If you’re looking to get in touch with Florida’s more primitive side, look no further than Hontoon Island State Park in DeLand.
First inhabited centuries ago by the Timucuan Indians, Hontoon Island is an isolated slice of Florida virtually untouched by the outside world.
Accessible only by private boat or park ferry, Hontoon Island is one of a handful of Florida state parks which doesn’t charge an entrance fee. There’s no charge to park and no charge to ride the ferry. However, if you plan to rough it at one of the park’s rustic one-room cabins, you will have to pay between $30-$35 a night, depending on the size of your party. Reservations are required.
Most first-time visitors choose to spend the entire day on the island. There’s plenty of recreational activities available from canoeing and kayaking to bicycling and fishing. A 3-mile hiking trail starts at the ranger station and follows the Huntoon Dead River to a large Indian mound at the southwest corner of the island. The trail goes through dense exotic vegetation seemingly untouched by time.
An informative museum at the ranger station tells the history of the island, and a small supply store is available for essentials you might have left on the other side of the river.
The park ferry runs from 8am til one hour before sunset every day of the year.