Fishing Rodeo fun for all ages coming to Navarre Beach

Fishermen young and old and of all skill levels are making their way to Navarre Beach because the sixth annual Navarre Beach Fishing Rodeo is upon us.

This is by far my favorite event of the Beaches to Woodlands Tour (scroll down to read more about this event series).

The rodeo will be held Oct. 6-7. As the saying goes “fish from the shore, a boat, kayak or from the pier- you just can’t fish from the seafood market!” All are welcome.

During the festivities the pier is hopping with fishers of all ages angling to catch the most massive fish in a variety of categories based on species, fishing-style and participant age.

Six divisions will highlight the rodeo, including the Navarre Seafood Open Division and the Half Hitch Kayak Division. Participants can win in different divisions; Windjammers Junior Division, Scooter’s Offshore Slam, Scooter’s Inshore Slam and the Invasive Lion Fish Division (which requires no registration fee) and a list of fish categories. Bragging rights, trophies and cash prizes are on the line.

Registration can be done at NavarreFishingRodeo.com, Half-Hitch Bait and Tackle, Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle or the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. As an added bonus, registrants receive a captain’s bag with gifts from sponsors and a fishing rodeo T-shirt.

While the Fishing Rodeo invites all ages to compete, it also features an event focused on teaching kids: the annual Take A Kid Fishing clinic on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

Scheduled for Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., this event is a great way to introduce children to the sport of fishing. Every year I see hundreds of children smiling as they learn how the art. The kiddos receive lessons in conservation, native fish species, bait, how to fish and more.

Plus, every registered kiddo receives free fishing poles to take home. Start times will be staggered at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and is open to children ages 5-12. Registration is at Eventbrite.com under “9th Annual Take a Kid Fishing presented by Holley by the Sea Fishing Club.”

Best of all the events also coincide with Fish Free Weekend where admission for the pier is free. Some of the Gulf of Mexico’s best fishing is waiting along our emerald shores, and for that weekend only it is free to cast off from the longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico.

Don’t have any poles? You’re in luck. The Pier store offers a variety of rods and reels for rental meaning even inexperienced fishermen can get involved.

Win or lose, pro or amateur, it’s always a blast on beautiful Navarre Beach. Plan to be here Oct. 6-7 at navarrelistings.com.

Slip on in to the Slippery Mermaid

Good vacations require good eats. Nothing shatters the picturesque tropical escape image quite like a bland meal from a chain restaurant.

In recent years I have had to make an admission to myself: I am a bit of an incorrigible foodie.

I confess, my phone’s camera is full of pictures of gorgeous eats, and I have been known to hunt down a great Mediterranean place in the back of a gas station on a rumor alone. Try not to judge.

But back to your vacation. As you are soaking up the rays on Navarre Beach you may ponder ‘where am I going to get the perfect dinner to round out this perfect day?’

I have several recommendations, but if sushi is your thing no place is better than Slippery Mermaid. I love this place. With a light, beachy atmosphere, the Mermaid offers indoor and outdoor seating with a water front view. About a five-minute drive from the island, this place offers a variety of classic sushi and Asian-inspired cuisine.

I highly recommend the Poseidon roll, and as a fan of octopus I always get the octopus nigiri.

For those of you that are not big fans of fish, I highly recommend the Raider Roll. This steak sushi is named for our local champion high school football team the Navarre Raiders, and it will fill the stomach of any carnivore.

Aside from a fun, beachy-feel and delicious food, the Slippery Mermaid is also a cut above thanks to their eco-friendly attitude. The restaurant does not use plastic single-use containers. All of their sauce bowls, serving dishes and even the chop sticks are biodegradable.

And they love the motto “skip the straw.” This movement is based on the idea that restaurants should ask whether visitors want to use a single-use, plastic straw rather than just providing them automatically.

Straws are a big contributor to plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and our oceans. I had a group of kiddos recently give me a lesson in ocean pollution, and what can I say, they convinced me. Now I tote a reusable metal straw in my purse for those occasions we visit a restaurant. (Protip: a travel toothbrush holder will keep your straw clean while its floating around in your purse, should you decide to start carrying one, too.)

So Slippery Mermaid only provides straws on request, meaning less plastic waste.

Good food that you can feel good about. I love that.

Try the sushi on beautiful Navarre Beach, navarrelistings.com.

Movie’s with a view at Toes-N-Sand on pier

In throwback to the days of the drive-in movies, the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is hosting the Toes-N-Sand Sunset Movies series.

As the sun slips down over the rippling Gulf of Mexico on beautiful Navarre Beach, a big projection screen is set up in the sand. At approximately 8 p.m. each Wednesday night the folks at Windjammers, the pier restaurant, start the show.

Best of all the fun is free!

All you need is a blanket to toss in the sand. Food and beverages will also be available. Bring the whole family for a night of classic cinema with the added bonus of a beautiful view.

The beach front fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun goes down. I recommend after a long day of playing in the surf, head back to your spacious condominium. Take a quick shower in the full-size restrooms and get dressed for the evening fun.

Then you can grab dinner on the pier at Windjammers with a front row seat for a magnificent sunset.  I recommend the seafood tacos and beach burgers for the littles.

After dinner watch the evening movie on a blanket beneath the stars.

This weekend’s movie is “Dirty Dancing,” and other classics played include “The Goonies,” “Jaws” and “Grease.”

Beside the Wednesday night movies, the pier also offers live music certain evenings on weekends.

Come join the fun. Book at navarrelistings.com.

Beaches to Woodlands is coming early this year

My favorite time of year is almost here. I’m not talking about the holidays. (Though that is an exciting time of year.)

No, I’m talking about Beaches to Woodlands! For the 15th year in a row Navarre Beach and her neighboring communities are coming together for a variety of festivals and fun centered around the transition of the seasons.

This annual assortment of festivals, runs and seasonal activities allows our local community to celebrate what makes us great. From the fertile farm lands in the north end to the beauty and history of the Blackwater River to the tropical beaches of Navarre Beach.

This is also a great time to visit and really experience our county like a local while the temperatures are still mild. This time of year the weather is still warm staying in the 80s and 70s. Perfect temperatures to relax on the beach or to zip through treetops on a Fall Foilage Zipline.

The 15th Annual Beaches to Woodlands has expanded for this year. The event that once resided firmly in the confines of October 1-31 now encompasses a three-month affair, and I welcome the change.

I am especially excited to try out some new events this year including the Rhythm and Ribs Festival 2018 being hosted in historic downtown Milton and the Navarre Beach Fireman’s Challenge where participants try their hand at being a fireman for a day complete with the uniform. (Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it looks.)

Kicking off the events this year in September will be month long activities such as the Fall Foliage Zipline Tours at Adventures Unlimited and cultural opportunities with Gulf Coast Kiln Walk in Holley. I love checking out their handmade pottery and learning about the history of mankind’s love of firing clay.  Holland Farms Pumpkin Patch & Maze and the Sonshine Family Farms Corn Maze and Mini Golf will open to the public Sept. 22.

The fun in Navarre will be kicked off with a packed weekend Oct. 6-7 with Monarch Madness Butterfly Festival in Navarre Park, Take a Kid Fishing, Navarre Fishing Rodeo and Juana’s 5th Annual Oktoberfest Beer Tasting.

A full list of events is available at getrelaxing.com/stories/beaches-to-woodlands-tour/. Find your favorite festival or a register for a fun 5K, then book your stay at navarrelistings.com.