Pardon our dust, new beach amenities on the way

Odds are if you have taken a trip out to Navarre Beach over the last few days, you have noticed what appears to be a bit of a mess.

Construction trucks and crews hard a work, fencing around portions of the beach and an army of wooden pilings sticking out of the sand, it might seem a little overwhelming. But this progress is one project I could not be more excited about!

The Navarre Beach Marine Park is getting new visitor pavilion complex.With spacious picnic pavilions, new restroom facilities, much needed additional parking and new boardwalks, these facilities will be a huge help for our visitors and locals.

I’m most excited about the overlook that will allow for watching the nest shorebirds and their fluffy chicks from a safe distance during the season. Plus, can you imagine what those tropical sunsets are going to look like from the overlook? Gorgeous.

On the sound side near an area we call Mothers Beach (because it’s the best spot for young or inexperienced swimmers) new boardwalks are going in to connect the shore with the pavillions.

The improvements will also include new directional signage and free informational brochures to help guide you to all our beaches have to offer.

Completion and public opening of the new facilities is expected in early spring.

I know that sounds like a lot of work, and that is a long time off. But fear not avid beach-goer. Even if your vacation falls in the construction period, you will still be able to enjoy all that Navarre Beach has to offer. The shore is still open as are all the fun things in the Navarre Beach Marine Park.

Folks can still walk the entire length of the Gulf side beach from sunrise to sunset. Resident sea turtle Sweet Pea is still accepting visitors at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Kayakers and divers can still use the special walkover and shower stations. The variety of species that call the marine park home are still active. The snorkel reef is still teeming with marine life.

So come on down to our slice of paradise (and pardon our dust). Book your vacation at navarrelistings.com.

Penguins and pirates plunging into New Year

Whether clad in jumpsuits, wetsuits, swimsuits or just plain old suits, Navarre Beach goers will be spending the first day of the year sloshing into the frigid waters along the shore in the classic New Year’s tradition of plunging.

This is a personal favorite.

The start of 2019 will be rung in for many by splashing around in the surf and sun, with two events coming to Navarre this year.

The Penguin Plunge ‘n Paddle at Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors’ Grill will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Participants will take the plunge into Santa Rosa Sound at 1:30 p.m., but starting an hour before that, the event will feature a stand-up Paddle Board Adventure Course. Rent a board and give it a try.

Immediately following the plunge, participants can “chill” with complimentary food, drinks, live music and a raffle under the beach tent. Raffle prizes will be drawn at 2 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit two organizations that help abused children and their families heal.

Registration is available online at juanaspagodas.com/penguinplunge. 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.

Shortly before the penguins dive, pirates will be plunging into the Gulf just east of the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. The Pirate Plunge, hosted by Pirates on the Panhandle, will celebrate its second event with plunging at noon on New Year’s Day.

Local dignitaries such as Sheriff Bob Johnson, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, our Superintendent of Schools Tim Wyrosdick and even the County Commissioner will be making the plunge.

After the plunge, participants will be invited to enjoy food, drinks, live music and raffles under a heated tent.

The event will benefit the Weekend Food Program of Navarre, which provides weekend meals to hundreds of schoolchildren who might otherwise go hungry.

Registration to plunge and partake in the tent festivities is $20.

In plunging is not your thing (which I totally understand), a New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance has been added to the Pirates on the Panhandle events for this year. To be held at the Navarre Conference Center, the evening will offer a buffet, music and dancing. Tickets are $50, and funds will also benefit the Weekend Food Program.

Registration for both events is available at navarrepirateplunge.com.

Join us for a frigid fun time on beautiful Navarre Beach this New Year at navarrelistings.com.

Navarre Beach Christmas shopping top 5

For those of you not already freaking out, just a friendly reminder that there is less than two weeks to Christmas.

I know what your thinking. Where did the time go? I am right there with you. And I’m guessing you are probably like the 66 percent of Americans who have also not finished their Christmas shopping. Again right there with you.

Or even worse, you were good and did all your shopping online in like October, but you just found out those packages are NOT going to make it. Que silent screaming. I can also relate to that one.

But there is no need to panic, especially if you are relaxing on the sunny shores of Navarre Beach this holiday season because we offer a wide variety of unique shops to find the perfect gift for you loved ones this Christmas. Here are five last minute gifts:

  1. Meaningful jewelry from Saltwater Cottage

This sweet boutique is literally a cottage with a shabby chic feel. Driving by you cannot miss this place with its rustic paint job and chandeliers cascading from an old oak. And as cute as the outside is, the inside is just as fabulous. Which brings me to their jewelry collection.

Designed by one of our local artists, each piece symbolically tells a story, usually tied to a verse from the Bible. A perfect gift for your stylish friend or sister.

  1. Art at 4,000 degrees

Holley Hill Pottery is a bit out of the way, but well worth stopping by. These artists have been playing with fire and clay for generations. The Stokes family has cultivated a unique style that is both beachy and organic. And with pieces available in muted colors or bold shades, the art can be matched to any home décor.

Pick up a mug for your caffeine addicted friend or a one of a kind shot-gun-blasted vase for your avante-garde aunt.  (Yes, I mean the artist literally shot the vase before firing it).

  1. Socks and shells from Artistry 98

We all have that funky friend or family member. You know, the one that always has a surprise up their sleeve and embraces that which is a bit off the beaten trail.

For them, Artistry 98 has you covered. With a hand loom much older than the owners themselves, they actually hand-weave rugs from- you’d never guess it- socks! These ultra soft rugs are woven then painted and available in custom orders. The shop also offers an array of décor created from sea shells.

  1. Something sporty from Broxson’s Outdoors

Whether you’re looking to for something big like a new stand up paddle board or something smaller like Yeti brand tumblers, this place has got the sportsman or sportswoman in your life covered.

Guys can be hard to buy for, but Broxson’s will take care of you.

  1. Sea Turtle Wine

There is nothing better than giving a gift that also gives to a good cause. In this case, the array of Sea Turtle wines at The Vine Wine Bar will not only make for a great gift, but they support sea turtle conservation, too. Sold as a partnership between the Weibel Family Winery in California and the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, part of profits from the wines sold in this area benefit the center’s conservation efforts.

Clean eating and comfort on beautiful Navarre Beach

Sometimes eating out every meal can get a little overwhelming on vacation. Between the rich food and the sometimes-hefty price tag, all you want is a home cooked meal.

With our full-sized kitchens, you can do exactly that. Take a night during your vacay for a little classic family dinner night. Put the smartphones away, bust out an apron and get cooking. It’s a great way to have a little family bonding or romantic dinner for two.

Plus you can eat that home cooked meal on the balcony overlooking our powder white beaches.

But if you are going to cook a meal on your fantastic Navarre Beach vacation, make that meal fantastic too.

Our local farmers market, Farm to Table of Northwest Florida, will not steer you wrong. This locally focused farmers market was created by Carolyn Hand, owner of Nature’s Hand Cattle Company, and Kim McKelvey, owner of Golden Dreams Dairy. Both ladies are farmers to the core and have been working with cattle in our local area for years.

These women know their food.

“It is by farmers for farmers,” Carolyn told me. “A farmers market is supposed to be about helping farmers. It is not just a place where people are selling something.”

Farm to Table of Northwest Florida started because there was a clear need in Navarre. For a while locals and visitors alike have been traveling outside our beachside community to find locally growth foods.

Kim and Carolyn have been taking their products to a farmers’ market out of town for awhile too, but many of their customers were commuting from Navarre to buy their goods.

So they brought it back home by creating their own market. And I love it.

With the fresh produce available at the market my family chowed down of zoodle spaghetti and meatballs and Mexican stuffed bell peppers, all made with local cheese, veggies and beef. And that was just week one.

Visitors to the market can make their purchases with confidence that what the vendor says is true. All of their vendors are certified with Farm to Table, meaning Carolyn and Kim physically go to the farm location and inspect it for best, clean practices.

“It really does make a difference when you can see what a farmer is doing. When a vegetable or beef comes from China or Mexico, you don’t really know how it was handled,” Carolyn said. “Buying local just gives you a lot more transparency.”

Stop by the Farm to Table every first, third and fifth Saturday of the month to do your own local-grown shopping.

And check out our waterfront condominiums featuring kitchens for your next beach vacation at navarrelistings.com.