ANNA MARIA ISLAND — There are no lifeguards.
And, on Sunday morning, only a few people.
Never miss a local story.
All Holmes Beach has to offer are several miles of pure, white Anna Maria Island sand meeting azure Gulf of Mexico waters, all spread below a blazing sun.
“Perfect,” said Holmes Beach-lovers Reinhard and Isabelle Schulze.
Although such statistics probably aren’t compiled, it would seem that Holmes Beach offers the lowest sun-bather-per-acre ratio of any area beach.
“Everything is isolated here,” said Reinhard Schulze, a professor of business administration at a university in Germany who, with wife, Isabelle, owns a Holmes Beach vacation home.
“You don’t have too many tourists here because there aren’t a lot of places for them to park,” Schulze added.
The roughly half-dozen small motels dotting the Holmes Beach shoreline absorb the majority of the parking, leaving only several streets where the public can legally park.
Holmes Beach is, perhaps, easiest found on foot, about a mile north of the Manatee County Public Beach.
In fact, that is what Allyn Morrison of Bradenton does.
Morrison was out on Holmes Beach on Sunday with a hand-held grabber for picking up small shells or trash without having to bend over. He says he has put his diabetes in check with his schedule of walking Holmes Beach and nearby beaches four times a week. He walks six or seven miles each time out.
“The walking helps my diabetes big time,” Morrison said.
Morrison either walks from the concession stand at the Manatee County Public Beach south to Coquina Beach, which is 3 1/2 miles each way, or he walks from the concession north to the sandbar near Haley’s Motel on Holmes Beach, which is three miles each way.
So, what’s the strangest thing he has found from his walks on Holmes Beach?
“I picked up a guy’s teeth,” Morrison said. “They didn’t fit me.”
Don Terry, of Muncie, Ind., was waiting for his two surf-casting rods to bend Sunday in the Holmes Beach surf. He catches black drum, lady fish and whiting in the surf when he comes for a visit.
“I like it here because it’s not so commercial,” Terry said, pointing back over his shoulder at Holmes Beach’s diminutive skyline.
After the Martinique condo was built, Holmes Beach officials pulled the plug on tall buildings some years back.
There are only a handful of beachfront restaurants as well.
Motels are zoned for only 11 units an acre in Holmes Beach, compared to about 15 per acre on Bradenton Beach, said Ken Gerry, whose family owns White Sands Beach Resort on Holmes Beach.
Terry and his wife, Connie, always stay at Resort 66, a timeshare on Holmes Beach. While Terry fishes, Connie scrapbooks in their room.
“Everyone is friendly on Holmes Beach,” Terry said. “There’s no spring break. It’s not crowded and all this white sand makes it nice.”
Gerry and other motel owners depend on Holmes Beach’s reputation for isolated white sand and fish-filled waters to produce the revenue they need to survive.
That revenue suffered this past year, he said.
Shortly after the Gulf oil spill, his motel had 16 cancellations — and those were week-long cancellations.
“It hurt,” Gerry said. “Every time President Obama spoke about the spill being one of the world’s greatest catastrophes, my phones starting ringing.
“But I can understand why they canceled,” Gerry said.
“Many were from Europe and they were paying $2,000 for their air fare. They didn’t want to come and find oil. They would say, ‘Can you guarantee there will be no oil on your beach?’ I couldn’t do that.”
Gerry said things are slowly improving.
“We’re going to win them back,” Gerry said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.