A surprising island paradise can be found in the middle of the state, full of hiking and some old Florida history.

  • Hontoon Island State Park offers trails, waterways
  • It also offers a look at American Indian history
  • Visit Hontoon Island State Park

A short ferry ride across calm waters and you are on an island paradise. However, this island isn't on our coast. It's right in the heart of Central Florida.

"Out here it's like walking into the old Florida," Hontoon Island State Park Manager Ken Torres said.

The history of the island lends itself to age-old tales of American Indians.

You can find Indian mounds on the property as you can hike. The American Indian mounds are nearly 12,000 years old; essentially, it's where they'd dump their trash, so you can find pottery, bones and a lot of snail shells. They would discard the shells after using them for spices.

"When you start getting into the history it's kind of addicting, because you go through these branches of history that you didn't even know existed. So it's amazing digging into the cultural resources of the park," Torres said.

Hontoon Island State Park also boasts miles of hiking trails and great waterways for boating and kayaking around the island park.

It makes for an idyllic day trip getaway to an untouched nature paradise.

"The true native plants vegetation and the eco system, it's all intact because of the lack of interaction with people, buildings and roads," Torres said.

Hontoon State Park is open daily year round from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The park also offers camping grounds for overnight guests, head to its website for more information.