304 65th Street
Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island, FL 34217
Mojito Splash Web Site
This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at a private
residence called Mojito Splash in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida.
We rented the house for the week – the third time we have done
this on Anna Maria Island (and the second time we rented through
Anna Maria Island Accommodations.
The pictures on the website are
pretty accurate – although they may want to update the one that
shows a bed that isn’t put together. As before, it was very easy
to deal with Anna Maria Island Accommodations (866-264-2226). We
simply called and told them what property we were interested in and
put a deposit down on credit card. We weren’t able to get our first
choice because we waited too long – we reserved the property only 2
months before; next time we know to reserve earlier.
The house is in a good location. It is a short two-block walk to
the beach, and the beach access is easier than at some locations on
the island. This stretch of 65th Street was between Gulf Drive and
Marina Drive (two main thoroughfares on the island) but was fairly
quiet. The house is mint green in color with white accents – typical
We got to the island too early to check in (which is 4 p.m.) so we
went to the Sandbar Restaurant for lunch (see review below in dining
section). Then we went to the office to pick up our keys. We were
a little early (shortly after 3:30), but they checked and said the
property was ready. It is their custom to give renters a cute
little beach bag with island information, popcorn, coffee, laundry
detergent, and two house keys on little flip-flop key chains. We
drove to the house and went inside. The first thing we did was set
the temperature lower on the air conditioning.
The house was brand new – we believe it had just been finished in
January 2009, and it was built for the rental market. The property
management company told us this house had the same owner as the
house we rented the previous year. The first floor contains an
entry with tile on the floor, a two-car garage (but no remote was
provided so we couldn’t use it), a small storage room, and a room
with a sliding door that contained a ping pong table and opened out
to the pool area.
The main living area is on the second floor, which had tile floors
throughout except for the master bedroom (hardwood floor). There
was one large living area with a beautiful kitchen with marble
counters and stainless appliances. The sink was on an island.
Unfortunately it seemed a previous guest had already broken the
garbage disposal so that could not be used (there was a sign). The
refrigerator was side-by-side with an ice maker. There were plenty
of glasses, plates, and silverware, and some plastic cups as well
for use out by the pool. The dining area contained a very long
table that looked like it seated 10.
The living area had a
comfortable couch and loveseat and a large flat-screen TV. There
was a ceiling fan in the living area. The walls throughout the
house were painted yellow and all the windows had blinds on them.
Of course there were was the requisite “beachy” décor and signs
throughout, which is what one would expect of a rental such as
this. We noted a lot of marble was used – even on all of the
windowsills. The stereo system had speakers throughout the house.
There was a half bath on the main living level with opened into the
laundry room. There were a couple large walk-in closets. The
master bedroom is on the main level in the front of the house. It
had a king-size bed, one night table, dresser, and flat-screen TV.
The furniture was Tommy Bahama style. There was also a closet with
sliding doors and plenty of space. The master bedroom opens out to
a balcony on the front of the house with a ceiling fan and two
chairs and a table.
The master bath was spacious and beautiful.
The double vanity had a marble top and plenty of space underneath.
The walk-in shower was double size. There was a long whirlpool tub
that we could both fit in comfortably.
On the top (third level) is a second master bedroom with a king-size
bed and flat screen TV. The en-suite bathroom had one sink in the
vanity and a double walk-in shower (but no tub). There was another
large walk-in closet. Also on this level were two bedrooms with
queen-size beds, a hall bath with a tub/shower combination, and a
small bedroom with a trundle bed. The house was very clean. The
ventilation system is dual-zone with controls on both the third and
The house really was beautiful. Our main complaint is that there
are no individual instructions for the house. They were an awful
lot of switches and we couldn’t figure out easily; it would have
been nice if there were labels on the switches since this was a
rental house. We couldn’t get the lights to turn on in the living
area and then we discovered they weren’t plugged in and one didn’t
even have a light bulb in it! We didn’t figure out where the pool
lights were until our last day (they were in the room with the ping
pong table). As in previous rental houses, the supplies are
somewhat bare-bones. There were plenty of towels at this house
(including decent beach towels), but guests get one roll of toilet
paper per bathroom, one roll of paper towels, and only one trash
bag. Our solution was to go to the local supermarket and get more
toilet paper, disposable plastic cups and paper plates, and use the
plastic supermarket bags as trash bags.
There was a balcony off of the main living area that contained a
table and four chairs and steps down to the pool area.
area is stunning. There is a covered area that contains a tiki bar
and six stools. In the tiki bar are a counter-height refrigerator,
which came in handy. There is also a bar sink. There was an
icemaker as well, but it was not functional. Mounted on the wall
in this area was a flat-screen TV that you could see from the bar
or the pool. Again, there were no instructions regarding the TV;
we couldn’t find a remote and Keith finally figured out the controls
were on top of the TV.
The pool had lots of tropical landscaping
around it – almost too much as things were constantly dropping into
the water and we were vigilant with trying to keep it clean. There
is a shallow entry area to the pool and you can put chairs in there
and dangle your feet in the water. There was a tile decoration in
the pool of a bikini top and flip-flops.
It was a free-form pool
with two waterfalls and one bench. It would have been nice if there
had been another bench as the one that was there was right in front
of a waterfall.
The hot tub is raised above the pool and has a
bench going around it. The remote for the hot tub is $100 extra
but it’s worth it. We generally used the hot tub at night.
We had major issues with the pool. When we first got there and
looked down at it from the balcony, it was clear there was a
problem as it was green. We could see the pool next door and that
one was blue. We thought perhaps the pool was painted a light green
but we noted there was a lot of debris floating in it. There was
also a pool vacuum attached which was disappointing, as the
instructions said to not detach it. When we went in the pool we
could tell the vacuum was not working; in fact, the pool seemed to
be on the dirty side. Later that night we wanted to use the hot tub
and it just didn’t seem to work. Although it was late, we called
the emergency number for the property management company and told
them something was seriously wrong with the pool. He promised to
have the pool company come out the following morning.
The pool dude showed up around 10 a.m. Sunday and took one look at
the pool and said we were right to call. He said they had been
having issues with this pool. He asked us if we could leave for a
couple hours and he’d fix things, so we went out to lunch. When we
came back it looked a lot better and by later that day it was
completely different – and was blue. Unfortunately, we had some
issues later in the week and had to call again. We ended up seeing
the pool dude several times. He was funny and friendly and since we
were somewhat knowledgeable about keeping water clean (having a spa
at home) he would leave some chemicals with us and ask us to do a
few things. Note that the day we checked out he and his partner
planned to partially empty the pool and make things right.
We had breakfast at the house several days (used the Smart Ones
frozen breakfast sandwiches) and got sandwich fixings for lunch.
The first night we wanted to relax at the house so we simply made
a frozen pizza (we figured we’d be going out for enough meals).
As mentioned above, there was that great tiki bar in the pool
area, and having a refrigerator to store beverages in was wonderful.
As before, the people at Anna Maria Island Accommodations are
very friendly. We felt bad about having to call them late at night
a couple times because of the pool but they were responsive and
handled the issue.
Anna Maria Island is located 1 hour southwest of Tampa and 30
minutes southwest of St. Petersburg. The island is divided into 3
the City of Anna Maria in the north, Holmes Beach in the middle, and
Bradenton Beach at the bottom. It is very easy to drive around the
island, as you are never more than a few minutes away from anywhere
you want to go.
There is also a trolley system that apparently has
expanded service and now goes down to the beautiful public Coquina
Beach down on the south end of the island. There are miles of
beautiful beaches and the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There
are several well-maintained public beaches with good facilities.
There are also deserted beaches. Vacationers can rent boats, go on
boating excursions, go fishing, and countless other water-oriented
We really just wanted to relax, and had no plans other than to
enjoy beautiful weather and read by the pool, as well as having
some good dinners. We managed to do all of that!
Sandbar - 100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria, FL 34216 941-778-0444
Sandbar's Web Site
We’ve been to the Sandbar every time we’ve been to Anna Maria. We
went there for lunch when we first got to the island. Sitting on
their covered deck overlooking a beautiful stretch of beach and that
lovely aqua water is a great way to start a visit. We kept it
simple. They have great burgers there and that’s what we got –
along with Corona. It was our way of getting ourselves on island
time. It’s a great, scenic place to go for dinner as well; we
recommend going to one of the beach-front restaurants as that’s
what this place is all about.
Rotten Ralph’s - 200 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217 941-778-1604
Rotten Ralph's Web Site
Rotten Ralph’s now has two locations. We had been to their original
location, on the marina in Anna Maria, years ago, but just for a
drink. When we saw they had a new location on the water we decided
to check it out. Their new location is at the end of Bridge Street
and juts out into the bay. We went there for lunch and ate outside
on the deck. Unfortunately, it was a very hot day (95 degrees) so
even though we were under an umbrella, we were sweating. Tip: if
you go there and eat outside, ask for a table under the covered
section where they are ceiling fans to move the air around. Keith
had a chicken sandwich and fries for lunch, and Lori had shrimp
salad (two generous scoops). Keith had some beer and Lori had
white wine. We hadn’t been too impressed with their original
location (which is why we didn’t eat there) so we ended up being
pleasantly surprised by their new location. It was nice sitting
out on the water and enjoying a leisurely lunch (even though it was
hot). We went back later in the week and had breakfast. Lori had
scrambled egg substitute and hash browns (they do their hash browns
with peppers). Keith ordered eggs over easy (“dippy eggs”) and the
server thoughtfully mentioned that the cook that day does eggs over
easy where the whites are still runny; did he want them over medium?
Indeed he did and he was grateful she mentioned that. He got to
enjoy his dippy eggs and we had some very good iced tea. One thing
to note: this location of Rotten Ralph’s only serves beer and wine
(not hard liquor), if that matters to you.
Bridgetender Inn - 135 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217 941-778-4849
Bridgetender Inn Web Site
We’ve been to the Bridgetender before. We had a nice dinner there
the previous year and decided to return. It was a hot day and we
ate inside in the air conditioning. They have a decent wine list
that isn’t over-priced so we ordered a bottle of wine (we went for
a nice bottle of Camelot white for $21). It was a chicken night for
Keith – he had the chicken bites in an oriental sauce as an appetizer
and chicken schnitzel as his entrée. Lori had two appetizers for
her dinner: scallops Florentine and shrimp hosea. As always,
decent food at reasonable prices.
Minnie’s Café - 5360 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 941-778-4140
We went to Minnie’s when we visited the island a year earlier. This
is a breakfast and lunch place. It’s decorated in a casual, beachy
style, and the two women who work there are very friendly. On
weekends people wait in line for breakfast at this place, so we went
on a weekday. Be forewarned: the portions are huge. Also, they
don’t accept credit cards. They make the most delicious hash
browns – shredded potatoes, with a nice crispy crust on top. Keith
had a ham and cheese omelet and it looked like it could have fed a
family of four. He said next time he’s going to try something else
that hopefully won’t be so big! Lori had scrambled egg substitute,
and English muffin, and those wonderful hash browns.
Sign of the Mermaid - 9707 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, FL 941-778-9399
Sign of the Mermaid Web Site
This year we decided to finally try this place. We’d read good
things. Reservations are a must – it is not a large restaurant.
Dining here was one of our favorite things about this trip. We
liked it so much we went back three nights later (we made the
reservation on the way out the door). The amazing thing is it
looks so tiny outside but when you go inside, there are several
rooms. The décor is eclectic, sort of shabby chic. Both servers
we had were amazing, really – the service stood out. They accept
credit cards, but you get a 10% discount off your bill if you pay
cash (really, it’s probably more of a 10% penalty to pay by card,
but it’s understandable, as it is a small business and it costs
them to process credit cards).
They have a very large selection
of wines by the glass and on our first visit Lori went with a Third
Wife Chardonnay and Keith had a shiraz. Keith had their special
salad – an amazing mixture of lettuce, pine nuts, fresh mozzarella,
and asiago – topped by a truly spectacular tomato vinaigrette
dressing. It was delicious. The rolls they serve are individually
made and mouth-watering. Keith had their filet for his entrée – it
was one of the largest and best cuts of filet we had ever seen. It
was topped with a gorgonzola cheese sauce. He managed to eat it all
and declared it one of the best steaks he has ever had. Lori went
for two appetizers for her dinner: three sautéed crab cakes with a
house-made heavenly honey mustard dressing, accompanied by a shrimp
appetizer. The crab cakes alone were enough for an entrée.
second visit we split a bottle of wine. Keith again had the special
salad with the tomato dressing. He decided to take a risk and went
with one of the specials of the night – cobia (a kind of fish that
was not unlike mahi mahi) with a sauce suggested by our server. It
was a huge portion of fish and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Lori went
for the lobster thermidor. She figured if anyplace was the place to
get it, this was it, and it was wonderful – the sauce was exactly
what a thermidor should be. We were so full on both occasions that
we did not order dessert. For key lime pie fans, their key lime pie
won a national award. We highly recommend this restaurant. Even
though it is a bit of a “foodie” place the food is not outrageously
expensive, and you get plenty of gourmet cuisine for the money.
Sign of the Mermaid has been awarded a
"best of ..." weloveourlife.com award.
Waterfront Restaurant - 11 South Bay Boulevard, Anna Maria, FL 941-778-1515
Waterfront's Web Site
We’ve had wonderful experiences at this restaurant and were looking
forward to our return visit. They have a large covered front porch
where you can dine and look out on the bay; you can see the Sunshine
Skyway Bridge, St. Petersburg, and Tampa in the distance on a clear
day. We got there around 5 and there was only one table available
outside (last year we had gone at 4:30). People know this place is
good. They also hire excellent servers. We ordered a nicely
chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc. Keith got the Grilled Romaine
salad – they actually brush the ribs of heart romaine with olive
oil and char grill them, and serve it with green apple, crumbled
bacon, and gorgonzola vinaigrette. Lori had the steamed clams with
the garlic cream sauce (she’s had this before – they serve it with
toasted bread for dipping). Keith then had the Pollo Calabrese
(boneless chicken breast stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomato
and goat cheese, seared, roasted and sliced, drizzled with lemon
butter). Lori had the Mediterranean Scallops (jumbo dry pack Maine
sea scallops tossed in Italian breadcrumbs, lightly fried, and
served over the wonderful garlic cream sauce that had accompanied
the scallops). As we were finishing up our dinner, the wind picked
up and we started to see black clouds moving towards us across the
bay. The wind got quite heavy and diners were ushered inside. We’d
never actually eaten inside – it’s extremely nice yet casual. We
took a high-top table in the bar and ordered our dessert – a cheese
plate – and two glasses of Riesling. This place is upscale yet not
ridiculously priced and serves consistently good food in a beautiful
setting with wonderful service. We always highly recommend this
Beach House Restaurant - 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, FL 941-779-2222
Beach House Web Site
This place (sister restaurant to the Sandbar) is a staple and a
must. Honestly, it’s not the best food on the island (see some of
our other reviews) but you go for the scenery and the experience, as
it is right on the beach and is a great place for viewing the sunset.
We went on the early side so we could get a decent, covered seat; we
didn’t plan to stay for the sunset as we’ve seen so many there. We
split a bottle of Turnbull sauvignon blanc ($27). We’ve learned
that if you order an appetizer and an entrée at this place that they
don’t seem capable of pacing themselves – you’ll get the appetizer
and a couple minutes later the entrée will show up. So what we do
is order something and hold onto a menu saying we’ll be ordering
something else. It’s what we did again this time. Lori had the
shrimp and crab ceviche – it was actually very good. Keith had a
wedge of lettuce with bleu cheese dressing. We then ordered the
next course – a chicken quesadilla for Keith and peel and eat
shrimp for Lori. The nice thing about this place is you can get
practically anything – a burger, a salad, an entrée, etc. – so
there is something for everyone. We did note our server was not
the best – she actually seemed a little surly and definitely not
happy to be there. All this aside, do make sure you check out
either this place or the Sandbar so you get the authentic island
Island Gourmet - 5910 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 941-778-0333
On our last night we decided we wanted to enjoy our pool area, so we
quickly put shorts on and drove the few blocks to Island Gourmet to
pick up a pizza. We had gotten pizza on our last night from this
place a year earlier; they had since moved to a bigger (and better)
location. The people who work at this place are very friendly. We
walked in and simply said we wanted to order a pizza to take with us
and they took the order and invited us to sit down. They have a
small bar so we sat and each ordered a glass of wine (they serve
wine and beer). We looked around and noted the place was busy. You
cannot beat the prices at this place and besides pizza (they deliver),
they also offer pasta dishes as well as shrimp, veal, chicken, and
pork entrees. We decided next time we will dine in at this place.
Peach’s Restaurant - 3240 East Bay Drive (Anna Maria Shopping Center), Holmes Beach, FL 941-779-0738
Peach’s is actually a chain of local restaurants that serve breakfast
and lunch. We’ve been to this place several times and the food,
service, and value is superb. This was our last meal on the island
(we had just checked out) so Lori splurged on an egg, cheese, and
sausage croissant and Keith had eggs Benedict. They have delicious
home fries – they actually seem like they are almost in a beer
batter. Yum! You can’t go wrong with this place.
This is a quiet island, not really the place to go for
nightlife. There is entertainment at several places, but it tends
to be singer/songwriters and acoustic guitar, not rock bands, which
would probably seem out-of-place here anyway. Anna Maria nightlife
is watching the sunset over the beach. If that’s not your idea of
vacation, then this may not be the place for you. That’s fine with
us, as we like it the way it is! A walk on the beach as the sun is
setting is all you need.
We’ve learned to avoid this area in late summer/early fall (duh –
hurricanes and extreme heat and humidity). May is a nice time of
year to go – it gets up in the high 80s (and 90s a couple days we
were there) and down to around 70 at night. There is very little
rain this time of year. The island was actually in a drought –
there hadn’t been any real rain for a month. We did get a brief
thunderstorm on our last night but that was it.
Sun protection is a must here – apply often and liberally. It is
very easy to drive here – it’s impossible to get lost. There are
only a few lights on the island and the drivers seem courteous. We
always rent a car. This isn’t like big crowded shore towns – there
is generally parking wherever you want to go. There is also a free
trolley – we’ve never tried it so we can’t say how often it runs.
The property management company we rented from has a great
Also check out the island's
Chamber of Commerce site.
If you go and fall in love with this island (as we have), try not to
tell too many people about this amazing place! We love it the way
it is! Some people say it is one of the last remaining places you
can experience old Florida. By the way, May 1 is the official start
of their summer season. What that means is you can generally rent
houses and rooms for a cheaper price.