One of the best parts about our beautiful Anna Maria Island beaches and serene shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico is our typically crystal-clear and calm waters. There are normally very few overwhelming waves or dangerous water conditions on a day-to-day basis, and you can often let your worries wash away in the saltwater. It’s what helps make the Gulf Coast area our paradise!
However, it’s important to note that it is still the great outdoors! Wildlife, currents, and extreme weather conditions are always possible. We want to help give your family peace of mind before jumping in (or, we recommend stringray-shuffling in) so it’s paramount that you stay informed on the latest water safety recommendations and keep your eyes peeled for the beach flag warning system. Especially if you’re staying at one of our Anna Maria or Longboat Key beachfront properties, you’ll want to keep this guide handy so you can rest assured you’re prepared and following updated local guidelines.
The safety and enjoyment of Florida’s public beaches are affected by changes in tide and surf conditions. Florida has an official beach flag warning system that uses colored flags to explain the current conditions at any public beach. Look at the lifeguard stands (most visible at the public beach right as you enter AMI) to display what you can expect on any day.
A DOUBLE RED FLAG: The water is CLOSED to the public. No swimming or wading allowed and all water activity (surfing, paddle boarding) is prohibited.
RED FLAG: High Hazard. Likely there is a high surf and/or strong currents. Even being knee deep in the surf is too dangerous.
YELLOW FLAG: Medium Hazard. Moderate surf and strong currents may be dangerous for some.
GREEN FLAG: Low Hazard with calm conditions yet it’s always smart to exercise caution.
There is no colored flag specifically for inclement weather such as lightning and rain. Use good judgement and remember if you hear thunder then you are too close to a potential lightning strike so take cover and stay out of the water.
It’s also very important to note: The beach flags provide general warnings about overall surf conditions but do not specifically advise the public of the presence of rip currents. Increased awareness of natural conditions that pose a significant risk at the beach, such as rip currents, is a critical element to improve public safety. Check for signage warning of rip currents in areas known to be potentially dangerous. Especially keep your eyes on your little ones, those who may be less strong swimmers, and always use a buddy system.
Now that you can confidently head to the beach with the knowledge to keep your family water-safe according to Florida regulations, put on that reef-safe SPF, and enjoy! We are confident your beach vacation to Anna Maria beaches will be blissful.
Photos by unsplash.com and Florida Department of Environmental Protection