2019 Spring Jam coming to Navarre Beach

Thousands of visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy live music with their toes in the surf and sand along Navarre Beach Sunday, March 24, during Spring Jam 2019.

Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors Grill has partnered with Cat Country 98.7 once again to offer the second annual Spring Jam, a one-day music festival along the Santa Rosa Sound. The event will be hosted at Juana’s.

Last year was a blast with fantastic music, food and fun on the beautiful backdrop of our white sandy beaches.

“The great thing about this event is we are able to bring artists that are in the top ten of country music charts,” said Juana’s event coordinator Dannie Hall. “Most of those are performing at the Wharf in Destin for $60 a ticket, where here you can see them for $10. And it helps Santa Rosa Kids House.”

This year’s headliner is Michael Ray with special guest Jimmie Allen and Everette to benefit Santa Rosa Kid’s House. Kid’s House is a local nonprofit supporting child victims of sexual abuse.

Other announced performers include Drop Dead Dangerous, James Adkins, Chloe Channell, and other bands to be announced. The event is presented by Gulf Winds Credit Union.

“It is top ten on country, and some of them are in the top five already. One is a really new artist, and he is rocking it. That is Everette,” Hall said. “The ones that were here last year are now on the CMAs. This is really the best time to see them.”

Doors will open at 3:30 p.m., and the show will start at 6 p.m. The event is an all ages. I highly recommend arriving early. Seriously, you want to be their at least an hour ahead of doors opening to get settled. Don’t worry, you won’t be bored waiting to get in.

There will be a parking lot party with food and live performances, sort of a pre-party to the beach fun.

Tickets are $10 online ahead of time and $20 at the door if available. Ticket sales are limited to 3,000, and Hall said they expect to sell out again this year. Children 2 and under are permitted without a ticket. There will be food and beverages on-site.

This is a rain or shine event. Seating is first come, first served. Beach towels are allowed.

Restricted items are:

• Tents

• Drones

• Umbrellas

• Strollers

• Chairs

• Coolers or outside food or drink

• Pets (registered service animals are permitted)

Professional video or photography is not allowed.

Book your vacation at NavarreListings.com, then get your tickets at catcountry987.com and click on Spring Jam 2019.

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.

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 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.

Long time staple of the Navarre coast broke into the top 10 of the 2017 Best Florida Beach Bars

Picture leaning back in a beach chair as you dig your toes into the powdery white sand while sipping your favorite drink as the sun sets over sparkling saltwater. Live music plays in the background as the sky is alight with streaks of red, orange and purple.

That’s just another day at Juana’s Pagodas on Navarre Beach. This long time staple of the Navarre coast broke into the top 10 of the 2017 Best Florida Beach Bars contest sponsored by LandShark Lager.

Owner Kevin Rudzki said he is thrilled.

“We have made the list before, just not in the top 10. The rest of the bars are bigger name south Florida bars for the most part. There are some pretty big names that have been in the top 10 that we beat out this year,” he said. “It’s a pretty good honor. It is a neat thing to be a prat of, and it gives us some national recognition.”

The scoring to determine the bars list is based on FloridaBeachBar.com’s score and online voting. There was a list of 224 bars to pick from located throughout the state.

The scoring is based on things like ambiance, whether they have a full bar, how often they have live music and how close the bar is to the water. Juana’s has all of the above and so much more.

In addition to having a full restaurant on site this beach bar boasts indoor and outdoor seating, Jet Ski and sail boat rentals, volleyball courts and water front relaxation.

Rudzki said there location, just feet from Santa Rosa Sound at the foot of the Navarre Beach Causeway, is one of their best features.

“It’s the proverbial beach bar, what people are looking for,” he said. “It’s a laid back atmosphere. I like to think that we offer great service and good music, and our biggest selling point is our location. The sunsets are priceless.”

Juana’s has been doing business on the beach since 1989. They celebrated their 28th anniversary last month.

In the nearly 30 year since the Rudzki brothers and their wives first started renting out Jet Skis and sail boats at the location, it has been growing. Eventually the bar was added, then a restaurant and plenty of live music.

For a full list of winners and their locations go to floridabeachbar.com/2017-award-winners or just come check it out in person.

Snapper season extended in federal waters

Fisherman visiting Florida’s gulf coast will be happy to know that red snapper are still on the menu.

Federal waters have been opened up to recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico for a longer period of time thanks to the joint efforts of the United States Department of Commerce and the five Gulf states.

These delicious, bright red reef dwellers are showing up in more abundant numbers and larger sizes than they have in years Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials reported.

Once set for an all-time low of only three days, the season now has an additional 39 days added to it. The extended season opened late last month and will be open on weekend days and holidays through Labor Day weekend.

The season will remain closed Monday through Thursday during that stretch, with the exception of July 3 and July 4 and Sept. 4. The federal season extension is the first in a decade.

Even if snapper (or off shore fishing) are not your thing, the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier offers fishermen a great opportunity to drop a line. As one of the longest piers in the Gulf of Mexico, this pier sports a variety of fish and quiet a history of successful casting.

Anglers frequently pull from the water king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, jack crevalle and more. Even inexperienced anglers can enjoy.

Come cast out on one of Florida’s best beaches.

Escape Zone 60 of Navarre

Walking into the room you are greeted by the sound of thunder as a storm rages outside the windows. All around there are photos of the magnificent magician Harry Houdini, chains, locked boxes and strange objects. Dangling precariously above a water tank and locked in chains is the cunning escape artist himself, raised from the dead.

But he’s not back among the living for long.

The clock on the wall instantly begins ticking down as you hear the heavy wooden doors click locked behind you and your team. As the seconds tick by, the magician’s head drops dangerously close to the water. You have just 60 minutes to find the clues, solve the puzzle and save Houdini from a watery grave.

Welcome to Escape Zone 60 of Navarre. This place is called an escape room, one of thousands of real-life immersion puzzles that are taking the nation, and the world, by storm.

The Navarre location opened its doors Memorial Day weekend and has already seen dozens of teams come through. It is the fifth escape room that Escape zone 60 has opened in the panhandle, and construction is currently underway for a second escape room at the Navarre location: Escape the Red Planet.

This room will have a Mars theme and is expected to opening any day now!

The key to escape room success is teamwork. The local room invites in a maximum of eight people with minimum teams being four people.

Anything can be a clue, and overlooking a detail can cost you the game. Solving these conundrums is no easy task. The average success rate for escape rooms is 41 percent, according to MarketWatch.com.

But don’t worry. Escape Zone 60 is great for newbies and avid escapers alike with a roughly 20 percent success rate.

Even if you don’t save Houdini, the memories are a victory in and of themselves.

Come try it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Sea turtle nesting season is here!

Florida Panhandle beaches are seeing dozens of nighttime visitors crawling onto the beach to dig their nests, leaving behind hundreds of round eggs with baby sea turtles inside, before disappearing back into the deep. This is the only time of year that sea turtles come ashore.

While it’s not new to have turtles burying their eggs in Navarre’s pure white sands between the months of May and October, the first nest of this nesting season was historic.

On Mother’s Day weekend Navarre Beach received its first ever leatherback sea turtle nest!

Leatherback sea turtles are special. These sea turtles are the biggest in the world. The largest ever recorded was 10 feet long and weighed more than 2,000 pounds.

Our local mama left tracks that were more than 7 feet wide! That means she probably weighed 800 pounds and measured 7 feet long from nose to tail. By comparison, the loggerhead sea turtles that frequent Navarre Beach average 3 feet long. Loggerhead eggs are usually the size of a ping pong ball, but leatherbacks lay eggs the size of billiard balls, roughly 80 per nest.

While most sea turtle species return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs, leatherback females will migrate to new beaches for laying their eggs, traveling up to 3,000 miles from where they hatched which is likely how this mama landed at Navarre Beach.

She has been joined by three other nesting mamas on our shoreline including loggerhead sea turtles.

In about 65 days, these eggs will hatch, and the tiny turtles inside will dig for the surface and waddle their way to the water before swimming away to freedom.

While this is a time for celebration, it is also a time to be careful. That sprint to the Gulf of Mexico is fraught with danger. One scary statistic: It is estimated that only one in every thousand sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood. Many sea turtle species are vulnerable, threatened or endangered.

But you can help.

Visitors to the panhandle’s beautiful beaches can make their vacation #cleandarkflat to protect sea turtles. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Clean up the beach. Take your beach chairs, blankets, garbage and other items off the beach at night fall. These items can trip up or trap turtles.
  • Dark is good for turtles. Turn off unnecessary lights at night and pull curtains closed. Artificial light can disorient the nesting mamas as well as hatchlings.
  • Flat sand is best. Sand castles and holes can be death traps for sea turtle hatchlings.

If you are lucky you may even spot a nesting turtle or a hatching nest of baby turtles. If you do, keep your distance, don’t use flash photography and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience here on Navarre Beach.

To learn more, visit the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center and meet their resident loggerhead sea turtle Gigi. This team of dedicated volunteers really knows their stuff.

Book your vacation today.

Bouncing Butterflies! Navarre butterfly house open for business

Flowers are in bloom, there’s not a cloud in the sky and the warm months are finally in full swing here on Navarre Beach which means it’s that time year.

The Panhandle Butterfly House has turned the key on their 20th season!

Located at the foot of the bridge leading out to Navarre Beach, this beautifully gardened public facility offers a unique, up close encounter with dozens of brightly colored butterflies.

If you have ever been inside an aviary, it is kind of like that, but instead of squawking, flighty birds that are pecking at you trying to steal the treat stick you paid $10 for, this atrium is filled with graceful butterflies quietly showing off their wing art. From iconic monarchs to wispy swallowtails, this facility houses a wide array of the flutter friends that call the Navarre area home.

I could spend hours sitting on the little wooden bench inside that enclosed garden as delicate wings fluttered back and forth from the surrounding blooms. On a quiet day, the fountains gentle trickle is the only sound. On a busy day children gasp in delight as they spot the flittering creatures all around them.

One girl even squealed with excitement when a monarch landed on her arm for a few seconds before fluttering on to a new roust.

The butterfly house also houses eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises that will eventually join the other butterflies.

This place loves public education. Imagine teaching little ones the butterfly life cycle with the real thing just inches from their nose. The docents at the butterfly house really love what they do, and they can provide amazing lessons into native species even for the adults. These passionate volunteers know their stuff.

Did you know that monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants? Did you know that it takes about a month for a butterfly to mature from egg to adult during the summer months?

Well now you do, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all these gals have to teach visitors.

They even offer tips for making home gardens butterfly friendly with butterfly host plants. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Outside the butterfly house is Navarre Park. This clean, quiet park features two playgrounds, open grass areas, picnic tables, a basketball quart and swings.

If you want to dip a toe after visiting the PBH, let the little ones run wild on the splash pad or walk down to the water’s edge. Santa Rosa Sound and the splash pad are just feet from the PBH.

The transformative power of butterflies have always fascinated us. Come play among the winged wonders on Navarre Beach before they close-up shop again Aug. 26. Monarch Madness is a special treat Oct. 20 -21. Book your family vacation today.

Beach Birds

Odds are if you go down to the beach, you will see the roped off areas along the bridge and near the sand dunes. Little signs will warn you “Don’t enter! Birds nesting!”

You may see the birds. You may not, but let me assure you they are there and we on Navarre Beach are so excited!

From little least terns to large black skimmers, these guys show up on the beach just about the time the tourist season kicks up.

Terns and black skimmers both nest in colonies, working as a collective to keep an eye out for predators. When a potential threat is spotted, the birds will dive bomb and swarm until the predator, or innocent bystander, is forced to flee.

Each nest contains two or three eggs that blend in perfectly with their surroundings. That means in a few short weeks, dozens of chicks – also well camouflaged — will be running around on the beach. If you spot these fluffy little guys, snap a picture!

It is critical that locals and visitors do what they can to help out these guys thrive. A big part of that is respecting the posted nesting areas. Even if you can’t see the birds, trust me, they are there and very, very well camouflaged. Just avoid the roped off portion when visiting the beach.

Keeping pets like cats and dogs away from the nesting areas will help as well by reducing disruption of the nesting birds and preventing the killing of chicks.

And if the birds start to swarm or seem agitated, give them more space.

Traffic on nearby roads is also a threat. Reducing your speed to 20 miles per hour when crossing the bridge onto and leaving the beach really helps out.

That may seem slow, but when one of those goofy beaked black skimmers darts in front of your car you’ll be glad you were cruising. (Happens to me all the time!)

If we all work together we can ensure all our beach babies get to fly to South America at the end of the nesting season.