7 Awesome Activity Ideas at Hontoon Island State Park

Although this park is only accessible by private boat, or park ferry, the destination is worth the troubles. Enjoy natural history and solitude at Hontoon Island State Park 

8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year
Free Entry
2309 River Ridge Rd DeLand FL 32720

Hontoon Island State Park: the next place to visit in Florida

There is a 1650-acre island in the St. Johns River in Volusia County, Florida, accessible only by private boat or ferry—just six miles west of DeLand. Hontoon Island has a state park that rivals the best in the country.
Visitors seek the peacefulness of nature and the solitude of the lush surroundings. Nature lovers are all around. The most devoted make the trip on a regular basis. There are plenty of hotels to accommodate them and loads of fun places to eat. The marina is picturesque and features dockside restaurants.
Parking is easy
Visitors by car and water are welcome. Parking is in DeLand at 2309 River Ridge Road. No vehicles of course can enter the island. After finding your perfect spot, you will make your way to the ferry dock (it is wheelchair accessible).
Since Hontoon Island is a wonderful place to spend a few night and the choices are ample. Most people seek the rustic cabins (minimum two-night stay on weekends and holidays) adjacent to the picnic grounds and grills. Restroom and shower facilities are nearby. There are six so you need to get yours early to secure your favorite. Just call (800) 326-3521 (daily 8 am to 8 pm) or (888) 433-0287. You will have ramp access, a ceiling fan, and an electrical outlet should you bring an appliance. Each features a screened in porch with places to sit or have a meal. Remember that only service animals are allowed here as well as the campgrounds.
The bunk beds are great for kids and come with covered mattresses. Bring your own bedding for personal comfort. You can tote a camp stove for outdoor use if you plan on your own food preparation as there is no kitchen.
Hiking and more
What is there to do? You can explore to your heart’s content with so many guided trails. There is no end to the outdoor activities including camping, bird watching, a visit to Bear Tree Landing, boating, fishing (think largemouth bass), hiking and canoeing. If you don’t own any of these items, don’t worry, you can rent them for very low costs. Rent a Kayakrent a canoejet ski rentals, and other water rentals.
You can just a hang out and enjoy nature viewing. Take your pick: it is all a glorious experience. You can also do a nature walk and learn about the Native American history of the island and the Indian mounds. There is a convenient visitor’s center to show you the way. Bike routes will be pointed out as well as the favorite hiking trails (all eight miles of them), the best of which is a three-mile round trip.
Hontoon Island State Park Hiking
There is much to observe in the way of flora given the preponderance of palm and oak hammocks, and pine flatwoods. Don’t miss the largest oak on the island. Plus there are bald cypress swamps and marshes. The wildlife is also great for photography what will all the species of woodpeckers, herons, owls, hawks and cranes. Visitors often venture far afield to explore the Hontoon River and Snake Creek.
It must be mentioned for boaters that Hontoon Island State Park has 42 accessible boat slips complete with water and shore power.  Even a 60-foot yacht can be housed in the largest berth. Reservations are mandatory as with housing and the picnic pavilion.
A rich history
Florida is rich in history and Hontoon Island is no exception. Given the cultural mix of Native Americans with the era Spanish Colonialists and British rule, and the later Cuban influence, the entire state of Florida provides ample fodder for the Early American history buff.
But Hontoon Island is unique. It all started with William Hunton, the original owner in the 1860s and island’s namesake (although changed to Hontoon). Of course, he was not the first to arrive at the St. Johns River. Inhabitants have been detected for an amazing 12,000 years in various shell mounds and artifacts. The Timucuan Indians feasted on snails gathered from the shallows of the river. Hence the development of the ubiquitous shell mounds. Visitors relish a glance at the old owl totem, a log carving of a very large size, consisting of smaller units (an otter holding a fish and a bird, likely a pelican). It is now a symbol on the island of a now extinct culture.
Eons later in the 1500s the Spanish Conquistadors placed their mark on north Florida, establishing missions throughout the area. It is possible that one existed on the island although it does not remain today. Eventually the Second Seminole War changed the entire picture with homesteads following all along the river. Fishing and hunting, and crops like sugar cane cotton and citrus, provided sustenance and trade opportunities. Wild game was ample and cattle could be raised on the rich land. Hunton was a former soldier and homesteader on the island. Eventually, along came a boatyard and the beginnings of a commercial fishing center and cattle ranch. Hontoon Island became a state park in the 1970s. It is all documented in the local museum.
Picnic Fun
After your history lesson, you and your family can enjoy a nice picnic in designated areas, complete with grills, tables and benches, and a renovated kid’s playground complete with swings, monkey bars, slides,  and everything else that the young ones adore. They will spend hours while you are off on your own adventure, or just reading and relaxing.

Hontoon Island Park Kayak

The pavilion for picnics overlooks the river, providing a wonderful scenic backdrop for family gatherings. It must be reserved and a small fee paid for special occasions. People often enjoy weddings and birthdays here. Details are forthcoming at the ranger station (386-736-5309).
You may want to spend the night and slip rentals for your boat will accommodate your longer stay. Those with a state park pass are known to linger a while. When it is time to go home, the ferry awaits.
Camping and Fishing
With all the facilities and scenic spots, no wonder camping and fishing are so popular on the island. It is the perfect family vacation choice. Bring rod and reel. If you don’t own of this equipment, you can rent them them very easily. Check out Camping Tent RentalsATV Rentals, and other Things to do in Orlando.   
 The local species on the St. Johns river include  brim, catfish, perch, bass, sunfish and crappie. Local regulations are posted regarding the appropriate season and the limited size of your catch. Ask about a fishing license at the Florida Wildlife Commission.

Hontoon Island State Park Water Activities

If camping is your forte, you have come to the right place. Be sure to reserve in advance by phone or online.  There are 12 tent sites in the “wilderness”, all with restrooms, showers, potable water and grills. Electricity, however, is not part of the package. It is meant to be a nature experience, so no generators allowed.  All campers must adhere to the island’s basic rules and protect the local vegetation.
Hontoon Island welcomes non-profit groups and has special areas for this purpose for up to thirty campers with a reservation. Children must be chaperoned by an adult over twenty-one. Amenities include picnic tables and benches, a fire circle, and nearby restroom facilities.
If you are looking to find some fun at the park, check out our Jet Ski Rentals here, and other Water Rentals. Find other Things to do in Orlando too such as Rent a KayakATV Rentals,  Paddle Board Rentals, and more.

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