5 Ways to Experience Natural Florida

When it comes to experiencing real, natural Florida, Navarre Beach is about the best beach destination there is. Rather than a lot of fake wood and theme parks, Navarre Beach, Milton and the rest of the county have lots and lots of real wood and real parks. Here are a few ideas on how to best experience the area’s wealth of natural wonders.

    1. Walk the Beach
      Navarre Beach’s wide swath of sand along the Gulf won’t have you fighting crowds, zigzagging around beach blankets and dodging Frisbees. You’ll find plenty of open stretches of soft, white sand where solitude rules the day. Across Santa Rosa Sound to the north, you can go from Tiger Point through Oriole Beach and into the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a national park. (Head off the beach and explore the Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve.) At any point along the trip, the water awaits. The Gulf along Navarre Beach ranges in color from rich aqua to deep blue.
    2. Dive or Snorkel
      The Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound off Navarre Beach have a series of artificial reefs, where you can get up close and personal with all kinds of sea creatures. Cut through the pristine water of the Navarre Beach Marine Park. We suggest you bring your own gear but if you need to rent, Bay Breeze Dive Center in Gulf Breeze has rental gear.
Photo by carola_carolina_ (IG)
  1. Bicycle Your Way through the Gulf Island National Seashore
    There are countless ways to bike around Santa Rosa County, but don’t pass up the paved trails through one of the most picturesque preserves anywhere in coastal Florida. There are a few spots where you can bike on the sand with the proper tires, but for the most part this is a way to experience natural Florida with the breeze in your hair and blacktop under your wheels.
  2. Kayak or canoe
    If you really wanted to do this old-Florida style, you’d make your own dugout canoe and head off. On second thought, rent a craft from one of the many vendors throughout the county. Try Blackwater River and Coldwater Creek, which runs out of the river. Bask in the natural splendor and isolated surroundings of one of Florida’s most picturesque sandy-bottom waterways. A key part of the experience is to pull up your boat and spend time on one of the river’s many mini-beaches — all with gleaming white sand.
  3. Hike, Walk, Stroll
    You could spend a month’s vacation in Santa Rosa just walking — whether it’s hiking or merely strolling — and still have a ways to go. We recommend you be a little more selective. Santa Rosa County’s trails range from long stretches of pristine beach to rugged backwoods pathways. Whichever you choose, you can pretty much experience the Florida Panhandle as it was a century ago.