Music video features Navarre Beach paradise

Southern comfort and relaxing on the water go hand in hand.

For those of you who love country music you may have heard the song “Wake up, Boat, Drink, Repeat” by Andy Velo. You may have also seen the fabulous music video for his tune that premiered earlier this month on the Great American Country music television channel. In two days the video got more than 50,000 views.

What you might not have realized is that uncrowded beachfront scene where Andy and his friends play, boat and have a good time is our backyard here on sunny Navarre Beach. The clear blue waters and white sands are right here! Andy and his team filmed the music video back in May featuring some of our locals and of course our lovely landscape.

The concert at the end of the video was filmed right here at Juana’s Pagodas and Sailor’s Grill, named one of the best beach bars in the state.

If you have not already heard Andy’s song and watched his video, I recommend checking out this catchy, upbeat tune at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eztx5dCNmZ8. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a video can tell you.

Very rarely do you get to actually visit the paradises featured in big music video productions and many of these locations have been doctored by set designers and post production wizards.

But for Navarre Beach, set dressing was not needed. This video perfectly captures the natural beauty and homegrown fun that is our beach front community. It also captures the relaxing atmosphere our beaches provide.

As the lyrics go “Just summertime chilling. Any kind of water will do…ocean, lake, river or creek, just wake up, boat, drink, repeat.”

The great thing about Navarre is that we have those white sandy beaches just waiting for you to stick your toes in the sand, but just a quick drive north and you will find Blackwater River, the perfect place to drift down stream.

Whether it’s a family vacation or a group of friends just looking to chill together, Navarre Beach makes for the perfect destination. Come see it for yourself.

The Thing hits Navarre Beach

Visitors to the newly opened Sage Paddle Co. surf shop are greeted by a rarity, a classic ‘70s “beach car.”

Business owner and Florida Young Entrepreneur of the Year Sage Offutt, 15, has bought her first vintage Volkswagen before she’s even old enough to drive it. Brightly striped in off-white and blue, the 1974 Volkswagen Thing Acapulco Edition is a collectors’ car.

This “beach car” was a modified version of the ‘70s Thing, a rather practical bucket of a vehicle brought over to the states in droves from Europe.

While the Thing was practical, the Acapulco edition was designed specifically for resorts along Mexico’s coast to offer their guests enjoyment in the sun. The Acapulco edition features a wooden floorboard, bright blue finish and convertible top. It was a luxury cruiser.

“It’s got that total beach vibe. They used them on the beach,” Sage said.

Only 200 of the Acapulcos were made, and less than a third of them are estimated to have survived to this day. That means Sage scored one of possibly 67 left in existence and now it’s on display for Navarre Beach visitors to enjoy.

“I have always been interested in classic cars. I don’t know if it’s having a brother and dad or what,” she said. “I have been looking for an Acapulco for two years. I always thought they are super cool and so rare. Vintage cars are so cool.”

Sage found a collector in Denver who had one and offered her a good deal on it. It is so collectible that shortly after she purchased it a woman came forward offering her $13,000 more than she paid for it.

But Sage said no way.

The woman then told Sage to name her price, but she still refused.

Navarre Beach visitors will be able to check out the Thing at 8228 Gulf Blvd. Make sure to drop by on your vacation!

Sage brings paddle boarding fun to Navarre beach

When I was 11 years old, my greatest aspiration was to get into an R-rated movie at the local theater. But Sage Offutt, 15, had bigger plans.

This young entrepreneur is the proud founder and owner of Sage Paddle Co. She’s been offering locals and visitors alike a unique experience through stand up paddle boarding and other entertaining rentals. She even gives lessons.

Sage has been in business since she was 11. She started out walking the 3 miles of white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico known as Navarre Beach offering her services with a few boards she bought on a loan.

Now she has a newly opened surf shop at 8228 Gulf Blvd., tons of rental options and constant full orders for her rentals. She’s always had the persistent can do attitude.

Among the fun offered by Sage are stand up paddle boards, bicycles, kayaks, surf boards and more. The new location will also offer shopping opportunities with works by local artists, Sage Paddle Co. merchandise and snorkel gear.

For Sage, growing the business is just part of the game. This year she was named Florida’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Offutt is also the first non-athlete and youngest person to secure a brand ambassadorship with Boardworks, one of the largest surf and paddleboard companies in the world. She will travel to represent the company throughout the world and receive a pretty penny for her efforts.

As for the next step in her education, Sage is looking at Stanford University and Vanderbilt University. She said she would prefer Vanderbilt because it’s located in a music town (Nashville) and offers a good sports medicine program.

It’s not all smooth surfing for Sage. She continues to fight Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3. This syndrome affects the joints and connective tissues in the body due to a lack of collagen, and it can be disabling from pain.

But even this disease cannot stop her.

While she has triumphed time and time again, Sage said the thing she takes greatest pleasure in is when people say her services were the highlight of their vacation.

Come meet this incredible young lady and try out paddle boarding for yourself. Sage promises you won’t be disappointed.

Goodbye Gigi

Residents and visitors alike of Navarre Beach are in mourning. Last week we said goodbye to a dear friend, Gigi the loggerhead sea turtle.

Gigi called the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC) home, and during her time there greeted more than 15,000 guests from across the U.S. and around the world.. From school groups to retirees, Gigi delighted and engaged many as an ambassador for her species.

Her loss is deeply regretted by those that loved her. Including me.

Gigi was initially rescued after stranding as an adult turtle on St. Augustine Beach in 1998. It was discovered that a neurological condition had caused her to go blind. Though it was determined she would not be able to survive in the wild, Gigi still found purpose as an ambassador for her species.

Despite her lack of sight, Gigi found creative ways to settle into her new home. She used the tips of her flippers to feel the location of the walls of her tank. She used sounds to find her way during feeding times with her animal care team, and she could feel the vibrations from visitors to poke up her head to say hello.

On my visits Gigi would frequently swim up to where I was watching her. She was always my favorite subject to write about and photograph.

But she got sick, and despite the best care, she did not get better. Further medical study found that Gigi had developed heart failure from a mass in her chest that was untreatable. In a final act of love, the NBSTCC took away Gigi’s pain.

She is truly missed, but as staff from NBSTCC said, her mission to “give sea turtles more tomorrows” will live on.

The turtle center remains open, offering education and inspiration to those that visit, and in the future the center hopes to have another sea turtle swimming in their pool once more to inspire future generations of sea turtle conservationist.

Goodbye Gigi, and thank you.

When you’re “beached out” (or it rains)

I have lived on the most beautiful stretch of beach in the world, Navarre Beach, my entire life. I grew up spending nearly every Saturday in the warm months relaxing on beaches that most people only see on vacation.

But it’s confession time: even I get tired on the beach.

We get it. You come down for two weeks of blissful relaxation and play, but by day five you are what we like to call “beached out.” Sun, surf and sand are great and all, but give me something more.

So here are my go tos when I’m “beached out.” (Or if it rains.)

  1. Escape Zone 60 (rainy day solution)

Escape rooms are giant puzzle mysteries that you get locked in to. You and a team of friends have to race to solve the clues before the hour timer runs out. ANYTHING can be a clue, teamwork is essential and this is loads of fun even if you don’t beat the clock. For a time slot go to escapezone60.com.

  1. Gulf Breeze Zoo

The Gulf Breeze Zoo offers a wide array of animals to delight and wow. My personal are the giraffes including the two new babies born last year, Kelly and Gibson. These two are too cute!

The train which rides through up close encounters with a range of African animals including emus, gazelles and gorillas.

  1. Panhandle Butterfly House and Navarre Park

Located inside Navarre Park, the Panhandle Butterfly House is a must see. This unique-to-the-area greenhouse offers visitors upclose encounters with some of Florida’s beautiful native butterflies. The kids will love learning hands-on about the amazing transformation and migration of a variety of butterfly species.

Afterwards enjoy all the park has to offer including the splash pad, playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables, nature walk and more.

  1. Small Business Shopping (rainy day solution)

My mother always said there is nothing a new pair of cute shoes can’t fix. So if you are on vacation and the rain clouds come calling, why not go shopping? Unique souvenirs, local artist originals and yes, even cute shoes are all waiting to be discovered.

My personal favorites (all within minutes of the drive of the beach) include Shoe Frenzy, Foxy Boutique, Southern Specialty, Saltwater Cottage and more.

  1. Blackwater River and Adventures Unlimited

Though this is a bit of a drive north, Blackwater River offers your family loads of fun. Rent some tubes, kayaks or a canoe from Adventures Unlimited, and just drift down the river taking in a whole new side of the area’s natural beauty. For the more fearless set, tryout one of their many ziplines.

So get off the beach for a bit and try a new attraction.

Get Ready for the Navarre Fishing Rodeo

It won’t be long before anglers along the Emerald Coast can compete in the Navarre Fishing Rodeo.

The event, in its fifth year, is set to take place Oct. 7-8.

The tournament 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.

The competition is open to pier, boat, kayak and onshore fishing. Previous years have seen competitors of all ages casting a line and bringing up big catches.

A total of seven divisions and 20 fish categories will highlight this year’s rodeo, with organizers hoping to attract freshwater and saltwater anglers.

In addition to the open and junior divisions, there are 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 are also two “Slams” – where offshore division entrants will compete for the largest Spanish mackerel, King mackerel and snapper. Inshore participants will battle for the winning flounder, redfish and trout.

Also, with the growing efforts to reduce the lionfish population, there is a category in the rodeo for divers, who will focus on bringing up the most weight in the non-native species. These red-striped, spiky invaders make for good eating.

There is a mystery category as well. In that category, the species of fish and winning weight will be predetermined and released to anglers prior to the tournament.

Tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes will be handed out to the winners of the tournament. Last year first place for the open and kayak divisions were $125 cash, second place was $75, third place was $50 and the slam categories won Yeti Tundra coolers.

All participants in the fishing rodeo receive a Mojo long sleeve fishing rodeo tee and captain bags filled with a variety of fishing treats.

Door prize drawings for items donated by local businesses have landed fishers kayaks and more.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at http://www.navarrefishingrodeo.com/tickets.html. The cost to register in the rodeo is $45. Children 12 and under are free in the junior angler division with a paid adult registration.

Several nonprofit groups benefit from the event each year including Navarre Beach Marine Park, Take a Kid Fishing and Heroes on the Water.

For more information, call 850-939-1900 or visit navarrefishingrodeo.com.

Partnership gives cigarette butts new purpose

When volunteers swarm Navarre Beach to collect garbage each month, cigarette butts often fill their collection buckets. Thousands of these burned, squished and tossed pieces of plastic trash are left on the beach to eventually wash into the Gulf of Mexico.

Once in the water this garbage poses a serious threat to wildlife that may accidentally consume it, but that is where TerraCycle comes in.

The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center has partnered with this New Jersey-based recycling company to turn some of the collected waste, including cigarette butts, into new products.

TerraCycle lives by the mantra nothing is garbage, as evidenced by its slogan “eliminating the idea of waste.” The company has developed a variety of programs to prove that point, taking materials that are generally considered non-recyclable and giving them new life.

TerraCycle is the first company to create a program that recycles cigarette butts, a waste product that up to a few years ago was considered unrecyclable.

TerraCycle’s program is called the Cigarette Waste Brigade. Partners from across the U.S. and throughout Canada, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan and Australia help collect the cigarette litter. To date the program has collected more than 70 million spent cigarettes.

That’s a lot of butts.

When the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center holds their monthly Trash Bash garbage collection, participants receive a bucket for their found waste. Mounted on the side of the bucket is a separate container for cigarette butts.

The turtle center has also set up collection receptacles on the beach to encourage smokers to leave the beach clean. There are four such containers on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and one at the turtle center.

Once the cigarettes are picked up, they are sent to TerraCycle for processing. The firm sterilizes the butts using gamma radiation, then shreds them using a special machine to separate the paper and leftover tobacco from the plastic filter.

The tobacco and paper is sent off for composting, and the plastic filters are turned into plastic pellets. TerraCycle uses these pellets to create a variety of products including shipping pallets and plastic lumber which can be used to make playground equipment, outdoor benches and more. They even make table top ash trays out of the cigarettes.

More than just recycling the unrecyclable, the program also leads to donations to Keep America Beautiful’s cigarette litter prevention program.

As a leader in ecotourism, Navarre Beach residents, visitors and organizations like the turtle center are making sure that Florida’s coastline will remain beautiful for generations to come.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?