What a whale!

Children visiting the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station are being greeted by one massive new friend.

Diana the humpback whale has made her debut, and she is awesome!

Diana is a life-size inflatable model that the science station will be using to teach lessons about marine mammals. Composed of plastic, tape, paint and hours of hard work, she was built by the science station’s students who dual enroll from our local high school.

These smart kiddo’s gave up their Thanksgiving break to create Diana. These kids put in countless hours and it shows.

She’s just so cool.

But the best part is yet to be revealed. On the outside Diana is a lifelike version of her ocean-dwelling cousins, but on the inside she’s even more. Students can enter through a door on the side of this inflatable learning lab where they will be greeted by a realistic skeletal structure painted along the walls.

Visitors can count Diana’s ribs, learn about her diet, hold a real humpback whale “tooth” and even learn the words to the Whale Rap (which I highly recommend you look up on YouTube as soon as possible).

When Diana is not teaching children at the science station, she will be taking her show on the road. She deflates to the size of a suitcase, and she will likely be a showstopper as she travels with the science station’s Discovery Depot to area festivals.

Come check her out!

Here are a few fun facts about humpback whales that I learned thanks to Diana:

  1. The scientific name for this species is Megaptera Novaeangliae, which means “big winged New Englander.”
  2. Humpback whales can grow up to 62 feet long and weigh 53 tons. That is more than the weight of 4 school buses, and longer than the Hollywood sign is tall.
  3. Humpbacks can be found in nearly every corner of the world’s oceans except polar regions. They migrate to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters during the rest of the year.
  4. Though they are among the largest mammals in the world, humpbacks eat tiny prey. Their diet consists of plankton, krill and anchovies. To fill their stomachs, these whales eat up to 5,000 pounds of food a day. Think of how many anchovy pizzas that is!
  5. Diana and her cousins don’t have teeth. Instead, they have baleen plates that act as a strainer, letting the water out and keeping thousands of tiny plankton and fish in with one big gulp.
  6. Humpback whales sing some of the most complex songs of any species. The songs have specific patterns of sounds arranged in an order that can last as long as 30 minutes. As they sing, these whales can be heard from miles away under the ocean’s surface.
  7. They are also dancers that can launch their entire bodies out of the water. Humpbacks will also splash their tails and flippers on the surface.

Navarre Beach named to South’s Best Tiny Towns

Southern Living magazine has released the 2017 South’s Best Tiny Towns list, and not surprisingly Navarre Beach was among the 19 places acknowledged for their charm.

Our beach community boasts a population of a little more than 1,000 permanent residents making us the largest of the tiny towns listed.

Find the listing here: https://www.southernliving.com/travel/tiny-towns#navarre-beach-florida-tiny-towns

On both sides, Navarre Beach is sandwiched between overdeveloped, overcrowded, tourist trap-style beaches.

But we have maintained our small town charm.

Here you truly vacation as a local, not a tourist being herded like sheep. The shores are uncrowded even at the peak of summer, and when you talk to someone in a store, restaurant or on the street southern hospitality is what you will find.

Navarre Beach boasts plenty of locally-owned shops with unique gifts and finds. And when you do business here, you are likely to be talking face to face with the owner every time.

There is also a seasonal farmers market Saturdays offering locally grown produce, crafts and more.

Locally owned restaurants like Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors Grill or the enchanting Bella Luna Italian Bistro will satisfy any appetite.

While Navarre Beach does offer a small town vibe, a vacation here can be anything but quant.

Adventures await with watersports like stand up paddle boarding, reefs for diving, zipline tours, golf, the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico and even helicopter tours.

The best part of a Navarre Beach vacation is that you truly can mold it to what you want whether that be a relaxing getaway or a more active adventure. Start planning your vacation today.

Christmas on the Beach

We’ve all seen those cheesy commercials with the palm tree done up in Christmas lights on a beautiful beach. The guy is still wearing shorts and looking out over the tropical waves.

Cheesy or not, it is not that far off from what a Navarre Beach Christmas really looks like.

Now, you will not catch me climbing any palm trees to hang my Christmas decorations, but you may catch me taking a trip down the beach for a little lounging time.

Christmas on Navarre Beach is a wonderful time of year, not just because of the holiday cheer (and fantastic weather), but because it is the time of year when our community comes together for a whole lot of fun.

Here are just a few ways to ring in the holiday fun on beautiful Navarre Beach:

Jingle Bell Fun Run

Take a run for a good cause with the annual Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk/Fun Run put on by the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. This non-competitive 3.1 mile trek through the center of town is for all ages. Fun starts at 8 a.m. Registration is $20 which includes a festive long sleeve tee. All proceeds go toward the Foundation’s community projects. Register online at navarrechamberfoundation.org/jingle-bell.html.

Local Christmas Shopping

Several local boutiques will be selling unique items perfect for gifting. From monogramed mugs to designer jewelry to southern comfort wear, these stores are offering gifts that are sure to be one of a kind. Support small business while checking off all the nice ones on your list.

Navarre Community Christmas Parade

Ring in December with some holiday fun at the annual Navarre Community Christmas Parade. This is one of my favorites each year. This year’s parade participants include a variety of local nonprofit organizations, the Sheriff’s office mounted posse, dancers, the Navarre High School Band and more. Some will bring treats to share. The parade will end with the arrival of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus atop a fire truck, a must see for the kiddos.

Christmas in the Park

After the Navarre Community Christmas Parade, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch settle in at Navarre Park, our waterfront park. The Clauses and the Grinch will be available to meet the children in Navarre Park during the annual Christmas in the Park celebration.

Vendors will have food, games, unique gift shopping and sweet treats. From baked goods to fair hair this is a perfect time to start a new family Christmas tradition.

Local schools, choirs and other performers will be singing seasonal tunes throughout the event.

As the sun goes down the festivities will be wrapped up with the lighting of the 20 foot Christmas tree at 5:15 p.m.

For me, when that tree lights up the night and the children begin to dance with glee that is the official start of the Christmas season.

Collecting cars, no driver’s license needed

Who says you need a driver’s license to collect classic cars?

Navarre Beach business teen Sage Offut would say that’s silly. Sage is the founder and owner of Sage Paddle Company.

At 15 she has already started her classic car collection, and she recently added a new vehicle to the mix, a 1968 Austin-Healey Mini Moke in a lime green paint job.

Modeled after the American Jeep, the Mini Moke was originally designed to be a lightweight wartime vehicle. It lacked doors and a roof and emulated the Jeep’s boxy, practical style, but the design proved impractical for off-roading and a little too mini to function as a military vehicle.

But the mini was just mini enough to make it on the beach. Once released to the civilian market, it gained fame as a beach buggy.

Relatively rare, there were only two for sale in the United States when Sage bought hers. She paid $20,000. The first car in her collection of two carried a similar price tag.

Sage’s first classic car purchase was a 1974 Volkswagen Thing Acapulco Edition. This special edition of the Thing was specifically made for cruising along Mexico’s coast. With bright blue and white finishes that scream beach.

As her collection grows – and she is determined that it will grow — Sage plans to stick with the beach theme. On her shopping list is a Volkswagen Bus, a Jeep Willys-Overland and a Jolly Fiat.

“We do live on the beach, and they are all beach cars,” she said. “I have always been interested in classic cars. I bought the first one, and it started a collection.”

While this is an expensive hobby, Sage said the continued success of her business has made it possible.

The success is no surprise. Sage prides herself on great customer service which is why her rental business grew. She started off just walking the beach asking if people wanted to rent a paddle board. Now she has a thriving online rental store for paddle boards, bicycles and more with a new physical shop opening up to visitors. She still offers deliveries and pickups so you can get your rentals brought right to the condominium, no extra charge.

Next summer Sage Paddle Company will add additional paddleboards, kayaks and bicycles to its rental inventory in response to increasing demand.

As for the classic cars, when the weather warms up locals and visitors alike will be able to spot them cruising down Gulf Boulevard or parked in front of Sage’s shop at 8228 Gulf Blvd.

Come check out this pint sized collector while you are on vacation.

Navarre Properties earns 2017 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Navarre Properties has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the seventh year in a row!

The achievement, which has only existed for seven years, celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year.

Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, restaurants and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.

It just goes to show even the pros know that Navarre Beach is a world-class destination, and we here at Navarre Properties know how to make your vacation the best it can be.

Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor weighed in on the acheivements of these Certificate of Excellence winners.

“TripAdvisor is excited to announce the recipients of the 2017 Certificate of Excellence, which celebrates hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers,” she said. “This recognition allows us to publicly honor businesses that are actively engaging with customers and using feedback to help travelers identify and confidently book the right property at the right price.”

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

Navarre Properties meets and exceeds expectations, and we would love to share our “excellence” with you. Book your beach getaway today.

So long sea turtles, see you next season

Navarre Beach is full of surprises, and our last sea turtle nest of the season was no exception.

These tiny loggerhead sea turtle babies decided to burst forth from the sand and make their scurrying shuffle for the ocean for an audience!

Sea turtle nests typically only hatch between dusk and dawn, but not these little guys. At 9:30 a.m. roughly a dozen babies no bigger than a ping pong ball startled and delighted several visitors to the beach from out of state.

Struggling to make their trek over yards of open sand to the Gulf of Mexico, these little turtles made their way as photos were snapped.

Later that evening their brothers and sisters emerged to make their trek to the water.

I and several other witnesses got to watch these babies make their run. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch these creatures in their first moments of life.

We were all quiet, lights covered and dimmed, as we made a wall on each side of the turtles’ path. As the babies made winding paths, not always going the right direction, toward the water we watched.

Then when they would reach the water, the waves would kick up and send the little guys spinning at first. All you wanted to do was go and help them, but we waited. Then the little turtles got their bearings, and with another wave they were swimming out to freedom at full speed, off to grow up in a cycle more ancient than even some dinosaurs.

That was the end of the turtle nesting season.

Navarre Beach saw 1,153 sea turtle hatchlings make their escape to the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe next year you can see a few of them. I can honestly say it is a worthwhile experience.

Mark your calendar: Navarre Beach Fishing Rodeo

For the anglers out there I have some exciting news. This year’s Navarre Beach Fishing Rodeo reeled in more than 400 pounds of fish!

That is a lot of fish, and the variety was pretty stellar including snapper, king mackerel, redfish, flounder, bonita and more.

Our junior anglers made a pretty skillful showing this year too.

In addition to the junior division competition, the Pat Huggins Take a Kid Fishing camp was also underway. This annual event teaches hundreds of children not only how to fish, but how to fish responsibly. This year we had 300 children at the camp, and all of them received their own rod and reel.

And everybody got onto the pier free of charge thanks to the rodeo coinciding with Free Fish Weekend each year.

This tournament is organized by the Navarre Beach Area Chamber Foundation highlights the abundance of fish that can be found in area waters and the different methods for catching them.

Anglers came by pier, by boat, by kayak and onshore to try their hand at landing the most massive fish.

There were 20 fish categories in all.

In addition to the open and junior divisions, there were several other divisions, including a kayak division where anglers on non-motorized vessels can compete in their own division for Spanish mackerel, King mackerel, snapper, flounder, redfish and trout.

There were also two “Slams” – where offshore division entrants competed for the largest Spanish mackerel, King mackerel and snapper. Inshore participants battled for the winning flounder, redfish and trout.

Non-native (and delicious) lionfish were also on the menu this year.

Tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes were handed out to the lucky winners of the tournament including yeti coolers and a kayak.

Winner or not, everybody walked away with a Mojo long sleeve fishing rodeo tee and captain bags filled with a variety of fishing treats.

Mark your calendar for next year’s rodeo Oct. 6 and 7, and come out to be part of the fun. Find out more at navarrefishingrodeo.com or call 850-939-1900.