Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) is exploring the concept of a research area (RA) within its boundaries. The idea of a research area was first suggested in public scoping meetings held prior to the review of the Gray’s Reef Management Plan. An RA is a region specifically designed for conducting controlled scientific studies in the absence of confounding factors. As a result, a multidisciplinary group gathered by GRNMS was convened to consider the issue. This Research Area Working Group (RAWG) requested that a suite of analyses be conducted to evaluate the issue quantitatively. To meet this need, a novel selection procedure and geographic information system (GIS) was created to find the optimal location for an RA while balancing the needs of research and existing users. This report and its associated GIS files describe the results of the requested analyses and enable further quantitative investigation of this topic by the RAWG and GRNMS.