For three decades now, Ons Island has been enjoying a great boom in tourism due to the availability of regular ferry services in summer. As only very few rooms and apartments are available, most visitors only stay a day, amounting to 60,000 per year. Trips are frequent and pleasant, with ferries departing from the nearest ports, particularly from Bueu.
What’s more, Ons has restaurants where visitors can try the famous octopus, bars for drinks in the evening, a shop and a church. There is also a wide range of activities available: going on the hiking trails, observing the island’s flora and fauna (birdwatching here is particularly interesting), going to an ethnographic exhibition at the old schoolhouse and going scuba diving.
The information booth [Tel. 986 687 696] is right beside the As Dornas pier and is open only while the ferries run.
Accommodation on Ons IslandAside from the camping area, Ons Island has a guest house with 20 twin/double rooms (with en suite bathroom) and 6 apartments—each with two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, living room, outdoor area and grills. They can be booked on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; the rate will depend on the length of stay. Due to it being an island, it is important to bear in mind that there’s a series of restrictions, one of which has to do with electricity (only available between 1:00 p.m–4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.).
Due to the great demand, it is advisable to book well in advance.
Casa Acuña Ons IslandCasa Acuña was founded in 1945 by Jesús Acuña—the island’s cabezaleiro (small town mayor). It has always been the watering hole for all seafarers, and thanks to the duo made up by Jesús (who did the catching) and his wife Rosa (who did the cooking), it became the best restaurant on Ons Island. Rosa Acuña—an expert cook of all kinds of caldeiradas—has passed on the torch to her daughter Palmira, who has already won several prizes. She won First Prize in cooking octopus at the food festival in Bueu and the honorary award for the “Best Pulpeira in Galicia” after winning the 3rd Pulpeiras Cooking Competition held during the Fórum Gastronómico in Santiago in 2012.
And this is because octopus is the most characteristic dish on Ons Island. For two centuries now, its seafarers have gained renown for being particularly skilled at fishing for octopus, using only traditional methods until quite recently. It’s prepared in the traditional way of the island, that is to say, as a caldeirada: boiled octopus with potatoes drizzled with a sauce made of oil, garlic, onion and paprika. It’s also served á feira with cachelos (large pieces of boiled potato), or grilled, braised with onions, with kidney beans, in an empanada or as croquettes. This is why you simply can’t miss out on a visit to Casa Acuña when you’re on Ons Island!
Enjoy great service at Casa Acuña as you try a variety of local fare and wash it all down with the very best wines Galicia has to offer. All the products—octopus, seafood and fish—are fresh, coming straight from the Rías Baixas, and are used to make only high-quality, home-cooked dishes. The island’s traditional is prepared daily to ensure freshness.
Casa Acuña is open from Easter until October. It holds the Octopus Festival on Ons Island at the end of June. It has two dining rooms which can hold 200 people.
You can also try Bar O Pirata, a restaurant on Ons island scant metres away from Casa Acuña. It is very popular for its daily set menus and grilled churrasco, among many other dishes. Open only in high season (22 June to 15 September).
It is located in the old Civic Centre—in front of the church in O Curro—and is open in high season. It is based on the island’s heritage and the ethnography of Ons, a land of legends and traditions. Ons Island has a long history with events that determined its residents’ survival and that have given rise to a culture with a knowledge of nature and popular beliefs which have influenced their daily lives. The exhibition includes some of the island’s natural values and takes visitors on a journey through its past and its customs.
The best way to explore the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park is to go on one of the four self-guided, waymarked hiking trails. By getting directly in touch with nature, you can better appreciate the great value of the landscape and the habitats found on it. On these routes, you’ll get to visit the lighthouse, Burato do Inferno (a chasm), the Fedorento and O Centolo lookout points and the island’s beaches. There are many ways to do it, but you also have the option of requesting one of the guided tours that are organised by the Park’s staff. They are for groups (maximum of 15 people) and all participants will receive materials and detailed information on the flora and fauna inhabiting the islands. These activities can also be organised for groups participating in environmental education and dissemination programmes.
The waters of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia Marine-Terrestrial National Park are home to an amazing diversity of species which can be glimpsed easily enough, but their beauty can only be fully appreciated by those who dive into their depths. Scuba diving is a great way to discover the treasures at the bottom of the sea.
It’s also possible to go scuba diving on Ons Island, but it will be necessary to apply for a diving permit beforehand and to accept the Park’s general terms and conditions (on the Ons Archipelago, marine protected areas are excluded). You can dive into its crystal-clear waters and discover the ocean depths where more than 100 marine species coexist.