Windjammers now open at the pier

Windjammers Restaurant and Bar on beautiful Navarre Beach is finally open, and I am more than a little excited.

The much anticipated, nautically-themed eatery is yet another addition to the tasty bites and sips available on Navarre Beach.

Located on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, Windjammers is serving up fresh-from-the-gulf, locally-caught seafood, scrumptious sandwiches, beefy burgers, salads, soups and more.

Alongside the locally sourced menu is an even better locally-sourced craft beer menu. These cold ones are brewed by the entrepreneur brother’s over at Ye Olde Brother’s Brewery, Navarre’s first craft brewery. Some of the selections will not be available anywhere else.

Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, the restaurant has something for everyone.

Patrons to the restaurant will be able to dine just feet from some of the whitest beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. After lunch you can take a walk down the longest fishing pier in the gulf to work off your meal or just relax in the sands below.

Learn more and check out the menu at windjammersonthepier.com.

The company that is managing both the restaurant, pier and newly opened Sand Dollars gift shop is Growing Santa Rosa Enterprise, a team of sharp locals with a love for what makes Navarre Beach so unique.

They have taken an already great location to the next level, and they are ready to give visitors a whole new experience with even more additions to come.

Sunsets on the deck of the pier never fail to amaze, so set yourself up at a table on the deck, order a plate, grab a pint and watch as the sun descends over beautiful Navarre Beach.

Reserve your vacation today at NavarreListings.com.

Hello, Sweet Pea!

The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center welcomed a new turtle to the family this week and the little girl is feisty.

Sweet Pea is a juvenile green sea turtle weighing in at just 17 pounds. She small, but she is mighty.

And visitors checking her out might do a double take because this young turtle has overcome some big trauma.

Sweet Pea was rescued Aug. 26, 2016, in Alabama and brought to the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. team. She was found wrapped in fishing gear both inside and out.

“She was a hot mess when we got her,” said Meredith Horn, director of marketing and communications for Gulfarium. “We coined her our ‘miracle survivor.’”

This miracle survivor had suffered severe trauma to her left side. Her front left flipper was badly damaged and had to be amputated.

One of her back flippers also had some paralysis due to the trauma.

Because of the extent of her injuries, Sweet Pea was deemed non-releasable by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which made her a good fit for the NBSTCC.

And since then her injuries have not slowed her down. Already her care takers say she is zooming around her pool like it’s nothing. Like any other kid, she loves to play with her food, toying with her PVC lettuce holder before chomping down.

More than just finding a forever home, Little Sweet Pea, has a mission to save other sea turtles from human impact. The result of her trauma can be readily seen and is a message in itself.

With the help of her caregivers Sweet Pea tells visitors how they can help protect not only sea turtles but other marine species for years to come.

Sweet Pea is ready to say hello to you and your family. Plan your vacation today.

Moon pies by the thousand

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Or, for those who don’t speak Cajun French, let the good times roll!

It is Mardi Gras season and the revelry is already under way here in sunny Navarre Beach.

So grab a slice of king cake and prepare for Fat Tuesday on Feb. 13, because the upcoming fun will be nothing you want to miss.

For Navarre, the culmination of the celebration will come Feb. 3 during the annual parade.

The best part is while some places (which will remain unnamed) get a little crazy, Navarre Beach’s parade always keeps the little ones in mind with a family friendly atmosphere.

The Navarre Krewe of Jesters take care to make it a memorable experience every year.

Nearly 18,000 strings of beads, thousands of moon pies and other fun throws will be raining down from dozens of delightfully decorated floats as the parade winds its way along Gulf Boulevard.

For first time parade goers, here is a little advice. First arrive early so you can get a primo seat for the parade. Second be careful of the edge of the road. Though it will be closed to traffic, safety should always be kept in mind.

Third and most important have fun. Relax, sing, dance and catch some beads.

Some local fun to check out on your vacation

Krewe of Jesters Mardi Gras Ball

Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.

Navarre Conference Center

Cordova Mall Ball

Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.

Cordova Mall in Pensacola

Navarre Beach Mardi Gras Parade

Feb. 3 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Along Gulf Boulevard on Navarre Beach

Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade

Feb. 9 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Palafox and Government Streets in downtown Pensacola

Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade

Feb. 10 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Downtown Pensacola

Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras Parade

Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.

Via de Luna and Avenida 10 on Pensacola Beach

Snowbirds get some extra fun

This time of year, a lot of the tourists have disappeared off Navarre Beach.

Schools back in session. Budgets are tight post holidays, and the temperature has tipped a little low.

But this is the season of the snowbird, and frankly I love it.

For those of you who do not know, snowbird is the affectionate term for seniors that travel to beaches along the Gulf Coast during the winter months.

Right around this time of year we start to see visitors with a few more years of experience, and there is no shortage of fun for our silver fun seekers.

For one thing the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station has stepped up its game this year by offering an all new Snowbirds by the Sea series. Ranging in topics from crafting to beach combing to fighting invasive lionfish these events are filling up fast. Schedules and registration are available at https://www.navarresciencestation.org/snowbirds.

Looking to the mainland, the Navarre Beach Snowbirds Club will also be hosting several events throughout the season.

The Snowbirds Expo is always a big hit with freebies and samples from all the restaurants and businesses that Navarre has to offer.

There will also be socials, other fun activities and even a sweethearts Valentine’s Day dance throughout the coming months. Check it out at http://navarrebeachsnowbirdsclub.com/.

So to our silver vacationers, I say welcome to our little corner of paradise here on Navarre Beach.

Gulf Islands National Seashore named Best Florida Attraction

USA Today has named Gulf Island National Seashore the 10Best Readers’ Choice 2018 Best Florida Attraction.

And it is no surprise. Located just to the west of Navarre Beach’s shores is one of the best preserved national parks in country. Sweeping sugar white sand dunes support unique plants and wildlife including beach mice, sea oats and shorebird species.

Uncrowded and unhurried, Gulf Islands is a gem to have as a neighbor.

Gulf Islands topped the list beating our over packed theme parks such as Disney World and even other national parks like the Dry Tortugas.

A panel of expert travelers selected a list of 20 Florida destinations for consideration. Then the list was opened up for public voting. Those that call Florida home and those that visit on vacation all weighed in to create the list.

National Park Service Superintendent Dan Brown was happy to hear the news.

“Being voted #1 Best Florida Attraction confirms what most of us already know – that the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a phenomenal place, with its incredibly beautiful beaches and fascinating forts. The best part is that it belongs to all of us to experience and enjoy,” Brown said.

Featuring some of the largest sand dunes still in existence along the Gulf coast and miles of protected shoreline, Gulf Islands also contains historical Fort Pickens. I have done the fort tour several times in my life starting from when I was very young. It’s a blast for the history buff or novice, and the photos you get in the fort and along the shore line of Gulf Islands are second to none.

If you want to experience Florida beaches in their purest form, I highly recommend stopping by Gulf Islands. It’s just a quick drive down Gulf Boulevard from one of our beautiful beach front condos.

Will you take the plunge?

For more than 100 years, brave (or possibly very foolish) souls have been jumping into freezing water across the U.S. to ring in the first day of the year.

While the tradition started in Boston, it has grown to include more pleasant climates for a winter swim.

On the first day of the year, Navarre Beach residents and visitors will gather for a long standing tradition. Toes in the cold sand, some dressed in costume, we will gather at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico or inches from Santa Rosa Sound.

Then as one big group we will all scurry, dive and dash into the often frigid water as part of a long standing tradition: New Year’s plunging.

It is one of my favorite new holiday traditions. While I will admit I felt a little insane doing my first plunge last year, it was really pretty fun. So fun I am now dragging the family out for it every year.

And the best part is it’s all for charity.

Should you decide yourself to be brave enough for the chill, you have two options.

The Penguin Plunge will ring in the New Year for the ninth year in a row at Juana’s Pagodas. Participants will be splashing into Santa Rosa Sound at 1:30 p.m.

The plunge will be preceded by a Paddle Board Adventure course at 12:30 p.m. The University of West Florida ROTC has contributed some new challenges for the course this year (neat!). Raffle prizes will be drawn at 2 p.m., and live music will start at noon and go until 4 p.m. with food and drinks for participants (yum!).

Proceeds from the registration and event raffle will benefit Santa Rosa Kid’s House and Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. These organizations work to protect and assist area children from abuse and neglect through treatment, prevention and advocacy.

Registration is available online at juanaspagodas.com/penguinplunge.htm. Registration is $25 to plunge, $25 for those “too chicken” to plunge and $35 for those plunging and participating in the adventure course. A long sleeve T-shirt is included with registration.

On the other side of the island, the Pirates of the Panhandle will be launching their first plunge event alongside the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

The Pirate Plunge will have folks flocking into the water at noon with a party to follow. Festivities will include food, draft beer, live music and door prizes. The best dressed pirate will receive a $250 first prize, and a raffle will be held for a 55” 4k television.

This event will benefit the Weekend Food Program which provides meals for school children in need over the weekend. The program serves approximately 540 students in Navarre.

Registration for the Pirate Plunge is $20 to plunge and party while entry to the party alone costs $10. Tickets can be purchased at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier up to the day of the event.

So welcome the New Year with us here on relaxing (and only mildly frigid) Navarre Beach.

Zoo Lights bring beauty to Navarre Beach

Christmas lights are just pretty. Every year right about the time they go up the world becomes a little warmer in the heart and a little brighter in the spirit regardless of which holiday(s) you celebrate.

So, combine the wonder of Christmas lights with the fun of the Gulf Breeze Zoo, located minutes from Navarre Beach, and you have a recipe for a great evening.

Come check out Zoo Lights, the annual event where Navarre Beach’s area zoo transforms into a twinkling jungle of lights.

Walking through the event this year I was greeted by the reflection of a rainbow of glowing palm trees in the waters of the zoo’s monkey island pond. Neon howler monkeys swept their way over your head as kangaroos hopped by in an animated light display.

Making my way toward the petting zoo, I am greeted by a “snow” machine blowing waves of bubbles over a gaggle of giggling children. The scene is surrounded by larger-than-life toys and treasures created out of hundreds of bulbs.

The petting zoo offers children a chance to pet and hand feed critters while illuminated flamingos gaze on. Rounding a corner a blue lit tree glows with cascading, shimmering icicles in front of a forest of Christmas trees.

An otter chirps for gathered guests as a lighted Santa Claus flies by. Also in “flight” are models of our local Blue Angels performance jets.

In the pavilion I hear a local A Capella group performing Christmas classics for a gathering of starry eyed children and smiling parents.

I could go on about the view from the train and the acres of beautiful displays, but I think you should come see it for yourself. It’s on display now through Dec. 30 and will return again next Christmas.