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.

“Best Beach in the Jacksonville Area”

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, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Level Contributor
40 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Best Beach in the Jacksonville Area”
Reviewed 15 September 2013

If you are seeking to get away from the Spring Break crowd and see a beach in its natural state-this is the beach to see. There is a $3 parking fee which is worth every cent.
If we entertain visitors, this is the first beach we bring them to. We have seen fish, sea turtles, dolphins, birds of all sizes, and had great weather. The beach is left in its natural state so there are seashells everywhere. There are no real facilities except a porta potty in the parking lot and a lookout point. You will never have to find a place to get away from the crowd because there is hardly any. This beach also has the best parking facilities of all the beaches

Visited August 2013
1 Thank NebraskaLandlocked
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

134 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
46 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Pristine, uncrowded beach”
Reviewed 13 September 2013

So enjoyed our afternoon at this beach- natural, beautiful and uncrowded. Shells galore and nice waves. Some interesting history and views. All this for $3 parking.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank Constantlee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
34 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“wow what a reserve.”
Reviewed 6 September 2013

my family went to state park as a daytime outing and boy was it. we were fascinated as we drove up and saw people standing in the water fly fishing. and they were pulling fish out of the damn area as fast as they cast out. I walked on the sandy area looking for shells and then we went on a nature walk looking for the different species of plant and animals. it was nice and soothing to walk and talk and look for things. beautiful forestry and wildlife. we then ate our lunch we packed there during a rainstorm which we were able to watch actually come in and past us it was great to see people still fishing and the birds catching fish also and there were flying fish also across the lot. we had a wonderful day at the reserve and it only cost $3.00 to park (exact change) no attendant.

Visited August 2013
Thank jane w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rome, Italy
Level Contributor
80 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Beautiful place to look for shells and to walk and see a natural Florida beach”
Reviewed 28 August 2013

This is a great treasure of the Jacksonville area. Bring family for a walk, for looking for seashells and to see a natural beach. However, note that in mid day its VERY hot, bring bug spray for evenings and early mornings, and be very careful swimming -- the surf is much stronger and more unpredictable than in other beaches in the area.

Visited September 2012
3 Thank RomeKedi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ponte Vedra Beach Florida, USA
Level Contributor
53 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Easy access to unspoiled natural wetlands”
Reviewed 29 July 2013

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (or Guana Park as the locals call it) is a beautiful wetlands preserve along the Atlantic coast north of St. Augustine. There are 15 miles of marked trails through the preserve and hiking and trail biking are popular. For the aquatic minded, there is a good launch point for canoes or kayaks.

There are incomparable views of wetlands, mature hardwoods, pine scrub and the intracoastal waterway. You will undoubtedly encounter deer, racoons and a variety of other wildlife along the trails. I'd recommend packing a lunch and hiking or biking to a secluded beach area along the waterway. I enjoy mountain biking along the trails. It is great exercise, usually not crowded at all and very scenic. Entry is $3 per vehicle or annual passes are about $50.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank Ken E
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