The Corn Islands: Calm & Car-free


Isolated and unspoiled, the Corn Islands are Nicaragua’s “little travel secret.” This duo of idyllic islets are just 43 miles off the coast of the mainland, and refreshingly free of hawkers, souvenir shops and all motorized vehicles. With their crystalline coves, mangrove forests, underwater caves and horseshoe bays, it’s no wonder they attract a fair share of sunbathers and adventurers “in-the-know.”

Once a pirate refuge, the islands are now a local hideaway with an irrepressible insular charm. Life is peaceful and slow, especially as there are no roads or cars whatsoever. Big Corn (a.k.a. Great Corn) is a laid-back, jungle-laden island. Hike up Mt. Pleasant Tower for a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. Hang out with the chill Creole community in their colorful wooden houses and shops. Little Corn is popular with divers, surfers and intrepid wanna-be explorers. Here you’ll find bungalows and beachfront huts, and the quirky Bottle House, a building constructed entirely of bottles.

Don’t Miss: Listen up divers and snorkelers! The Corns have a lot of bragging points, from stunning reefs, a 400-year-old Spanish Galleon wreck, and and impressive coral formation at Blowing Rock about 100 feet underwater.

Where to Stay: On Little Corn Island, you can’t go wrong with Yemaya Hotel Island Hideaway & Spa. A five-star romantic retreat with 16 eco-luxury cabanas that rest overlooking the stunning Caribbean waters. Bars and restaurants are just a 10-minute boat ride away. For stays on Big Corn Island, look no further than Hotel Arenas Beach, a luxurious and diverse collection of suites and bungalows.

Getting There: One hour flight from Managua to Big Corn Island. From there, you can hop on the local panga (ferry) to Little Corn Island.

Avanti Destinations offers excellent guides and accommodation in the Corn Islands. Their 3-night package includes roundtrip air from Managua, ferry transfers, and hotel with daily breakfast.

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Quote Time! One of our clients recently came back from a wonderful getaway on the Corn Islands, and had this to give as feedback:

Our hotel was the best on the island (Hotel Arenas Beach). Really good beach and the rooms were ok—by Nica standards, they were great (an A+ in bathrooms). The food was very tasty. The hotel has a beach tender who we called One Speed and really took care of the beach, kept it garbage free and combed. BTW all of the beaches in Nica are open to the public, no exceptions.

The little town was ok. Taxis were 15 Cords (Nicaragua cordobas) per person during the day or 30 cents & 20 cords per person at night—anywhere on the island. There were 2 restaurants on the island not associated with hotels that were good and we ate at them. The weather was kind of crappy at the beginning, so we stayed on the Big Corn not wanting a rough crossing to Little Corn. By the time the weather cleared… we were on island time!

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