Welcome home Sweet Pea


She’s finally back! I am very excited to announce that Sweet Pea the juvenile green sea turtle has returned to her home at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

For several weeks Sweet Pea received medical care at Gulf World Marine Institute for a long-term intestinal condition, but she’s a fighter and no illness was going to keep her down.

Sweet Pea went through a lot before coming to live at the sea turtle center.

In August 2016, she was rescued by Gulfarium after she washed up on shore tangled in fishing line. The fishing line had caused damage both inside and out. One of her front flippers had to be amputated, but that doesn’t stop this feisty turtle.

What has slowed her down was the damage caused inside. The fishing line, in addition to a possible spinal injury, made Sweet Pea’s intestinal track not work as effectively as it should. She has had trouble passing food for years.

To help her tackle this issue, Gulf World’s veterinarians brought Sweet Pea in for diagnostic treatment. Now, she is on a diet that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

It is called Mazuri Sea Turtle Gel Diet for Herbivorous Turtles.

This strange green “gel” is kind of like tofu in texture, and it is nutritionally complete for a turtle like Sweet Pea.

And she loves the stuff, gobbling it up from her care takers and the turtle center.

Visitors can check say hello Tuesday through Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center in the Navarre Beach Marine Park. Book your visit at NavarreListings.com.

Stopping plastic pollution can be fun

Have you ever seen a six-foot-tall straw tell folks to pick up their litter? What about a splashing dolphin made entirely of goggles and masks?

Sea creatures constructed from garbage and turtle-tastic crafts were a few of the activities at this year’s Sea Turtle Extravaganza. This festival marking the end of sea turtle nesting season is hosted by the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

The best part is that the activities are really focused on the kids.

The goal of the event is to make learning about conservation and marine life fun through painting, splashing and so much more.

A big message of this year’s festival was tackling plastic pollution. Kids could check out the art sculptures built entirely out of items collected off the beach, check out the Stranger Things Thing in which volunteers collected a variety of peculiar items off the beach, play games, make crafts that taught about wildlife, paint a banner and other activities.

Inside, visitors could tour the aquariums of the sea turtle center. The center also added a new activity where the kids can search for shark teeth through sandy excavation. I will admit that as an adult, I still totally tried my hand at it.

Navarre Beach prides itself on being an ecotourism destination, and the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is a perfect example. The festival is part of that celebration of our beach and its wildlife.

The center is located in the heart of our Marine Park, one of the few examples left of an uncrowded Gulf Coast beach with white sand, lazy surf and park amenities. It is an ecotourism destination in and of itself. Its my favorite.

On the topic of ecotourism and engaging the kids, coming later this month is the Science Spooktacular. This creepy marine science themed festival is hosted by the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station located behind the sea turtle center.

Participants can get into costume and try out kid-friendly experiments or get hands on with some of the native wildlife in our touch tanks or pilot an ROV or learn about reefs through our live feed camera.

Its always a blast and is scheduled for Saturday. If you missed Sea Turtle Extravaganza, you definitely need come to Spooktacular.

Or schedule your vacation for next October to come check out our turtle-tastic and spooky autumn festival fun. Make your plans at navarrelistings.com.

“The Grand Old Lady” turns 105

Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and just north of Navarre Beach we celebrated a big one this week.

Known as “The Grand Old Lady,” the Imogene Theatre turned 105! This theatre has been offering entertainment in downtown Milton for generations. Milton is a quaint little town just north of our beaches.

Built in 1912, she opened her doors for the first time Oct. 13, 1913.

The cost of construction at that time was $25,000, which would be equal to roughly $631,000 today based on inflation. Yeesh! Looking at her timeless beauty, you can see why she cost a pretty penny.

Milton historians have kept great records of her life through the decades, and they are always on hand to share these stories. The theater was born out of need in the community. In 1909, a massive fire claimed most of the downtown buildings including the community center.

So Steven Harvey, president of the area bank, set out to recreate that space. He envisioned a vaudeville-style theater with shops on the bottom floor and a variety of performances upstairs.

He contracted with locally infamous architect Walker Willis who designed many of the historic structures still standing in the area including the Milton School building and the San Carlos Hotel.

At the time of her founding, Imogene was not yet Imogene. She was called the Milton Auditorium and Opera House, but when the Gooch family purchase the theater a decade later, it was renamed after Imogene Gooch, then 7 years old. The living Imogene was quite the entertainer herself, performed on the stage as a child and famously singing the song “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Through the ages, Imogene hosted live performances, the first silent films, then the first “talkies” or movies with sound. She survived hurricanes, flood and more fires.

In 2009, a fire nearly claimed our Grand Old Lady. Damage to the inside of the building was extensive and our hearts were broken that we might loose this gem of our history.

But the Milton Historical Society rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt her, sticking true to the historic finishes Walker Willis planned nearly a century before.

Now she holds host to performances each weekend including mystery dinner theater, nationally known musical acts and other events.

If you have not seen the Improbable Cause Mystery Dinner folks do their thing you are missing a side splitting time, and the acoustics of the theater for musical performances have become legend among musicians that visit her.

And a historical tour, complete with ghost stories and artifacts from Imogene’s life are always a treat.

So come celebrate the Grand Old Lady with us. Book at navarrelistings.com.

Navarre Beach has plenty running fun

If running is your thing, October is your time to visit Navarre Beach.

While I am by no means a professional runner, I do enjoy the morning jog, and I have tried my hand at a 5K.

But whether you are a novice like me or you are a running pro, Navarre Beach’s running season has your back. During the coming months, the weather is milder. It is not actually cold enough to be considered winter, but the autumn breeze takes the edge off our sunshine.

Perfect weather for running.

My favorite of the runs is the Run for the Reef 5K, 10K and Children’s Fun Run. I favor the 5K run along our beautiful beach, and I will leave the 10K to the professionals. The timing for this event is done by a top-notch professional crew, meaning you know if you beat your personal best or met that goal time you are training for.

An impressive tidbit from this year’s Run for the Reef, the first-place female was actually 12-year-old Jasmine Daugaurd who smoked the course easy.

For the younger kids Run for the Reef also features

And the best part is they are all for a good cause. Run for the Reef supports the pristine natural Navarre Beach Marine Park and its reef systems. The Pink Pirates “Treasure Your Chest” 5K run later this month is of course in support of breast cancer awareness, specifically helping women afford lifesaving mammograms for early detection.

Coming Dec.1 we will also have the Navarre Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk/Fun Run which is always a treat.

The area has also seen its fair share of obstacle runs such as the Warrior Run this year. That one is way above my skill level, but my friend said she had a blast taking on military grade obstacles and pushing her body to the limit.

After your run, you can relax along our lovely beaches or get some holiday shopping done at one of our unique boutiques. (Christmas is less than 90 days away. Eek!)

Come test your skill, or enjoy a beach front jog, through navarrelistings.com

Fishing Rodeo fun for all ages coming to Navarre Beach

Fishermen young and old and of all skill levels are making their way to Navarre Beach because the sixth annual Navarre Beach Fishing Rodeo is upon us.

This is by far my favorite event of the Beaches to Woodlands Tour (scroll down to read more about this event series).

The rodeo will be held Oct. 6-7. As the saying goes “fish from the shore, a boat, kayak or from the pier- you just can’t fish from the seafood market!” All are welcome.

During the festivities the pier is hopping with fishers of all ages angling to catch the most massive fish in a variety of categories based on species, fishing-style and participant age.

Six divisions will highlight the rodeo, including the Navarre Seafood Open Division and the Half Hitch Kayak Division. Participants can win in different divisions; Windjammers Junior Division, Scooter’s Offshore Slam, Scooter’s Inshore Slam and the Invasive Lion Fish Division (which requires no registration fee) and a list of fish categories. Bragging rights, trophies and cash prizes are on the line.

Registration can be done at NavarreFishingRodeo.com, Half-Hitch Bait and Tackle, Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle or the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. As an added bonus, registrants receive a captain’s bag with gifts from sponsors and a fishing rodeo T-shirt.

While the Fishing Rodeo invites all ages to compete, it also features an event focused on teaching kids: the annual Take A Kid Fishing clinic on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

Scheduled for Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., this event is a great way to introduce children to the sport of fishing. Every year I see hundreds of children smiling as they learn how the art. The kiddos receive lessons in conservation, native fish species, bait, how to fish and more.

Plus, every registered kiddo receives free fishing poles to take home. Start times will be staggered at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and is open to children ages 5-12. Registration is at Eventbrite.com under “9th Annual Take a Kid Fishing presented by Holley by the Sea Fishing Club.”

Best of all the events also coincide with Fish Free Weekend where admission for the pier is free. Some of the Gulf of Mexico’s best fishing is waiting along our emerald shores, and for that weekend only it is free to cast off from the longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico.

Don’t have any poles? You’re in luck. The Pier store offers a variety of rods and reels for rental meaning even inexperienced fishermen can get involved.

Win or lose, pro or amateur, it’s always a blast on beautiful Navarre Beach. Plan to be here Oct. 6-7 at navarrelistings.com.

Slip on in to the Slippery Mermaid

Good vacations require good eats. Nothing shatters the picturesque tropical escape image quite like a bland meal from a chain restaurant.

In recent years I have had to make an admission to myself: I am a bit of an incorrigible foodie.

I confess, my phone’s camera is full of pictures of gorgeous eats, and I have been known to hunt down a great Mediterranean place in the back of a gas station on a rumor alone. Try not to judge.

But back to your vacation. As you are soaking up the rays on Navarre Beach you may ponder ‘where am I going to get the perfect dinner to round out this perfect day?’

I have several recommendations, but if sushi is your thing no place is better than Slippery Mermaid. I love this place. With a light, beachy atmosphere, the Mermaid offers indoor and outdoor seating with a water front view. About a five-minute drive from the island, this place offers a variety of classic sushi and Asian-inspired cuisine.

I highly recommend the Poseidon roll, and as a fan of octopus I always get the octopus nigiri.

For those of you that are not big fans of fish, I highly recommend the Raider Roll. This steak sushi is named for our local champion high school football team the Navarre Raiders, and it will fill the stomach of any carnivore.

Aside from a fun, beachy-feel and delicious food, the Slippery Mermaid is also a cut above thanks to their eco-friendly attitude. The restaurant does not use plastic single-use containers. All of their sauce bowls, serving dishes and even the chop sticks are biodegradable.

And they love the motto “skip the straw.” This movement is based on the idea that restaurants should ask whether visitors want to use a single-use, plastic straw rather than just providing them automatically.

Straws are a big contributor to plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and our oceans. I had a group of kiddos recently give me a lesson in ocean pollution, and what can I say, they convinced me. Now I tote a reusable metal straw in my purse for those occasions we visit a restaurant. (Protip: a travel toothbrush holder will keep your straw clean while its floating around in your purse, should you decide to start carrying one, too.)

So Slippery Mermaid only provides straws on request, meaning less plastic waste.

Good food that you can feel good about. I love that.

Try the sushi on beautiful Navarre Beach, navarrelistings.com.

Movie’s with a view at Toes-N-Sand on pier

In throwback to the days of the drive-in movies, the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is hosting the Toes-N-Sand Sunset Movies series.

As the sun slips down over the rippling Gulf of Mexico on beautiful Navarre Beach, a big projection screen is set up in the sand. At approximately 8 p.m. each Wednesday night the folks at Windjammers, the pier restaurant, start the show.

Best of all the fun is free!

All you need is a blanket to toss in the sand. Food and beverages will also be available. Bring the whole family for a night of classic cinema with the added bonus of a beautiful view.

The beach front fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun goes down. I recommend after a long day of playing in the surf, head back to your spacious condominium. Take a quick shower in the full-size restrooms and get dressed for the evening fun.

Then you can grab dinner on the pier at Windjammers with a front row seat for a magnificent sunset.  I recommend the seafood tacos and beach burgers for the littles.

After dinner watch the evening movie on a blanket beneath the stars.

This weekend’s movie is “Dirty Dancing,” and other classics played include “The Goonies,” “Jaws” and “Grease.”

Beside the Wednesday night movies, the pier also offers live music certain evenings on weekends.

Come join the fun. Book at navarrelistings.com.