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Maverick and Lulu in the Morning

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Manatee County's Gulf Islands Water Ferry Service Set to Launch December 8

Manatee County's Gulf Islands Water Ferry Service Set to Launch Friday, December 8th

Manatee County - November 20, 2023

Following a blessing of the fleet and inaugural preview cruise for local leaders and media, the new Gulf Islands Ferry service is set to kick off Friday, December 8, 2023 (pending final approval), shuttling visitors and residents to and from Anna Maria Island and downtown Bradenton.

The water ferry, marketed by The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (BACVB) and operated by Gulf Coast Water Taxi, is a tremendous first step in providing multi-modal transportation throughout Manatee County. Two 50-foot open air catamarans, Miss Anna Maria and Downtown Duchess, will take riders from the day dock located directly off Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton to Anna Maria City Pier and Bridge Street Pier.

Visitors and residents can catch a ride on the water Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ride times between stops will range from 25 to 40 minutes. 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 hold 48 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,” said Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione. “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.”

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 BACVB’s Love It Like a Local initiative.

"This has been talked about for decades and now it’s here. It's just the beginning of something great. I am looking forward to seeing the service area expanded to include Palmetto, Cortez and Longboat Key,” said Manatee County District Three Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge. “The ferry system is a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors—all paid for with tourist bed taxes.”

Tickets can be purchased here.

To learn more, visit or contact Kolby Gayson, Marketing & Communications Director at or call at 941-290-8412.

For more information about Manatee County Government, visit or call (941) 748-4501. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ManateeGov.

The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau promotes tourism to Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key through domestic and international advertising, public relations and marketing efforts. Located on Florida’s West Coast, the destination is known for its unspoiled beaches, rich history, the easy pace of island life and a downtown energized with arts, culture, discoveries and more. Get ready to immerse yourself into all the sites, smells, flavors and surprises that make the Bradenton Area a one-of-a-kind destination. For more information visit

Gulf Islands Water Taxi, the operator of the Gulf Islands Ferry service, is based in Clearwater, Florida. Their current water-ferry service, Clearwater Ferry, runs between Clearwater and Dunedin with stops at Downtown Clearwater, Clearwater Beach Marina and Dunedin Marina. They are family owned and operated and are committed to providing accessible and enjoyable water transportation to all.

Manatee County's Gulf Islands Water Ferry Service Set to Launch Friday, December 8th

Photo: Manatee County


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