Navarre, Florida

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Navarre, Florida
Community of Navarre, Florida
Navarre Beach skyline
Navarre Beach skyline
Florida's Best Kept Secret, Florida's Playground, The South's Quiet Crossroad, Florida's Most Relaxing Place
Location in Santa Rosa County and the U.S. state of Florida
Location in Santa Rosa County and the U.S. state of Florida
Navarre, Florida is located in Florida
Navarre, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Location in Santa Rosa County and the U.S. state of Florida
Navarre, Florida is located in the United States
Navarre, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Navarre, Florida (the United States)
Coordinates: 30°24′3″N 86°51′46″W / 30.40083°N 86.86278°W / 30.40083; -86.86278
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Rosa
First Explored1693
Founded byGuy Wyman
Named forProvince in Spain, Navarre
 • BodySanta Rosa County
 • District 4 CommissionerDavid Piech
 • District 5 CommissionerLane Lynchard
 • Census Designated Place84.83 sq mi (219.7 km2)
 • Land32.21 sq mi (83.4 km2)
 • Water51.68 sq mi (133.9 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
Lowest elevation
0 ft (0 m)
 • Census Designated Place42,300
 • Density1,310.15/sq mi (505.85/km2)
 • Metro
461,227 (Pensacola metropolitan area)
 • Metro density219.12/sq mi (84.60/km2)
Demonym(s)Navarreian, Navarrite
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)850
WaterwaysGulf of Mexico
Santa Rosa Sound
East Bay River
Arachno Creek
William's Creek
Tom King Bayou[1]
Gable Lake[2]
Known from 1884-1895 as "Eagen"
Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201442,30034.8%

Navarre[3] is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Santa Rosa County in the northwest Florida Panhandle. It is a major bedroom community for mostly U.S. military personnel, federal civil servants, local population, retirees and defense contractors. Due to Navarre Beach and the four miles of beach front on the Gulf of Mexico thereof, as well as several miles of beaches within the Navarre Beach Marine Park and the Gulf Islands National Seashore, it has a small, but rapidly growing community of nature enthusiasts and tourists.[4] Navarre has quickly grown from being a sleepy town of a little over 1,500 in the 1970s to a town with a population of 42,300, as of a 2014 estimate.[5][6]

Navarre is about 25 miles (40 km) east of Pensacola and about 15 miles (24 km) west of Fort Walton Beach. The community is roughly centered on the junction of U.S. Route 98 and State Road 87.[7] It is part of the Pensacola–Ferry Pass–Brent Metropolitan Statistical Area (more commonly referred to as the Pensacola Metro Area), and is the second largest community in the metropolitan area, according to a 2014 study. Navarre is part of the Fort Walton Beach-Navarre-Wright Urbanized Area. It is known for the natural environment, swimming, picnic spots, and the Navarre Beach Marine Park.[4]


The Pez-Sigüenza Expedition of 1693[edit]

In 1693 Spanish explorers Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora and Admiral Andrés de Pez y Malzárraga set sail from Veracruz. A skilled cartographer, scientist, mathematician and theologian, Sigüenza was responsible for scouting and mapping possible sites of Spanish colonization in Northwest Florida during the expedition. While traveling in the area of East Bay in April 1693 the Spanish discovered what is today called the East Bay River.[8] In honor of Captain Jordan de Reina, an officer who had taken part in the Barroto-Romero voyage of 1686 as well as Sigüenza's in 1693, the Spanish dubbed the waters on which they traveled, "The River Jordan".[9][8] On April 11, 1693, while sailing up East Bay River, sailors aboard the Spanish ships noticed a group of Native Americans observing from a camp near the shore. In order to greet the natives, a landing party was sent out. By the time the Spanish reached the shore, however, the Native Americans were gone. As the Natives quickly abandoned camp the Spanish discovered half-cooked pieces of buffalo meat sitting over a fire, along with a fierce dog guarding the site. Due to the great number of oak trees in the area the campsite was named "El Robledal," meaning "The Oakgrove" in Spanish.[8] After erecting a wooden cross and leaving gifts for the natives, the Spaniards continued their exploration upriver. Upon later return to El Robledal, the explorers noticed that their gifts had been taken. In return, the natives had also constructed a wooden cross and left a buffalo hide as a peace offering. The earliest-known map of Robledal dates from 1693, the same year as the Pez-Sigüenza Expedition. Three years later, in a 1698 map by Don Andrés de Arriola y Guzmán (the first governor of a settlement in the Pensacola area after the Tristán de Luna y Arellano colony was abandoned), Robledal is again noted.[9][8]

Axelson Point[edit]

Settlement and Shipyard[edit]

Robledal was again populated sometime near 1850, with the establishment of a homestead by the Axelson Family. Their home was along the shore of the East Bay, on a small cape, in which, they are now the namesake, after the point was officially designated, Axelson Point.[9][8][10][11]

Soon after their settlement in what would become Navarre, they established a shipyard on Axelson Point, jutting into what was also then called, Axelson Cove.[9][8][11] The shipyard was considered to be mostly successful, as the family made a business of fixing ships in port in the nearby deep-water port in Pensacola and the river port in Milton, as well as building large-scale ships of their own.[9][8][11]

Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, despite the political ideology of citizens in the local area,[12] records make it seem as though the Axelson's were pro-union. This is substantiated by record showing that, while many businesses in the area were becoming ruined due to the Union blockade of southern ports, the Axelson's shipyard was quite busy and prosperous, primarily from business completed with the Union navy and the United States Merchant Marines.[8]

In addition, some records and books, such as the Atlas of Florida attests that, while most likely unassisted by the Axelsons, Union raids were made against Confederate troops and camps, stationed near where Gulf Breeze is today, through routes in what would become Navarre and Holley, Florida.[13]


Some maps of the area during this time, seem to indicate that the area was also known as “Bilowry,” a presumed misspelling or combination of the name, Bill Lowry.[9][12] The area also had a post office under this name from 1886-1891.[9][14][15]

Town of Eagan[edit]

Some 30 years after the first homestead in the area was established, seemingly coinciding with the community of Bilowry, a small settlement named Eagan arose in 1884.[9] The settlement, composed of approximately 40 families, was located off the Santa Rosa Sound and encompassed a portion of present-day Navarre. The settlement, which formerly existed as a post office location, was named after its first postmaster, John Eagan Esq., a famous Pensacola lawyer and politician. Following the post office's discontinuation on September 11, 1884, families continued to live in the area, and the town continued to appear on area maps even into the 1890s. While what became of the town and the people who lived there at that time is unknown (some of which are known to have remained in the town, some of which are believed to have moved to neighboring communities), the discovery of the town's existence definitively established settlement of the Navarre area in South Santa Rosa County as being prior to the 20th century. The land upon which Eagan existed would, in fact, later become what is now known as Navarre.[16]

Guy Wyman and town development[edit]

The founder of Navarre, under the name of Navarre, was Guy Wyman, a colonel in the United States Army. During World War I, he met a French nurse named Noelle. At the time, immigration policies would not allow him to bring her to the United States as a fiancée or even as a wife, but he could bring her back as his legal child. Colonel Wyman therefore adopted her, and brought her back to the Florida panhandle, where he purchased a large amount of land. Noelle named their holdings Navarre, after the province in Spain, near France.[7][17] Wyman platted the town in 1925,[7] but made no steps towards development. However, during the Great Depression, the Wymans could not pay the taxes on it, and were forced to begin selling it off. Part of that property is where the Navarre Park is today.[18]

Modern era[edit]

In modern times, Navarre has become one of the fastest growing communities in Florida. While protecting and enhancing the natural environment of the area; many steps have been taken to develop luxury accommodations, water activities, boutique shopping, scenic trails, schools and nature/educational opportunities.[19][20]

Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis[edit]

Immediately preceding Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Dennis, Navarre was seeing a new strand of growth and economic advancement. This, however, quickly came to a close, as Navarre suffered horribly during the events of those hurricanes. Many planned developments decided to stop their plans until a later date, many of which, never returning. This hard mark against Navarre lingered until the mid and late 2010s.

Helicopter crash[edit]

On March 10, 2015, a UH-60, call sign MOJO 69, from the Louisiana National Guard crashed in the Santa Rosa Sound off the coast of the community of Navarre. All eleven on board were believed killed.[21] On November 18, 2016, Leadership Santa Rosa Class 29 unveiled the Navarre Black Hawk Memorial in Navarre Park. The memorial was built to honor the men who died in the Black Hawk crash and anyone who has paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States.[22]


2017 and 2018 have seen a noticeable rise in civil activism in the Navarre area, with three notable protests occurring, all within the span of 12 months.

The first protests recorded in the community occurred on 9 June 2017,[23] after the county unilaterally changed the town's nickname and locally popular sign. The change was made without the consent of the citizens of the town[24][25][26] and have sparked additional calls for the incorporation of the community as a municipality.[23][24][25][26]

In 2018, there were protests against the Holley-Navarre Water System.[27] The protests were over the water system's potential violations of the Florida Sunshine Law, which guarantees the rights for citizens and residents to access the meetings and public records of government agencies. The alleged violations occurred when the board of directors of the agency met for what they called a "secret" meeting. The board president stated these meetings were closed due to their nature of discussing legal matters between members of the board and of several attorneys and lawyers.[27][28] The argument against these protests is that the water system is not a government agency, but instead a utility contracted to serve the greater Navarre area. The situation came to a close as a new, more transparent, water board has been elected by the citizens of Navarre.[28][29][30] Some controversy still remains though, after the new water board appointed as CEO, Rob Williamson, a former Santa Rosa County commissioner that had just been voted out of his seat, all of a month before his hiring.[31][32][33]

The third notable protests were part of the larger national school walkout to promote gun control.[34][35] While small, only consisting of a few students, it is considered notable in local political circles, as Navarre is in Florida's 1st congressional district, which is often polled as being the most conservative, and arguably the most pro-gun region in the state of Florida. There has been some speculation that this signals a larger change in the ideology of this region, as the younger generation begins to reach the voting age.[34]

New expansion[edit]

For the first time since before Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, Navarre is now not only expanding in population, but in attractions, dining establishments, and other tourist options as well. In 2017 and 2018 alone, Navarre saw the opening of several major housing and apartment complexes, a brand new hotel, a new prototype Walmart Neighborhood Store, and several new restaurants. This expansion appears to be continuing, with the announcement of a new hotel and Aldi supermarket, slated to be finished by 2021.[36][37][38]

After the failed attempt at incorporation in 2014, a new effort in incorporating has been established by a local political action committee, the Navarre Area United PAC.[39][40][41] As of July 2019, the PAC is collecting petition signatories to get the issue of incorporation on the ballot.[42][43][44]



Navarre is located at 30°24′04″N 86°51′47″W / 30.401°N 86.863°W / 30.401; -86.863Coordinates: 30°24′04″N 86°51′47″W / 30.401°N 86.863°W / 30.401; -86.863. It is located within a portion of the Florida Panhandle observing the Central Time Zone.[45] Elevation is at an average of 10 feet (3.0 m).[46]

Navarre is located on roughly 12 miles (19 km) of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico.[47][48] This figure however, does not include the shorelines on both sides of Santa Rosa Sound, and the Navarre's shoreline along East Bay and the East Bay River.


The community of Navarre is located on the Gulf Coastal Plain and is built on mostly flat sandy soil, though there are a few shallow hills. Navarre is primarily located on the Fairpoint Peninsula and Santa Rosa Island. Navarre is bounded geographically in the north by the East Bay River, the Yellow River, and several creeks and on the south by the Santa Rosa Sound.[7] Holley, a mainland community commonly considered part of Navarre, is north of the Fairpoint Peninsula, across the East Bay River.



Climate data for Navarre, Florida, 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Average high °F (°C) 60.5
Average low °F (°C) 42.2
Record low °F (°C) 5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.64
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.9 8.6 8.1 6.5 6.7 11.1 14.0 13.6 8.8 6.1 7.2 9.0 108.6
Source: NOAA (data listed is gathered in Pensacola, 1879–present)[49]


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 and 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. This area of Florida is consistently listed as one of the worst places for hurricanes.[50]

Navarre Beach[edit]

Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach Florida sand.jpg
Navarre Beach on a sunny day
LocationNavarre, Florida
RangeGulf Coastal Plain
Part ofSanta Rosa Island
Offshore water bodiesGulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Sound
Highest point
 – elevation
Various sand dunes
variably 8 - 16 ft
WidthVariable (Typically ~1/4 Mile)
Age~11,700 Years (Last Glacial Period)
Navarre Beach with water tower.JPG

Navarre Beach is the beach neighborhood of Navarre. It is on Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico.[51]

Immediately to its east is Navarre Beach Marine Park, a former Florida state park. Immediately to its west is a portion of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and farther west is the city of Pensacola Beach.

On March 26, 2006, a "beach renourishment" project was begun, restoring sand lost due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. This project eventually added approximately 200 feet (61 m) of sand and a 14-foot (4.3 m) high berm to the Gulf side of Santa Rosa Island for the entire length of Navarre Beach. The project was completed in December 2006. Another round of beach renourishment was completed in 2016.


Navarre is a large community, estimated to have a population ranging somewhere between 35,080 and 42,300, according to four different estimates completed since 2014.[6][52] However, most county officials cite 42,300 as the population.[6][53] If the town of Navarre was to be incorporated it would be the largest city between Pensacola and Tallahassee (based on population).[6] This is a major increase from just 40 years ago, when the population was hovering around 1,500.[6][5] The below racial characteristics of the community are from 2017 estimates.[54]


The old Navarre Beach sign with Christmas decorations, a new one with a new town nickname was unveiled in June 2017, the popularity of the old sign caused some of the first protests the town has seen
The old Navarre Beach sign in the spring time
One of the two new Navarre Beach signs, due to the amazing popularity of the old signs among the local community, the new signs led to one of the first protests seen in the beach community

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; Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base to the east; and Naval Air Station Whiting Field to the North.[55]

Tourism has increased in the Navarre area since 2010, being declared "Florida's Best Kept Secret" by the local hospitality business. Navarre has a park on the mainland next to Navarre Beach bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway that contains a visitor information center; water splash pad, duck pond, butterfly house, playground, gazebos; pier and small beach area. Boating, Surfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, fishing, bird watching, exploring scenic trails and walking/jogging are popular among the residents and visitors. Navarre's fourth hotel, a Springhill Suites, became the first beachfront hotel to operate since 2004 when it opened in 2017.[56][57]

In 2010 the Navarre Beach fishing pier was rebuilt after repeated damage from hurricanes. At 1,545 feet (471 m), it is currently the longest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico and in the state of Florida.[58]

The Panhandle Butterfly House on Navarre Parkway opened in 1997. Around 14,000 visitors stop by each year to see butterflies up close, learn about their life cycle, and find out how to attract butterflies to their own gardens. A highlight each year is the monarch migration; the orange and black butterflies are seen in the thousands as they travel to and from Mexico to breed. The Butterfly House is under renovation for the 2019 season and is expected to reopen in 2020.[59] Navarre Park provides a play area for children, basketball courts, picnic pavilions, and restroom facilities.[60] The park hosts several large community events each year.


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:[61]

  • Navarre High School (Grades 9–12[62])
  • 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)

Popular culture[edit]

Jaws 2[edit]

A clean-up of old props from Jaws 2 on Navarre Beach.

Many of the scenes in Jaws 2 were filmed off the coast of Navarre and Navarre Beach circa 1977.[63][64] The production "was a boost to the local economy because local boaters, extras and stand-ins or doubles were hired. Universal brought in actors, directors, producers and their wives, camera and crew people who needed housing, food and clothing for the movie. Services were needed for laundry, dry-cleaning and recreation." Navarre's Holiday Inn "Holidome" was used as the film's headquarters, with the ground floor converted into production offices, and some of the Gulf-front suites remodeled for David Brown and Roy Scheider. Universal rented 100 of the hotel's 200 rooms, spending $1 million. The Holiday Inn was destroyed in the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season.[65][57] A new Springhill Suites was built on the same site as the Holiday Inn and was completed during the summer of 2017.[57][56][66][67][68]

Notable people[edit]










See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Street View of Gable Lake in Navarre, Florida". Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  3. ^ "GNIS Detail - Navarre". United States Geological Survey - Geographic Names Information System. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  4. ^ a b "Dive into the Navarre Beach Marine Park - Navarre Beach | Florida's Panhandle". Navarre Beach | Florida's Panhandle. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
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  6. ^ a b c d e "Navarre Incorporation Feasibility Study" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b c d "Navarre Town Center Plan" (PDF). Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-07. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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  12. ^ a b Wells, William James, 1899- (2006). Pioneering in the panhandle : a look at selected events and families as a part of the history of South Santa Rosa County, Florida. [Clanton, AL]: Heritage Pub. Consultants. ISBN 1891647946. OCLC 154308327.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Atlas of Florida, Fernald, Edward A., Purdum, Elizabeth., Anderson, James R., Jr., Krafft, Peter A., University Press of Florida, 1992, ISBN 0813011310, OCLC 25200685, retrieved 2019-03-18CS1 maint: others (link)
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  34. ^ a b, Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn |. "Local students to participate in national walkout". Northwest Florida Daily News. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  35. ^ Wood, Randy. "Local school holds 17-minute walkout honoring victims of South Florida shooting". WEAR. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
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External links[edit]