Manasota Key Beaches

Manasota Key is a quiet island south of Venice, Florida. The northern and central parts of the island, located in Sarasota County, are completely residential. A narrow road snakes its way for nearly nine wonderfully scenic miles along the Key past island homes, many of which have their back yard on the bay and their front yard on the Gulf.

Manasota Key Beach and Gulf of Mexico

Although the public access points on Manasota Key can get crowded, it's not hard to find quieter areas if you are willing to walk for 10 minutes or so.

The southern part of the island is in Charlotte County and has more development, with a few condos, restaurants, and shops. The southern tip of Manasota Key is occupied by Stump Pass Beach State Park, a quiet, narrow park with two miles of beach and nature trails.

The public beaches on Manasota Key include Manasota Beach, Blind Pass Beach Park, Englewood Beach, and Stump Pass Beach State Park.

Snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico at Manasota Key Beach.

Snorkeling just a few feet off the shoreline on Manasota Key yields lots of great fossils, shark teeth and shells of all kinds. You'll see some fish and crabs, and maybe even a small stingray.

Why Choose Manasota Key Beaches?

If you're looking for something that's different from the overbuilt, crowded, traffic-jammed beaches of Siesta Key and Lido Beach, then Manasota Key might have what you're looking for. It's far enough off the beaten path, but not so far that you can't make a quick drive into Sarasota or Venice for some culture, shopping, or fine dining.  And Sarasota's Venice beaches aren't the only ones in the area with shark teeth and fossils to be found. Manasota Key has plenty.

Manasota Key offers very good, but limited access to the public. Most of the beaches are only enjoyed by residents and visitors that are staying on the island. Manasota Key has no big resorts or hotels, and no multi-story condominiums--just lots of beach houses tucked behind the greenery. Some are on the Gulf, some are on the bay, and others seem to span the width of the island.

While there are some small rental resorts on northern and central Manasota Key (Sarasota County), most of the beach rental accommodations are on the southern part of the key near Englewood Beach (Charlotte County). There's a trade-off between a wider choice of rentals in the south with more people on the beach vs. fewer rental choices on the north which has correspondingly quieter beaches. The quietest part of the island is on North Manasota Key Road, which is just north of the Manasota Key Public Beach. It is a private road through a private beach community that stretches for several miles toward Caspersen Beach.

Sand dunes on Manasota Key Beach, Florida.

The dunes on northern Manasota Key attract many nesting sea turtles during the summer months.

Looking north on Manasota Key Beach.

See all those miles of beach above on northern Manasota Key? You can walk as far as the eye can see.

Facilities at Manasota Key Public Beach, Sarasota, Florida

This is the new beach restroom facility at Manasota Key Public Beach. It cost well over a million dollars.

Sand grains with fossils from Manasota Key, Florida.

The sand on Manasota Key is not pure white. And you can see why. Just look at all the little colorful shell fragments and black and brown fossils and minerals mixed in with the quartz crystals! It's not "dirty" sand; it's rich with all kinds of beautiful things.

Scenic overlook on Manasota Key Road.

With all the buildings on most beaches it's hard to get a good view of the beach from the street, but on this section of Manasota Key Road you can cruise right along the beach for nearly half a mile. This is just north of the Blind Pass Beach area. There's no place to stop until you get to Blind Pass Public beach.

Driving on Manasota Key's canopy road.

Manasota Key is trying to cultivate a tree canopy over their road. This is much appreciated during the warmer months.

Blind Pass beach access on Manasota Key, Florida.

This is the Blind Pass Beach access. It's also called "Middle Beach" because it's in the middle of the island.

Typical shells and rocks found on Manasota Key's beaches.

I just leaned over and picked up whatever shells I saw and this is what I came up with. Most shells on any beach are broken or worn, but if you look hard enough you'll find some keepers.

The beach crowd on Manasota Beach, Florida.

The crowd gathers close to the restrooms and parking areas, but a 5 or 10 minute walk will get you to a nearly deserted beach on Manasota Key.

Englewood Public Beach on Manasota Key, Florida.

Englewood Beach is a full-service beach that even has beach vendors renting chairs and equipment.

Beachhunter on Manasota Key, Florida.

BeachHunter enjoying the Gulf of Mexico on a very hot summer day at Stump Pass Beach State Park.

Stump Pass Beach, Manasota Key, Florida.

Stump Pass Beach. This is a state park beach at the southern tip of the island right on Stump Pass. On the other side of the pass is Palm Island and the Palm Island Resort.

Copyright: David McRee,