We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The Reserve was established in 1999 as a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System and is one of three NERRs in Florida. The Reserve staff manage the Guana Dam parking area, three beach lots (north, middle, and south), a trail system, the EEC, and a field office in Marineland, Florida. The Reserve’s 73,256 acres also includes Guana River Wildlife Management Area, Deep Creek State Forest, Stokes Landing Conservation Area, Fort Matanzas National Monument, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Faver-Dykes State Park, Moses Creek Conservation Area, Pellicer Creek Conservation Area, Princess Place Preserve, and the River to Sea Preserve, all of which are managed by separate agencies. The Reserve is an important economic, ecological, and educational resource for local communities. The estuary provides valuable ecological services such as a nursery, storm protection, flood protection, oyster habitat, and water quality. Its health is fundamental to the survival of endangered ocean species such as the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) and sea turtles. These resources provide economic opportunities in the form of fishing, recreational businesses, and jobs. As a NERR, the Reserve conducts scientific research, stewardship activities, and educational programs. Some of the unique aspects of this Reserve are its rich cultural history, location by the first city in America, pristine and quiet beaches, and diverse habitats.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children
Jacksonville, Florida
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Beautiful Beach”
Reviewed 27 May 2013

I was passing by and stopped at this beach on an impulse; I was very pleasantly surprised. The boardwalk leading to the beach takes you past some beautiful photographic terrain and the birds overhead where interesting to watch with their huge wing spans. The beach wasn't very crowded either.

My only real "con" is the fact that the parking is located across the street from the beach and visitors have to cross (at their own risk) a well traveled main street on which traffic moves at speeds of 50 mph or greater.

Be advised that there is a nominal fee for parking BUT there is not a charge to go onto the beach.

Visited May 2013
Thank adiamondc2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

139 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Huntersville, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
105 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Most Beautiful Quiet Serene Beach”
Reviewed 29 April 2013

This is my favorite beach ever! It is almost untouched. The dunes are still there because it's protected, and they're beautiful. The beach is covered in shells, and you can find some beautiful whole shells for your collection. You can even find sharks teeth, which is so fun! It's like finding little treasures! I once bumped into a couple who had a whole bottle full! Sometimes the tides go out and leave little pools that my kids love playing in. You have to pay $3 to park and use the beach, but it's totally worth it because it's almost empty most times of the year. Even at it's busiest in the summer, there's till plenty of parking and spaces. I have the most beautiful pictures from this beach. When I step onto this beach I instantly relax, and just soak up the serene beauty, I always hate to leave!

Visited December 2012
1 Thank honkeylips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fairhope, Alabama
Level 6 Contributor
359 reviews
124 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“The Best Beach”
Reviewed 26 April 2013

We have been coming to this beach for the past ten years now and always enjoy the solitude, the diversity of the wildlife, this wonderful beach is the highlight of our stay in the area - and It is great to have the statue of Juan Ponce de Leon erected at the North Beach site - very thoughtful and it looks brilliant, reminding everybody of the historical value of this particular site! And another great pastime is looking for fossilized sharks teeth, which seem to be quite plentiful in this area!

Visited April 2013
Thank Gudrun R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ponte vedra
Level 6 Contributor
160 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Another of my favorite places on earth”
Reviewed 8 April 2013

This estuarine preserve offers a small museum, tiny gift shop, frequent lectures, nature films, and guided hikes and canoe trips. Located in wildlife preserve across the street from pristine, almost deserted beach in north Florida halfway between St. Augustine (oldest city) and Ponte Vedra (resort community). Went kayaking at 6 mile landing at sunrise with friends - birds were calling so loudly that we could not hear each other, a red fish "tailed" around bow of my yak, and a bald eagle flew so closely overhead we could feel the air rush beneath its wings...a once in a lifetime experience. Only share this adventure spot with your closest friends.

Visited August 2012
Thank Flawanderingwoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Greenville, South Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
652 reviews
120 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 181 helpful votes
“73,000 acres of unspoiled Florida”
Reviewed 8 April 2013

We needed a break from the mobs in St. Augustine and we found it at GTMNERR! Amazing crabs, birds, and butterflies! From estuary to freshwater marsh you will see incredible animals but few humans. Bring water with you.

Inspired: amazing biodiversity

Pro: Education Center, few people, amazing beaches, parking at $3 per car, amazing value - worth ten times the price

Con: zip - it was the highlight of our trip to northern Florida

Return: yes for sure!

Found: Via you on Tripadvisor - thanks!

Visited March 2013
1 Thank 275GTS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve also viewed

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Been to Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing