Longboat Key was the No. 9 best island in the U.S. in Conde Nast Traveler's 2015 Readers' Choice Awards. Hawaii's Maui, Kauai, Oahu and Big Island nabbed the top four slots. Amelia Island, which ranked No. 10, was the only other Florida location to make the list.
The 12-mile island with land in both Sarasota and Manatee counties is known for its elegant and refined personality, said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County. Conde Nast described Longboat Key as a more private option among the Sarasota-Bradenton area's barrier islands and praised it for the sand dollars and seashells that can be found their.
Longboat Key typically spends less time in the spotlight than Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island.
"For us, what's so important is for people to understand the different personalities of our islands," Haley said. "It's just thrilling to see Longboat getting recognized in this way."
The beach accesses on Longboat Key are less pronounced than at some of the other barrier islands in the region. It also offers a number of hidden gems, such as Quick Point Nature Preserve, at its southeast corner.
"You feel like you're almost on a deserted island, but you're looking over all of Sarasota bay," Haley said.
More than 128,000 travelers took part in Conde Nast Traveler's 28th annual Readers' Choice Awards survey. The readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments to determine the best cities, resorts, airlines, among other categories for travelers.
This latest honor has joined a long list of recent accolades for the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
This year, Siesta Key was ranked the No. 1 beach in the nation on TripAdvisor.com's 2015 Travelers' Choice Awards and was named the third best Florida beach in a poll by USA Today. Siesta Key and Lido both make regular appearances on TripAdvisor.com's best of lists.
Stephen "Dr. Beach" Leatherman also touted Siesta Key in May 2011 as the nation's top beach in his annual ranking.
Anna Maria Island, too, received recognition from Conde Nast earlier this year when its Coquina Beach was named one of the world's "top island beaches for perfect sand." The island this year was also named as one of the fastest-growing vacation destinations by TripAdvisor.com.
Herald Tribune 10/22/2015