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Anna Maria Island, with its quaint village shopping and rustic beach cottages This is where the Suncoast begins, and one can see why so many people are drawn to the area beaches. Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach are also here on this northern key.

Longboat Keys narrow beaches stretch some 12 miles. Out of the way and easily accessible, Longboat Keys beaches offer a relaxed and secluded paradise experience for everyone.

Lido Keys beaches are just minutes from St. Armands Circle. Explore the undeveloped and unspoiled North Lido Beach, where you can picnic under the pines or anchor a boat along the shore. Enjoy the park-like atmosphere of South Lido Beach or the public pool.

Next along Siesta Key, you find a broad and flat Siesta Beach made up of fine, sugar-white sand. This most popular of all the beaches has tennis courts, concession stand, lifeguards, picnic tables and a playground for children. Crescent Beach, located just south of Siesta Beach, also boasts beautiful white sand. In addition, Siesta Key has a very distinctive feature, unusual for Southwest Florida, called the Point-of-Rocks. This shallow formation of lime rock rising out of the water makes a great spot for snorkeling. At the southernmost tip of Siesta Key is Turtle Beach, a great spot to get away from the crowds. Go shelling or just relax in the calm breezes of the Gulf of Mexico.

Casey Keys beaches start at Midnight Pass. They are lined with exquisite beachfront homes in the north and mid-key. As you wind the twisted, narrow road, you find the south ends public beach. From here, you can look across the jetty to Venice Jetty Park.

Venice has several beaches starting with Venice Beach at the foot of Venice Avenue. Bring your bucket and plan to spend time walking the beach looking for prehistoric sharks teeth. For the serious sun-lover, there is Caspersan Beach, a more secluded beach that lies beyond the grasses of the shore.

The beaches all have their own best features, but all are known for their spectacular sunsets. Nowhere else in the world can one witness the explosion of vibrant blues, pinks, yellows and oranges slowly sinking into the horizon. The locals watch for another occasional phenomenon - at the point where the sun melts into the water, once in a great while, an emerald green flash lights up the sky.

The beaches of Sarasota and Manatee Counties are among the best Florida has to offer. Experience the dramatic conclusion of a day and you will understand why this is called The Suncoast.