The beach in front of Casa Iguana
Little Corn Island is off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea.
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. Some 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.
When you come to the Corn Islands, remember this statement: Since you have to fly in to Big Corn, and many people assume that both islands are similar, they tend to stay on the "Big" island for several days, and save the last day or 2 for Little Corn. The most overheard statement on Little Corn is "Wow, this is so much better (more beautiful, cleaner, more natural, nicer, better amenities, diving, hotels, etc), I should have come here sooner!" And anyone who doesn't have a stockholders meeting or a graduation to get back to, almost invariably finds a way to stay longer than they had planned. It's not at all uncommon for someone to come for a few days, only to stay for a month or more. Many calls are made to change flights. So the point is, if you plan your stay for longer, or to just go direct to Little Corn on the panga right after your flight arrives, you'll have listened to the best advice there is about a trip there.
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 6:30AM and 1:30PM. The price of the panga is 130 Cordobas (US$6). The ride takes between 30 and 45 minutes and can sometimes get pretty 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 on the rough days. As much as some people love the breakneck speed the drivers used to cross at, they have become more considerate of the more fragile on board in recent years.
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, or the Dolphin Hotels (Los Dolphines) internet cafe, or Farm Peace and Love's internet cafe if you stay on the North end of the island. If you are staying on the East Side of the island (Cocal Beach), Casa Iguana offers an internet cafe and/or Little Corn Beach and Bungalow offer satellite WiFi with your own device. Tranquilo Cafe will also let you use their cell phone to confirm, or their WiFi for a Skype or Google Voice call. They also have a house laptop if you don't have Wi-Fi ready device.
Schedules change, routes shift and transportation can be unpredictable. For the latest updated information on how to get from Managua to Little Corn Island by plane, bus and boat, view the graphic: Managua to Little Corn Island 
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. Walking bare foot is never advised(decide for yourself), unless youre walking on the beach. The "City" walkways are often too dirty for bare feet, so wear flip flops at least, but walking is only easy to those are in good physical shape, it is a remote island after all. Great place for morning and evening jogging around the island. Water shoes are also recommended as there is plenty of coral around the island that can cut your feet or legs while swimming.
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 newly renovated baseball field further north from the lighthouse. When there's a local series going, you can see the equivalent of the best of old fashioned small town baseball, with a great mix of local islanders, ex-pats, and tourists in the bleachers.
- ATM/Cash/$$- not everywhere takes credit card/traveler's checks, and Little Corn Island has no ATM. You may be able to strike up a deal with a high percentage. Make sure to save about $10 per person for the panga and cab ride back to the airport (if you ever decide to leave!).
- Dance & Party, Happy Hut & Eagle Bar. Two Local dance clubs, on a Saturday nights full of locals & tourists having a great time on the dance floor & in the party scene...
- Radio Likkle I, By the Basketball Court, . Local Community Radio Station also offers Cheap Internet and has local music for sale as fundraiser to help their operations...
- Dive Little Corn, (just south of the dock), ([email protected]), . 8AM-5:30PM daily. A 5 Star center dive shop (awarded to dive shops that excel in all of PADI's environmental, safety and certification standards), that can do PADI courses up through assistant instructor. The first shop in the country does three dives daily and has certified several local dive masters. Join them for regular trips to Blowing Rock or beach cleanup days. Check with their webpage for updated specials. Kayaks, snorkeling trips and gear available. Visa and MC accepted. One of the largest local employers on the island. Same owner as Casa Iguana.
- Dolphin Dive, at Hotel Delfines (south of the dock), ☎ +505 8917 9717 ([email protected]), . Managed by a new team, PADI courses are available up through dive master, they employ locals, and profits remain on the island.
Firefly Yoga and Massage Studio located at Little Corn Beach and Bungalow (LCBB) offers daily yoga classes (mats provided) and Swedish and Rolfing type massage by appointment. The comfortable environment is enveloped by jungle with jungle sounds and the sound of the sea in the background. The Studio is open to all island visitors and residents. Little Corn Beach and Bungalow owners provide free yoga classes for their employees on Thursdays. Contact Firefly Studio at [email protected] or call LCBB at 011 505 8 333 0956.
Fishing out of Little Corn is casual and often productive. No license required, just rods in PVC rod holders while trolling ballyhoo baits from an open 20 ft panga. Elvis (nickname "Dopey" was born on the island and is also Little Corn Beach and Bungalows recommended boat fishing guide) 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. They offer locally guided trips.
Fly Fishing Little Corn: A guy named Brandon offers a full service fly fishing charter on Little Corn Island. Try your hand at catching the elusive Bonefish, Tarpon or Permit. Or go for all three for a "Grand Slam". Along with these on shore fish, you can to go for big game fish off shore. He offers lessons in fly fishing and casting, he'll have you casting and catching fish in no time. No equipment? No problem. Fly Fishing Little Corn has a selection of rods, reels, and lines available to be booked with our charters. Prices start at $50/person. Check out the website for more information: www.flyfishinglittlecorn.com
Little Corn Fishing Charters
Sport fishing tours are run from "Grendel," an open 26-foot center console super panga with two fighting chairs and bimini top to provide much needed shade. It's equipped with GPS, VHS, down rigger and high-speed planer. Generally, trolling in Little Corn is with rigged ballyhoo. Near the island coast (about 5 miles out and closer), anglers chase after kingfish, sailfish, amberjacks, barracuda, African pompano, snapper and mackerel. The mahi mahi and yellow tail average around 30 pounds. The saifish is more common a catch than one would suspect. $50/person for 3 hours; min. 2 people; $10/person thereafter; 2 trips daily. Ask for Chris at Dive Little Corn or Casa Iguana. No reservations required. Visa and MC accepted.
- 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 bar stool and get something cold to drink, or partake in their simple but tasty meals. mains C$75-135.
- Habana Libre, (just north of the port). Open only randomly during a recent visit, this spot serves up delicious chicken and pork dishes. Some of the specialties require advance ordering. If you hang around long enough, you'll get an ear full from the owners about their anti-foreigner sentiments, which is ironic since the husband is from Cuba. 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$15/person, and ingredients are often grown fresh on her farm. Reservations are needed 24 hours in advance, either by dropping by or having Dive Little Corn or Casa Iguana contact her by radio.
- Captain Tony's Seafood Restaraunt, Blue Water Beach, Breezy Side (From Little Corn Beach and Bungalow, facing the water, 1 minute to the left along the coast). As of 10/02/20013 Captain Tony has left the island and the restaurant is no longer open. Captain Tony is a fun Louisiana expat who runs this very small kitchen with a few beach tables. The place is notable for having some of the cheapest beer on the island. He also gives you a "Boca" or snack, commonly guacamole with breadfruit, with every beer you order. If you end up going fishing with Elvis, Tony will clean and cook you whatever you catch. Locals are always hanging around this area, and it's a good place to have a beer and converse with some of the more interesting characters on the island. You can also sleep in the cabinas along the beach, ask for Steadman (10$/night)
- Tranquilo Cafe, Front side (On the beach, conveniently situated between the two dive shops), ☎ 001-505-8361 3758 ([email protected]"), . 11-9 daily (closed thursdays). American style bistro/cafe with quality food, fast service. Appetizers include Bruschetta & "Catch of the Day" Ceviche. Entrees: Big and juicy cheeseburgers, fresh fish tacos, grilled chicken sandwiches, and quesadillas. Great veggie offerings as well. Nightly dinner specials that include home-made mac & cheese, wing night, fish & chips. Fresh brewed hot and iced Nicaraguan coffees, local fruit juice "frescos", smoothies, cocktails, and ice cold beer. Famous for their twice weekly Bonfire Parties, "Pub Quiz", and DJ nights. Also features free WiFi, a gift shop that showcases local crafts, as well as t-shirts and traveler necessities $2-$8.50.
- Little Corn Beach and Bungalow's, Turned Turtle Restaurant is worth the short walk North (from casa iguana about 500 yards) on Cocal beach on the east side of the island. The restaurant (and hotel for that matter) are the #1 rated on Trip Advisor on LCI. The Turned Turtle serves breakfast (7:30 to 10:00), lunch (12:00 to 3:00) and dinner (5:30 to 8:30). One of the few places on the island that serves BREWED coffee, their breakfast menu is extensive and delicious (starting at less then $3). Lunch inlcudes some of the islands best fish tacos, their famous Porker sliders and among other offerings a scrumptious BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger slider (as low as $4.50)! Their dinners are all 4 plates and include starter, soup or salad, veggies with the main course and one of five amazing deserts all starting at only $9. Snacks are served from 11:30 to 4:30 and a must try is their onion rings or their FIWT dip with fresh corn chips (ask them what "FIWT" stands for). Restaurant and grounds offer free wifi too! Open 7 days a week.
Beer is available at most guesthouses and restaurants around the island, as is the usual Flor de Caña rum.
Tranquilo Cafe. Front side. Lots of Happy Hour Specials from 5-7pm, and the best place on the island to be "seen", share travel stories, and enjoy the view and sunset. Besides beer (including Guinness), it has the largest cocktail menu on the island. Also fresh brewed hot and iced Nicaraguan coffees, local fruit juice "frescos", smoothies. Famous for their twice weekly Bonfire Parties and DJ nights. Also features free WiFi until 10pm for those who can put down that iPhone while chilling. Until late, depending on the crowd.
- Casa Iguana Bar, Restaurant Lounge, (towards the southeast, head south from the port and follow the signs), . Guests and visitors are welcome to dine and lounge in the spacious lodge. Traditional breakfast served with fresh fruit in a timely manner for $6.A 3 course meal every night prepared with local ingredients and fresh caught fish for about $15 US. A vegetarian option/dietary restriction options are always available. Full bar. Sample menus and details on website. This is the original spot that started it all on the island and is completely unpretentious and very welcoming.
- Turned Turtle Bar and Restaurant. Located at Little Corn Beach and Bungalow a little corn island hotel on cocal beach about 500 meters North of Casa Iguana Little Corn Island, this casual beach bar offers what some have termed the "best ever" Pina Colada, huge margaritas, a concoction called "Big Jeffs Mudhole" (they swear their is no ice cream in the recipe) and an authentic canadian "bloody caesar" along with all the traditional beer, rum etc. Also on the menu, Island Dream fruit smoothies, HOMEMADE ice cream and other fresh snack foods! Sit with your toes practically in the sea or in their bar shaded by palm trees and 3 feet off the beach. Free wifi, games and book exchange too.
There are few hotels near the port, while 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 mosquitoes and sandflies to a minimum, which you may want to consider in choosing your accommodation.
Near the port
- Sunshine Hotel, ☎ (505) 864-15711 ([email protected]). Comfortable rooms, 1 minute walk from the port, rooms include A/C, TV.
- Lobster Inn, ☎ +505 847-1736. Rooms with private bath and fan, from US$20.
- Hotel Los Delfines, ([email protected]), . Rooms are airconditioned, have television and their own bathrooms. Probably the most "modern" of the hotels on the island. They have their own restaurant, which serves up the typical, but better than average Nica meals. Mastercard and Visa are accepted. $40/50/60 for single/double/triple.
- Three Brothers Guesthouse, ☎ (505) 8658 8736 or 8927 072, . checkout: 10am. Includes kitchen, large dining / common room and outdoor patio with hammocks. Located 120 meters from the port, relaxed atmosphere, impeccably clean and family run. $10/12/15 for a variety of room types.
- Casa Iguana, East Side (towards the southeast, head south from the port and follow the signs), ([email protected]), . checkout: 10AM. Opened in 1994 as Nicaragua's first eco-lodge, Casa Iguana sits on a private explorable 40 acre reserve above two private coves, with a farm and a long stretch of white coral sand beach. 15 Casitas with wide verandas and views 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 great food and cold drinks. The lodge is also a popular hangout with travelers and guests perusing the book exchange, boardgames or drink menu all day and night. They've got potable well water so as not to sell water bottles & have recycling bins. Prices can a bit higher than the other lodging on the island, but their entry rate of $20/night for a cabina with shared bath is a great deal-they have beautiful, clean grounds and views, are relatively easy to get to, and family friendly. A staffer 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. 3 types of accommodation; Internet cafe; Free WiFi for guests; Bath towels and beach towels; 2 night watchmen at night; 24-hour electricity provided by an off-grid wonky generator/wind/solar set-up. Iguana also supports a US women's college by sponsoring an annual trip of biology researchers to study the reef and island aquifer while educating locals on their findings. Accepts MC/Visa and personal checks. US$20-85.
- 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: 9:30AM. 8 of 9 Bungalows are only 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 (some with ceiling fans), rechargeable power keeps fans on in the nicest cabins, free in cabin satellite wi-fi (for guest with own device), french doors and 14 foot verandas open on to the sea. LCBB's new Firefly Studio, a 500sq foot screened in Yoga and Massage studio surrounded by jungle is a unique environment to relax mind and body. Breakfasts start at $2.99 and they offer a bottomless cup of brewed coffee bar, lunches start at $4.50, four course gourmet dinners start at $9 and require no reservations. Kayak and snorkeling rental available. Added plus, owners manage and live on site. Accept mc and visa (hotel guests only and a hefty convenience fee applies), have recycle bins (owners voluntarily ship at their cost all non-recyclable waste that can not be properly disposed of to Managua for more appropriate disposal), sponsor annual free veterinary clinics on the island and have facilitated the construction of the new reading room building on the island. Bungalows, $30 and up.
Further south, 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, . Particularly noteworthy are the three beachfront huts. Their huts are on stilts which may help distance you from critters. $35 for the beach front cabins. US$8-15.
- 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.
- Grace's Cool Spot (Grace's Place), East beach (Just after Elsa's Place), . Reserve through website, CC accepted. Recently refurbished rooms offer great views of the beach. Rooms are clean and quaint, with island-style rasta paint on the outside and simple but cozy on the inside. All beds come with mosquito nets, though bugs on this side of the beach aren't a big problem. There is a nice little beach restaurant that serves both classic Caribbean dishes and international fare with an island twist (try the coconut bread french toast). Grace's Cool Spot also offers snorkeling trips, fishing trips, sunset cruises, beach volleyball and bonfires twice a week. If you want to grab your snorkel you can also head straight into the water. They have lots of hammocks if you prefer to just curl up with a book. From US$15 for double bed, shared bath up to $50 private room for small group with kitchen.
- 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), . Has 4 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. 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 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 surprisingly gourmet meals (Andrea' the chef is amazing) on request. From US$25.
The island is relatively safe and few travelers encounter problems, but you should definitely take the normal precautions 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 them.
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