I prefer Bean Point but that's as much to do with the area as the beach itself - note that you can get serious rip tides at Bean Point which might be an issue if you have children in your group or intend lots of swimming.
The north end of the island is quieter than Bradenton Beach and there is less traffic, in general. Bean Point is the most beautiful part of the island. I am prejudiced because we are snowbird renters on the north end every year for three months. We are about a block from Rod and Reel pier and two blocks from Bean Point. We can walk to the stores on Pine Avenue and to the post office where we have to pick up our mail every day. We can also walk to some restaurants including the Waterfront which is our favorite. You really can't go wrong with either location.The whole island is only seven miles long so it is easy to get places. For beaches with facilities we love Coquina which is on the south end.
Since you want to be close to the gulf and if you are planning to rent a condo, you will want to stay at Bradenton Beach. There are a lot of gulf front condos there.
If you are going to rent a house, then the north end might be nice. Personally I would only visit Bean Point, not swim there. As noted above, it is known for rip currents.
Thank you for the good advice!
It sounds beautiful! Thank you for the tips!
Bean Point is lovely for a nice walk, but not for swimming. There was a recent article about people being sucked out north of Sandbar...the closer you get to the very north end the more likely you are to have rip currents. That being said if you are not planning on swimming the beaches are beautiful. Any beach on the island is lovely. We like Bradenton beach and think that as far as public beaches with facilities nothing can beat Coquina Beach on the very south end. We rent in Bradenton Beach and love being able to walk to restaurants and the pier but you cannot go wrong on any beach.
The wisdom of most people who are regulars is pick the rental that you like as a first priority and don't worry too much about which end its on. For my first trip I read tons of posts that raved about the north end as being the best...I was disappointed when the place we liked was on the "busy" south end, but we found that we love that location and personally don't care for the vibe of the north end.
Come back here and ask when you have a list of places you are considering...someone here probably has either stayed there or has other input.
I’ve often wondered, the houses on the beach at and near bean point are quite a long distance from the water with sand dune / sea grass between the houses and the water. I thought the sea grass bit was a no go area so does that mean the people in these house have to use the regular beach access routes to get to the water and not directly from the rear of their houses. I know that bean point is lovely for a walk but talking this into account and the potential danger of swimming in this area It looks to me that you might be better off finding a house on the beach further north, Holmes Beach maybe.
I certainly agree with mountainmare’s advice re picking the house you like and not getting too hung up on which end it’s on.
Where you'll want to stay really depends on what is important to you on vacation. If you're looking for a quieter, more residential area, then the north end would be better. If you prefer to be in an area where there is a little more action with plenty to do within walking distance, then the south end would be better. We prefer being in an area with lots of restaurants and shops within walking distance, so Bradenton Beach at the south end is definitely our favorite part of the island. But as others have said, you really can't go wrong no matter where you stay. The island is small, and the free trolley will take you anywhere you want to go on the island.
If you're renting a place up on Bean Point, there's definitely sea grasses, but there should be pathways that you can cut through them. I definitely wouldn't make your "own" path - there are various creatures in the sea grasses that make their home there (snakes immediately come to mind - although I believe the majority are harmless).
We've never stayed at Bean Point, but have parked near there and accessed the beach from the street ... if you do a Google map search (and look at the "satellite view"), you can see that there are numerous access points.
Again, as stated above, Bean Point is for the beauty of the BEACH (and the view!), but is a big no-no for swimming (or even wading).