dolphins, manatees and stingrays.

Does Coquina Beach have free parking?

Most of the parking spots on Coquina beach are free.

bradenton beach clear water 01

Fun fact: There is another place called Coquina Beach NC

While it has the same name, I would say the Coquina Beach in FL is a lot better in all regards than the Coquina Beach in NC, but that particular state does have a beautiful shoreline too (not as good as Florida), but it’s worth going to this specific beach if you’re there.

Aside from this, thank you for checking out this post on what to do in Coquina Beach FL and if you have any other suggestions of what to see there, I am happy to know more about it! Other than this, if you have further questions about this beach, ask me below!

Similar Posts


  1. I am 66 years old and grew up on the north end of Longboat Key. You should look into the history of this indeed gorgeous area. For example in the area just north of Coquina Beach, known to locals as “Twin Piers”, had 2 city blocks that were washed into the Gulf of Mexico through various hurricanes, cold fronts, and unnamed lows that would pop up practically overnight. Also, there was a real haunted house right after one got off the Cortez Bridge. And the old school fishing village of Cortez, wow. I could explain about how we would water ski in front of Moore Restaurant. It was a childhood not many experienced.

    1. Hi Michael thanks for sharing your history with Coquina beach and Longboat key! I am interested in learning more about these areas you mentioned the next time I visit, but I’m going to avoid that haunted house 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *