Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
“It’s another day for you and me in paradise” by Phil Collins is the theme for the day, for the week and perhaps longer as I just might have to buy/build a place here. If you make it to Nicaragua, you have to visit Little Corn Island, which is, without a doubt, the perfect balance of all things you want in an island getaway. “Idyllic” is the best word to describe it. The hardened sand trails through the jungle filled with palm trees, flowers I haven’t seen before and other foliage lead to the oceanic splendor of Caribbean greens and blues (and yes, you get all the greens and blues on Little Corn depending on what side of the island you are on). There are times when walking alone during the day that you feel like you are on a deserted island playing a character in the hit series Lost. I feel safer here than anywhere I’ve been, which allows for a little running away of the imagination while trying to find your casita tucked away in the garden of trees in the pitch black of night.
Catch La Costeñas prop plane from Managua to Big Corn Island and take the panga transfer over to Little Corn Island. Check out the weather before attempting this over the sometimes turbulent seas off the coast of Nicaragua. You can book your flight online; however, you can save money if you book over the telephone. The warning: booking over the telephone requires that you may have to call 10 or more times to get an agent on the phone. Your perseverance, however, is worth it though as the flight with taxes per person over the phone was $159USD round trip per person but online is closer to $200 or more per person plus taxes, at least when I was there.
Where to Stay
On the beach! You have your choice of accommodations – all at affordable prices. Be sure to find accommodations in advance if you want the east beach bungalows at places like Elsa’s, Carlitos Place or Grace’s Cool Spot. Otherwise, wing it as you will find cheap accommodations here around $8 to $15 per person per night or if you want to go with the more luxurious accommodations you will spend between $40 -$80 for a place per night. We found a charming casita at Casa Iguana where the awesome Sasha and Jorget will take great care of you. You can choose from a dorm or private room and shared bathroom or private room and private bathroom. We negotiated a fair price on the latter and it was worth every penny to stay here. This would absolutely be where I would stay next time. Do note, however, in Nicaragua you get warm seas but cold showers throughout.
Good Eats, Good Times
First off, get used to the time change: you’re on Nica time now – slow, relaxed and where you never rush from one activity to another activity. Enjoy a run or walk on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Grab a paddle board or relax with a yoga class. Yemaya Beach is a great place to hang out. It’s picture postcard perfect and the lobster and coconut juice from a small beach bar are out of this world.
For $35 per person, we had a full day of fishing and snorkeling. We got to see stingrays, incredible coral reefs filled with every color of fish from red, purple, black and yellow to my favorite the Parrot fish which is a translucent cerulean color with rainbow fins. We also snorkeled around a shipwreck and while sharks have been sited on a number of occasions near the shore, we did not see one while there.
The fishing we did was from a spool of thick fishing line and you merely hook some fresh fish to it and drop the 6″ wrought iron rebar (for lack of a better word) into the ocean and let the spool unwind until it hits bottom. Within 3 minutes our group caught our first fish and we as a group caught several more within 15 minutes. We also trolled with the heavy duty deep sea fishing rod and while we caught what we thought was a big barracuda, we lost it when trying to reel it in.
Lunch time was a totally cool experience. We built a fire on the beach, fried our fish out there, knocked coconuts down from the trees for our beverage, had cucumber and tomato salad and – my new favorite – fruit bread which is best described as the better tasting version of french fries. Everything we consumed was right from the island with the exception of the local beer, Tona, and I have no idea where that is brewed. We even ate off of leaves and used our fingers. It was an authentic island barbecue. And after some ocean swimming, handstand contests and sunbathing on the beach we headed back out on the boat for some more snorkeling and a sunset cruise. When the sun hit the horizon, it looked like an enormous ball of lava spilling from the sky into the ocean.
Little Corn abounds with good places to eat and drink. At Desideri we enjoyed carpaccio among other splendid island dishes. And, yes, lobster fresh from the sea is very popular and affordable here. Tranquillo is a great place to wrap up an evening with entertainment and a crowd consisting of both locals and foreigners. Wrangle an invitation to dine at Dorinia’s if you can – it’s pricey at $25 per person but wow is it worth it – one of the best three course meals you’ll ever have. The Bagel House, just a little ways into “town”, has some of the best ever freshly made bagels for breakfast. How does bacon, cream cheese, tomato and basil grab you? Of course, service is on a leaf, island style. For dinner, probably my favorite meal was at Bridget’s, just off the port – the garlic lobster was so terrific and so affordable, I went back several times while there.
You will also enjoy watching baseball with the locals, swimming in the sea, playing gin rummy with your friends and just about anything else you can think of that is analogous to relaxation and fun.
Below is a little video clip of my time in Nicaragua to inspire you to get there.
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