If you would ask me one thing about Florida that is stunningly obvious, I would have to say one look at this place shows you there is much more beyond what you see. Beyond the facade of all the buildings and the hotels is an often surprising and dark history. If I could tell anyone anything about Florida, I would dust off the cliche I haven't heard since the opening of Tiny Toon Adventures: "Expect the unexpected".
Maybe this should be the new Florida slogan.
If you have been following along with me at all, (much appreciated, by the way), you'll know that I like to poke around Google to feed my curiosity on all things weird and haunted in the state.
I'm not sure if it's become a hobby or a sick fascination, but we're rolling with it and having a good time, so let's get on with today's find.
Anna Maria Island. Don't ask me why this is the name that caught my eye as I ran down the list of possible places to read about. I remembered the name because my mom, for the few years she lived in beautiful Pensacola (which I also need to cover because O.M.G. there are so many haunted stories) and she mentioned we needed to head out there once.
Granted, Anna Maria Island is literally on the opposite side of the state from Pensacola (Mapquests said it is 7 hr and 28-minute drive), but this is what jogged my memory, so we're going with it.
I've only moved to Florida a year ago, meaning there are so many places I have no idea even existed, but Anna Maria Island would have to be one of the most intriguing locations Florida has to offer (from what I can read, anyway).
Before the first settlers came to the Island and Hernando de Soto's Spanish explorers snooped around in 1539, Anna Maria once belonged to the Caloosan and Timucan Tribes. Eventually, Tampa Mayor Madison Post took over, naming the town "Anna Maria" after his sister and wife.
Kind of a cool little fact, but the first official resident of Anna Maria Island was named George Emerson Bean. I wonder what it would be like to be the only real resident of an island?
Today, Anna Maria Island, located in Manatee County Florida (there's an entire county named after manatees???!?), is known for scenic beaches, warm, white sands, and the Bali Hai Hotel, which is (apparently) haunted.
According to legend, the Bali Hai Hotel, which was given an award for being Anna Maria Island's "Favorite Beachside Resort", has gone through some "stuff".
The story says that there is a potential ghost that "walks along the shoreline of Holmes Beach", and those who see him believe it is Bali Hai herself. She and her husband were staying at the resort when he drowned, and ever since she can be seen, still in her wedding dress, waiting for him to return.
However, she only comes in August.
So what I'm hearing is, that Anna Maria Island is an amazing place to vacation in Florida, but don't go in August. Got it. Or maybe do if you want to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Bali Hai ghost.
I know it's now on my super long list. My only question is: Who's coming with me?