Last Updated on July 14, 2023

Two 50-foot catamarans which will be part of the highly anticipated Gulf Islands Ferry service have arrived in Cortez, FL. The water ferry service is set to transport visitors and locals between downtown Bradenton and Anna Maria Island. The service is anticipated to launch later in the summer of 2023. 

The service, operated by Gulf Coast Water Taxi, is a tremendous first step in providing multi-modal transportation throughout the County. In addition to providing easy transport to the island, the service is an extended commitment in working to preserve and protect the natural beauty of the area for future generations. Powered by renewable energy sources and energy-efficient design elements, the vessels further support Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Love It Like a Local initiative and Leave No Trace commitment.

A one-way ticket will cost $8 per person, providing an economical and easy way to hop between the mainland and island. Special pricing will be available for children and seniors.

The two catamarans, Miss Anna Maria and the Downtown Duchess, hold 49 passengers and will have two crew aboard to ensure smooth transport to and from each port. 

“We anticipate families parking in downtown Bradenton, hopping on the ferry at the downtown port located just off the riverwalk near Green Bridge and enjoying a beautiful boat ride out to the island,” Executive Director of The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Elliott Falcione said. “At the same time, visitors staying on the island can enjoy a leisure boat ride to downtown Bradenton to enjoy our amazing restaurants and attractions located on the mainland.

Coast Guard trial will take place over the next four to six weeks, at which time final run times and ports will be determined. 

Schedules, Ports and Amenities

Initially, the Gulf Islands Ferry will operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., year round.

Both boats will be fully ADA accessible. Leashed, well behaved pets and service animals are allowed onboard.

For the summer of 2023 launch, two ports will be offered, one at the Downtown Bradenton Riverwalk near the Green Bridge, the other at Anna Maria Island, with future stops planned at Coquina Beach and Bridge Street. The trip is initially anticipated to take 35 minutes. 

Free wi-fi and restrooms are available on both ships.

Towels, picnic baskets, beach chairs and coolers are all allowed onboard so you can get from the mainland to the Island with no fuss, but US Coast Guard regulations prohibit bicycles onboard.

Parking

Parking for the Brandenton port is free downtown at the City Centre Parking Facility at 3rd Avenue West between 10th and 12th Streets. From there, it’s an easy five-minute walk along the Riverwalk to the Bradenton Waterfront where ferries are currently scheduled to depart hourly.

Parking for the Anna Maria Island port is limited. Early birds will find spots along S. Bay Boulevard and at nearby Bayfront Park. Passengers wishing to take the ferry from the Island to Bradenton are encouraged to use the free Anna Maria Trolley, which will deliver passengers to and from the island throughout the day.

Once on the mainland, just about all of the favorite downtown spots are within a few minutes’ walk of the pier.

NOTE: Visitors to Bradenton and Anna Maria Island from outside of Florida should be aware that the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for the state noting, and warning, that under its current governor, Ron DeSantis, Florida has ‘engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans, accurate Black history, voting rights, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, and free speech, while simultaneously embracing a culture of fear, bullying, and intimidation by public officials.'”

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