Native American Indians gathered shellfish from the St. Johns River more than 2,000 years ago. The discarded shells accumulated over the years and can be seen from the hiking trail at the southwest corner of the island. Artifacts found on the island are displayed at the Visitor Center while replicas of totems carved from logs stand in the picnic area, paying tribute to the island's history. The island has also been a pioneer homestead, a boat yard, a center for commercial fishing and a cattle ranch throughout the years.
Water activities such as fishing and boating are an important part of Hontoon Island State Park. The dock, boat design, motors and personal attire have changed over the years, but the fun has remained the same.
In 1955, a dragline operation recovered a large wooden owl carving from the St. Johns River in the vicinity of the parking lot of Hontoon Island State Park near a burial ground that had been established more than 3,300 years ago.
Hontoon Island State Park has a long-standing tradition of seeking out volunteers to operate the passenger ferry that brings visitors to the island. These friendly folks are well-versed on the island's features and provide needed information to visitors during the short trip across the river.
The six rustic camping cabins at Hontoon Island State Park provide elevated shelter from the elements without modern day conveniences. They have served park campers well for many years and remain in good condition.