Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories

The Nav-a-Gator Grill and Trop Rock at Desoto Marina

Nav-a-Gator - Florida

I can’t think of another destination that yells out “Old Florida” as loudly as the Nav-a-Gator Grill at Desoto Marina, located in Arcadia on a peninsula jutting out towards the banks of the Peace River.


The Nav-a-Gator is a multiple-time winner of the title #1 Trop-Rock Venue in the USA, as designated by the Trop-Rock Music Association, a 30K+ member organization with venues in 48 states and 6 countries. The Nav-a-Gator even beat out such big name, rustling palm destinations as LuLu’s in Gulf Shores and the Hog’s Breath Saloon in Key West.

”You’re either here, or you’re Lost!” reads the sign at the entrance to the Nav-a-Gator. That’s part of the appeal. This is an end of the road destination. You’ve made a premeditated trip and arrived here for a reason: cheap beer, fried food or great music -- take your pick!

The crowd is bikers and beach bums and errs towards older, hard drinking and fun loving. When good live music is scheduled out back, parking becomes scarce (use the lot in the park across the street) -- and seating can be even tougher. Many in-the-know bring their own beach chairs to the party.

The entire property meanders and sprawls with an aged and unfinished charm that you just can’t fake. Weathered wood. Rusted metal. Decaying tools. And lots of hand painted signs advertising fishing charters, air boat rides and “Live Music Today”.

Once you settle in, with a cold beer in your koozie, and the music begins -- you begin to understand what all the fuss is about, even if you missed it initially.

The lush tropical foliage and junkyard charm surrounding the outdoor stage serves as the perfect backdrop for the Trop-Rock stories of islands, dreamers, pirates, rum, boats, bikinis and palm trees.

Jim Morris is a king among beach balladeers in Southwest Florida...and many areas beyond. He’s been pumping out album after album of original Trop Rock increasingly more authentic than anything well-heeled Jimmy Buffet has released in years. One of the few local entertainers who can get in front of a crowd, alone with a guitar, and have everyone lost in attention to the stories in his songs. And, it just so happens that, the Nav-A-Gator is one of the best venues to see him at -- he’s even written songs about the place.

The music continues, the scent of gator and conch fritters waft on the humid breeze, the crowd begins passing a communal bottle of Sangria, and someone throws a rubber chicken in your direction (you had to be there, I guess)...for the moment you’re currently immersed in...nothing else matters.

Visit the: Nav-a-Gator

Visit the online home of: Jim Morris

-- writing and photography by Eric Taubert

Join Eric Taubert on Twitter: @erictaubert

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