Ono Island? Oh, Yes!

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Ono Island is the most exclusive island in the Gulf Coast. Situated between Old River and the Intracoastal Waterway, Ono is a narrow sliver of paradise, just 5.5 miles long. Only 800 home sites comprise Ono’s residential-only island.  Of those, less than 30 percent sit on premium waterfront lots. This private, gated island is second home to titans of industry, celebrities, musicians, and retired professional athletes.  However, there is an unspoken rule of Ono Island for residents: We don’t drop names or discuss the locals.  It’s one of the big reasons Ono Island is so prized.  It’s private — very private.

If you love Hilton Head, but hate the traffic, Ono Island might just be your perfect Second Shelter.

SecondShelters.com recently found a to-die-for beach home on Ono Island.  Listed at $975,000, this home has a premium waterfront lot with deep water, and will appreciate in value.  Ono is so exclusive, and so desirable, the homes are fabulous investments.

This four-bedroom, three-bath, elevated beach house has breathtaking view of Perdido Key from the back deck.  A walkable dock means fishing just feet from a sunny open kitchen.

Stuning sunsets await.

Ono Island is the pride and joy of “The Redneck Rivieria.”  Ono Island is widely regarded as the most valuable and exclusive property along the Gulf Coast.  Waterfront lots with deep water are valued in the $2,000,000 range.  Post-Hurricane Ivan construction yielded dozens of jaw-dropping luxury homes valued at $6 million or more.

A guarded gate on the southwestern side allows cars (single file) over a bridge and onto Ono.  Residents, though, prefer dockside access either from Old River, the Intracoastal Waterway, or a maze of man-made canals throughout the island that allow easy watercraft access.  By deed, there is no commercial activity on the island.  No shops, stores, or eateries.  If tuning out and kicking back is your style, Ono might be your new home-away-from home.

I used to live on Ono Island.  In conversation, I was inevitably asked, “Where is that?” That’s a great question.  Technically a part of the 26-mile, pristine, sugar sand-kissed coast of the Alabama Gulf, about 5 miles of Ono’s 7 mile length physically sits in Florida’s Perdido Key. Mail and taxes flow through nearby Orange Beach.  Locals often refer to it as “The Island on The Island,” as the narrow strip of land that abuts the gulf is “Paradise Island,” and connected by bridges on either side.

My in-laws retired to Ono in 1989.  At that time, there were only 40 houses on the island.  The entire island was “scrub” (native) landscaping.  Since then, Ono has grown, and very few lots are left available.  Here are a few to browse.

Two hundred years ago, Ono was known as “Goat Island,” and its inhabitants were goats, wild boar, and red fox.  The island was used for target practice during World War II.  Each new post-hurricane building frenzy unearths yet another unexploded military bomb, and causes quite a stir.

The Navy’s Blue Angels are based out of Pensacola, so at least eight months out of the year, there is a private airshow, twice daily as the formation returns to base.  Other local attractions are the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores. (An Ono retreat can fetch as much as $25,000 for a week during a peak weekend in season.) And, across Old River, the homes along the south enjoy a mostly unadulterated view of the Perdido preserve.  The most anticipate event of the year is the “Mullet Toss” hosted by the Flora-Bama.  Natives were nonplussed after Hurricane Ivan renovations to the much-loved Flora-Bama, as shoes are now required.  Sunday morning church services can be found also at Flora-Bama, but the bar is open in case you have a hankering for a bloody Mary.

The more tourist-y areas of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are 10 to 20 minutes by car, under 10 by boat.  There are many boat-friendly eateries along the Intracoastal, including Lulu’s (owned by Jimmy Buffet and family).  The Wharf is a outdoor town center-style shopping center with terrific local boutiques, fine dining, and a full-service marina.  Families love The Wharf for it’s ginormous ferris wheel, movie theater (for the occasional rainy day), and amphitheater.  The ever-charming town of Fairhope is less than 30 minutes by car, and is full of art, artists, and local flair.

Ono Island has a community center on the east side of of the island, about half way down River Road, near the water tower.  It features tenns courts, a gym, and group fitness classes.  The gentle curving roads on Ono are lined with walking paths.  Although cars are allowed, Ono is cart friendly as well.

And, a word of caution.  Speed limits and stop signs are strictly enforced on Ono Island.  Residents are never in a hurry, and island security is certain to maintain the tranquil reputation of Ono Island.

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