Rhino baby Katana makes her debut at the zoo

The Gulf Breeze Zoo celebrated a very special Mother’s Day this year with one new and very large mom. Katie, the zoo’s 8-year-old white rhinoceros, has a new wrinkly baby in tow. Her name is Katana, and she is too cute.

Katana was born Jan. 20 at a whopping 100 pounds. She now weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and stands roughly two feet tall. Her first horn has just started to grow.

Her mother Katie was pregnant for 16 months before giving birth to the little rhino. Zoo staff had been keeping a close eye on Katie in anticipation of the baby, but one morning they came to the rhino barn to find a surprise inside.

Katana had snuck into the world and quickly snuck her way into the keepers’ hearts. Zoo staff say Katie has taken to motherhood perfectly. Katana has taken to zoo life well too.

Katana loves to play and be rubbed. One of her favorite games is to run and burst through freshly laid piles of hay. Though she is still nursing from mom, Katana also likes to try grazing the grass alongside her mom.

Katana is expected to do a lot of growing, putting on 10 pounds a day. Her final weight will be somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds when she reaches maturity at 4 years old.

Her father Robbie is even larger, weighing in close to 5,000 pounds.

Besides growing big and strong, Katana has an important job ahead of her acting as an ambassador for her species in the wild.

All five rhino species are endangered in the wild where poachers hunt rhinos for their horns. Some cultures believe that rhino horns have special medical properties and even act as aphrodisiacs, but, the horns are actually made of keratin, the same material as human finger nails.

Two to three wild rhinos are poached a day in the wild. Their numbers are quickly dwindling, and at the current rate, wild rhinos are expected to go extinct in the next 20 years.

Katana and her family act as a reminder to us all that our rhinos, and all the diverse wildlife that call this planet home should be protected.

The rhino family of three can be seen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day while aboard the zoo’s train tour. Come check out all 800 exotic species that call the zoo home.

The Gulf Breeze Zoo is just a short drive from one of our premium Navarre Beach condominiums. Make meeting Katana part of your vacation plans at navarrelistings.com.

Top 5 Instagram-Worthy Spots along Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach is surrounded by natural beauty, cool activities and delicious eats and sips. There is no shortage of Instagrammable places, but here are five you can’t miss.

 

  1. Walking the Blackwater River Walk in historic downtown Milton

Historic downtown Milton is a quick drive north from Navarre Beach. Between the historic architecture, scrumptious food and the iconic Imogene Theatre, there are no shortage of places to get your Insta fix, but my favorite photo worthy spot is along the Riverwalk with the expanse of the Blackwater River at your back.

 

  1. Visiting Sweet Pea at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

The NBSTCC is a unique place dedicated to education on and conservation of endangered sea turtles. The center is home to a variety of local wildlife including Sweet Pea, the center’s resident green sea turtle. Sweet Pea is just a juvenile sea turtle, weighing only about 16 pounds, but an accident with fishing line caused her to lose one of her front flippers meaning she can never be released into the wild. But that has not slowed her down.

She’s a real testament to the resiliency of nature and a fun little gal. Get your photo with our gal and don’t forget to tag the center.

 

  1. Paying respects at Blackhawk Memorial

On March 10, 2015, an air training accident over Santa Rosa Sound claimed the lives of 11 service members when a Blackhawk helicopter plummeted into the waters. In their honor, a memorial has been set up in the heart of Navarre Park, overlooking the scene of the tragedy.

At just the right time in the afternoon, the sun gleams beautifully off the wings of the memorial’s eagle creating a worthwhile photo to honor the fallen men and women who served this country.

 

  1. Trying the flight at Ye Olde Brothers Brewery

Ye Olde Brother Brewery is the first craft brewery to open in Navarre. Aside from featuring some delicious wood fire pizza and smoked meats, this brewery is home to dozens of locally made beers. From the amazing Black Bear Honey Wheat to my personal favorite, the Blackwater Stout, these brothers have mastered the art of incredible beer. And the menu changes with the season. One day you may find a porter that tastes like coffee and chocolate and the next day it’s a wit with a touch of Florida blueberries.

The best way to experience all they have to offer is to try the flight. Snap a pic of the colorful arrangement before you start tasting them.

 

  1. Enjoying the sunset along Navarre Beach Fishing Pier

The longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico is right here along Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. To walk the pier only costs a dollar per person. For the best photo of a Navarre Beach sunset walk about halfway down the pier and turn slightly to the right (west) to get the full effect of the sky and water. Truly breathtaking.

 

So come explore and get your perfect Insta at beautiful Navarre Beach. Book your photo-worthy vacation today at navarrelistings.com.

Imogene Theatre boasts history, entertainment and fun

Just up the road from Navarre Beach is the jewel known as historic downtown Milton along beautiful Blackwater River. Once the heart of a thriving riverside mill town, downtown has transformed into a walkable, entertainment area.

The area boasts a lovely bike trail, unique shopping, delicious food (Blackwater Bistro is a must) and a gorgeous riverfront walk (best spot for a family photo). This area is definitely worth dedicating a day of your vacation to explore.

Perhaps the best of the Blackwater is the Imogene Theatre.

Originally built as a public auditorium in 1912, the brick building was later purchased by Clyde Gooch. Gooch transformed it into a vaudeville style theater that would become a gem of the area. He named it after one of the first performers to take to its stage, his 7-year-old daughter Imogene Gooch.

Imogene was known as a sweet, talented and enchanting young lady, much like the theater that bears her name.

Fire has tried to claim the theater twice, and though those blazes did scorch many of the original wood architecture that made up Milton, the Imogene stood strong.

Over the years the theater has grown to include nationally know performances, a historic museum and even hosts weddings.
The building boast much of the same architecture it had back in the day, but the entertainment had definitely taken a step into the present.

Here are a few of the upcoming performances:

May 17 – Steve Earle & The Dukes 30th anniversary of Copperhead Road

May 26 – Cornbread Cosa Nostra in Milton, Florida at the Imogene Theatre

June 14 – Sold Out – Sammy Kershaw Live in Concert

July 20 – Ben Bailey, host of Cash Cab, stand-up comedy

Aug 24 – Stand Up Comedy- Greg Fitzsimmons

Oct 13 – Collin Raye Live in Concert

To reserve your spot for one of these upcoming shows go to theimogenetheatre.com. Then book your accommodations along some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches at navarrelistings.com.

Bird watching season, top 5 places to spot

This time of year, Navarre Beach’s undisturbed natural spaces come to life in new way as feathery residents return for another nesting season.

Black skimmers with their tuxedo-like pattern and oddly elongated, orange beaks have arrived to nest among the sand dunes in Navarre once again, accompanied by tiny least terns.

Further inland migratory and nonmigratory species of songbirds mingle such as among the treetops and grasslands. A variety of birds of prey, including majestic bald eagles and water-diving osprey, are also out in force.

In swamps and coastal waters blue herons slowly and steadily trek the shallows searching for a fish meal.

The Navarre Beach area offers both amateur and seasoned bird watchers a real treat with more than 300 widely varying bird species calling this coastal community and its surrounding woodlands home.

The areas unique biodiversity and mix of ecosystems brings in a wide array of bird species including year-round natives and migrant species.

From the sweeping slow circles of a brown pelican’s 7-foot wingspan to the zipping flaps a tiny ruby-throated hummingbird, bird watchers can expect to see majestic birds of prey, colorful songbirds, waterfowl and coastal birds.

The miles and miles of habitat these birds call home in and near Navarre Beach include stretches of uninterrupted coastline, winding rivers, windswept grasslands, murky swamps, teeming bayous and hushed forests.

On Navarre Beach and within a half hour’s drive are a variety of locations to spot the birds. Some of the best spots include:

  1. Gulf Islands National Seashore, one of longest uninterrupted examples of Florida coastline
  2. Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and Marine Sanctuary, both boast excellent opportunities to not only spot shorebirds but also marine species
  3. Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze, featuring picnic-friendly water fronts and winding woodland nature trails
  4. Blackwater River State Park, acres of river, woodland trails, pitcher plant swamps and more
  5. Garcon Point Trail, a 1.5-mile trail for spotting

Ready for some birding? Grab a guide book, a pair of binoculars and book your vacation today at navarrelistings.com

Navarre Beach recognized as top Florida 10Best Beach

USA Today 10Best has named Navarre Beach to their top 5 Reader’s Choice 2018 Best Florida Beaches.

Of the 825 miles of coastline along Florida, it is no surprise that Navarre’s little slice of heaven stole a spot in the top five, coming in at number four.

The list is created by a group of travel experts who select 20 nominees. Then the public is invited to vote on their favorite, creating a shortlist of 10 destinations.

Praised for our powdery white sands, turquoise waters and uncrowded coastlines, Navarre Beach offers miles of uninterrupted, public access beaches that put other locations in Florida and abroad to shame.

Navarre Beach is southern hospitality, laid back island mentality and natures majesty all rolled into one unique destination.

We also boast the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico, unique snorkeling experiences along our artificial reef, a one of a kind sea turtle conservation center and so much more.

Also snagging a top spot is neighboring Gulf Islands National Seashore at number 3 on the list. Gulf Islands is located just a few minutes drive west along Gulf Boulevard from our luxury condos.

This park features some of the best preserved sand dunes on the gulf, gorgeous views, native wildlife and plenty of space to spread out for an afternoon of surf and sunbathing.

This national park was also named 10Best Readers’ Choice 2018 Best Florida Attraction beating out overcrowded theme parks like Walt Disney World and other more widely known locations like the Dry Tortugas.

Our home here is known as “Florida’s best kept secret,” but it appears the secret is out. We would love to share our secret with you.

Plan your vacation today at navarrelistings.com.

Know before you go: Beach safety

March marks the beginning of beach season along Florida’s shimmering gulf coast. That also means our lifeguards are back on duty along Navarre Beach.

Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. lifeguards will be monitoring the public gulf side beach areas each day to keep an eye out for trouble.

Swimming in an area where lifeguards are present ensures your safety and the safety of others. Our lifeguards are trained and experienced lifesavers. I make a point to swim in areas where lifeguards are visible. I’ve grown up swimming in the waters of the gulf, but better to be safe than sorry.

A beach vacation can be loads of fun, but any body of water comes with risks. Being aware of conditions and educating yourself will ensure a safe and memorable beach experience.

The flag system

Lifeguards will post color-coded flags every day along the beach letting visitors know the water conditions forecasted for that day. The flags will be updated according to condition changes.

Here’s what the flag colors mean.

Green: Low hazard

Conditions are calm. There is always a risk when swimming so be aware, but on green flag days risks are minimal.

Yellow: Medium hazard

Use caution while swimming. There will be light to moderate surf, and rip currents are possible. Children should stay close to shore, not going deeper than their waist height.

Red: High Hazard

There are rough conditions, strong surf and rip currents are likely. Lifeguards advise all swimmers to avoid entering the water above the knee. In the event of an emergency, these conditions could prevent rescuers from reaching you. Even professional swimmers have trouble on red flag days. Stay safe. Stay on shore.

Double Red: Water is closed to the public

Conditions are unsafe. Stay out of the water.

Purple: Marine pests

A purple flag may be flown along with any of the above flag colors. This means that animals such as jellyfish, stingrays or dangerous fish may have been spotted in the area. Swimming is likely safe. Ask a lifeguard for more information.

Rip currents

Rip currents are strong, narrow currents that flow outward from the beach. They are a natural occurrence, and potentially dangerous to swimmers. They can be deadly.

When a swimmer is caught in a rip current the flow of water pulls them away from shore. The current will not pull you under, but it can be scary.

It’s tempting to try and swim against the current toward shore. DO NOT DO THIS. The current will lead to fatigue even for strong swimmers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association outlines exactly what to do in the event of a rip current.

If you find yourself caught in a rip current. Float, don’t swim. Remain calm and evaluate your situation. If people are on shore, wave and shout to alert them that you are in need of help.

Calmly swim parallel to shore eventually making your way out of the current and getting back to shore at an angle.

If you see someone else caught in a rip current, alert a lifeguard. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Even trained life savers do not attempt rescues without a flotation device.

Instead send something that floats to the person. Along Navarre Beach, emergency flotation devices are located at the foot of main beach walkover for this purpose.

If a lifeguard is not available, call 911.

With any natural space, there are risks along the coastline. But with proper education and precaution, a beach vacation can be a wonderful experience.

Come soak up the sun with us along Navarre Beach. Book your vacation today at NavarreListings.com.

10 dos and don’ts for your beach bag (and why)

There is nothing funnier to me than watching a family make their first trek down to the Gulf of Mexico.

On that first visit, you have two types: the bring-it-alls and the under-preparers.

Neither is a good camp to be in. Bring-it-alls are the people who think they need to pack everything and then some to go to the beach. They have chairs, grills, three thousand towels, six fully inflated rafts, pounds of sand toys, coolers and eight bottles of sunscreen. They are puffing and sweating just trying to carry all that stuff down to the water. And packing up to leave is a mess.

Under-preparers show up with nothing. Maybe a towel. Likely not a single sunscreen bottle. There trek to the water is easy-peasy, but their sunburnt, sandy skin at the end of the day tells a different story.

You need not be either of these unfortunate souls. I’ve been visiting the beach with my mother and sister since I was in diapers, and I now have packing down to a science. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Do pack sunscreen. The UV index, an indicator of how intense the sunlight is, can get to a 10 on a 12-point scale during peak hours of summer. That bright, warm sunshine is what we love most about the Florida coastline, but it can also be dangerous. Sunburn is no joke. Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen before you leave your condominium or beach house rental. Bring the bottle with you and reapply every 1-2 hours.
  2. Don’t over pack. The white sands of the beach are beautiful, but they are also hard to walk across with your arms loaded down and a cooler in tow. Limit yourself to one bag/cooler per person at most. This will make the walk to the water much easier.
  3. Do bring water, and lots of it. Like I said, the beach can get hot. While that makes for a fabulous vacation, fun in the sun can dehydrate you. Everyone should drink at least two bottles throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  4. Don’t inflate rafts before you reach the water. I am not a big fan of these floaty devices, but my mother loves them. She’ll float and soak for hours. Plus, little ones may need the added swim protection of water wings. If you do pack them, don’t inflate them until you reach the surf.  When you leave, deflate and roll them to pack up. It will make life that much easier.
  5. Do bring an extra towel. My rule of thumb is a towel per person plus one for every three in a group.  So for example, six people would need eight towels. Undoubtedly you are going to want to sit on one towel or little Jimmy is going to get his towel wet or you are going to need a towel to wrap up those wet bathing suits for transport.
  6. Don’t pack sand toys. Borrow them instead! The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center has a nifty borrow bin filled with sand toys, boogie boards and more, free to use. Swing by the center on the beach and grab a handful before making your way to the water. At the end of the day, return the toys to the bucket.
  7. Do protect your electronics. Water and sand are not electronic friendly. I recommend leaving the camera in the condo and using your cell phone instead. A waterproof or water-resistant case should protect your phone if you are careful, and Ziploc bags offer cheap protection for other necessities.
  8. Don’t leave a trace. Navarre Beach has a “leave no trace” ordinance in place. This means it is illegal to leave items out on the beach after dark. This law protects our local wildlife, especially nesting sea turtles! Remember to pack up everything when you leave.  Bring a grocery bag to carry all garbage, fill in all holes and knock down those sand castles to pave the way for our local wildlife. When we all do a little it goes a long way.
  9. Do grab baby powder.  This stuff is for more than powdering juniors bottom. Baby powder is an excellent tool for getting sand off your toes before loading back into the car. There are shower stations available for rinsing your tootsies, but I have found baby powder works easier and faster. Plus, no dripping in the car. Just sprinkle on your feet and brush it away.
  10. Don’t stress it. This is a vacation. In the end no one is going to look back on your vacation and remember whether or not you packed that one snack or sand bucket. You are going to remember the great moments shared together so relax.

 

Visit navarrelistings.com to book your stay today!