Three things to keep kids learning on Navarre Beach

As the old Alice Cooper tune goes “schoooooools out for Summer!”

Which means the kiddos are likely back at home with mom and dad for some quality bonding. It’s great!

And by week three, mom and dad are exhausted and the kiddos are bored. Not great.

The last things parents want is for their kids to progress into the all too familiar vegetative state summer break can produce. Sounds like a vacation is in order. Here are a few suggestions for ways to keep the kiddos’ brains engaged and mom and dad sane on Navarre Beach.

  1. Meet Sweet Pea at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

If your little ones love critters, they are going to flip for the sea turtle center. Sweet Pea is a juvenile green sea turtle. She acts as an ambassador for her endangered cousins in the wild. Aside from getting to meet Sweet Pea, the sea turtle center offers a scavenger hunt-style tour to help the kids learn about all of the animals living at the center.

  1. Challenge the mind with Escape Zone 60

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Sometimes keeping the mind sharp is all about practice. So challenge the kiddos to a brain puzzle they can actually live at Escape Zone 60. Older kids, with help from mom and dad, can try their hand at two different escape rooms in the Navarre area. These puzzle rooms put the visitor to the test through challenging, collaborative mind games in a race against the clock. And don’t worry if you don’t beat the clock. I can say from experience loosing is pretty fun too.

  1. 3. Navarre Beach Marine Science Station Summer Camps

What kid does not want to have an up-close encounter with dolphins, build underwater robots, try their hand at deep sea fishing or catch a wave atop a surf board.

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station offers a variety of summer day camps to not only keep your children’s hands busy but their brains too! Lessons include hands on interactions with native wildlife and cool conservation messages. Plus, while the kiddos are away mom and dad can play! Camp registration is available at navarresciencestation.org/camps/summer-camps.

So bring the little ones to our tropical paradise this summer. Check out the options at navarrelistings.com

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Join #TeamTurtle for our nesting sea turtles

Sea turtle nesting season on Navarre Beach began this month, with the first mother turtles expected to arrive by the start of June.

That means it is once again that time of year when we all work to share this beautiful beach with one of its most ancient inhabitants: sea turtles.

Our beach is home to four species of threatened or endangered sea turtles including greens, loggerheads, kemps ridleys and leatherbacks.

The trek to shore can be exhausting for the mommy sea turtles as they drag themselves from the water to the beach. This is the only time in their lives outside of hatching from an egg when sea turtles will naturally come ashore. Then the mom digs a hole in the sand more than a foot deep and lays between 45 to 110 eggs.

Once laying is complete, the turtle carefully buries her eggs before dragging herself back into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s tough work when you only have flippers to work with!

After a few months the nests then hatch, releasing hundreds of ping pong ball sized baby turtles into the gulf.

But they face many challenges.

Artificial lights are the biggest threat to sea turtles. Both nesting moms and hatchlings use white light to orient themselves while on land. In a completely natural setting, the brightest white light would be the moon and the reflection of it on the Gulf of Mexico, guiding the turtles to safety.

But in a world filled with artificial lights from homes, pools and roadways, that is not the case.

They can get disoriented by the light pollution and get seriously hurt, but our condos are taking a proactive approach to protecting our turtles.

Summerwinds Condominiums and Beach Colony have partnered with the National Resource Damage Assessment and Navarre Beach Turtle Patrol to place more than 600 turtle-friendly amber lights on our balconies and pool deck.

These lights are designed specifically to light the way for humans without confusing the turtles. Neat, right?

You can help protect our local sea turtles by joining #TeamTurtle. This means shutting off all unnecessary lights, especially those facing the beach, and closing blinds and window curtains tight to keep the light inside.

You can also help by filling in holes dug on the beach, toppling sand castles when you leave for the day, making sure to take all your belongings off the beach at night and respecting all federal, state and local wildlife laws. That includes the warning signs and roped off areas where sea turtles have nested.

It’s also important that if you get the super exciting and very rare treat of watching a sea turtle nesting remember to stay back, do not use flashlights or flash photography and stay quiet.

If we all work together, we can make sure that the thousands of baby sea turtles that hatch each year along Navarre Beach all make their way home to the Gulf.

If you spot turtle hatchlings headed in the wrong direction, or if you see a sea turtle being harassed or in distress contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately. Call 1-888-404-FWCC or call *FWC from your cellphone.

To learn more about these magnificent creatures and to meet one up close, come check out the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Book your vacation today at navarrelistings.com, and go #TeamTurtle!

Tunes by the Dunes is back!

It’s time to get jiggy on the beach. Or if you don’t love dancing like a dork as much as I do, it is time to sit back with your toes in the sand and listen to some sweet live entertainment.

For the 11th year in a row, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off their annual free summer concert series Thursday, May 31.

This concert series featuring a wide variety of music genres including classic and new, fun beats. Along with the fun music and dancing will be a variety of family friendly booths and the occasional beach ball rain.

The Tunes by the Dunes concert series takes place each Thursday evening at the Navarre Beach Sand Crab Pavilion just east of the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier as the sunsets over the sand dunes of coastline.

Tunes by the Dunes will offer a lineup of 14 free outdoor concerts every Thursday from May 31 through Aug. 30 in the parking area and sands north of the dunes.

Each Thursday event, from 7 to 9 p.m., will feature a different genre of music, including jazz, reggae, Southern rock, country, oldies and more. The lineup includes bands such as Lektric Mullet, Touch of Gray, Still Standing and The Rowdies.

Spectators are encouraged to bring their beach blankets and lawn chairs for a night of free family entertainment. There will be a dance area and concessions operated by local restaurants.

Smoking is prohibited on the beach, and pets are not allowed.  Glass containers are also not permitted. But coolers with some favorite treats from the local store are allowed.

You can find out more information on Tunes by the Dunes via Facebook on the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

Round out your day of fun in the sun with a family-friendly concert here on beautiful, relaxing Navarre Beach. Pick your concert, then book your stay at navarrelistings.com.

Rhino baby Katana makes her debut at the zoo

The Gulf Breeze Zoo celebrated a very special Mother’s Day this year with one new and very large mom. Katie, the zoo’s 8-year-old white rhinoceros, has a new wrinkly baby in tow. Her name is Katana, and she is too cute.

Katana was born Jan. 20 at a whopping 100 pounds. She now weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and stands roughly two feet tall. Her first horn has just started to grow.

Her mother Katie was pregnant for 16 months before giving birth to the little rhino. Zoo staff had been keeping a close eye on Katie in anticipation of the baby, but one morning they came to the rhino barn to find a surprise inside.

Katana had snuck into the world and quickly snuck her way into the keepers’ hearts. Zoo staff say Katie has taken to motherhood perfectly. Katana has taken to zoo life well too.

Katana loves to play and be rubbed. One of her favorite games is to run and burst through freshly laid piles of hay. Though she is still nursing from mom, Katana also likes to try grazing the grass alongside her mom.

Katana is expected to do a lot of growing, putting on 10 pounds a day. Her final weight will be somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds when she reaches maturity at 4 years old.

Her father Robbie is even larger, weighing in close to 5,000 pounds.

Besides growing big and strong, Katana has an important job ahead of her acting as an ambassador for her species in the wild.

All five rhino species are endangered in the wild where poachers hunt rhinos for their horns. Some cultures believe that rhino horns have special medical properties and even act as aphrodisiacs, but, the horns are actually made of keratin, the same material as human finger nails.

Two to three wild rhinos are poached a day in the wild. Their numbers are quickly dwindling, and at the current rate, wild rhinos are expected to go extinct in the next 20 years.

Katana and her family act as a reminder to us all that our rhinos, and all the diverse wildlife that call this planet home should be protected.

The rhino family of three can be seen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day while aboard the zoo’s train tour. Come check out all 800 exotic species that call the zoo home.

The Gulf Breeze Zoo is just a short drive from one of our premium Navarre Beach condominiums. Make meeting Katana part of your vacation plans at navarrelistings.com.

Top 5 Instagram-Worthy Spots along Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach is surrounded by natural beauty, cool activities and delicious eats and sips. There is no shortage of Instagrammable places, but here are five you can’t miss.

 

  1. Walking the Blackwater River Walk in historic downtown Milton

Historic downtown Milton is a quick drive north from Navarre Beach. Between the historic architecture, scrumptious food and the iconic Imogene Theatre, there are no shortage of places to get your Insta fix, but my favorite photo worthy spot is along the Riverwalk with the expanse of the Blackwater River at your back.

 

  1. Visiting Sweet Pea at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

The NBSTCC is a unique place dedicated to education on and conservation of endangered sea turtles. The center is home to a variety of local wildlife including Sweet Pea, the center’s resident green sea turtle. Sweet Pea is just a juvenile sea turtle, weighing only about 16 pounds, but an accident with fishing line caused her to lose one of her front flippers meaning she can never be released into the wild. But that has not slowed her down.

She’s a real testament to the resiliency of nature and a fun little gal. Get your photo with our gal and don’t forget to tag the center.

 

  1. Paying respects at Blackhawk Memorial

On March 10, 2015, an air training accident over Santa Rosa Sound claimed the lives of 11 service members when a Blackhawk helicopter plummeted into the waters. In their honor, a memorial has been set up in the heart of Navarre Park, overlooking the scene of the tragedy.

At just the right time in the afternoon, the sun gleams beautifully off the wings of the memorial’s eagle creating a worthwhile photo to honor the fallen men and women who served this country.

 

  1. Trying the flight at Ye Olde Brothers Brewery

Ye Olde Brother Brewery is the first craft brewery to open in Navarre. Aside from featuring some delicious wood fire pizza and smoked meats, this brewery is home to dozens of locally made beers. From the amazing Black Bear Honey Wheat to my personal favorite, the Blackwater Stout, these brothers have mastered the art of incredible beer. And the menu changes with the season. One day you may find a porter that tastes like coffee and chocolate and the next day it’s a wit with a touch of Florida blueberries.

The best way to experience all they have to offer is to try the flight. Snap a pic of the colorful arrangement before you start tasting them.

 

  1. Enjoying the sunset along Navarre Beach Fishing Pier

The longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico is right here along Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. To walk the pier only costs a dollar per person. For the best photo of a Navarre Beach sunset walk about halfway down the pier and turn slightly to the right (west) to get the full effect of the sky and water. Truly breathtaking.

 

So come explore and get your perfect Insta at beautiful Navarre Beach. Book your photo-worthy vacation today at navarrelistings.com.

Imogene Theatre boasts history, entertainment and fun

Just up the road from Navarre Beach is the jewel known as historic downtown Milton along beautiful Blackwater River. Once the heart of a thriving riverside mill town, downtown has transformed into a walkable, entertainment area.

The area boasts a lovely bike trail, unique shopping, delicious food (Blackwater Bistro is a must) and a gorgeous riverfront walk (best spot for a family photo). This area is definitely worth dedicating a day of your vacation to explore.

Perhaps the best of the Blackwater is the Imogene Theatre.

Originally built as a public auditorium in 1912, the brick building was later purchased by Clyde Gooch. Gooch transformed it into a vaudeville style theater that would become a gem of the area. He named it after one of the first performers to take to its stage, his 7-year-old daughter Imogene Gooch.

Imogene was known as a sweet, talented and enchanting young lady, much like the theater that bears her name.

Fire has tried to claim the theater twice, and though those blazes did scorch many of the original wood architecture that made up Milton, the Imogene stood strong.

Over the years the theater has grown to include nationally know performances, a historic museum and even hosts weddings.
The building boast much of the same architecture it had back in the day, but the entertainment had definitely taken a step into the present.

Here are a few of the upcoming performances:

May 17 – Steve Earle & The Dukes 30th anniversary of Copperhead Road

May 26 – Cornbread Cosa Nostra in Milton, Florida at the Imogene Theatre

June 14 – Sold Out – Sammy Kershaw Live in Concert

July 20 – Ben Bailey, host of Cash Cab, stand-up comedy

Aug 24 – Stand Up Comedy- Greg Fitzsimmons

Oct 13 – Collin Raye Live in Concert

To reserve your spot for one of these upcoming shows go to theimogenetheatre.com. Then book your accommodations along some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches at navarrelistings.com.

Bird watching season, top 5 places to spot

This time of year, Navarre Beach’s undisturbed natural spaces come to life in new way as feathery residents return for another nesting season.

Black skimmers with their tuxedo-like pattern and oddly elongated, orange beaks have arrived to nest among the sand dunes in Navarre once again, accompanied by tiny least terns.

Further inland migratory and nonmigratory species of songbirds mingle such as among the treetops and grasslands. A variety of birds of prey, including majestic bald eagles and water-diving osprey, are also out in force.

In swamps and coastal waters blue herons slowly and steadily trek the shallows searching for a fish meal.

The Navarre Beach area offers both amateur and seasoned bird watchers a real treat with more than 300 widely varying bird species calling this coastal community and its surrounding woodlands home.

The areas unique biodiversity and mix of ecosystems brings in a wide array of bird species including year-round natives and migrant species.

From the sweeping slow circles of a brown pelican’s 7-foot wingspan to the zipping flaps a tiny ruby-throated hummingbird, bird watchers can expect to see majestic birds of prey, colorful songbirds, waterfowl and coastal birds.

The miles and miles of habitat these birds call home in and near Navarre Beach include stretches of uninterrupted coastline, winding rivers, windswept grasslands, murky swamps, teeming bayous and hushed forests.

On Navarre Beach and within a half hour’s drive are a variety of locations to spot the birds. Some of the best spots include:

  1. Gulf Islands National Seashore, one of longest uninterrupted examples of Florida coastline
  2. Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and Marine Sanctuary, both boast excellent opportunities to not only spot shorebirds but also marine species
  3. Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze, featuring picnic-friendly water fronts and winding woodland nature trails
  4. Blackwater River State Park, acres of river, woodland trails, pitcher plant swamps and more
  5. Garcon Point Trail, a 1.5-mile trail for spotting

Ready for some birding? Grab a guide book, a pair of binoculars and book your vacation today at navarrelistings.com