Well, we’ve officially moved away from the Navarre Beach/Pensacola beach/Emerald coast/hidden gem of Florida region. And yes, I already miss it. Ironically, I’ve also received more requests on places to stay and things to do in Navarre beach than ever before. Then there are so many reviews on Trip Advisor on how it’s a hidden gem on the rise. So the cat’s out of the bag. Navarre Beach is amazing.
Time for a travel guide.
We lived most of our time about a 6-10 minute drive from Navarre beach, then a few months up in Gulf Breeze, so consider this guide a Navarre Beach with a touch of Pensacola Beach guide. It’s only about a 20-mile difference and the scenic highway (the 399) between the two is exactly that…scenic.
Here we go, bullet point Navarre Beach Travel Guide.
When to visit:
Summer gets all the glory, but Fall and Spring were my hands down favorites (I’d say October-Early November, then April and May) – The water isn’t quite as warm so it’s ridiculously clear, and still warm enough to swim in and feel refreshed. Plus the rays come out to play which is a spectacle in itself. Same with the dolphins. The fishing is good, and if you surf you’ll get the unexpected swell too. And most importantly it’s less crowded. Summer storms on the gulf are gorgeous though, and winter it’s like a ghost town, which I love. So I dunno, pick your season, but I recommend Spring or fall.
Where to Stay:
• I didn’t stay at many places because we lived there, but my parents stayed at the new SpringHill Suites Navarre Beach suites a few times, and I loved it Get a gulf view room with a patio.
• That’s really the one main hotel, so other than that check out VRBO, Airbnb and HomeAway for any vacation rental – the closer to the beach the better. Get a bunch of people and rent a home right on the beach. So many people I met were doing that – families getting together, groups of friends, they all seemed to love it. And rightfully so.
What to do:
• The thing I love about Navarre Beach is the beach is pretty much the best thing to do. Because it’s freaking gorgeous. And if you catch it on a clear, calm glassy day, you’ll just stare at it and say wow to yourself all day. So here’s what I loved to do:
• Go shelling/beachcombing – I can’t really predict the days, but some days there are literally piles of shells lining the shoreline, especially after a storm or swell.
• Anything in the water – Swim, snorkel, paddleboard, kayak (For rentals say hi to my pal Trent at Lazy Days Beach Service for paddle boards, kayaks, sailing, or beach chair setup, or Sage Paddle Co has boards, mopeds, and kayaks too.)
• Surf is unpredictable but you’ll get some fun and uncrowded waves around the pier everyone and then, and if the conditions are right it’s a blast. The only board rental I know of is Innerlight up in Pensacola beach.
• Sunrise run – this is a must. Start just east of the Fishing pier/down by the marine park and just go east as long as you want, you’ll feel like you are running on your own private island. And will probably stop to take pics, pick up shells, or watch marine life. The hours around sunrise are freaking magical. Sunsets aren’t too shabby, but I prefer sitting mu un on the beach and drinking a beer for those.
• There’s stuff to do inland too, I heard Blackwater River state park is gorgeous, and there are some cool tree houses you can stay in too – I just spent all of my free time at the beach. I think I subconsciously knew our time here would be short so I wanted to soak up the beach as much as possible.
Places to eat:
Ok, I’m not a foodie (and Pizza on the beach with a six pack at sunset was my idea of an amazing meal on Navarre beach)…but here’s some recs.
• Slippery Mermaid Sushi – Is some damn tasty sushi. My husbands boss traveled all over the world and said it’s hands down one of his favorite sushi spots
• Shark Bite – A little kind of surf shack that I’d always go to for breakfast burritos. Reall cool guys own it. Love how they have really good reggae playing too.
• The Grand Marlin up in Pensacola Beach – Hands down one of the best brunches I ever had, and well, their food is amazing. This is the “Special Occasion” Spot for sure. Or, a great spot to get a bunch of $2 bloody marys on a rainy Sunday and listen to a guy jam on the Steel Drum guitar.
• If you want to literally eat on the beach, I liked Crabs on the beach up in Pensacola Beach – I loved sitting outside on one of the picnic tables – There’s live music, a little park there in the sand for the kiddos…and tasty Bushwhackers for da Mamas.
And last but not least…
• Coffee Spot = Drowsy Poet in Pensacola beach.
Favorite Beach Spots:
Yes, it’s all one big white sandy beach on a long island, but there are some spots I recommend.
• Opal beach – Between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach in the Gulf Island National Seashore – just go there. Pay the fee or get a pass. Walk a little to your east or west away from people, and just soak it up.
• Navarre Beach Marine Park – Park at the last Pavillion, then just walk down the beach for five minutes and you’ll feel like you have your own private little beach. (This is where I took the majority of my pics for the blog) – There’s also a great little free education center over on the sound side too.
• Drive past the first few beach accesses in Navarre – the last three are my favorites (The further from the pier = the less crowded)
• If you are in the shopping mood, you’ll have to check out downtown Pensacola or drive over to Destin. So a trip to Navarre Beach is good for the Visa – (spend that extra dough to stay somewhere on the beach.)
…there you go.
I’m already missing it even more.
If you go, grab a shell, jump in the water, go for a run, roll around in the white squeaky sand, say hello to that big beautiful sea, and soak it up for me.
Navarre Beach, you’re such a gem.