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.

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.

Partnership gives cigarette butts new purpose

When volunteers swarm Navarre Beach to collect garbage each month, cigarette butts often fill their collection buckets. Thousands of these burned, squished and tossed pieces of plastic trash are left on the beach to eventually wash into the Gulf of Mexico.

Once in the water this garbage poses a serious threat to wildlife that may accidentally consume it, but that is where TerraCycle comes in.

The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center has partnered with this New Jersey-based recycling company to turn some of the collected waste, including cigarette butts, into new products.

TerraCycle lives by the mantra nothing is garbage, as evidenced by its slogan “eliminating the idea of waste.” The company has developed a variety of programs to prove that point, taking materials that are generally considered non-recyclable and giving them new life.

TerraCycle is the first company to create a program that recycles cigarette butts, a waste product that up to a few years ago was considered unrecyclable.

TerraCycle’s program is called the Cigarette Waste Brigade. Partners from across the U.S. and throughout Canada, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan and Australia help collect the cigarette litter. To date the program has collected more than 70 million spent cigarettes.

That’s a lot of butts.

When the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center holds their monthly Trash Bash garbage collection, participants receive a bucket for their found waste. Mounted on the side of the bucket is a separate container for cigarette butts.

The turtle center has also set up collection receptacles on the beach to encourage smokers to leave the beach clean. There are four such containers on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and one at the turtle center.

Once the cigarettes are picked up, they are sent to TerraCycle for processing. The firm sterilizes the butts using gamma radiation, then shreds them using a special machine to separate the paper and leftover tobacco from the plastic filter.

The tobacco and paper is sent off for composting, and the plastic filters are turned into plastic pellets. TerraCycle uses these pellets to create a variety of products including shipping pallets and plastic lumber which can be used to make playground equipment, outdoor benches and more. They even make table top ash trays out of the cigarettes.

More than just recycling the unrecyclable, the program also leads to donations to Keep America Beautiful’s cigarette litter prevention program.

As a leader in ecotourism, Navarre Beach residents, visitors and organizations like the turtle center are making sure that Florida’s coastline will remain beautiful for generations to come.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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.

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.

Dive into Summer Camp on Navarre Beach

The weather is heating up down here on Navarre Beach, and I find myself more and more busting out the sandals and shorts.

Finally!

The warm up can only mean one thing, summer is almost upon us. And that means parents are searching out summer camps for their children. While you could stick with the same old cabin in the woods (and don’t get me wrong that is a lot of fun), there is a new kind of summer camp here on Navarre Beach.

Paddle boarding along the beach, touching some of the Gulf of Mexico’s unique wildlife and even getting up close with dolphins could make for some magical summer memories at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station.

Charlene, Heather and the crew of volunteers at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station really care about sharing marine science and beach life with children of all ages. As licensed educators they know the tricks to not only teach the kids all the amazing science but to make it fun.

Their yearly summer camps are no exception.

The season kicks off with the fifth annual Autism OdysSea May 6.

This special event spun out of Charlene’s experience vacationing with a neighbor. Her neighbor’s son had autism and while they were visiting Disney World, Charlene was surprised to see the challenges and sideways glances her friend received.

Inspired she and the science station team banded together to create an event specifically catered to these families with sensory stations and wildlife encounters.

As for day camps the station offers a variety of camps that will engage children of all ages in hands on activities and animal encounters during the day and have them back home by night fall.

For younger kids, 4 to 5 years old, the station has added a new camp called Turtle Tots. This camp allows little ones to experience and explore the lives of sea turtles through games, playing “turtle veterinarian” and beach visits.

Possibly the coolest of the camps for the older kids is the Guy Harvey Fishing Camp. For five days your child will learn all there is to know about fishing the Gulf of Mexico’s diverse selection of sporting fish.

Children 9 to 14 will learn best tackling methods and techniques to catch the big one. In addition to learning fishing 101, the kids will get a lesson in respecting the ocean and all that she has to offer and come up close with fish and more.

The highlight of the camp is a deep sea fishing experience aboard the Entertainer charter boat where they get to apply what they learn.

These kids walk away with more than just the knowledge. They receive the gear to get fishing with a custom Guy Harvey tee, tackle box and a fishing pole to apply what they learned.

Because of the Science Station’s unique commitment to ocean conservation and public education they have been selected as the only location in Northwest Florida to partner with the Guy Harvey Foundation for this one of a kind experience.

Here is a schedule of all the camps the station has in store this summer:

Autism OdysSea

May 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Families with children on the spectrum

$10

 

Dolphin Discovery

June 12-16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Students entering third through eighth grade

$275 (private dolphin cruise included)

 

Turtle Tots

June 19-23

Ages 4-5

$150

 

Jellyfish Jam

June 19-23

Students entering first and second grade

$150

 

Guy Harvey Fishing Camp

June 23-30

Ages 9-14

$350 (includes deep sea fishing, fishing gear and custom tee)

 

Paddlepalooza

July 24-28 or July 31- Aug. 4

Students entering third through fifth grade

$300 (include water sports lessons and activities)

 

Visit www.navarresciencestation.org for more information.

 

Mom and Dad

Most of the station’s camps will keep the kids occupied for the day, so what are you going to do? Might I recommend toes in the sand, drink in hand and not a care in the world? Walk down to the water from your condominium rental then grab lunch at the water front at Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors Grill at the foot of the beach bridge.

Or for the more adventuresome rent a Jet Ski, go snorkeling on the Navarre Beach near shore reef or even charter your own deep sea fishing trip. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Slots and accommodations fill up fast. Register your child for camp at navarresciencestation.org, and find yourself a home away from home today. We offer a variety of options to make your trip relaxing and memorable.

Sunsets are God’s greatest work of art.

At the close of each day the sun paints the sky in a new pattern of bright orange, red, purple and blue.

The day is slowly winding to an end. The anticipation of the evening grows, a time to relax for some but a time for the party to begin for others.

Each sunset is distinctly different from the last, but I think they are most beautiful on the beach.

As I sit on the shoreline and watch the sun sink slowly down into the water, I can’t help but feel small in this great wide universe. The shorebirds quietly call in the distance as the rhythmic swish of the waves pushes against the beach. The washed up pink shells cast long shadow patterns upon the white sand.

Occasionally the gray gleam of a dolphin’s back will break the blue, green stillness of the water as they hunt for fish among the wake.

All is peaceful. All is beautiful.

The best places to experience a sunset along Navarre Beach in my humble opinion is along the beach. Bring a blanket and your camera.

Other ideal places to catch the sunset:

  • Along the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier
  • On the deck of Juana’s Pagodas
  • The porch of your condo

Make a reservation today.