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At the present time (2011), at best there are exposed sandbars at low tide on a small scale. For the most part, most of the area is submerged all of the time. Be that as it may, it's still a terrific area to hang out and get away from the landlubber beach hysteria and traffic scene. It's especially nice in the middle of the week in suitable conditions when boat traffic is sparse.
I take an anchor on board (eskimo rolls not recommended) to allow spending 3-5 hours of solitude, swimming, and exploring.
Advise beginners to gain experience before heading north from Anna Maria Island as the tidal conditions can be daunting at times. The Bean Point area has a flow like a river with the ingoing and outgoing tide changes. Be weatherwise. Especially during the summer, thunderstorms can turn a nice day into a scary situation with strong winds and the infamous Tampa Bay lightning... The best days are when the winds will remain under 10 knots throughout the day.