This past weekend Duane and I decided that it was time to explore this island and see what it has to offer. It took us approximately an hour to get to the park from our house as we decided to take the more scenic route and stay away from the highway.
Upon taking our turn to get to the road for the park we noticed a nice little restaurant on the water and decided to eat before we started hiking. Shady Oaks is a small little restaurant that can be accessed by land or by water using their docks. The food was very tasty and extremely reasonable.
After lunch we meandered the rest of the way up the back road and finally arrived at our destination. This park has no entry fee and you will put up directly to the parking lot. There is an area to stand and that attracts the attention of the ferry guide. The ferry runs anytime anyone is standing on either bank. It is an electric, solar driven ferry and the guide tells you a little history of the area.
Upon arriving at the island you are greeted by a concession area, information desk and museum that explains the flora, fauna and history of the island. There are picnic tables that are setup along the perimeter of the area so that you can enjoy a meal under the shade close to the St. Johns River. There are a few playground items for the kids to run and play on.
Hontoon State Park is very rich with evidence of the Native American culture that lived in the area. A lot of the trails were very muddy as this has been an extremely rainy season, so we stayed in the more open, cleared areas. We will be going back in March when it is more dry to explore the entire island.
You can stay on the island exploring anytime from 8am to one hour before sunset.
To find more about the state park - directions, hours, information - click here - http://www.floridastateparks.org/hontoonisland/
After coming back across the island we decided to see what else was around the area. A little further down is the Hontoon Island Marina and Resort. Here you can catch the Blue Heron River Tour - it is a 2 hour tour down the St. Johns River - They leave at 10am and 1pm each day - see website for more information or directions- http://blueheronrivertours.com/Tours.aspx
Want to get away a little and have a mini vacation in your own backyard - why not check out the Hontoon Land Resort - sits right on the St. Johns river next to the Marina - for more information click here - http://hontoon.com/resort.htm