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man fishing at Hontoon Island State Park

Located on the St. Johns River, Hontoon Island State Park is a scenic 1,650-acre public recreation space that can only be accessed by park ferry or boat.

Situated just 50 minutes from Orlando, it is a popular destination for those who want some good old fashioned R&R after a frenetic couple of days at the theme parks.

Once home to Native Americans several thousand years ago, the park is now best known for its wonderful fishing, hiking, kayaking, birding and picnicking opportunities.

The ferry to this Florida state park runs regularly from 8 am to an hour prior to sunset. However, should you want to stay overnight, there is a small selection of cabins and primitive tent sites available to hire.

Activities

During their time at Hontoon Island State Park, guests can enjoy several outdoor recreational pursuits.

Outlined below are just a few examples of what you can do whilst you are there.

Fishing at Hontoon Island State Park

Given its isolated location the park provides excellent opportunities to fish for bream, bass, perch, crappie, catfish and sunfish.

You can choose to fish from the shoreline, in your boat, or a canoe or kayak which can be rented from the park.
Depending on the type of fishing you do, you may need to procure a license.

Hiking at Hontoon Island State Park

If you would like to explore the park on foot there are several miles of trails you can tackle.

One of the most popular trails is the Hammock Hiking Nature Trail, which meanders for 3-miles down around the island’s western side.

This will take you through a hammock of hardwood trees all the way to its southwest corner where you will find a shell midden that dates back to ancient Native American times.

Another popular trail is the one that takes you to Bear Tree Landing, which accommodates a very impressive, large and stately oak tree.

Picnicking at Hontoon Island State Park

During their time at the park many people choose to enjoy a picnic.

Throughout it you will find several picnic tables that also have barbecue grills which will enable you to cook something hot to eat.

The park also has a pavilion which you can use to host an event. It is located within the day-use area that looks out to the St John’s River and can be reserved for weddings or parties.

If it is not reserved at the time of your visit, it is available on a first come first served basis.

Birding at Hontoon Island State Park

The park is renowned for being a prime spot for birding.

This starts the moment you take the ferry between the St Johns River and Hontoon Dead River, where you should be able to see the likes of Limpkin, Osprey, Anhinga and several other wading birds congregating by the shoreline.

Should you hike through the three mile long Hammock Hiking Natural Trail you will be serenaded by a chorus of songbirds and woodpeckers.

At other parts of the park you have a good chance of spotting bald and swallow-tailed kite eagles around the hammock.

Pets at Hontoon Island State Park

If you want to bring your dog with you to the park you are more than welcome. However, pets must be kept restrained on a leash of no longer than 6 feet in length.

They are also not allowed in the cabins, although they can stay at the campground with you.

Other restrictions may also be enforced. So it is worth contacting the park’s main office to clarify what they are if you intend to come to Hontoon Island with your pooch.

Service animals are welcome to accompany you to all areas of the parks.

Camping at Hontoon Island State Park

In terms of overnight accommodation, the park offers 42 accessible boat slips which come with shore power and water.

The largest berth there can fit a yacht up to 60-foot in length and reservations for them can be made 11 months in advance.

For those who would rather stay in a cabin, there are six one-bedroom rustic dwellings available. These come with bunk beds that have mattresses which are vinyl-covered. They also possess a ceiling fan, one outlet for electricity and overhead lighting.

All cabins also come with their own ground grill and picnic tables, as well as a screen porch that has chairs and a table. They require a minimum stay of two nights.

There are no restrooms or showers located near the cabins – you’ll find them at the center of the campground. In addition, the cabins don’t have any cooking facilities either.

As well as the cabins there are also 12 primitive tent sites on the island too. Each of them has access to potable water, a picnic table and a ground grill. They do not come with electricity.

You are not allowed to use generators in the campsite and must bring all your provisions with you, and take everything, including rubbish, out again.

If you intend to come to the park as a part of an organized adult or youth group, there is also a separate facility for up to 30 people at the park.

Accessible Amenities at Hontoon Island State Park

Hontoon Island State Park provides a range of amenities that are accessible to all its guests.

These include restrooms, a visitor center, a playground that features three slides, monkey bars, a swing and various other apparatus that will keep children entertained for a long time.

For guest convenience the park puts on a regular ferry service to and from the island as well.

Park Location

Hontoon Island State Park
2309 River Ridge Road
DeLand FL 32720
Phone: 386.736.5309

Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Hontoon Island State Park: