ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- The readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine have picked Anna Maria Island as the 26th best island in the world out of 30.
The magazine described the 7-mile-long island as "a stunning place to watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico" and having some of the "softest, whitest sand on the East Coast."
Christy Krauss, who co-owns Island Garden Villas at 5607 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, thinks the ranking is terribly exciting.
"I do know we have been on other lists, but there seems to be an influx of business when we get this honor," she said. "I think it's well-deserved. The island is just so charming and so family-friendly and not over-developed. People just come and fall in love."
Anna Maria Island is the only Florida island on the list, which is part of Conde
Nast Traveler magazine's Readers' Choice Awards for 2014.
But Pam Leckie, who moved to Holmes Beach with her husband Major 11 years ago, has mixed feelings about the ranking. The 84-year-old says she knows AMI is one of the top islands in the world, but one of the main reasons is because it wasn't once overflowing with tourists.
"We need tourists, there's no question because the island probably wouldn't survive without them. But it's just gotten so much and it's happened so rapidly and I think that's the problem," she said. "We haven't had time to catch up. When everybody's here during the busy season, it's just jammed. There's no letup. That gets old after a while."
Elliott Falcione, executive director at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this latest ranking confirms how special the island is, "not only to our community, but to visitors as well."
"Anna Maria Island is so much more than seven miles of beautiful sugar white sand beaches," he said in a statement. "It's a community that is low rise, low key, with an old Florida setting that sets itself apart from other islands."
Island resident David Cheshire had his own reaction to the ranking Friday afternoon.
"I absolutely agree that Anna Maria Island is one of the world's best islands, but please do not tell the Tourist Development Council because they will double their advertising and invite another 1 million people to come," he said.
The magazine gave Anna Maria a "Readers Rating" of 81.373.
The top-ranked island is Palawan in the Philippines had a rating of 88.75.
The top-ranked American island is Kiawah Island, S.C., at No. 2.
Other U.S. islands on the list are Maui, Hawaii (3), Kauai, Hawaii (4), St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (8), Big Island, Hawaii (10), Sea Island, Ga. (15), Oahu, Hawaii (16), Hilton Head, S.C. (27), Isle of Palms, S.C. (28) and Aquidneck Island (Newport), R.I. (30).
International islands on the list include Vancouver Island, Canada; Bora Bora in French Polynesia; Bali, Indonesia; Bermuda; Skiathos & Sporades, Greece; and Tasmania, off Australia.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.