With its white sand beaches, warm Caribbean water and Creole inspired Caribbean food, it’s not hard to see why these tiny little Islands off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua draw a lot of attention from those who know about them, yet so many people still have never heard of this little slice of heaven on earth.
For my birthday this year I wanted to do something exciting. I wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been in Nicaragua, but have been longing to see. Bronson decided to book a trip to the Corn Islands since we had been wanting to visit there since we arrived in Nicaragua over a year ago. We booked our plane tickets, a room at a dive center and with in a week we were on our way. We took a cab from our house in San Juan Del Sur to Managua where we hopped on a tiny 12 seater plane for an hour and a half trip to Big Corn Island. Don’t let the name fool you. Both islands together only comprise about 5 square miles, with Big Corn only being almost 4 sq. mi. We didn’t spend any time on Big Corn, really. Just a couple of hours while waiting to take the Panga (a small fishing boat) half an hour across the open ocean to Little Corn Island.
Between the two Islands, there is only 1 gas station and 1 ATM and it’s frequently out of money. On Little Corn Island there are no cars, no motorcycles. The only motorized vessels are boats. There is no boat launch, so when you want to pull your boat out of the water, you ask a bunch of people to help you literally hoist your boat out of the water. There are no paved roads. Just one concrete walking path that allows for the transport of delivered goods to be distributed to most of the businesses on the island, pushed on an old oxcart by 4 men. These men have to get a running start to get some of these deliveries up hill.
We took the opportunity to check out the entire island over the course of a week. We walked down every trail and most of them looked like they dead-ended at someones house, but when you look around the front of the yard, you see a faint walking path that continues on. There are no signs for directions because the island is so small that you can wander and eventually find where you’re going. It’s impossible to actually get lost. If you find a trail, you’ll end up somewhere that other people are. The people on the islands are incredible. They are so kind and helpful. Many of them speak 3 or 4 languages. The most common are English, Spanish, Creole and Miskito.
The first day we opted to go snorkeling on the East side of the Island. The water was a beautiful turquoise color, warm and inviting. It was everything you see in pictures of the Caribbean coast and quite like what you’d expect. The reefs were amazing, tons of fish and various aquatic life. Beautiful colors of bright yellow, purple, orange, green and blue. They were also very close to shore. The only problem with that is, the beaches on little corn are very small. Like only 8 feet to the water and it drops off within 3-5 feet of shore.
The beaches on Big Corn are significantly larger, on the west side anyway. They have amazing white sand beaches, some of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen in my life, even more-so than in Mexico, and hardly anyone on them. A few restaurants lend a hand at providing much needed shade by putting out cabanas and umbrellas. The breeze is cooling enough that it’s not stifling when you’re hanging out at the beach. At least it wasn’t in the middle of March, when we went.
On Little Corn, the power goes out everyday from 6 am to 1 pm. The entire island. The restaurants are powered only by whatever solar or generator power they have from 6 am to 1 pm which is probably why a lot of restaurants are not open very early. It seemed to be that they posted opening times, but they weren’t always open at the times posted. Sometimes an hour later, or a couple of hours. It kind of just fluctuated. It’s part of the charm of the Little Island. If that’s not your cup of tea and you’re someone who really needs a schedule and can’t be flexible, knowing things will get around to opening when they see fit, you probably shouldn’t come to these islands. They run on their own time. No real opening or closing times. The bar down the street could have live music until 6 am if there are still patrons, or close a 7 pm if there aren’t any.
The entire island life there is really, go with the flow, so if that is something you just can’t be flexible with, you will not enjoy your time spent here.