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!