It was a while ago that I came across the camping opportunities at Hontoon Island, located in DeLand. As soon as I saw their camping area I wanted to camp there. Well, over this past spring break we finally made it happen! This is my review of camping at Hontoon Island as a family.
We could only stay for one night, which was a bummer. We would have loved to stay for longer, but they seem to fill up fast and especially during spring break there was only one night for us available to book. If you book months in advance you will have a better chance of getting multiple days, and especially a Friday/Saturday night stay. So we took the one night and were excited to finally get to camp there. We camped with another family who are friends of ours.
Camping options at Hontoon Island consist of either choosing one of their rustic cabins or tent camping. All the cabins and tents are in one general campsite area and they share one central building that houses bathrooms and showers. The rustic cabins are available that sleep either four or six. They are affordable (the 4-person is $30 per night, the 6-person is $35 per night, plus tax). It is cheaper to tent camp and you get a nice designated tent camping site that has a sand bottom (almost looks like a sanded padding or sand box that you pitch your tent upon).
We have four people in our family but we rented the 6-person cabin (which was all that was available). Inside there are three sets of bunk beds (two sets in the smaller cabins). The cabins are rustic, so they do not have any heat or air conditioning. They do also have screened openings at the top. They have a nice size screened porch, table and chairs, overhead lighting, ceiling fan, and a couple of electrical outlets. Outside, each cabin has a fire pit area, picnic table, and water spout. If you plan to have a fire you will need to bring your own local wood (call first to confirm it is acceptable) or purchase it on the island.
The island does have a small store in case you forget any last minute items. It also has a children's playground, wonderful hiking, picnic areas, and a great small museum area. You could also take bikes and ride the service trails with them. They also offer kayak rentals.
When you arrive at Hontoon Island with your camping gear you will ferry over to the island. It takes a few minutes of waiting on the dock, then someone will get you with the boat and take you over. Only six people are allowed on the boat at one time. It takes literally minutes to cross, it is a very short ride across to the island. Your best bet if you have a lot of camping gear is to go across and get their wheelbarrows. They have these wheelbarrow bins for people to use in hauling their camping supplies. Take that on the boat and load your things into it to get it across. From there, once you are on the island, your things will be put into the back of one of their vans and a ranger will drive you back to the camping site.
The cabins are very clean. Our cabin was in great condition and we loved staying there. It got down pretty chilly the night we were there. We had a fire where we ate lots of great food (we roasted veggie dogs, made vegan s'mores, had maple baked beans, veggie skewers, and more), and just enjoyed sitting around it into the late evening. Around 10 p.m. most people in the campground let their fire burn out and headed into their tents and cabins. By 11 p.m. it seemed that the campground was totally quiet and dark and everyone had went to bed or were quiet inside their shelter.
Although it got cold that night, into the 40s, I was comfortable. I had purchased an Ozark Trail sleeping bag that I found at Walmart for just $20. It went down to 30 degrees and was made in the USA. Score! It was comfortable and I slept great and never felt cold... at least until 6 a.m. came and I was ready to get up out of the sleeping bag. Then it was a bit chilly until the sun came up.
As we lay in the cabin on Hontoon Island it was super quiet in the morning (around 6 a.m.). We were all awake just laying there listening to the sounds of nature. Then it was like all of a sudden all the birds started chirping on cue. It was cool! Lots of birds chirping away, the sun coming up between the trees. It was wonderful. I even heard, and then spotted, a pileated woodpecker. The night before an armadillow came right near us as we sat around the fire.
All in all I loved my experience of camping at Hontoon Island. Whether cabin camping or tent camping I think it's a great place to get out into nature and do some camping. The kids loved every minute of it and can't wait to do it again. Two thumbs way up! Can't wait to go again, and this time for longer!
You can find out more about Hontoon Island and book camping here. Even if you don't go camping do visit the area for a picnic and/or hiking. You can read more about that here. They do have one 6-person cabin that is wheelchair accessible and there is a boardwalk to the bathrooms right across from it that is also wheelchair accessible. You could also use a stroller there. Although a wheelchair and stroller won't be able to go on the trails. They could likely go on the service drive areas, which also provide a nice scenic view. My kids took their bikes camping and my son did ride his bike around the camping areas. The only vehicle that is around is the ranger's van, which comes by to pick people up and drop people off at the campsite. Other than that you don't have to worry about traffic.
You can find out more about Hontoon Island here, as well as reserve your camping trip.
Here are pictures from our recent camping experience at Hontoon Island:
(All of our gear ready to be driven to the campsite... turns out the bikes weren't allowed in the van though. You need to ride those back, which only takes a few minutes).
(Tent camping sites)
(Our wonderful breakfast being cooked up the next morning... vegan blueberry pancakes and veggie sausages)...thanks Karen and Chris!