Navarre is an unincorporated community in Santa Rosa County in the Northwest Florida Panhandle. It is a bedroom community for mostly U.S. Military personnel, Federal Civil Servants, local population, retirees and defense contractors. Additionally, due to its close proximity to Navarre Beach and its 4 miles of beach front on the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Gulf Islands National Seashore it has a small community of nature enthusiasts and tourists.
Navarre is about 25 miles east of Pensacola and about 15 miles west of Fort Walton Beach. The community is roughly centered on the junction of U.S. Route 98 and State Road 87. It is part of the Pensacola–Ferry Pass–Brent Metropolitan Statistical Area and is known for the untarnished natural beauty, boutique shopping, swimming in the emerald colored water, having a picnic on the beach or in the county park and riding or jogging on the several scenic bike paths.
The founder of Navarre was Guy Wyman, a colonel in the United States Army. Wyman was in World War I where he met a French nurse named Noel. At the time, immigration policies would not allow him to bring her to the United States as a fiancé or even as a wife, but he could bring her back as his legal child. So he adopted her, and brought her back to the Florida panhandle, where he purchased a large amount of land. Noel named their holdings Navarre, after the province in Spain near France. Wyman platted the town in 1925, but made no steps towards development. However, during the Great Depression, the Wymans couldn’t pay the taxes on it, and were forced to begin selling it off. Part of that property is where the Navarre Park is today. While protecting and enhancing the natural beauty of the area; several steps have been taken to develop luxury accommodations, water activities, boutique shopping, scenic trails, top rated schools and nature/educational opportunities.
The community of Navarre is located on the Gulf Coastal Plain and is built on mostly sandy soil. It is bounded geographically in the north by the East River and on the south by the Santa Rosa Sound.
According to the state of Florida, Navarre has a population of 42,200 residents living in the unincorporated area of Navarre (one of the fastest growing areas in Florida). There are over 20,000 more residents than the US Census estimate of 20,967 in 2000. Navarre is located in one of the top school districts in Florida. There were 7947 Single Family homes in the Navarre area as of 2005, up from 5,017 in 2000. Single-family owner-occupied homes with a median household income of $41,164. The below racial characteristics of the community are from 2000 estimates:
- White 97.8%
- Black 0.9%
- Hispanic 0.1%
- Native American and Alaska Native 0.7%
- Asian 0.3%
- Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0.1%
- Other 0.9%
- Multiracial 0.2%
Navarre is centered near the junction of U.S. Highway 98, the primary east-west route between Pensacola and the Fort Walton Beach area, and State Road 87. It is located near several large military facilities: Naval Air Station Pensacola to the west and Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base to the east.
Tourism has increased in the Navarre area, leading the community to declare itself "Florida's Best Kept Secret." A boardwalk, a park (with water playground), a duck pond, and butterfly house are located near the bridge to Navarre Beach, which is immediately across Santa Rosa Sound to the south. Surfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, fishing, beach volleyball, bike riding, jogging/walking, bird watching and scenic trails are popular among the residents.
As a low-elevation community near the Gulf of Mexico, Navarre is often threatened by hurricanes. Significant damage was incurred as a result of Hurricanes Erin, Opal, Ivan, Dennis. Many homes and businesses immediately along Santa Rosa Sound (generally south of U.S. Highway 98) suffered storm surge as a result of those storms. Recoveries have been rendered by the area with the population quickly flourishing.
Education in Navarre is administrated by the Santa Rosa County District School system headquartered in Milton, Florida. The schools that serve the Navarre community are:
- Navarre High School (Grades 9–12)
- Holley Navarre Middle School (Grades 6–8)
- Holley Navarre Intermediate School (Grades 3–5)
- Holley Navarre Primary School (Grades K–2)
- Woodlawn Beach Middle School (Grades 6–8)
- West Navarre Primary School (Grades K–2)
- West Navarre Intermediate School (Grades 3–5)
- Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce
- Navarre Beach Area Official Visitor Information: Florida Beaches to Rivers
- Holley-Navarre Fire District
- Santa Rosa Medical Center Hospital and Emergency Room located in Milton, Florida. The primary provider of hospital based healthcare services in Santa Rosa County.