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.

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.

Navarre Beach offers relaxing, family Spring Break

If you are like me, you were appalled watching the TV news coverage of Panama City Beach during Spring Break. It was crowded. It was loud. It was vulgar.

It did not accurately represent what a family Spring Break on Florida’s beaches should be. For that, you need to head north to the hidden gem of the Florida panhandle: Navarre Beach.

This Gulf front paradise is referred to locally as “Florida’s Best Kept Secret,” and it is easy to see why. While other beaches are battling college-aged Spring Breakers drunkenly crowding the coast, Navarre’s beach is clean and clear. This is a quiet community of locally-owned restaurants and shops. There is art and history to be explored.

The lifeguards are on duty and it is easy to find a place to spread out a blanket and some chairs on either the Gulf of Mexico side or Santa Rosa Sound side. Known as “mother’s beach,” the sound side features gentler waves, perfect for younger children, and pavilions for a picnic lunch.

My personal preference is to waste the day on the shore, toes in the sand, book in hand, while the sun warms my skin and the kiddos run around and splash in the surf, but there is more to do than sit around all day.

Navarre Beach offers a variety of water sports. Get a stand up paddle board lesson in the Santa Rosa Sound or take a kayak out for a spin on the man-made near shore reef. Snorkelers at the reef, tucked away in the beach’s marine park, have spotted everything from fish to green sea turtles and even dolphins.

Speaking of sea turtles, any family paying a visit to Navarre Beach must stop by the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. This one of a kind conservatory is home to a live loggerhead sea turtle, Gigi. She is completely blind and starving when she was rescued. Now she lives at the center full time as an animal ambassador. Children (and parents) will learn about the wide variety of marine life on the coast and come face to face with some of its creatures.

The center offers a variety of special events, including glass-bottom kayak tours, throughout the year.

Inland, there is Navarre Park. This recreation area offers play grounds, picnic pavilions and a walking path to stretch your legs. There are a handful of cute, locally-owned shops to buy unique gifts and souvenirs.

Less than 20 minutes down the road is the Gulf Breeze Zoo where a variety of animals await to say hello including two new baby giraffes, Gibson and Kelly. Children can feed the babies and their moms by hand.

The family-friendly condominiums along the coast here are also a plus. These rentals offer gorgeous views of some of the whitest beaches on earth, and Navarre Beach condominiums are a huge savings compared to their busier and more crowded neighbors in Pensacola and Destin. And there is space for the kids and a kitchen to prepare meals when you aren’t dining out.

All the luxury, half the cost and half the crowds, you can’t beat that for your family Spring Break. While the rest of the Spring Breakers crowd into the same old tourist traps, you can chill like a local on your own private beach. Find the relaxing family vacation you’ve been dreaming of and make your reservation today.