Written by Wildcat Dianne on 30 Dec, 2008
The signs leading to Navarre Beach, Florida say it! "America's Best Kept Secret" is a little beach community located about 32 miles east of Pensacola, Florida, and Mom, Dad, and I spent a couple of hours there on a sunny and warm December afternoon…Read More
The signs leading to Navarre Beach, Florida say it! "America's Best Kept Secret" is a little beach community located about 32 miles east of Pensacola, Florida, and Mom, Dad, and I spent a couple of hours there on a sunny and warm December afternoon after Christmas. Several co-workers of mine said Navarre was a nice little place to visit, but I never heard of Navarre Beach until I moved to Pensacola this year. Even Dad never heard about the place until he visited us over the Christmas holidays, and that is the reason why the place is the best kept secret of Northwestern Florida.
Navarre Beach is an unincorporated community in Santa Rosa County, Florida and is located on Santa Rosa Island in the Gulf of Mexico. With its beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, Navarre Beach is a hot spot for locals looking for a quiet day at the beach and for surfers to catch the waves that crash ashore every day.
It was breezy and in the 70's when Mom, Dad, and I went to Navarre Beach. The Navarre Beach State Park is located as you get off the Navarre Beach Causeway Bridge, and we had no problem finding a parking spot in the huge parking lot since it was Monday and some people find 70-degree weather here in Florida a bit cold! But there were a few brave souls surfing in the waters that are about 69 degrees during the winter and other families sunning themselves on the beach. Mom, Dad, and I chose to walk a good stretch of the beach checking out the destroyed pier and collecting shells along the way.
Navarre Beach, Florida has a short, but colorful history. Navarre and Navarre Beach were founded by Colonel Gus Wyman and his French wife Noelle, who named the town after a Spanish province near the French border of the same name. Colonel Wyman met Noelle, who was a nurse, in France during World War I and in order to bring her to the USA and marry her, he had to adopt her first. After marrying and settling in Navarre, the Wymans had trouble making ends meet and eventually fell behind on the taxes to their town and had to sell off Navarre bit by bit in order to catch up on the bills and taxes. Noelle went to New York City to teach French in order to help pay the bills while Colonely Wyman stayed in Navarre, but he wasn't bored and eventually found another woman to keep him company during those romantic beach walks. This affair was the end of the Wymans' marriage, and after the divorce was final (it wasn't very amicable), Noelle was banned from the Wymans' property. Colonel Wyman made this clear when he shot his ex-wife when she came on their property to tend to a pet cemetery she had created, but Colonel Wyman was not convicted of any crime since the courts said he was defending his property.
Colonel Wyman's parents also settled in Navarre and lost a lot of money from the taxes and Depression, but some people thought the parents were loaded and had a lot of money stashed away, and two of these folks, the Roberts Brothers, murdered the elder Wymans when they tried to rob their home. After the Roberts brothers were captured, they were tried in nearby Crestview, Florida, convicted of murder, and hanged.
Did you also know that parts of the 1978 Jaws II were filmed on Navarre Beach? I didn't know either, but Mom, Dad, and I didn't see any Great White Sharks in the water while we were walking, so I guess it's safe to say "it was safe to go in the water!" with no sign of Jaws in the Gulf as people were enjoying the surf and sands of the beach. OK, there were some jellyfish sunning themselves on the beach at the end of our walk, and one had to be very careful to not step on the slimy creatures. Remember that episode from Friends when one character was stung by a jellyfish and another had to do #1 to help take the sting away?!
Dad has this thing when he is near a body of water. He needs to touch the water in order to say he has been there and proves it by touching the water. Dad has done this with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and now the Gulf of Mexico is another famous body of water he has visited and touched. Mom and I found more shells for our collection and enjoyed the breeze and waters while His Lordship Speedy walked way ahead of us. When Mom and I finally caught up to Dad, he was sitting on one of the pier entries waiting for us, but he was calmly enjoying the sea air instead of tapping his fingers impatiently like he has been known to have done.
Navarre Beach is open to tourists and locals from dawn to dusk and is free of charge. No pets are allowed onto the beach and no alcohol or is allowed on the beach. There are several condos and houses for one to rent if you want to sleep over in Navarre along with the Regency Hotel. There aren't many restaurants on the strip of beach we visited, but you can dine across the bridge in Navarre itself or further down the beach.
To get to Navarre Beach from Pensacola, you can take I-110 South towards the beaches or go down Palafox Street to Cervantes Street. From either point of entry, take a right onto Route 98 (Beaches) and then a left onto Chase Street. From Chase, take a left onto Bayfront Parkway across the bridge to Gulf Breeze and bear left into Gulf Breeze and stay on 98 east for 23 miles until you get to Navarre. Once in Navarre, take a right onto the Navarre Beach Causeway Bridge and the State Beach is at the end of the bridge. A day in Navarre Beach is well-worth a day of sun and fun in Northwestern Florida, and I don't think it will be a secret much longer after this journal is read.
Written by tessh24 on 11 May, 2004
This is the most breathtaking, peaceful place I have ever been. The sand was white and cool -- it never got hot on your feet. The water was green, light blue, and royal blue depending on the depth. It was what I think paradise would…Read More
This is the most breathtaking, peaceful place I have ever been. The sand was white and cool -- it never got hot on your feet. The water was green, light blue, and royal blue depending on the depth. It was what I think paradise would look like. We went in early May. It was peaceful and there were only a handful of people there. We drove to Destin to the outlet mall and that area of the panhandle was more crowded. But it was beautiful as well.
So if you want quiet and peacefulness, you will want to stay in Navarre. There are a Winn Dixie and a brand new Publix before the bridge and they are building a Target this next year by Publix. There are about six restaurants and seven fast food places in Navarre and if you want more options you will need to drive about 12 to 20 miles to Ft. Walton, Destin, or Pensacola.
We kayaked, which I have never done before. It was easier than canoeing and lots of fun. There was also a long pier you could walk down for a $1 and fish off of. It was a great place for families and peacefulness. I did hear that at the end of May/early June, it gets more crowded due to school being out.
Written by Kids-in-Tow on 29 Jun, 2001
There is only one hotel at Navarre Beach, a Holiday Inn (see entry). All other housing is condo or beach house. On Navarre Beach, the higher the street number, the closer to the bridge you are. Lower numbers (Under 7300) are quite…Read More
There is only one hotel at Navarre Beach, a Holiday Inn (see entry). All other housing is condo or beach house.
On Navarre Beach, the higher the street number, the closer to the bridge you are. Lower numbers (Under 7300) are quite close to the Gulf Island National Seashore (GINS). Near the bridge connecting Navarre and Navarre Beach (50 cent toll) are the new high-rise condos, equipment rentals and a few restaurants. Farther west from the bridge there are more free-standing beach houses and 3-4 story condos. There is the occasional empty lot, even a few on the gulf. About 3.5 miles from the bridge you enter the GINS, which has no houses/hotels and few public beach access points. This runs for about 15 miles east until you hit Pensacola Beach. The GINS picks up again west of Pensacola Beach and runs to the end of Santa Rosa Island at Fort Pickens (see entries).
My Florida Brother mentioned that the local fire department did not have ladder truck to reach the top of the new high-rises, so helicopters would be used to take people off the top in an emergency. Something to keep in mind…
East of the bridge is not developed, but my Florida Brother reports there is a nude beach. We could not see it from the road and didn’t go looking for it. I believe there is a web site for it.
NAVAL LIVE OAKS VISITOR CENTER
Visitor Center Open All Year varying hours check Gulf Island National Seashore.
Location - Gulf Breeze, Florida which is the middle peninsula, not the ocean-most barrier island (Santa Rosa) We didn’t feel the small boys…Read More
NAVAL LIVE OAKS VISITOR CENTER
Visitor Center Open All Year varying hours check Gulf Island National Seashore.
Location - Gulf Breeze, Florida which is the middle peninsula, not the ocean-most barrier island (Santa Rosa) We didn’t feel the small boys were up to the nature trails this year. On another trip, I want to see the trees that helped build the USS Constitution and other vessels I have toured in other places.
5701 Gulf Breeze Pkwy. (Hwy. 98)
20 minutes west of Ft. Walton, FL
We will save this for a winter or spring trip, when the animals are a little more lively.
Catamaran Rental: On an earlier trip, my Florida brother and I rented a catamaran for an afternoon. It was great to get a different perspective of the beach. When the kids are 8 or so, we will take them out. Of course, maybe they will prefer the speed and excitement of the wave runners instead of silently gliding over the surface and planning every turn. Well, wave runners are available too.
Sailor’s Grill: This is the only other restaurant on the island. We’ll have to try it next time.
Trader Vic’s Caribbean Grill. This restaurant is close to the Navarre bridge on the mainland side. There was no time this trip, so it is on our list for next time.
Fishing Pier: The boys are not fishermen yet. We enjoyed our sightseeing visit to the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, maybe next visit they will want to try fishing themselves.
Written by Kids-in-Tow on 03 Jul, 2001
With Pensacola Naval Air Station and Eglin Air Force Base in the area, there is plenty of military activity about. There are streets with names like "Air Commando Blvd". On prior trips, we have watched the Navy’s Blue Angels practice while we were…Read More
With Pensacola Naval Air Station and Eglin Air Force Base in the area, there is plenty of military activity about. There are streets with names like "Air Commando Blvd". On prior trips, we have watched the Navy’s Blue Angels practice while we were sunbathing on Pensacola Beach. On this trip, we saw at least one military aircraft every day, usually more. Coast Guard helicopters are common during the day.
One night, my Florida Brother told us to come for a walk on the bike trail on Navarre Beach. He pointed out a distant "booming" sound. It was followed by a faint but perceptible rat-a-tat-tat. You had to concentrate, but you could hear them. These were the sounds of the night bombing runs at Eglin. The responding machine gun fire and anti-aircraft rounds could also be heard. My Florida Brother said you might actually see the flashes from communities closer to the base.
These sounds were not a problem; in fact the "boys" enjoyed them. You can’t hear them if you are actually on the beach because of the surf, and you can’t hear them from inside the poorly insulated beach house. I don’t want to scare anyone away with this report, just explain what you might be hearing in the distance.
With big and small boys in our family, military activity is just one of the attractions we got for free. Military Bases
Use the same runway as the F15s! If you have boys in your crew, this may be the airport for you. As you taxi to and from the terminal, you pass Air Force aircraft and equipment of all kinds. The adult "boys"…Read More
Use the same runway as the F15s!
If you have boys in your crew, this may be the airport for you. As you taxi to and from the terminal, you pass Air Force aircraft and equipment of all kinds. The adult "boys" were more excited than the 5 and 3 year olds.
This is a small regional terminal that caters to military personnel and families heading to the beach; it does not have extensive services. There are no bathrooms in the secured area, so pass thru as late as possible if you have small children. Also, we noticed unclaimed luggage was left unattended on the carousel.
Be aware that it does not have an Alamo Car Rental, which was offering the cheapest prices when we visited. The other rental agencies were running short on larger vehicles and offering deep discounts to those who reserved larger cars but were willing to move down a notch.
I discuss other area military activity in the general journal.