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 but growing 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 which is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. Residents and visitors alike enjoy 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 different estimates between 35,000-42,200 residents are living in the unincorporated area of Navarre (one of the fastest growing areas in Florida). Navarre is located in one of the top school districts in Florida. The below racial characteristics of the community are from 2010 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; Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base to the east; and Naval Air Station Whiting Field to the North.
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 the 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.
In 2010 the Navarre Beach fishing pier was rebuilt after repeated damage from hurricanes. At 1,545-foot, it is currently the longest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico.
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