10 Fantastic Relaxing Things to Do in Navarre Beach Florida

My favorite things to do in Navarre Beach will help you make better vacation memories in the Gulf Coast town that calls itself Florida’s most relaxing place.

In Navarre Beach Florida you will find one of the best Florida Panhandle beaches, one of the best US coastal drives, the only coastal section of a National Trail in the United States, and the phenomenal Santa Rosa Sound (calm water activity funness).

Enjoy my 10 fantastic relaxing things to do in Navarre Beach Florida.

1. Navarre Beach

Face it, the astoundingly beautiful beach is the reason why you are going to Navarre Beach. And if you did not know, now you know—Navarre Beach is beautiful!

The most popular beach spot on Navarre Beach is around the pier. There is a huge parking lot (free parking) and this beach area is popular with surfers and sun worshipers.

Two nice places to get away from the crowds are at the two ends of Navarre Beach.

The westernmost public beach access, opposite South Carolina Street, is one spot. To the west of that is the Gulf Islands National Seashore (more about that area appears below).

The easternmost public beach access is just a little bit past the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Both areas offer some parking, so arrive early on popular days!

white sands & emerald ocean waters are things to do in Navarre Beach
beautiful white sand beach of Navarre Beach

McCool Travel tip: If you visit Navarre Beach after a dune restoration project, the beach will be chock full of deep water shells (like giant conchs).

2. Navarre Pier

The Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is the longest pier in the state of Florida and also along the US Gulf Coast (the Gulf of Mexico). The pier is over 1,500 feet long and 30 feet above the water.

colorful picnic table at Navarre Pier
Navarre Beach Fishing Pier

Look for sea turtles and fish from the pier and also fantastic Gulf Coast sunsets.

See more of my photos from Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

3. Navarre Beach Vacation Rental

Perhaps the most important decision to make for your relaxing Navarre Beach trip is where to stay. A wise choice is a beachfront vacation rental and Gone Coastal Property Management has several to choose from. I stayed in their Beach Colony 18th floor penthouse condo.

jacuzzi tub with Gulf of Mexico view
Navarre Beach penthouse condo with Gulf view

With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, this condo is ideal for two couples or a family. But even one couple will enjoy the romantic whirlpool bathtub with a Gulf view, the spacious waterfront patio, and impeccable beach interior.

McCool Travel tip: rent a golf cart during your stay from Navarre Beach Golf Cart Rentals. They will drop it off at your vacation rental before your arrival and pick it up after you leave.

4. Organized Occasions and Grocery Concierge

After selecting and booking your Navarre Beach vacation rental, contact Organized Occasions and Grocery Concierge to arrange to have your condo, apartment, or beach house fully stocked upon your arrival.

Because after getting stuck in a traffic jam (and it always takes longer to drive to the beach than it should, right?), checking in a little later than you expected, and shuffling all the stuff upstairs, the last thing you want to do is head back into the world and go grocery shopping or get take out from a restaurant.

The small business owner, Gretchen, also offers a phenomenal sunrise shelling and breakfast experiences and sunset dinners for any size groups. Her offerings will be tailored to families, couples, corporate groups, or big house gatherings.

breakfast on Navarre Beach
breakfast on Navarre Beach from Organized Occasions

See more photos from my beach breakfast.

McCool Travel tip: Hire Gretchen to set up a super romantic sunset dinner to impress your honey.

5. Sage Paddle Company

Any truly really memorable and relaxing Navarre Beach vacation will include Sage Paddle Company. Sage herself is a 20-year-old dynamo and has been running this Beach Activities Concierge small business since she was 11 years old. She and her parents are among the nicest and most interesting people I have met on the US Gulf Coast and heck anywhere in this world.

Contact Sage for basic services, like SUP, kayak, or beach bike rentals. She or one of her eight staff members (including her parents!) will deliver them, set them up, and pick them up when you are done. Keep them for an hour or a week. Sage Paddle Company is the largest beach equipment rental outfit on Emerald Coast with over 500 units.

Or contact Sage for a complete beach experience. Her team will deliver and set up umbrellas and chairs, golf carts, scoop coupes, and much more. Sage figured out a blend of vanilla and water that sprayed on umbrellas keeps the gnats away. How wonderful is that?  They will deliver a bag of ice, drinks, anything you need. Just let Sage know!

Navarre Beach visitors know that Sage Paddle Co is more than a business, it is a lifestyle! Customers are like family. Many visiting families have grown up with Sage and her company. They share stories about their children and lives.

Sage hires only local teens and it is much more than a job, they learn social and business skills and have a ton of fun. On rainy days, they watch videos and do shopping runs. Austin, Sage’s dad, makes breakfast for the team every morning and provides sports drinks throughout the day.

After the most recent hurricane, when residents saw Sage opening up her business, they said they knew everything would soon be normal. Sage Paddle Company is the Waffle House Index for Navarre Beach.

Sage Paddle Company represents everything the Gulf Coast is and should be. Please support them!

6. Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center opened in 2013 and has a Santa Rose County permit to rescue injured sea turtles. As a rescue and conservation center, they do not treat or rehabilitate sea turtles.

Education is a huge part of their purpose, to keep sea turtles from being injured but also to help people learn what to do in case they see an injured sea turtle. You will likely see the RPI signs on the pier and elsewhere. RPI is their Rescue Pier Initiative to educate people fishing from the pier.

The rescuers typically log issues, photo the damages, they can stop bleeding but perform no other treatment, and then pass along the information to FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) who assigns turtles to treatment and rehab facilities.

The center’s most popular resident is Sweet Pea, a green sea turtle, injured by fishing line entanglement and a boat strike. Pumpkin, a Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin, is the center’s longest resident (6-7 years now). Besides seeing turtles, visitors can learn from plenty of educational displays, which rotate seasonally.

injured turtle in Navarre Beach
injured turtle at Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

Once a month the center hosts a trash bash to clean Navarre Beach. All people have to do is show up and the center provides gloves and bags and such. It is a wonderful family activity and happens mostly east of pier. There is also a virtual option so anyone can participate, anywhere in the world. I will start doing it wherever I am. Please join me!

Shark School occurs prior to opening time on select Saturday mornings. Reserve spots on the website.

McCool Travel tip: In May, look for a clear kayak tour over the artificial reef. The event is run by the Santa Rosa County Chamber. Note that there are three artificial reefs in Navarre—one in the Gulf and two in the sound.

7. Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge

While the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center rescues injured sea turtles, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refugerescues just about every other local Florida wildlife animal. And they have been doing it for over 27 years.

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge has the permit to rescue marine animals in several counties. They are also on call for distressed woodland animals (think birds, wild cats, land turtles, and more). Unfortunately, most rescues are necropsy (dead animals) operations but some are indeed rescued (and hopefully rehabbed and released). In all, their medicine mission treats about 1,500 animals a year.

They currently have 13 ambassador animals from 11 different species (two are non native). These ambassador animals cannot be released back into the wild and are housed here permanently. For most of the rescues, they communicate findings and trends with facilities from Florida Atlantic to Texas Coast and rehabbed animals can be transported and reassigned or ultimately released back into the wild.

manatee mural at Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge
manatee mural at Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is NOT A ZOO. It is also strictly mandated and not funded and they rely heavily on donations and sponsorships. They moved to the current property in 2019 and are open to the public Wednesday through Sunday.

Drop in and be inspired and wowed by their education program and passion from the volunteers. And also, of course, see the ambassador animals and buy something from the gift shop to support their ongoing efforts.

See more of my Emerald Coast Wildlife photos.

8. Gulf Islands National Seashore

Driving west from Navarre Beach, about three miles past the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, is the seven-mile stretch of undeveloped and breathtakingly gorgeous stretch of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Although it is a National Park property, there is no admission fee to drive the road.

There is a fee to park at Opal Beach. Opal Beach is a gorgeous beach area and there are plenty of picnic areas to enjoy a waterfront lunch or snack.

beach picnic
Opal Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore

I especially love this drive at night because you are away from the lights of Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach. Stop in a safe spot, turn out the lights, and bask in the brilliant star light. See the Milky Way?

More intrepid outdoor lovers will love this section of the Florida Trail. Right here is the only coastal hiking section of any US National Trail. The Florida Trail meanders over 1,500 miles from Ochopee in the Florida Everglades to Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach.

9. Navarre Family Watersports

In addition to renting kayaks and SUPs from Sage Paddle (see above), also make time for an adventure or two with Navarre Family Watersports.

At Navarre Family Watersports, enjoy a Waverunner Dolphin Tour (so fun), sunset sailing, fishing charter, or rent your own Waverunner or pontoon boat. They also have an onsite water playground to help the whole family have a fun and memorable experience. See my photos and video from my Navarre Dolphin Tour.

And at night, try their Glow Paddle adventure. Kayak around Santa Rosa Sound in a clear kayak IN THE DARK with only some LED lights. It is fun, exhilarating, and a little bit nerve wracking.

In the Navarre Family Watersports parking lot is Shark Bites, a perfect place to pick up a breakfast burrito. They have a baker’s dozen options including Choritto (chorizo with tater tots) and Don Hula (spam, pineapple, and Hawaiian BBQ).

10. Places to Eat in Navarre Beach

  • Where Y’at Seafood (authentic Louisiana cuisine from Metarie natives. Amazing crawfish, gumbo, boudin, and more. See my lunch photos.)
  • Dewey’s (excellent seafood. See my dinner photos.)
  • Juana’s
  • Scooter’s (superb blackened grouper and one of the best key lime pies in the Florida Panhandle. See my lunch photos.)
  • Windjammer’s (located at the entrance to the Navarre Pier)
  • The Eatery (food truck park in Gulf Breeze. Azteca’s tacos are great.)
  • another few food trucks are next to Pik-Itz Art and Antiques
  • St. Michael’s Brewing Company (creative Florida craft brewery, try The Mountie if available!)
  • Ye Olde Brothers Brewery (another Florida craft brewery with excellent pizza and smoked meats)

Hope you enjoyed my things to do in Navarre Beach Florida.

McCool Travel tip: Before driving across the Navarre Beach Causeway (highway 399 from highway 98), stop at the Santa Rosa County Visitor Center in Navarre Park. There find additional information on places to shop, eat, drink, relax, and stay. Ask the local experts specific requests—favorite oysters, shelling spots, best breakfast, rainy day activities, etc.

Navarre Beach clean up bag
keep Navarre Beach clean and beautiful!

Have any other Navarre Beach favorites? Let me know!

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