The GTM Research Reserve protects a great diversity of plants and animals in many interconnected habitats and offers a spectacularly beautiful natural landscape for traveling and recreation. It includes salt marshes, tidal wetland, sand dunes, Old Florida Beaches, and estuarine lagoons. If you’re looking for a quiet, uncrowded, pristine beach, this is the place to visit.
Location and Access
The GTM Research Reserve is located at 505 Guana River Road in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. It’s between St. Augustine and Jacksonville; you can reach it via A1A. There is plenty of parking and it’s close to the water. For parking, you’ll have to pay $3 (that includes entrance). If you go on foot or by bicycle, you’ll have to pay only $1.
There are clean restrooms and picnic tables by the parking lot – bring your own lunch and you can eat it in comfort.
This beautiful pristine stretch of sand is a good place to hunt for shells, shark’s teeth, and sand dollars. Exercise more caution in the water because the surf is stronger and more unpredictable than at the other beaches in the area. Unfortunately, there are no lifeguards on duty.
The GTM Research Reserve has several trails ranging from 0.3 to 5.8 miles. They are clean, clearly marked, and with benches along the way. At the start of the trails, you can take a little map showing the distances.
The views are scenic – don’t forget to take some photos. You can also spot lizards, tortoises, armadillos, and various bird species including egrets, herons, pelicans, a bald eagle, belted kingfishers while hiking. On the shore, you can see dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks.
There is an unofficial gay meet-up in the GTM Research Reserve. If you’re interested, it’s at Guana’s first beach access point, reached by a boardwalk running from a tall dune system to a pristine stretch of sand. If you go in October, you can also visit River City Pride Parade in Jacksonville.
The area is dog-friendly so you can bring your pet.
- 50 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
- 1 hour 40 minutes from Brunswick, GA
- 2 hours from Orlando, FL
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve Beach which you can visit: