Five things: Sea turtle nesting season is here

Sea turtle nesting season is underway on Navarre Beach as of May 1. As these endangered and threatened species come to our shores to lay their nests in the sand, human beings can be their biggest threat. Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles frequent Navarre Beach and are expected to start laying nests over the coming weeks. Here are tips from sea turtle conservationists on limiting human impacts during nesting season.


  1. Clear the way

Sea turtles have difficulty navigating outside of the water. The only time adult sea turtles naturally return to the shore is to lay their eggs. Items along the shoreline can block their way and even entrap the turtles. Adult sea turtles have died due to entanglement in beach furniture. Litter can also be an issue.

Santa Rosa County has a “Leave No Trace” ordinance which makes it illegal to leave items on the beach between dusk and dawn. Items left out become property of Santa Rosa County, and violators could face fines. Clean these items up to pave the way for nesting turtles.


  1. Lights out

Typical man-made lights can be disorienting for sea turtle adults and hatchlings. Females may avoid nesting on a beach if it is too bright, and hatchlings can also be drawn away from the safety of the water by lights, causing them to die on shore.

At night, turn off outdoor lights or replace bulbs with turtle-friendly red or amber versions available at hardware stores. Close blinds to keep indoor lights from shining to the outside.

If on the beach at night, do not use flashlights or flash photography which can disorient the turtles.


  1. Knock it down, fill it in

Just like beach chairs and trash, sandcastles and holes can be dangerous to sea turtles. Adults and hatchlings can have difficulty getting around buildups in the sand. Holes can be deadly, trapping hatchlings and adults. When playing in the sand, beachgoers are advised to level the surface back out once they are done, toppling piles and filling in any holes.


  1. Give her space

On occasion, beachgoers will have the good luck to spot a sea turtle nesting on the beach. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the only species that regularly nests during the daylight, while other species nest at night or just before dawn.

Observers can limit their impact on nesting sea turtles by remaining back away from the turtle and behind her. Noise should be minimal, and flash photography should be avoided to keep from disturbing the turtle.


  1. Do not disturb

It is against the law to disturb, touch or otherwise harass a nesting sea turtle, her nest or hatchlings. These species receive critical protections from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and federal endangered species laws. Harassment of nesting sea turtles or their nests can result in fines and even jail time.


Give the turtles the best chance of survival by limiting impacts to their natural home during your visit to beautiful Navarre Beach. Book at

Cobia, tarpon and mackerel: Oh my!

As the weather heats up with the coming of summer, so is the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier!

Fishermen of all ages and skill levels are flocking to our beaches for some of the best saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. And the fish are here.

Cobia seems to be the hot ticket right now, with skilled anglers managing to land this difficult catch off the pier and off charter boats with regularity.

Other fun catches including redfish, tarpon, mackerel and more are also on tap to be great catches this summer. Friendly staff at the fishing pier will be able to help identify what is biting.
Ours is the longest pier in the Gulf, putting you right on top of the fish, and we have recently completed work on the new deep-water artificial reef meaning more of the big ones coming closer to shore.

If you would like to cast your line a little farther out, experienced charter fishing captains are ready to make your day along our emerald coasts. A day of fishing and relaxing on the water sounds like heaven doesn’t it?

Check out the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s business directory to find the perfect fit for your family at

All skill levels can get in on the fun. Whether you are an experienced angler with your own custom gear or if you just want to rent a pole from our pier for a couple hours, we have something for everyone.

Come see what’s biting and book your stay at 

Joey Ferrell shows off the first cobia he has ever caught

Rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle rescued off pier

An endangered sea turtle hooked April 13 on Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is set to make a full recovery thanks to stellar response by our pier staff. This was the first sea turtle rescue of the upcoming sea turtle nesting season, which officially starts May 1.

The rescued turtle was barely bigger than a dinner plate and too cute. The juvenile is one of the rarest, most endangered species of turtle: a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. There are only 2,500 breeding females of this species in the wild. The turtle had been hooked in the right flipper, but the hook came out without difficulty.

The turtle was transported to Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center for recovery. Gulfarium gave the rescued turtle the nickname Buckbeak.

Buckbeak’s name comes from the “Harry Potter” fans will recognize the turtle’s namesake, the infamous hippogriff that rescues Sirius Black. Looking at Buckbeak, the resemblance in their beaks is pretty spot on.

While Navarre’s Buckbeak will not be flying away like his namesake, he swam away in a successful release April 23.

Kemp’s ridleys are one of four turtle species that frequent Navarre Beach, especially during nesting season which begins May 1 and runs through the end of October in our area.

Already there have been several sightings of a leatherback sea turtle off the pier, another rarity. These are the largest sea turtle species in the world. In 2017, Navarre Beach saw its first leatherback nest on record.

Kemp’s ridleys like Buckbeak are also uncommon, but several have been spotted. Navarre Beach also plays host to green and loggerhead species commonly each year.

To help protect turtles, give nesting moms lots of space. Other tips to ensure turtle safety:

  • Do not make noise
  • Do not approach or touch the turtle
  • Do not use flash or close-up photography
  • Stay back and behind the nesting turtle at all times
  • Do not use lights as they can disorient the turtle

It is against state and federal law to harass a sea turtle or disturb a nest.

Kemp’s ridleys are especially at risk for disruption because they are the only species of sea turtle that nests predominantly during daylight. If you are lucky enough to spot one of our nesting turtles, congrats! But do your part to protect these animals by staying back.

Lights can disorient turtles, so keep them off at night and only use red lights when absolutely necessary. These lights have less of an impact on the turtles.

Items should also be removed from the beach between sunset and sunrise. It is against county ordinance to leave items on the beach overnight.

By doing your part we can ensure these animals are here for years to come. Come learn about sea turtles and get up close with them at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Book your stay at

Tunes by the Dunes: free concert series schedule released

Tunes by the Dunes is returning this summer!

The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will kick off its 12th Annual Free Summer Concert Series May 30 at the Sand Crab Pavilion in Navarre Beach Park, just east of the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

The summer concert series will offer a line-up of 12 free outdoor concerts every Thursday from May 30 to Aug. 15, co-hosted by the Okaloosa Gas District, Navarre Press, Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Office and Chamber Foundation,

The series will showcase a variety of local musicians with the Gulf of Mexico and sunset as the backdrop. Each night, from 7 to 9 p.m. a different genre of music will be featured ranging from Jazz, Reggae, Southern Rock, Country, Oldies and much more.



  • May 30, Rowdies Rock (Classic Rock)
  • June 6, Tribe Zion (Reggae, Hip-Hop)
  • June 13, Platinum Premier Band (Various)
  • June 20, Paxton Norris Band (Blues)
  • June 27, Jay Williams (Modern Rock)
  • July 4, Robert Wayne (Country)
  • July 11, Glenn Parker (Variety, R&B)
  • July 18, Remedy Band (Southern Classic Rock)
  • July 25, Chloe Channell from “American Idol” (Country)
  • Aug. 1, Overdrive Band (Rock & Roll)
  • Aug. 8, Sheandtheits Band (Classic Rock)
  • Aug. 15, Freeway 98 (Blues, Funk, Rock and Pop, Southern Rock, Country, Classic Rock)


Spectators are encouraged to bring their beach blankets and lawn chairs for a night of free family entertainment. Come hungry as concessions will be provided by Navarre Chamber member food establishments, and a dance area will be provided to work off those extra calories.

The concert series is free and open to the public.

As a reminder, smoking is prohibited, and pets are not allowed. In the event of inclement weather, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will announce cancellations by 4:30 p.m. the day of concert. The most up-to-date information on Tunes by the Dunes will be provided via the Navarre Facebook Page.  For more information, log on to

Book your stay for the summer fun at


Blue Angels bring high flying fun

The Blue Angels have launched their 2019 season along our beautiful Florida beaches, and members of the public are invited to come check them out.

The Blues are a skilled team of U.S. Navy precision flight demonstrators who showcase the power and prowess of F/A-18s in sequence of impressive maneuvers in shows. They are accompanied by the C130 “Fat Albert” and other flight performers on occasion.

What could be better than a spot on the beach and a show in the sky? This year shows visible from Navarre Beach will be July 13 and November 8-9 (Homecoming Air Show).

You can also check out their practices at the National Naval Aviation Museum.


Blue Angels 2019 Practice Schedule

April 2, 3*, 9, 10*, 16, 17*, 18, 19, 23, 24*, 30

May 1*, 7, 14, 15*, 28, 29*

June 4, 5*, 11, 12, 18, 19*, 20, 21, 25, 26*

July 2, 3, 16

August 7*, 8, 9, 13, 14, 20

September 4*, 10, 11*, 12, 13, 17

October 16*, 22, 23*, 29, 30*

November 5, 6, 7 (1430 practices for End of Season Week)


Dates with a star (*) are autograph days at the National Naval Aviation Museum following the practice. All practices are at 11:30 a.m. unless otherwise noted. Practices may be cancelled on short notice due to weather and operational commitments.

Access to the Naval Museum for those visitors not in possession of Department of Defense ID is only through NAS West Gate Entrance located at 1878 S Blue Angel Parkway. 100% ID check for all visitors 16 years old and over to access the museum flight line to view Blue Angel practice.

The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the Museum Flight Line north of the Museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available for seating 1,000 people. Chair service is provided at each practice session, a limited quantity of chairs are available for a fee of $3 per chair good for that day’s practice session.

Concessions (bottled water, sport drinks, light food and treats) and merchandise are also available. Please note that backpacks, daypacks, luggage, or similar items are not allowed on the flight line during Blue Angel practice air shows. Small purses, bags containing medications and diaper bags are allowed, but are subject to search by Naval Air Station Pensacola Security personnel.

Come check out the show along beautiful Navarre Beach. You can view the fun from the balcony of your gulf front condo booked at

Inaugural Craft Beer Fest a success

If you missed Craft Beer Fest this year, you really missed out.

Garage operations, commercial brewhouses and mom and pop shops came out in force to Ye Olde Brothers Brewery inaugural Craft Beer Fest 2019 last month.

As Navarre’s first craft brewery and a leader in the region, Ye Olde brought together more than 20 local and regional craft brewers to offer samples of their wares in a friendly competition. And those wares were delicious.

As live music played, hundreds of 21 and overs sipped samples ranging from fruity concoctions to classic styles.

Home brewers Brett Reid and Thomas Grier of Alga Beer Co. took home the title of People’s Choice. Alga is looking to open up a brewery business in downtown Pensacola in the near future.

“It is awesome,” Reid said. “To be a home brewer right now and beat out regionally commercial breweries is pretty dope.”

The companies stand outs were a crawfish saison made with Zataran’s seasoning and lemon zest as well as their galapagos double IPA.

“We ran out of almost everything,” Reid said.

The name Alga is a mass up of the abbreviations for Alabama and Georgia. The company got its start as two dudes meeting up on the weekends to share their creations. Reid lived in Birmingham, and Grier was living in Atlanta.

Coming in second by just one vote was Navarre’s up and coming brewery, St. Michaels Brewing Company. Located at 2199 Highway 87, St. Michaels owner Michael Bares has already cleared land for construction of a new brewhouse and tap room. Their cream ale, Irish stout and other brews were favorites among those sampling.

“We are waiting for some of the engineered building plans to come back to us,” he said. “Then we go back to the county for our second review. Then hopefully we can start pulling permits for construction.”

The gulf coast sports an impressive brewing legacy, and these craft brewers are always ready to welcome new taste testers. Plan to attend next year’s Craft Beer Fest by booking today at

Seas the Day this weekend or have a pint at Ye Olde

It’s a busy—and fun– weekend here on Navarre Beach.

Saturday, March 30, beachgoers can have a ball free of charge at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center’s Seas the Day. This celebration will have crafts, animal encounters, games and activities for the whole family focused on the center’s mission: sea turtle and marine conservation.

Safari the African Spurred tortoise will be greeting visitors to the festivities.

Activities are free, but there is a $5 charge to enter the center where visitors will also have the opportunity to meet Sweet Pea, the center’s resident sea turtle. Other marine creatures also occupy the center.

The event honors the beginning of April, an important awareness month for children as it is Military Child Month, Autism Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Center treats this as a day to celebrate children with stress-free fun for everyone on the backdrop of our beautiful beach.

For the adults, Navarre’s first craft brewery will be hosting Craft Beer Fest 2019. More than 20 local and regional craft brewers will be offering samples of their beers. Admission to the festival includes live entertainment, beer tasting and a souvenir glass. There will be other vendors as well, including home brewing and other fun.

Guests will be asked to sample the brews, from IPAs to Stouts to Porter, determining best beer.

You won’t want to miss this one. Ye Olde is local staple known for good food, downhome fun and delicious beer. Best part is 10 percent of ticket sales go to the winning beer’s charity of choice.

Whether your looking for an entertaining and engaging day with the little ones or a little adult fun, we’ve got you covered on Navarre Beach, so book your stay at

Know before you go: ‘Pier pellies’

The brown and white seabirds are a common sight along the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, shuffling along the railing or dive-bombing the water.

It’s easy to see why. Our pier is frequented by their favorite food: fish. These birds have earned themselves the nickname “pier pellies.” Pier pellies can become habituated to humans if they find it is easy to get food around people.

But when pelicans and people mix, issues can arise said Caroline Stahala, Audubon Western Florida Panhandle shorebird manager.

It can be tempting when a pier pelly approaches asking for a snack to feed them spare bait or even people food. They can seem like feathered dogs, begging for a treat.

But do not give in.

Stahala and birds advocates say it is critical that we not feed these feathered friends.

“The easier they can get food for them, the better. It is low-effort food to them basically. We highly encourage people to not feed the pelicans. That includes directly and indirectly,” Stahala said.

This can be especially harmful when the food they are getting from people is not part of their natural diet.

“That sort of food is junk food to the birds. Nutritionally, it is not what they need,” Stahala said.

The feeding encourages the pelicans to interact with people, which can lead to trouble. Sometimes the birds can get caught in fishing line, swallow hooks or even fall ill after people have fed them things their systems are not equipped to handle.

Another big issue for pier pellies can arise when people try to touch the birds.

It is a very, very bad idea to pet a pelican.

For starters, pelicans have a hook-structure on the end of their beak used when they dive for fish. That hook-structure can cause deep cuts if the bird bites a person, which is all too likely if you try to pet them. The birds are also prone to feather mites and may carry contaminants on their feathers.

The birds may also have been previously hooked by fishermen or caught in fishing line. These hooks can cause cuts to those handling them.

Human touch can also damage the natural waterproofing of pelicans’ feathers that they need to be able to dive down and catch fish.

So don’t touch. Instead use that up close vantage of these pier dwelling birds to get a great photo.

If you see a destressed pelican on the pier, call our local wildlife refuge at 850-650-1880 or Florida FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Use care when handling the bird. A towel over the face is extremely helpful. When possible, leave it to the professionals.

Pelicans are graceful creatures, and symbolic to coastal communities. If we respect them, it can be a wonderful experience to see them up close on our pier. Come see for yourself through

2019 Spring Jam coming to Navarre Beach

Thousands of visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy live music with their toes in the surf and sand along Navarre Beach Sunday, March 24, during Spring Jam 2019.

Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors Grill has partnered with Cat Country 98.7 once again to offer the second annual Spring Jam, a one-day music festival along the Santa Rosa Sound. The event will be hosted at Juana’s.

Last year was a blast with fantastic music, food and fun on the beautiful backdrop of our white sandy beaches.

“The great thing about this event is we are able to bring artists that are in the top ten of country music charts,” said Juana’s event coordinator Dannie Hall. “Most of those are performing at the Wharf in Destin for $60 a ticket, where here you can see them for $10. And it helps Santa Rosa Kids House.”

This year’s headliner is Michael Ray with special guest Jimmie Allen and Everette to benefit Santa Rosa Kid’s House. Kid’s House is a local nonprofit supporting child victims of sexual abuse.

Other announced performers include Drop Dead Dangerous, James Adkins, Chloe Channell, and other bands to be announced. The event is presented by Gulf Winds Credit Union.

“It is top ten on country, and some of them are in the top five already. One is a really new artist, and he is rocking it. That is Everette,” Hall said. “The ones that were here last year are now on the CMAs. This is really the best time to see them.”

Doors will open at 3:30 p.m., and the show will start at 6 p.m. The event is an all ages. I highly recommend arriving early. Seriously, you want to be their at least an hour ahead of doors opening to get settled. Don’t worry, you won’t be bored waiting to get in.

There will be a parking lot party with food and live performances, sort of a pre-party to the beach fun.

Tickets are $10 online ahead of time and $20 at the door if available. Ticket sales are limited to 3,000, and Hall said they expect to sell out again this year. Children 2 and under are permitted without a ticket. There will be food and beverages on-site.

This is a rain or shine event. Seating is first come, first served. Beach towels are allowed.

Restricted items are:

• Tents

• Drones

• Umbrellas

• Strollers

• Chairs

• Coolers or outside food or drink

• Pets (registered service animals are permitted)

Professional video or photography is not allowed.

Book your vacation at, then get your tickets at and click on Spring Jam 2019.

The life of Eliza captures history at Arcadia

When Milton business­man Joseph Forsyth died in 1855 just outside the then-non-existent community of Navarre Beach, the dozens of slaves that called Arcadia Mill home faced an uncertain future.

“There would have been a lot of uncertainty. They are not told about the ways of the world,” said Adriane Walker, Arcadia site manager. “When they find out that their owner has died, they have no idea what is going to happen to them.”

But one young woman and her children were given a chance at a better life. “My girl Eliza” and her three eldest children were listed in Forsyth’s will. He expressly called for them to be transported to a free state, a state where slavery had been abolished, and he called for a stipend for living expenses to be paid out of his estate to her and her children.

Eliza’s story is one of many shared as part of the rich history of Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site and Homestead. This “museum” is located just north of Navarre Beach, and offers a variety of ways to dive into history in the region.

Whether you choose to walk the expanse of boardwalks through the site, tour the interactive homestead property, attend a history talk or check out the mill site exhibits, this site is a history buff’s dream.

Eliza’s story captures a big part of the debate around slavery at the time.

A large population of African-American slaves lived at Arcadia throughout the years working the dangerous wood mill equipment. But when the complex added a cotton mill in 1845, roughly 40 female slaves were purchased and brought to the mill.

Walker explained that conventional wisdom at the time held that women and girls were better at working the machinery because of their smaller fingers.

But the mill also called into question some deeply held prejudices.

One of the notions used to justify slavery was that African-Americans were less capable of skilled labor than white workers, Walker explained. As the cotton mill thrived in the area, those prejudices were challenged.

A Pensacola Gazette article at the time read: “To suppose, as many have pretended to do, that they are not equal to white girls in a factory is ridiculous nonsense. It is to suppose that the power of manipu­lation depends on the color of the fingers.”

Multiple generations began to occupy the slave cabins that lined the property.

But with Forsyth’s passing, many of these families were in danger of being separated. Eliza’s family was no different. While Forsyth’s wishes were expressly listed, Walker said it was not guaranteed that those wishes would be carried out. Luckily, Forsyth’s representatives did work to free Eliza.

The journey would have been long and dangerous. The family was making its way to the free state of New York, but to get there they would have to travel through Southern states that heavily supported slavery.

Despite having legal documentation freeing her and her children, the family would have faced danger of being detained or even sold back into slavery if they were spotted along the way. They were likely escorted by one of Forsyth’s business associates.

“I would imagine a lot the journey meant them literally hiding, covertly traveling to get to a free state. It was probably a very dangerous trip. It is amazing they made it,” Walker said.

At just 29 years old, Eliza’s entire life was about to change. She was accompanied by her three freed children: Laura, 9, Francis, 8, and Augustus, 7. Walker said researchers were unsure whether she had successfully made the journey until a student was able to find census records in New York showing her name a year after the trip.

There is another surprise in Eliza’s story.

In the census records confirming her successful escape, there are not three children listed but four. A 1-year-old girl named Susan was among the family. Adding to the mystery, the infant Susan was found listed among an inventory of slaves to be sold after Forsyth’s death.

Susan had somehow escaped.

Further records showed that stipends of $1,200 were paid to Eliza and her children by the Forsyth family for years after Joseph Forsyth’s death, as requested in the will. Only through records uncovered and archaeological work done by the university students and employees could these lives be revealed.

Many questions regarding Eliza’s story remain unanswered. Walker said no one knows why Forsyth chose to free her, though it was not an unheard-of practice, especially for slaves that worked in the household of their owner. Walker said it’s also possible that Forsyth was the father of Eliza’s children. On census records, their race is listed as mixed. But there is no way to know for sure, at least not yet.

Exploration of Arcadia’s history continues. The site hosted their grand opening of the homestead site to the public this month, offering a new perspective on the history of the region from the days of slavery and into the 21st century.

Make this unique stop part of your vacation plan at