Spring breakers landing on Anna Maria

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Sure, hot spots like Miami’s South Beach seem like appealing spring break destinations, but navigating through a minefield of sunbathers before hitting the water isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

Some savvy students have realized Anna Maria Island offers a more relaxing alternative to the craziness that’s normally associated with this vacation.

Lexi Vick, 19, came down Sunday with a group of 11 friends from the University of South Carolina in Columbia to enjoy a low-key spring break.

“We like it. It’s not like where we’re from. It’s really warm here,” Vick said, who plans on laying out for most of her vacation.

“I like the beaches here. We’ve been talking to people and everyone has been very friendly to us.”

The friends came to the area partly because they could get a house big enough for their group, but also to avoid the sometimes obnoxious spring break crowds that tend to convene in some destinations.

Adam Whitaker, 23, from the University of Toledo, had the same idea of a low-key vacation when he and his friends arrived Sunday.

“We wanted to go somewhere relaxing,” he said. “This is perfect.”

Like Vick and her friends, his crew plans on spending the week by the gulf.

Traditionally, this area is populated by tourists from colder climates and snowbirds this time of year, but not too many spring breakers.

“I think a lot of the kids have family in town or they’re local,” said Cheryl Scranton, manager of the Sandbar Restaurant, who expects spring breakers to come by, but not in the numbers that other places see.

“It’s not like Daytona Beach.”

David Teitelbaum, owner of Tortuga Inn and other local hotels, said it’s clear to see the draw to the area.

“It’s got a lot of won- derful things going for it,” he said. “Fabulous restaurants, doesn’t have any high-rise buildings, it isn’t overcrowded, has a wonderful beach and great water.”

Paradise Afshar, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 748-0411, ext. 7024.