Beach Ambassadors offer education and fun

Did you know that the award-winning powder white sands of Navarre Beach actually came here from the Appalachian Mountains?

We didn’t import it. But nature did send it by express river travel down from the mountains. That lovely sand is actually trillions of tiny, tiny quartz crystals. As water wears down the semi-precious stones high in the mountains they travel down rivers, eventually accumulating along our shoreline over millions of years.

I have lived here my entire life, but I didn’t learn that until just the other day thanks to our new Navarre Beach Ambassadors.

These guys and gals are pros on all things Navarre Beach. The ambassador program is a partnership of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Office and our local UF/IFAS Extension Office.

These volunteers are sent out to the beach with a simple goal: interact with all of you. From sharing cool information on our local ecosystems to answering questions to helping protect our nesting sea turtles, the ambassadors rock.

They started their patrols this month, all wearing their “Navarre Beach” t-shirts to easily be identified. They even pick up trash and fill in abandoned holes to keep our beach looking its best. They embody the spirit of Navarre Beach.

In addition to providing great info and assisting guests, the ambassadors are also offering surveys to visitors. The 9 question survey will help us make the beach an even better place to play, so if you have a minute, fill one out.

Otherwise just enjoy the knowledge these friendly folks have to share. Even I learned something new and super cool.

Come meet our volunteers here on beautiful Navarre Beach, navarrelistings.com

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Milkshake monstrosities await you at Taste Buds

When I was a kid and Florida’s sun shiny heat would come rolling in, my mom would bust out the blender, some ice cream and a shot of chocolate syrup. Those milkshakes were simple and sweet and the perfect treat for a hot summer day.

These are not those milkshakes.

Taste Buds is a cute little ice cream parlor with a love for going big. It is a bit of a drive from Navarre Beach, but well worth adding to the vacation schedule, specifically because of their massive, mouthwatering milkshakes.

Served up in classic southern mason jars, Taste Bud milkshakes are piled high with sweet and savory toppings. There’s one topped with a mini pie, and another has not one but two mini cupcakes mounted atop a pile of whipped cream. Whether it be a handful of oreos and andes mints or a Belgium waffle, every one of these self-proclaimed “freakshakes” is delicious.

Dessert here may require two hands.

Beyond just beautiful to behold, these treats are absolutely tasty. And it doesn’t stop at “freakshakes.” The shop offers dozens of flavors of ice cream and incrEDIBLE cookie dough. It’s a favorite stop for my family after a long day of soaking up the beach front sun.

Plus for the big of stomach and brave of heart, there is the “Oh No You Didn’t” Challenge.

In a bowl larger than my head, the lovely ladies of Taste Buds will pile high 12 scoops of your favorite ice cream flavors, 2 waffles, 2 massive brownies, a sprinkling of toppings, syrup and whipped cream with a cherry on top.

All together this thing weighs 5 pounds! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to eat the entire thing, cherry and all, in 30 minutes or less. Succeed and it is free. Plus, you get a $20 gift card and your name immortalized on the “Wall of Fame.”

Loose and you got to pay, plus your name goes on the “Wall of Shame” along with a note of just how much of that 5 pounds was left behind.

It may sound easy, but by the time you have consumed a pound of ice cream, odds are your stomachs full and that sweet dairy is fighting back. This is only for the tough folks.

Thus far only two people have finished the whole thing in time. I have to say I have been too much of a chicken to try.

“Oh No You Didn’ts” aside, Taste Buds has some less intimidating but absolutely sinful sweets that are worth a sampling. Add dessert to that beautiful beach front escape here on Navarre Beach. Book today at navarrelistings.com.

Three things to keep kids learning on Navarre Beach

As the old Alice Cooper tune goes “schoooooools out for Summer!”

Which means the kiddos are likely back at home with mom and dad for some quality bonding. It’s great!

And by week three, mom and dad are exhausted and the kiddos are bored. Not great.

The last things parents want is for their kids to progress into the all too familiar vegetative state summer break can produce. Sounds like a vacation is in order. Here are a few suggestions for ways to keep the kiddos’ brains engaged and mom and dad sane on Navarre Beach.

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

If your little ones love critters, they are going to flip for the sea turtle center. Sweet Pea is a juvenile green sea turtle. She acts as an ambassador for her endangered cousins in the wild. Aside from getting to meet Sweet Pea, the sea turtle center offers a scavenger hunt-style tour to help the kids learn about all of the animals living at the center.

  1. Challenge the mind with Escape Zone 60

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Sometimes keeping the mind sharp is all about practice. So challenge the kiddos to a brain puzzle they can actually live at Escape Zone 60. Older kids, with help from mom and dad, can try their hand at two different escape rooms in the Navarre area. These puzzle rooms put the visitor to the test through challenging, collaborative mind games in a race against the clock. And don’t worry if you don’t beat the clock. I can say from experience loosing is pretty fun too.

  1. 3. Navarre Beach Marine Science Station Summer Camps

What kid does not want to have an up-close encounter with dolphins, build underwater robots, try their hand at deep sea fishing or catch a wave atop a surf board.

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station offers a variety of summer day camps to not only keep your children’s hands busy but their brains too! Lessons include hands on interactions with native wildlife and cool conservation messages. Plus, while the kiddos are away mom and dad can play! Camp registration is available at navarresciencestation.org/camps/summer-camps.

So bring the little ones to our tropical paradise this summer. Check out the options at navarrelistings.com

Join #TeamTurtle for our nesting sea turtles

Sea turtle nesting season on Navarre Beach began this month, with the first mother turtles expected to arrive by the start of June.

That means it is once again that time of year when we all work to share this beautiful beach with one of its most ancient inhabitants: sea turtles.

Our beach is home to four species of threatened or endangered sea turtles including greens, loggerheads, kemps ridleys and leatherbacks.

The trek to shore can be exhausting for the mommy sea turtles as they drag themselves from the water to the beach. This is the only time in their lives outside of hatching from an egg when sea turtles will naturally come ashore. Then the mom digs a hole in the sand more than a foot deep and lays between 45 to 110 eggs.

Once laying is complete, the turtle carefully buries her eggs before dragging herself back into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s tough work when you only have flippers to work with!

After a few months the nests then hatch, releasing hundreds of ping pong ball sized baby turtles into the gulf.

But they face many challenges.

Artificial lights are the biggest threat to sea turtles. Both nesting moms and hatchlings use white light to orient themselves while on land. In a completely natural setting, the brightest white light would be the moon and the reflection of it on the Gulf of Mexico, guiding the turtles to safety.

But in a world filled with artificial lights from homes, pools and roadways, that is not the case.

They can get disoriented by the light pollution and get seriously hurt, but our condos are taking a proactive approach to protecting our turtles.

Summerwinds Condominiums and Beach Colony have partnered with the National Resource Damage Assessment and Navarre Beach Turtle Patrol to place more than 600 turtle-friendly amber lights on our balconies and pool deck.

These lights are designed specifically to light the way for humans without confusing the turtles. Neat, right?

You can help protect our local sea turtles by joining #TeamTurtle. This means shutting off all unnecessary lights, especially those facing the beach, and closing blinds and window curtains tight to keep the light inside.

You can also help by filling in holes dug on the beach, toppling sand castles when you leave for the day, making sure to take all your belongings off the beach at night and respecting all federal, state and local wildlife laws. That includes the warning signs and roped off areas where sea turtles have nested.

It’s also important that if you get the super exciting and very rare treat of watching a sea turtle nesting remember to stay back, do not use flashlights or flash photography and stay quiet.

If we all work together, we can make sure that the thousands of baby sea turtles that hatch each year along Navarre Beach all make their way home to the Gulf.

If you spot turtle hatchlings headed in the wrong direction, or if you see a sea turtle being harassed or in distress contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately. Call 1-888-404-FWCC or call *FWC from your cellphone.

To learn more about these magnificent creatures and to meet one up close, come check out the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Book your vacation today at navarrelistings.com, and go #TeamTurtle!