Sea Life Happy: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Story by Beth Carson & Photos SRQ 360 Sarasota

Opening the door to Sea Life Happy was like coming downstairs Christmas morning as a kid to see a mound of huge, colorful presents under the tree. I was visiting my friend Liz – we’ve been friends since we were 12.

Anticipation burst into glee as we wandered through the house. Each room held new surprises and delights, beauty for the eye and the perfect amount of decor to stimulate but not overwhelm the mind. Clearly, a talented, happy designer had been at work here.

Sea Life Happy has what are called “moments” in the design world. Some places for gathering as a group, some for sitting and enjoying a board game, others for a chat with a much-missed friend or to curl up with a beach read.


Located on quiet Anna Maria Island, Sea Life Happy is owned by life coach Joda and husband Scott Coolidge, whose motto is “Live Life Happy.” That philosophy is clearly evident in the vacation rental. The décor, which, even though we stayed over a week, still had surprises towards the end, struck the perfect balance of visual interest without being fussy.


Sea Life Happy affords the vacation together experience that so many families and small groups are looking for. The home is on a canal with a dock and boat lift, has a private, heated pool, 4 bedrooms, as well as multiple places to gather, including an indoor bar just off the pool with large TV so you don’t have to miss the game. There’s even an office with a printer.


Outside was a nuanced continuation of indoors- well designed and delightful. A large covered porch with fan with plenty of room to eat meals, a deck with comfortable seating and a great vantage point for watching sea birds flit and soar, the front porch with over sized Adirondack chairs where you can watch children and adults enjoying biking on the nearly traffic-free street, and of course, the pool deck. Need more? Mosey out to the dock and sit for a bit. You may see some friendly boaters heading out to the open water.


Sea Life Happy on Anna Maria Island from the May-June 2016 Issue of Vacation Rental Travels


The kitchen is a dream, a festival of options for a chef, a treat for those who just want to make sandwiches – it’s beautiful. I’m not sure if I have ever seen one this large and well-kitted out in a private home. In addition to having everything you could ever need, they have included a map of the cabinets for easy acclimation.With professional grade appliances and endless counter space, you may eat more meals in than you expect. We ate breakfast and lunch in and went out for dinner most days.

Convening in the living room to catch up before going to bed or to read a magazine each night became a ritual. The furniture is “put your feet up” comfortable.It’s the house that all of us would have loved to live in as teenagers, as it would have been the gathering place for the neighborhood.

Ready, Set, Beach
Fairy dust sand, fiery sunsets, rare on the East Coast, and restaurants within easy reach make this one of my top 3 favorite beaches in the world. You can drive a few blocks, or if it’s a busier time and parking may be an issue, simply leave your car in the driveway and walk. The beach has plenty of birds to keep you entertained, or you can bring a book. For the ultimate in relaxation, just close your eyes, letting the cares of the world wash away – wave after wave. The owners have thoughtfully provided a wide-wheeled cart for bringing their chairs to the beach.


Every evening at sunset, a crowd of locals and travelers alike gather to gaze at the setting sun. A smattering of applause and well wishes of “cheers” ushers in the dusky evening.

Get Your Happy On
The beauty of Sea Life Happy is that you can park your car in their driveway, and never leave the house again (be sure to stop for groceries before you get there.)

Within walking distance are restaurants, shops, and the beach. What else could you want? On days when you don’t want to leave the house, the range of poolside, dockside, deck, covered porch or inside give you plenty of options to not feel hemmed in.


Anna Maria Island is like Mayberry by the sea. The woman at the Ginny and Jane E’s coffee shop knew my name by the second day, and neighbors often stopped while riding bikes on the flat island to catch up with friends. The off-season, when I visited, early December, had perfect weather and not too many people. Huge expanses of the beach were empty of towels and chairs.

Shopping is fun and eclectic with shop owners ready to chat or leave you to shop in peace. NearbyPine Street has some good options.

For more insight into this true gem, see the Owner’s Corner, where Joda tells the story of how they chose and crafted the home that is now truly, Sea Life Happy.

Food and Fun on Anna Maria Island
If you can tear yourself away from Sea Life Happy long enough to enjoy a meal, here are some of my favorites.


Breakfast- Ginny and Jane E’s Café and Coastal Store-
You’ll feel like a local here as you stroll down the street for a cup of coffee or a full breakfast. While you wait for your order to be created, you can browse the eclectic shop. Nearly unbelievably, I found the perfect gift for my dad, who takes creative ingenuity to shop for. The niche book written by an Anna Maria Islander was just the thing for the man who was everything. The bounty of handcrafted jewelry and home décor items can take a few visits until you feel like you’ve seen everything.


Lunch- Waterfront Restaurant-
I’m going to cheat here a little. I loved this place so much that it’s my favorite place for lunch and for dinner. We ate a casual lunch of scrumptious sandwiches outside and enjoyed the breeze, the view, and watching people wandering or bike by. The food was truly fabulous. My friend Liz owns a restaurant with her chef husband and has very discerning tastes. We couldn’t help but go back for dinner.

Dinner- Waterfront Restaurant-
We ate inside, and the atmosphere was completely different after dark. The service was unhurried and sophisticated, the food absolutely sublime. We took leftovers home and enjoyed the same meal again, this time at Sea Life Happy.

Dinner- Sandbar Seafood and Spirits-
After you’ve spent the day at the beach, this is a perfect place to have a relaxing meal, either on the outdoor patio as the sun goes down or the more upscale indoor restaurant.

Dinner- The City Pier-
Just a few minute’s walk on the bay side of the island is the City Pier, with a “come as you are” vibe you only find at the beach. A favorite is the seafood steamer.

If you would like to experience Anna Maria Island in grand style, click the link below for more information on Sea Life Happy Click for details on Sea Life Happy


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