What do you really need on an island? Transportation to get there, obviously. Sandy beaches and a gorgeous view are necessities. So is a seafood restaurant, preferably one along the water. Plus some sunshine, of course. This definitely isn’t a rainy day excursion.
If you’re really that laid back—meaning you don’t need big resorts, fancy boats, or tons of activities to keep you occupied—then there’s a little archipelago you’ll love off the west coast of Spain. Yes, the west coast, not the busy islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The Ons Islands lie off the southwest coast of Galicia, an autonomous community that borders Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. They’re part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, which protects the land and the sea around four small island groups. They’re known for their pristine beauty, windswept footpaths, rare birds, and great weather. If they’re known at all. The Ons Islands are considered secret islands.
Ons Island is the largest in the group. The three-mile-long island sits three miles off the coast of Pontevedra. A large fishing community used to live here. Now less than 100 people call Ons home. Their home is quite charming, though. Passenger ferries run regularly from Bueu. They arrive in O Curro, the island’s only real town. There are no cars or hotels once you arrive. But it’s easy to get around.
Golden-sand beaches line the east coast. Praia das Dornas is right near the dock. Area dos Cans and Praia de Canexol are the most popular. Praia de Melide is the prettiest if you don’t mind the nudity. While inland tracks pass Faro de Ons (a red-roofed lighthouse), more-than-basic campsites, perfectly placed observation decks, and lots of lemon and fig trees.
Hours seem to fly by while you’re on Ons. For such a tiny island, it certainly keeps you busy for the day. But there’s one more stop you need to make before returning to Bueu. It’s for the seafood meal that was part of your original island request.
Casa Checho is a seaside restaurant in O Curro. It’s a casual spot with indoor and outdoor dining, simple Galician dishes, and plenty of Albariño wine. Starters include spider crabs, crayfish, and seasonal goose barnacles. The catch of the day usually features hake, ray fish, or red tuna. Pulpo de la Isla de Ons is the real reason you’re here, though. The house specialty—actually, make that the island specialty—is octopus medallions braised in a garlic-paprika sauce and served on steaming wooden slabs. This single dish has the uncanny ability to turn day-trippers into repeat visitors. So when are you coming back?