The island was originally colonized by the British, and most native islanders have more in common culturally with other English-speaking Caribbean islands than they do with the mainland of Nicaragua. Many have English surnames.
Tourism on the island is still in its infancy, and what is there is small, basic and, thus far, fairly eco-friendly. Most of the places to stay rely on solar and wind power for their electricity, and many have their own wells which draw drinkable water and/or collect rain water. The people are typically friendly, laid back and genuine.
Almost everyone on the island speaks both passable Spanish and English, the latter being the first language of most who are native to the island. The English spoken, however, is heavily Caribbean, and real communication can be far from effortless. There are many inhabitants who have come over from mainland Nicaragua and consequently speak Spanish as a first language, and others who speak Miskito and other Caribbean languages or dialects.
Almost everyone reaches the island via the twice-daily panga (ferry), which leaves Big Corn Island at 10AM and 4:30PM, and leaves Little Corn at 7AM and 2PM. The price of the panga is 110 Cordobas (US$6). The ride takes between 30 and 45 minutes and can get very rough. The back of the boat is less rough, while the front is less wet. Sitting on your life vest will help ease the pain in your ass.
You'll need to reconfirm your flight from Big Corn Island back to the mainland 24 hours before; if you're patronizing one of the dive shops they'll do it for you.
The island is walkable, and in fact you have no choice... there´s not a single motorized vehicle on the island, and no roads on which to drive anyhow. There´s a paved sidewalk along the west coast near the pier, and beyond that you´re hiking through narrow dirt paths through the jungle-like interior of the island. You could walk the length of the island in less than an hour, though the paths get muddy and slippery very quickly during the rain. You can walk most of the east side of the island along the beach, with a couple of tricky spots at high tide.
There are bicycles on the island, though take care on the rough dirt paths. Ask at your guesthouse if interested. If you (rightfully) choose to run around barefoot, keep an eye out for broken glass.
There's not a whole lot to see on the island, per se, other than the deep blue sea. There are a couple of tiny and uninteresting churches, and a couple of sunken boats to gaze at offshore.
A run down lighthouse lies on the northwestern-ish part of the island, next to the giant cell phone tower that dwarfs it. It´s climbable and offers an awesome view of the whole island, but take care on the ladder, and think twice if you´re afraid of heights.
There is a football (soccer) field in the center of the island which might see an impromtu match a couple times a year, and a slightly less run-down baseball field further north from the lighthouse.
Dive Little Corn, (just south of the dock), (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 8AM-5:30PM daily. A well run 5 Star Gold Palm dive shop, that can do PADI courses up through instructor. The first shop in the country does three dives daily and has certified several local dive masters. Same owner as Casa Iguana.
Dolphin Divers, at Hotel Delfines (south of the dock), ☎ +505 690 0225 (email@example.com), . Managed by a new team, this is the other well-run dive shop on the island. PADI courses are available up through dive master, they employ locals, and profits remain on the island.
Clean up the island – the one real shame of the island is that its coast is cluttered with litter, some local, but most claim that it washes up from Colombia, cruise ships etc. If you're bored, try and inspire one of the dive shops or larger guesthouses to organize an island cleanup day.
The empanada man turns up around 1pm near the port with some empanada-esque fried thingys, filled with meat, and sometimes pineapple and plantains, and all super tasty. Coconut bread is another local specialty, sometimes served in restaurants, but otherwise purchased off little girls wandering the island occasionally for C$5.
Cool Spot, (south of the port). This popular place straddles the sidewalk, but it´s all about the beachside stand where you can pull up a barstool and get something cold to drink, or partake in their simple but tasty meals. The veggie spaghetti is decent.mains C$75-135.
Habana Libre, (just north of the port). This spot is very popular with foreigners, and serves up delicious chicken and pork dishes. Some of the specialties require advance ordering.mains from C$100.
Farm Peace & Love, (north side of island, just east of Ensueños), . Paola is a lovely Italian woman, cooking up truly superb Italian fare out of her house. A 3 course dinner runs US$15/person, and ingredients are often grown fresh on her farm, including milk from her cows. Reservations are needed 24 hours in advance, either by dropping by or having Dive Little Corn or Casa Iguana contact her by radio.
Little Corn Beach and Bungalow, Cocal Beach, Breezy Side (Directly East from the dock on best beach on island), ☎ 01150583330956, . open daily. Little Corn Islands newest eco friendly resort has immaculate bungalows all with ensuite bathrooms situated right on the beach. Turned Turtle Restaurant and Bar has great margaritas and Pina Coladas and serves bistro style food with an island flare at good prices with the most timely and friendly service on their side of the island. Four course dinners start at $9 and require no reservations. Kayak and snorkeling rental available. Another plus, owners manage and live on site.from $30.
Tranquilo Cafe, Front side (On the beach, conveniently situated between the two dive shops), ☎ 001-505-8361 3758, . 11-5. American style bistro/cafe with quality food, and excellent, fast (especially for Central Am.), service. Appetizers include Bruschetta & "Catch of the Day" Ceviche. Entrees: Big and juicy cheddar cheeseburgers, fresh Fish Tacos and Quesadillas. Huge home-made chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, brownies, and other baked desserts. Fresh brewed hot and iced Nicaraguan coffees, local fruit juice "frescos", cocktails, and ice cold beer (including Guinness). The place to go before or after a dive. Famous for their twice weekly Bonfire Parties, "Pub Quiz", and DJ nights. Also features WiFi, a gift shop that showcases local crafts, along with t-shirts and traveler necessities$2-$7.50.
Beer is available at most guesthouses and restaurants around the island, as is the usual Flor de Caña rum.
Fishing out of Little Corn is casual and often productive. No fighting chairs, no license required, just rods in PVC rod holders while trolling ballyhoo baits from an open 20 ft panga. Elvis and Alfonso can be contacted by asking in the village. Elvis charges $35 per person for a 3 hr trip. King mackerel, barracuda, and mahi mahi (dorado) are surprisingly abundant.
There are few boring hotels near the port, while the rest of the more rustic places are scattered around the island. Note that the island has an almost constant easterly breeze, keeping the eastern and northern sides cool, while the western side near the port swelters in the sun most of the day. The wind also helps to keep the mosquitos and sandflies to a minimum, which you may want to consider in choosing your accommodation.
Near the port
Hotel Los Delfines, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Rooms are airconditioned, televised, and have their own bathrooms with hot water. Probably the nicest of the hotels near the port. There´s an internet cafe and phone booth on site. Mastercard and Visa are accepted.$40/60/60 for single/double/triple.
Lobster Inn, ☎ +505 847-1736. Rooms with private bath and fan, from US$20.
Casa Iguana, (towards the southeast, head south from the port and follow the signs), (email@example.com), . checkout: 10AM. Opened in 1994 as Nicaragua's first eco-lodge, it sits above two private coves and a long stretch of semi-clean white coral sand beach. Casitas are painted in a collage of Caribbean colors and are constructed to allow the trade winds to pass through them. The beds are comfortable, in-room safes are provided, and the restaurant serves good food (breakfast, lunch and 7PM sharp family-style dinner that requires advance reservation). The lodge is also quite a popular hangout with travelers and guests perusing the book exchange, boardgames or drink menu all day and night. They've got drinkable well water & have recycling bins. Prices are a bit steep, but they have nice, clean grounds and views, are easy to get to and family friendly. The manager usually meets the ferry at the port to greet arriving guests and will have your luggage carted directly to your casita and back to the dock after your stay.US$25-85; Mastercard and Visa accepted.
Little Corn Beach and Bungalow, Cocal Beach, Breezy Side (Go directly east across the island from the dock, take every right turn including once you hit the beach, go 100 mtrs south on beach or 500 meters north of Casa Iguana on Cocal Beach), ☎ 01150583330956, . checkin: varies; checkout: 10AM. Located right on Cocal Beach with 8 of 9 Bungalows steps from the water the newest eco-friendly lodge on the island is only place on Little Corn that recycles rainwater for in bungalow use. Immaculate en-suite bathrooms (with hot water showers) include towels as well as beach towels. Clean nice sheets, quality beds, in room fans, free wi-fi, french doors and 14 foot verandas open on to beautifully landscaped grounds and the sea. Added plus, owners manage and live on site. Accept mc and visa, have recycle bins and sponsor annual free veterinary clinics on the island.$30 and up.
Further north, there are 3 places all next to each other, which have the cheapest huts on the island, beachfront restaurants in the sand serving whatever is available that day, and little to distinguish them from each other. While some have an official name, most are known by their owners name. From top to bottom:
Carlito's / Sunrise Paradise, . Probably the best of the 3 by a small margin, especially if you can score one of the 3 beachfront huts. Their huts are on stilts which may help distance you from critters. $35 for the beach front cabins.US$8-15.
Grace's / Cool Spot. Huts are a little crammed together and suffer from a heinous paint job, but are otherwise ok. Restaurant is fine, and she runs another one near the port.From US$6, US$12 for three-bed room.
Elsa's Place. Sweet old Elsa runs this old cheapie, and her restaurant turns out a tasty fried fish. Huts are set back a bit from the beach, with the prime real estate given to tables and chairs.From US$5.
Derek's Place, (at the northeast point of the island, take the trail from the north of Dive Little Corn and stay straight at all crossroads), . Probably the most desirable spot on the island to many, they´ve got 4 beautiful huts made creatively from natural materials strewn across a bright green grassy lawn overlooking the sea. Derek and Anna are both quite interesting, and serve up 3 meals on request, including the best family-style dinner on the island. There are 3 huts with double beds, and 1 larger hut with 2 double beds and glass bottle walls, all with comfortable mattresses. It´s about a 20 minute walk through the jungle to get here from the port, or if you´ve made a reservation you can request Derek to pick you up from the port in his boat.US$35-40.
Ensueños, (head north from the port and follow the signs for about 20-30 minutes). Along the north of island, this place, run by the friendy Ramon, is fairly remote and popular with long-term travelers. Huts are decent and unusual, and everything is set further back from the beach than most, under the palm trees. There´s a restaurant on site which serves good food on request.From US$25.
The island is relatively safe and few travelers encounter problems, but you should definitely take the normal precausions and not let the peacefulness get your guard down. Violent incidents are rare, but have happened in the past.
Carry a flashlight (torch) if you won´t be back before dark, getting lost in the jungle wouldn´t be fun for most people.
There are a lot of dogs running around the island, and while usually friendly, keep your eye on em. A flashlight in their eyes at night or a rock between them in the day can work wonders.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!