NAVARRE BEACH — Sage Offutt started her beach rental business at Navarre Beach six years ago when she was 11.

Her business, Sage Paddle Company, has exploded as the Navarre area ranks as the fastest growing vacation rental market in Florida. Rentals jumped 73% from the previous year and average nearly $3.9 in revenue monthly as of May, according to AllTheRooms Vacation Rentals.

“There was nothing here six years ago,” said the 17-year-old Sage, who rents paddle boards, kayaks, scooters and bikes. “Now, you notice there are a lot more people here.”

Kayla and Benji Rosson and their three children spend most summers in Myrtle Beach, S.C. However, Benji’s parents stayed at Navarre Beach for summer vacation last year and told them about it, so they decided to try it.

The Knoxville, Tennessee, family enjoyed building a town of sand castles and soaking up sun rays during their first time ever at the beach Wednesday morning.

“It’s laid back,” Kayla Rosson said. “There are not as many people and that’s the best thing. We love it. I told my dad about it.”

The Hamptons usually make an annual trip to Pensacola Beach or Panama City Beach. This time the family of four from Birmingham, Alabama, chose a three-day stay at Navarre Beach.

“We heard a lot of great things about it,” said Tony Hampton, during a break from jumping waves and splashing in the gulf waters with his daughter. “There is lots of space. You don’t have to fight for a parking spot.”

Shirley Wamsley and her family from Beaver Creek, Ohio, were spending their first summer vacation at Navarre Beach, after usually trekking up and down the Atlantic.

“This is the first time I’ve seen the ocean on this trip,” said Wamsley, as she lugged a beach chair and umbrella. “It doesn’t feel commercialized.”

As people enjoy Navarre Beach, many homes along Gulf Boulevard, which splits the barrier island, have construction crews putting on roofs, spreading cement, and clearing lots of debris. During the past year, 26 new homes have been permitted by Santa Rosa County to add to the summer rental stock.

Construction picked up during the 2017 tourist season when the 161-room SpringHill Suites opened. It includes a new restaurant, Beach House Bar & Grille, an outdoor lazy river and indoor pool, two on-site bars and 3,000-square-feet of event space for special occasions.

Despite its website being down for three weeks, phones at Gulf Properties Realty continued to ring steadily. People like the four-bedroom townhouses the realty firm offers on the Gulf of Mexico. They often get booked a year in advance, said Stephanie Mays.

“We don’t need any advertising, it’s all word of mouth,” Mays said. “One person comes and then they tell someone else. We have a lot of returning customers, too.”