Picturesque sand and sea extend as far as the eye can see in Navarre Beach, a beautiful community on Florida’s Santa Rosa Island. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Santa Rosa Sound on the other, this friendly area is ideally positioned for days of sunbathing, relaxation, and water sports. Thanks to the town’s compact layout, Navarre Beach vacation rentals are never far from the area’s top attractions.
1. Hit the Sand
With its spectacular aquamarine water and sugar-fine white sand, the beach is undeniably the most popular of Navarre Beach’s attractions. Get into the relaxed vibe of this cozy community with a day of sunbathing and swimming. Book lounge chairs and umbrella rentals with Sunset Beach Service, which delivers to local waterfront vacation rentals or your chosen spot on the beach. Amp up the fun by adding a boogie board to your order, or request a volleyball net and supplies for a larger group.
2. Paddle the Santa Rosa Sound
Explore hidden beaches and calm waters with a paddle trip down the Santa Rosa Sound. Book kayaks or paddle boards with Sage Paddle Co. Each rental includes delivery and pickup from the spot of your choice, so you don’t need to worry about transportation. Paddle past hidden beaches and glittering coves along the north side of Santa Rosa Island, stopping to swim or explore the shore. Approximately 7 miles east of Navarre Beach, you can land on a collection of tiny islands in the center of the sound for a true getaway.
3. Bike the Florida National Scenic Trail
Bike along the ocean on the Seashore Trail section of the Florida National Scenic Trail. This paved multi-use path extends for miles from Navarre Beach and west to Pensacola Beach. As you ride, check out sweeping sea views and candy-colored beach houses as the trail meanders through sand dunes and coastal scrub regions. If you’re not bringing your bike on vacation, The Boardwalk Shop rents beach cruisers and child seats.
4. Visit the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station
Get hands-on with marine life with a tour of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. During the tour, experienced science instructors take you behind the scenes, where you can touch rays and other sea creatures. You can also learn how to use microscopes and meet some of the local marine life. The Science Station tours are geared toward families, and each ticket includes a shell guide and a coastal activity book that’s great for kids.
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5. Snorkel the Navarre Beach Marine Park
Explore a series of underwater reefs on a snorkeling expedition to the Navarre Beach Marine Park. Here, artificial reefs provide safe, fascinating gathering places for colorful fish. For calm water, head to the East Reef in the Santa Rosa Sound; go northwest of the Sandpiper pavilion and swim out about 150 feet offshore. You can also rent a pontoon boat from nearby Navarre Family Watersports and anchor on the outside of the reef boundary for a fun, relaxing afternoon. When you’re ready to brave the waves, head to the ocean side of the park to the Gulf Reef, which sits in the water behind the second sand bar. As you swim, keep an eye out for the sea turtles that frequent the reef.
6. Fish from the Navarre Beach Pier
Head to the Navarre Beach Pier at sunrise for some of the best local fishing. At more than 1/4 mile long, the massive structure is the longest fishing pier in Florida, so there’s plenty of space for everyone. The daily pass includes a fishing license, and the onsite Navarre Beach Pier Bait and Tackle shop carries everything you need to catch mackerel and sharks, including rental rods and reels. A daily pass includes a fishing license, but if you’re not in the mood to fish, opt for the inexpensive walk-on fee and look over the side to see jellyfish, dolphins, sting rays, and loggerhead sea turtles.
7. Visit the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center
Learn about local wildlife at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, a small, welcoming facility dedicated to the local ocean ecosystem. Watch jellyfish glide through the water in an aquarium, visit the resident box turtle, and get a close look at a colorful starfish. Hands-on activities keep kids entertained and engaged, and the friendly staff members are always willing to chat about their work protecting and rehabilitating sea turtles in the area.
8. Explore the Panhandle Butterfly House
Get up close and personal with spectacular Florida butterflies at the Panhandle Butterfly House, which lies just across the causeway from Navarre Beach. Head straight for the vivarium, where butterflies fly free among native plants. If you stand still, you can watch a butterfly draw nectar from a flower or see a caterpillar chew through a leaf. If you have a question, docents are always on hand to discuss the butterfly’s life cycle. On your way out, check out more than 300 specimens from around the world, and stop in the gift shop for butterfly-themed souvenirs.
9. Go Golfing
Enjoy the Florida sunshine with a round of gold at the Club at Hidden Creek. Work on your form as you play down tree-lined fairways, and revel in the challenge of bunkers and water features. Known for its protected greens, the course reduces unexpected winds and helps you control your swing. Enjoy the sweeping views and tough pitch at Hole 4, and practice your drive on the long fairway at Hole 12.
10. Take a Helicopter Tour
See the stunning Gulf Coast from above aboard a helicopter tour with Navarre Family Watersports. Fly over sparkling sands and enormous hotels on an Intro flight, or take a longer trip along the stunning Gulf Islands National Seashore to Pensacola. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, try the Jaws Run, which takes you to an 1800s-era shipwreck; as the helicopter hovers overhead, you can see into the clear water as sharks swim around the ship.
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