The Caribbean’s Hidden Gem

Imagine waking up on a tiny island where there are no cars or scooters at all, only foot paths with the occasional bicycle. Delivery produce only arrives from the larger island once a week and sends the small ferry dock into a frenzy with people from all over the island setting up stands and selling the week’s supply of food. Larger items need to be transported by push cart through the jungle pathways weaving a half an hour to the opposite end, sometimes taking as many as 6 men to complete the job. Electricity shuts off daily from 6 AM to 1 PM to allow the sun to recharge the generators for the day. When the fans stop humming in the morning it pushes everyone outside to begin their day. I don’t think there is any air conditioning on the island so the fan is what allows you to sleep. The first thing you smell every morning is fresh baked coconut bread flavored with ginger or cheddar and the locals speak a mixture of Spanish, English and Creole. Sometimes you’re unsure which one is more prevalent. The people are friendly and the pace of life is slow, untouched from the rush of the rest of the world.

Welcome to Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. A place where the sea melts into the sky and days melt into weeks. Lush jungle paths, calm water, unbelievable food, and friendly locals make this place a hidden gem. You feel far away from the life of mainland Nicaragua. You will hear a only two different types of music on this island:  reggae and country. Yes, you heard me right, country! And they love the new age country as much as the old school. In a place where they are Creole/African/Latinos it is an unexpected sensation until you get used to it! It’s a place that is often skipped by travelers as it’s a far journey to the northern tip of the country which by bus takes 10-18 hours depending on where you’re coming from. Once in Bluefields you have to take a small ferry to Big Corn Island and from there a small “chicken boat” which on a rough sea day could result in you and all the luggage completely soaked and your tailbone slightly bruised. We were lucky that our 30 minute crossing was fairly uneventful although we had a few laughs about our orange lifejackets. Once there it’s pretty easy to find where you’re going as the island is small and each hotel usually sends someone out to fetch travelers and help carry bags back to the hostels or bungalows. There are only 2 boats a day so the whole island is well aware of the new arrivals. The other option is flying from Managua (the capital city) to Big Corn, where the airport is, and then taking the chicken boat to Little Corn. Round trip flights can be found for $160-180 depending on the time of year, so if you’re short on time, this is definitely worth it in the end.

A friend of mine and I spent 5 days here and 4 nights. Although we decided we couldn’t spent a week on one end and another week on the opposite end. One of our highlights was daily yoga with Funk Yoga and SUP, founded by 2 friendly people from the east coast of the US. Jax teaches classes daily and also leads an extremely fun SUP or stand up paddle board yoga class. Her SUP class is upon request and she can host a maximum of 4 people. I definitely recommend trying it! She has a great sense of humor and will make you laugh with her fun variations and positivity. We also participated in the 11 AM class and the sunset yoga class. Funk is located about 30 meters to the right when you get off the chicken boat. Next to it is a dive shop called Dive Little Corn who we did 2 days of diving with while there, another highlight! The divemasters and instructors were great, although they do love a party! But I understand the perils of small island living and can’t blame them, although it may not be the place you want to try diving for the first time or do your open water course. But if you find an instructor you feel comfortable with, then by all means, that’s what matters! We enjoyed the dives, the nurse sharks, the night dive and would definitely have done more diving if time permitted! The dives are relatively shallow and relaxing with lots of marine life. They do get hammerheads sometimes in the deeper trench and although one was spotted by fishermen while we were there, the divers didn’t get the chance to see one. There are only 2 other dive shops on the island but Dive Little Corn and Dolphin Dive would be the 2 main ones located within a minute of each other just off the pier.

Hiking up to The Lighthouse is also a must. There are about 8 bungalows you can rent here, with a beautiful view of the jungle and ocean in the background. Behind the bungalows is a path up to a light house that you can climb for 360 degree views of the island. Definitely a must but bring your insect repellent! You can walk the island in one day but I’d recommend dividing up both ends and taking turns exploring each side. There are beaches to be found scattered all amongst jungle paths and cliffs so wear a good pair of shoes, not just flip flops, if you plan on staying out most of the day. There are also small beach bars and food joints everywhere with a kite surfing shop too if you’re interested. The mellow vibes of this Caribbean gem of an island will have you not wanting to leave. It truly is still relatively hidden and because of it’s location I’m hoping it stays that way. You can travel here year round but the best time of year would be November to April if you want to avoid the heat. I visited in April and it was raining regularly for at least an hour in the evening, although it didn’t put a damper on any of my plans and I enjoyed the way it cooled everything down. Baseball is also a huge deal on the island so try to catch a game if you can because you’ll appreciate the way the community comes together around the sport. There is a famous baseball player from this island that now plays major league in the US and everyone will have a different story about him.

Little Corn is definitely one of the most unique islands I’ve ever been to in my life. I’m already planning on going back!

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