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“Pack a picnic, go to the REAL Florida”

Hontoon Island State Park
Ranked #4 of 78 things to do in DeLand
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed April 24, 2013

An afternoon on Hontoon Island is a step into the real Florida. Just a few minutes from DeLand, this state park is actually an island in the St. John River. When you arrive at the parking area, you will be met by a pontoon boat that will take you (not your vehicle) across the river to the park's boat landing. The delightful volunteer boat captain gave us a quick folksy description of the park, leaving us to explore the 3 mile nature trail. The trail was mostly flat, with some boardwalk areas, through an old forest of tall trees, palms and palmettos. In the hour or so of our afternoon hike we saw armadillos wandering through the thick brush, ground squirrels, and wild turkeys. We saw egrets and herons at water's edge. We listened to birds we could not identify. We walked to a mound of shells discarded by Native Americans centuries ago. There is a visitor center which we did not have time to explore. Also primitive camping, picnic tables, a playground and restrooms with pay showers. If we were returning, I'd pack a picnic, lots of bottled water, and plan to spend a little more time in this north central Florida gem. Oh yes, and I'd bring children to give them a sense of awe in this awe-some piece of nature!

4  Thank MissRumphius-Ohio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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166 - 170 of 205 reviews

Reviewed April 14, 2013

We had a great time picnicking with our family on this little island state park - no admission charge, btw and a short little boat ride over. There are plenty of picnic tables, great scenery, a cute little playground (little and for the toddler set), but well maintained and just very different and quiet. Fun!

2  Thank Jeanne N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2013

A very short boat ride (about 1 minute) and you can travel back in time to a Florida 2.000 years ago when the Timucuan Indians lived here. With miles of trails one can see indian shell mounds, live oaks, maple and pine trees, owls, eagles, hawks, vultures, deer, wildflowers, alligators, snakes and manatees. Cabins and tent sites are available for rental.
A must see for everyone

2  Thank DaDonmonn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2013

I dont understand where other people complain about the lack of wildlife on this island. I have been camping here twice (and will be going back next weekend). Both times we saw amazing wildlife. The first time, we saw herds of deer romping through the trees and through the moon light. The second time a yound black bear decided he would play mischief with some of the camp sites. Both times i camped here were amazing! There are no private vehicles on the island, so it is quiet and the moon light shines down through the trees at night. Its a very peaceful, lovely campground. One of my favorites!

6  Thank cherrypiebonnett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2013

Recently visited the park for a one night camping trip. Upon arrival we were taken over to the island by ferry by a park ranger (could have been staff or volunteer). This ranger was nice and helpful. The day went fairly well, until night set and more campers arrived. Quiet time is meant to be 11 pm, and when we arrived the ranger gave us a paper telling us that if there were any issues to call either number on the paper for help. So heres the issues, our neighbors decided to invite 2 other campsite's members to their site to "hang out". Little did we know this would be a disaster. They were talking extremely loud and drinking within 4 feet of our tent and urinating outside on the trees surrounding our tent. The neighbors also had two dogs, who should've been kept on a leash but were not and kept running off and stepping all over our tent and the owner didn't even bother to call them back to their site. This loud obnoxious behavior went on for 5 hours, three of those hours being after the so called "quiet time". We called the park manager and ranger station several times and left a message, although no one answered. Eventually we went to the "campground host" site and woke him up to come over and talk to the neighbors. He did so 2x's, the noise quieted for about 15 minutes each time, during which our neighbors made rude comments about the campground host and us and made plans to make the next night a big "party night". We were trapped, as there is no way off the island till 8 am and we were certainly not going to put ourselves in danger by confronting these people.
We slept for about 4 hours, got up packed up and left, probably never to return again. Its too bad too, as this park has a neat concept and a clean campground, although not much to do.
Here's some issues with this park, all of the 3 phone numbers we called had no response, that is what they told us to call if there was an emergency or problem! What if there had been an emergency? What if these neighbors decided to seek revenge on us for "telling" on them. When we got to the rangers office in the morning, it was before 8 (before the first ferry runs) so we waited, the ranger was extremely rude to us, we wanted to tell him about all the issues of the night before but he was not approachable. He took us back to the car, not even bothering to hook the ferry to the dock, parking crooked and told us to "go ahead". WOW. glad I didn't fall in.
It's very scary to be in a situation like this, where everyone around you has no common courtesy and are just rude, and you can't just pack up and walk away, because you're stuck till someone gets there to take you home. Beware of this. They need to get this park in order.

13  Thank pizzaguy34172
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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