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Little Corn Island

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Little Corn Island is off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea.

Understand[edit]

The beach in front of Casa Iguana

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 & European surnames.

Talk[edit]

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 it can take a few days till you get the hang of the Creole dialect, and are conversing like a native. 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 as well.

Get in[edit]

To get to Little Corn, first you have to stop off on Big Corn. Flights depart 3 times daily from Managua to Big Corn island airport on La Costeña airlines. And from there you ride a "panga" (passenger ferry) to get to Little Corn Island. When you arrive at the terminal and pick up your luggage (which they do check ownership with using your baggage check stubs) exit to the parking area and catch a taxi. Let the driver know that you want to go to the "panga wharf" to catch the boat to Little Corn. The taxi ride costs only 20 cordobas (less than a dollar) per person. Be prepared that the driver may try to talk you into staying on big corn and that he "knows a great place for you to stay", as they get a commission to bring you to the local hotels. The drivers are overall very friendly and nice guys and just stick to your guns about going to the panga wharf.

Once at the wharf, purchase your ticket. The pangas run twice daily and leave the Big Corn wharf at 10AM and approximately 4:30PM (they usually wait for the last flight to arrive, even if it's running a little late). Return pangas depart from Little Corn at 6:30AM and 1:30PM daily. The panga ride price is currently 150 Cordobas (US$5). It's best to purchase your ticket 30 mins to an hour in advance, especially during busier months. The ride takes between 30 and 45 minutes and can sometimes get fairly bumpy and wet. The back of the boat is less bumpy, while the front is less wet. Sitting on your life vest will help ease the pain in your butt on the rough days (but obviously, this is not as safe as wearing it). The boats have a watertight storage compartment for luggage in the back, which the crew will stow for you. If you plan to carry anything in your lap, make sure to put it in some kind of watertight bag. 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. After a tragic accident in early 2016, the first of it's kind ever in the islands, the pangas do not run if the sea is too rough. On these rare days, the ferry company runs one larger boat early in the morning from Little Corn and returns in the afternoon after the last flight arrives. This trip costs 600 cordobas/US$20 and can be very rough; it takes 1.5 - 2.5 hours depending on the weather. There may also be freighters which run with some regularity in the afternoon between the two islands. During busier months, sometimes second and even third pangas may run in the am and pm times to accommodate the higher demand.

If you'd like to see some of both islands, plan the bulk of your days on Little Corn, and the last day/night on Big Corn, as there's just enough to see there to make it worth it. If you have any concerns about making connecting flights once you return to Managua, it's good advice to plan your last night on the big island before catching your flight back to Managua to remove any worries of the minimal chance of a weather-related panga delay for your return.

It's very common to hear visitors asking about contacting La Costeña about changing their flight and extending their stay on Little Corn. Those who don't have work, or a wedding or a graduation to get back to, almost invariably find 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 week or month or more.

Use your best judgment when traveling. Know that pangas are very safe, and have been ferrying 10,s of thousands of passengers between the islands for more than 30 years, with only one major accident in all those years. That accident occurred when a captain chose to take a private day charter in a smaller boat (NOT one of the larger standard sized passenger pangas) on a day of extremely rare tropical storm level north winds. He is no longer a captain, and they never allow pangas to travel on such rare weather days, and substitute the larger boats mentioned above.

Get around[edit]

The island is walkable, and in fact you have no choice... there´s not a single motorized vehicle on the island, and no roads wide enough on which to drive anyhow. There´s a paved sidewalk along the west side that passes the pier and main village, and up to the school and a bit past the baseball field. Another takes you to the East side beaches, and one takes you most of the way across the island near Cocal Beach. Beyond that, you´re hiking through narrow dirt paths through the jungle-like interior of the island. The unpaved areas get muddy and slippery during the rainy times. You can walk most of the east side of the island along the beach, with a couple of tricky spots at high tide if you want to go all the way from the north to the south end.

There are bicycles on the island, though take care on some of the rough dirt paths. Flip flops are the most common footwear, and if you choose to run around barefoot, keep an eye out for broken glass. Joggers love little corn for the varied terrain and lack of cars or traffic.

See[edit][add listing]

Beautiful hidden coves on the south east end of the island on the old Casa Iguana property are a must see hike.

Scuba diving and snorkeling here are excellent.

Hiking on the more remote pathways reveals a wide range of Caribbean flora and fauna.

An abandoned light tower 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 steel ladder, and think twice if you're afraid of heights.

A newly renovated baseball field further north from the light tower. When there's a local series going on, you can see the best of old-fashioned small-town style baseball, with a great mix of local islanders, ex-pats, and tourists in the bleachers. Beer, sodas, and a wide range of local fare for sale around the field. There is also a football (soccer) field in the center of the island which might see an impromptu match a couple times a year.

In general, the island is full of unspoiled beauty and sights to see along the jungle paths and beaches.

As late afternoon approaches, make sure to get over to the west (front) side of the island and grab a cocktail at one of the beachside cafes to catch the sunset.

Do[edit][add listing]

Diving[edit]

  • Dive Little Corn, (just south of the dock), (), [1]. 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. Same owner as Casa Iguana.  edit
  • Dolphin Dive, at Hotel Delfines (south of the dock), +505 8917 9717 (), [2]. Managed by a new team, PADI courses are available up through dive master.  edit

Fishing[edit]

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, ask for him at Ms Bridgets restaurant by the dock as they are married) and Alfonso can be contacted by asking in the village. Elvis and Alfonso charge around $50 per person for a 3 hr trip, that includes tackle, bait and fuel for both bottom fishing and trolling. King mackerel, barracuda, and mahi mahi (dorado) and jack fish 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: [17]
  • 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.
  • Local Fishing Charters For an authentic local deep sea fishing experience, seek out Elvis or Alfonso. 2 local charter fishermen who know where the fish are, and will help pass the time between hits telling you stories about local history and goings-on.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Tranquilo Cafe, Front side (On the beach, conveniently situated between the two dive shops), 001-505-8336 3068 (), [3]. 9:30am to midnight daily (closed Sundays). Western cuisine bistro/cafe with quality food, fast, friendly, service. Appetizers include Bruschetta & "Catch of the Day" Ceviche. Entrees: Big and juicy cheeseburgers, fresh fish tacos, grilled chicken sandwiches, and quesadillas. Full Barbecue menu (smoked right on premises!), and Daily Specials. Great veggie offerings as well. Nightly dinner specials that include home-made mac & cheese, steak night, fish & chips, Philly cheese steaks. Not-to-be-missed desserts, including house-made Ice Creams and fresh baked Brownies & Cookies. Fresh brewed hot and cold brewed gourmet Nicaraguan Coffees, local fruit juice "frescos", smoothies, cocktails, and ice cold beers, Including domestic, as well as the largest selection of Imported and Craft Brewed beers on the Caribbean Coast. Famous for their twice weekly Bonfire Parties, "Pub Quiz", Garifuna Cultural Drumming, Live Music, 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.  edit
  • Little Corn Island 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)snacks (11:00 to 4:00). One of the few places on the island that serves BREWED coffee does so at a coffee bar with all the fixin's and opens at 6:45AM. Their breakfast menu is extensive and delicious (starting at less then $2.99). Lunch inlcudes some of the islands best fish, lobster, steak and coconut shrimp tacos, their famous Porker sliders and among other offerings a scrumptious BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger slider (lunch as low as $4.90)! Their dinners are all 4 plates and include starter, soup or salad, veggies with the main course and desert. You get all this starting at only $9. The Turned Turtle also features nightly rotating dinner specials ranging from Surf and Turf to Shrimp Scampi and Coconut Shrimp. Plenty of Vegetarian options all day too! Feature a kids menu for lunch and dinner. Open 7 days a week.
  • Café Desideri. All food is prepared in the Café Desideri kitchen with love using fresh local produce and quality ingredients imported from Italy and mainland Nicaragua. There is a varied menu ranging from sandwiches, burritos, salads and desserts, to Italian pasta dishes and the house speciality, Lobster Termidor. Café Desideri is located on the beach on the west side of the island (village) and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (closed Mondays). They serve fresh juices, a variety of fresh brewed coffees, cocktails and wine to accompany your meal.  edit
  • Cool Spot, (south of the port). This popular place straddles the sidewalk, but it´s all about the beachside stand where you can pull up a bar stool and get something cold to drink, or partake in their simple but tasty meals. mains around 10$.  edit
  • 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.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Tranquilo Cafe. Front side. Lots of Happy Hour Specials from 5-7pm, and the best place on the island to meet people, share travel stories, read a book, or just enjoy the view and sunset. Fresh brewed hot and cold brewed iced gourmet Nicaraguan coffees, local fruit juice "frescos" & smoothies. For libations, besides beer (including the largest selection of Import and Craft Brewed beers on the Caribbean Coast), it has the largest cocktail menu on the island, including a whole page of Happy Hour Specials. Famous for their twice weekly Bonfire Parties (Wednesday & Saturday nights), Weekly Garifuna cultural drumming & dancing show (Wednesday nights), Tuesday Pub Quiz, Live Music and open Mic nights. Also features free WiFi until 9pm for those who can't put down that iPhone while chilling. Open till Midnight, when they send you packing to one of the other island late night spots.
  • Casa Iguana Bar, Restaurant Lounge, (towards the southeast, head south from the port and follow the signs), [4]. 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.  edit
  • 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.
  • Late Night Dance & Party, Happy Hut & Aguilas 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...  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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. There are also some recent additions that have opened in the last couple of years, such as Lighthouse, Sea View, Shell Hostel, and local B&B and house rentals available.

Near the port[edit]

  • Paradise Square, (300 meters from the pier), (505) 8600-1670, [5].  edit
  • Sunshine Hotel, (50 meters from the pier), (505) 8544-4165 (), [6]. Clean & Comfortable, newly renovated rooms, 1 minute walk from the port, rates include A/C (in all rooms), Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Daily Housekeeping. Also Laundry Services available for guests for an extra charge. Upstairs: Rainy Day Cafe, and lounge area with Billiards, Ping-Pong, and other games, On-Site Pharmacy and Snack Shop. Great connections for Snorkeling, Yoga, and other activities. Near great dining and bars. Same owners as Tranquilo Cafe.  edit
  • The Green House Hostel, (Located 100 meters on the right side of the port), (+505)8662 8821 (), [7]. New hostel located steps from the beach. Boutique bunk beds that each have their own fan, power points and privacy curtain. Free WI-FI, large kitchen and common area. Outdoor patio with rocking chairs and hammocks. Laundry service, day trips that include fishing, snorkeling and beach parties. Paypal is accepted. $15/17.  edit
  • Lobster Inn, +505 847-1736, [8]. Cozy rooms with private bath and fan, double beds, right in the center of town. Front and rear balcony to chill out in and the calm beach right in front, perfect for swimming. from US$15.  edit
  • Hotel Los Delfines, (), [9]. 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.  edit
  • Three Brothers Guesthouse, (505) 8658 8736 or 8927 072, [10]. 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.  edit

The east[edit]

  • Casa Iguana, East Side (towards the southeast, head south from the port and follow the signs), (), [11]. checkout: 10AM. Opened in 1994, Casa Iguana sits on a private explorable 40 acre reserve above two private coves. 15 very rustic 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. Prices can a bit higher than the other lodging on the island, 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 set-up. Owner lives out of country, and can be challenging to contact if you need to. Accepts MC/Visa and personal checks. Low Season Rates are US$35-85.  edit
  • 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, [12]. checkin: varies; checkout: 9:30AM. 8 of 9 Bungalows are only steps from the water. This 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 plate gourmet dinners start at $9 and require no reservations. The menu features numerous vegetarian friendly items and features only the freshest available ingredients. Kayak, paddle board 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 and sponsor the B-ECO-I beach cleanup initiative), sponsor annual free veterinary clinics on the island and have facilitated the construction of the new reading room building as well. Bungalows, $30 and up.  edit

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, [13]. 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$35 - $60.  edit
  • 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 $15.  edit
  • Grace's Cool Spot (Grace's Place), East beach (Just after Elsa's Place), [14]. gracescoolspot.com 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.  edit

The north[edit]

  • 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), [15]. 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.  edit
  • Ensueños, (head north from the port and follow the signs for about 20-30 minutes), [16]. 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.  edit

After a number of incidents (and probably also in the interest of hotel owners,) camping is prohibited on the island.

Contact[edit]

Many places on the island offer free WiFi. There is Claro cellular coverage (3.5G as of Jan. 2017) on the entire island. Movistar is only available when you have a line of sight to the cell phone tower on Big Corn, i.e., in particular in the area close to the docks. Some bars, like Desideri rent out tablets to their clients.

Cope[edit]

Some places do not accept credit cards, and Little Corn Island has no ATM or bank. Several restaurants will, however, give you cash for a charge on your credit card (they usually charge a 10% fee, to cover bank charges and getting cash from Big Corn). So bring extra cash if you want to avoid card fees, and make sure to save about $10 per person for the panga and cab ride back to the airport (if you ever decide to leave…)

Even when paying your bill via creditcard an extra charge is added, even up to 12 %. Bring cash!

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Due to mass tourism almost having turned Little Corn into another San Juan del Sur(f), there are now more scammers that pry on tourists, especially by overpricing on meals or asking for money in advance for services which then never materialise. Unfortunately, such scams are often perpetrated by locals, as foreigners were the first to profit from the tourism boom and Nicaraguans now understandably want to get in on the cash flow.

There are a lot of dogs running around the island, and while usually friendly, keep your eye on them.

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!


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