If you’ve made it out to Big Corn Island – see also Big Corn Island | Travel Guide – it is worth the extra effort to visit Little Corn. 165 Cordobas (6 dollars) will get you a seat on one of the open pangas that travel between the islands. The boats leave at 6:30AM and 1:30PM daily, Nicaraguan time (which means they will either leave early, late, or not at all). The boat ride is an adventure in itself….from buying the tickets, to ensuring your bag made it on with you, to making sure you didn’t fly out as the boat sped over massive waves.
Once you arrive on Little Corn, the “small” island you just came from takes on a new meaning. Unlike Big Corn, there are no roads, only narrow footpaths that zigzag the island. Next, you’ll notice the lack of big hotels, restaurants, and people. There are just enough small restaurants and shops throughout the village to provide the necessities. This, and the absence of cars buzzing around provides a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Days spent roaming the island produced one vacant sandy beach after the other. It was a very relaxing feel everywhere we went.
If we were to give any advice to those thinking of traveling here:
– flashlights are a must, there is limited power on the island and you could find yourself walking through the jungle or trying to navigate to the washroom in the dark
– cash is hard to come by, so bring some
Where we stayed:
A quick walk through the jungle, we found a small bungalow on the water on the east side of the island – Grace’s Cool Spot – We had a pretty basic bungalow – bare, concrete walls, simple bed with netting and a washroom – and 10 feet away from the ocean, so, you can’t really go wrong. However, it’s one of those places where you take a look at the room and just shrug your shoulders and tell yourself you won’t be spending much time there. On the bright side, the owner was incredibly helpful with offering advice on what to do and informing us who had the lowest prices for activities.
Things to do:
Take a yoga class at The Karma Shack
Climb up the lookout tower, near the Lighthouse Hotel, for a panoramic view
Try coconut bread from Miss Esther’s Food Shop
Go snorkelling – next time I’d like to try night snorkelling
Go kiteboarding. Okay, so we didn’t actually do this but it looked fun
Wake up and watch the sunrise
Go fishing with Captain Willy. At the end of the day, enjoy dinner at the Sunset Shack Cafe, where they cook up your catch for free
Explore the many quiet beaches, have a picnic & watch the sunset
Big Corn Island
“This is as far as I take you,” the cab driver tells us as he pulls over to the side of the road. Brendon and I keep looking out the window and then back at each other. The road ahead is barricaded with cars, a huge crowd has gathered and there are fires burning in the middle of the street. The voice in my head is asking why I didn’t do more research on this place before coming. What had we gotten ourselves into? There is nowhere to go but right through it, except, we aren’t sure if we should attempt to walk past the armed military and the crowd of people who are standing either in the street or on the top of a car. Someone starts yelling over a microphone in Spanish, a quick glance at each other in confirmation and then heads down, we bee lined it through the crowd, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
It wasn’t until we got settled into our hotel that we heard about the tourist boat that had capsized just days before we arrived, killing 13. As a result, the Government had grounded all boats until they were equipped with flare guns. We had just walked through the civil unrest that followed this decision. Tourists would only be able to arrive by plane and only be able to visit Big Corn. Fisherman couldn’t go fishing, they couldn’t bring supplies in – how would they feed their families. If tourists came, how would they feed them? Tourism and fishing are the two main industries that fuel their economy so you can understand why they were protesting – especially since you cannot buy flare guns in Nicaragua and it would take months until they could get one from the US. (Note: The Government ended up compromising and gave them 6 months to get the flare guns on their boats)
The Corn Islands are two islands located about 80kms off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. They both offer something a little different, which is why I decided to break them up into two separate posts. (SEE ALSO – Little Corn Island | Travel Guide) If you plan on visiting just make sure you leave any ideas that you have about time at home. We had delayed planes, boats and missed ferries. Things were happening 3-24 hours later then we originally planned for them to happen. We experienced extreme cases of this due to the protesting going on but from what we heard from locals and other tourists, this is completely normal. No plan is the best plan in (all of) Nicaragua or at least always have a Plan B. When it comes to eating, plan to eat well before you are hungry. Food takes about a minimum of an hour to make because everything is made from scratch – stopping for a quick bite is not an option. If you plan to order the famous “RunDown” you will need to order this the day before. Cash is pretty much the only thing accepted on both islands. Finding somewhere that would take a credit card was rare and finding somewhere to take cash out also proved to be difficult.
Even after all this chaos, we had an amazing time! The Corn Islands were our favourite place we visited while in Nicaragua. Our visit here was a unique one and I am sure it has gone and will go a lot smoother for others. Luckily, it didn’t effect our trip too much other than a shortage of supplies and extending our stay a little longer due to the delays….not a bad place to be stranded though and I’ll tell you why…
Where we stayed:
Martha’s Bed & Breakfast located on the quiet part of the island (southeast). Kind owners, clean rooms, great food and the best swimming beach on Big Corn…We enjoyed our stay with Martha and Ellery so much that we ended up coming back after visiting Little Corn and staying for two more nights before leaving the Corn Islands.
Things To Do:
- Rent a golf cart to explore the island.
- Meet the locals.This is my favourite picture (and moment) from our whole trip to Nicaragua. Bren and I rented a golf cart for the day so we could go explore every road on Big Corn – doesn’t take long! On our way back to our hotel we were driving through the Quinn Hill neighbourhood, the kids had just gotten off school and were playing in the streets. They were so excited to see us they started running along beside the cart as we were driving by, a few pretending to jump on, testing us, until one courageous kid finally latched on and came for a ride. When the rest of the kids saw that we we were okay with it, they joined him. We had up to a dozen kids jammed on the golf cart at one point. The young girl pictured above jumped on the front with me…we couldn’t understand what they were saying to us but luckily a sincere smile and laugh is unmistakably understood.
- Hike to Mt. Pleasant Tower.
- Visit The Soul of the World Monument
- Go Scuba Diving. – coolest sighting was of a nurse shark!
- Watch the sunset & drink Toña..
- Eat a “RunDown,” the official meal of the islands & served for special occasions, a stew consisting of local seafood and some sort of starch or bread (breadfruit, cassava, plantains, coco, banana, dasheen or sweet potato.) It is cooked down in coconut milk and fresh herbs.