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La Crosse, Wisconsin
June 29, 2001
Bike rentals are available ($25/week) in Pensacola Beach and Fort Walton Beach but not in Navarre or Navarre Beach. A business opportunity for someone!
The bike trail ends at the entrance to Gulf Islands National Seashore (GINS), but you can easily switch to the lightly traveled road. You can then take the Pensacola Beach Bridge to Gulf Breeze and pick up the bike trail on the peninsula back to the Navarre Beach Bridge. This makes a loop of about 40 miles. It is almost all flat, but you have to cross two long bridges over the sound.
Bikes allow you to stop and enjoy the surf anywhere you want to along the GINS, something you cannot do with a car without getting stuck in the sand. This is a great privacy maker.
Bring fluids, the air temperatures can be over 100 F during summer.
I saw everything from roller blades to sit-upright bikes to helmeted racers on the bike path. Everyone I met politely said "Good Morning" or "Passing on Your Left!"
From journal Young Family Hits the Beach with Local Relations
On Santa Rosa Island, it has both Gulf of Mexico surf and sound-side calm water. The sound-side is a great place to learn to handle water craft. The sands are white and cooler to the feet. The waters are emerald to blue and nicely warm in the evenings. The beachfront is changed with every tide movement, but is generally safe for adult-supervised younger children. Do pay attention to rip-tide warnings, as there have been 5 drownings of adults on Santa Rosa Island in June 2001.
While there are Jetski/WaveRunner/Parasail/Catamaran rentals available, it is not as busy as other local destinations. Good place for those first lessons…
Proximity to Gulf Islands National Seashore meant we saw many rare water birds and animals. A bike will give you the power to find a beach spot without another person or building in sight. Cars can’t pull off just anywhere, they get stuck in the sand. A bike doesn’t have this problem.
Be sure to go to the beach after dark with flash lights at least once to watch the ghost crabs and other "night-life".
For a young family beach experience, Navarre Beach is a rare find in Florida these days…