Back for a longer visit at Hontoon Island State Park, we decided to camp in one of the 12 cabins over the labor day weekend.
The campground is about 4 tenths of a mile from the main landing area, nice for quiet and privacy from the day users but not too far. Each has a screened porch, lights, place to plugin your phones chargers, simple overhead fans, mattress on bunk beds, fire ring/grill on the ground outside, water tap, rustic but decent. The screened porch is great for sitting in the cool evening. The bathhouses were OK, warm not hot water showers. The paperwork said check in at 4:00 but we had no trouble checking in when we arrived before 2:00, shutting across on the free electric ferry.
Note: if you have a large party and arrive at a busy time it can take a while to get to the island, they can only take 6 people per trip. The biggest cabins accommodate up to 6 people. Also be aware that the last ferry back leaves at 7:00 PM, you're on the island for the night after that unless you came in by your own boat. There is resident staff on the island in case of any issues. They do have wheelbarrows to lend to the campers to help you carry your gear, firewood etc and they offer van rides for you and your stuff if you don't mind waiting a few minutes to get up to the campground.
The walking trail to the cabins was pretty damp and some mud after heavy rains and we saw a pygmy rattler there. The ranger came and relocated it with a loop stick after we reported it as we didn't want kids to come across it.
We had no issues with noise or rowdiness at the camping area despite the holiday weekend and the large group from nearby Stetson University, nice, polite, peace and quiet all around. There was plenty of staff, almost everyone went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, you felt very well cared for, a small park, almost family feel.
We didn't do the Indian mound trail this trip or fish, both popular activities, but you won't run out of things to do. The kids playground down at the main landing area is small but nice, a huge grassy lawn and many tables and the very small but nice museum all bear a visit.
Too bad we missed seeing the black bear that visited the cabin area during the night.
We rented a kayak, deciding to just go a little ways rather than the 3 1/2 hour trip around the island the ranger suggested. We say numerous birds, turtles, a good sized gator sunning itself from a distance, Would have appreciated a better seat on the kayak but great otherwise. They had a special half price, $10 for 2 hours canoe or kayak, $20 for all day, very reasonable.
Highly recommended for both day trip (completely free) and camping (very reasonable fee).
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