Guana Lake, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - North -

Also known as:  Lake Ponte Vedra

One of Florida’s most interesting lakes is Guana Lake. Located between Jacksonville and St Augustine in Florida’s North Region, the lake is actually located on one of the barrier islands of America’s First Coast. A narrow spit of dunes separates Guana Lake from the Atlantic. Originally part of the free-flowing Guana River, the river was dammed in 1957 to create wildlife habitat. About 2,400 acres of water and wetlands are impounded, with fresh water predominantly at the north end of the lake and salt water at the south. The Guana River flows into the Tolomato River downstream – a part of the Intercoastal Waterway – so the lake gains salt water with the tide. Many local fishermen claim Guano Lake offers some of the best saltwater fishing in the area.

Always a unique wildlife habitat, the creation of the lake with the building of the dam created an excellent salt-marsh wetland for the benefit of both birds and reptiles. The maximum depth of the lake is six feet, and averages four feet – ideal habitat for marsh dwellers. Boats are limited to 10 hp. Flat-bottom john boats, canoes and kayaks are ideal for exploring the shoreline and shallows. Airboats and jet skis are prohibited. The preferred fish sought on Guana Lake are sea trout, redfish and black drum, but flounder, catfish, small sharks, sting rays, jacks, croaker, ladyfish, and bluefish are also found in the lake. Guana Lake is also famous for blue crabbing and shrimping, particularly around the dam area. Several public boat launch sites are maintained. The lake is surrounded by the Guana River State Park. The lakeshore provides excellent bird-watching opportunities and eco-tours by kayak are arranged by local groups.

South of the dam, the Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve also contains uplands and beaches. Approximately 9,500 acres are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and an additional 2,600 acres are managed by CAMA (Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas). A new Environmental Education Center has recently opened near the dam. The 21,000 square-foot center includes interpretive exhibits, aquariums, classrooms, teaching and working laboratories, an auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater overlooking the Guana River Aquatic Preserve. Outdoor recreational activities include a picnic pavilion, 10 miles of hiking trails and three beach access points. The upland areas offer great opportunities for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and birding. This diverse preserve provides habitat for a wide variety of resident and migratory wildlife. Bird rookeries, including a sizable breeding population of the endangered wood stork, are found within the preserve. The beach areas provide breeding and nesting habitat for sea turtles and ground-nesting shorebirds such as the threatened least tern. Also found in the preserve are found archaeological and historic sites such as early native American middens, burial grounds, and artifacts of aboriginal and Spanish colonial origin. A 1592 account by a Spanish historian has led present day historians to believe that the Guana River was the site of Ponce de Leon’s first landing in Florida.

Just south of the Preserve, South Ponte Vedra Beach is a popular resort community. Vacation rentals are common here as vacationers enjoy a week or two of seacoast and sand with the lovely Guana Lake lagoon less than a mile to the east. Mostly upscale single-family homes, some condos are being built in the area. Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts provide alternate vacation lodgings. Campgrounds are numerous in the area but reservations are recommended near busy holidays. Real estate is often available, often with lovely beach views.

Only 30 miles to the south America’s Oldest City, St Augustine provides history, entertainment and cultural events. Anastacia State Park, site of the original settlement provides hunting, fishing, camping, biking and four miles of beach for beachcombing. Here the visitor can rent kayaks, canoes and sailboards. Nearby, Fort Mose Historic State Park offers a lesson in African-American history that few have ever heard. The fort, no longer in existence, was the site of a town created by the Spanish for escaped slaves from the British Carolinas prior to 1750. Historic re-enactors bring the story to life.

Only half an hour from Guana Lake, the city of St. Augustine offers many visual reminders of the city’s Spanish heritage. The Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum and the Dow Museum of Historic Houses both preserve original buildings from the 1700s. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth is preserved near the town, although there is no sign of its youth-giving properties. The Original Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is located in St Augustine, near Potter’s Wax Museum. And the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park will delight visitors with its many displays of birds and animals, including plenty of Florida’s trademark alligators. A full service municipal marina provides services for sail craft arriving by water.

North of Guana Lake along Coastal A1A highway, the scenery is magnificent. Before the traveler gets to Jacksonville, Fort George Island Cultural State Park highlights 5,000 years of human habitation in the area. Many areas along the beach provide access for beach-combing and kayaking. Golf courses are plentiful along the coast, as are opportunities for wildlife viewing and exploring. Quaint small towns dot the highways and one-of-a-kind eating establishments are located around every bend. Geared to tourism, the people are friendly and helpful and all needed services are easily found. So, what are you waiting for? America’s First Coast awaits your visit.

Things to do at Guana Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Guana Lake

  • Catfish
  • Flounder
  • Trout

Guana Lake Photo Gallery

    Guana Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Florida Fish and Wildlife

    Surface Area: 2,400 acres

    Shoreline Length: 15 miles

    Average Depth: 4 feet

    Maximum Depth: 6 feet

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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