Little Corn Island is a safe tropical paradise boasting a clear turquoise sea with white sandy beaches, surrounded by coconut palms. There is excellent fishing and good shallow reef diving and beach snorkeling. And if itís simply relaxation youíre looking for, Little Corn has enough hammocks for everyone.
Flights leave Managua, Nicaragua 3 to 4 times a day, ($180.00 U.S. return) usually with a stop at the Caribbean coastal town of Bluefields, before flying onwards to Big Corn Island. There are currently two airlines that ply this route: Atlantic Airlines (PH 575-5055) and La Costena www.tacaregional.com. From Big Corn Island itís a short 30 minute boat ride to Little Corn ($6.00 U.S one-way). The boat ride can be a wet one. Store your valuables in your luggage which will be stowed in a dry area at the front of the boat.
Upon arrival at The Village on Little Corn youíll be met by the usual touts. In order to avoid hassles a planned place to stay, at least for the first night is a good idea.
A four to six hour boat trip is also possible from Bluefields, but a lengthy, somewhat difficult cross-country trip to the Caribbean coast in required.
Upon entering Nicaragua youíll need to purchase an inexpensive tourist card. Keep this card. Youíll need it to leave the country. A valid passport is also required. You should always, no matter where you travel, keep a photocopy of the main pages of your passport.
WHEN TO GO
January to mid-May is sunny and mostly dry. The second half of May thru September brings lots of rain and its resulting mud. Parts of October, November and December can be wet too.
SHOTS AND VACCINATIONS
No particular shots are required, but Little Corn is considered a malarial zone, especially in the wet season. I was there in the dry season and saw not one mosquito. After a couple of bad nightmares locals convinced me to throw my anti-malarials into the sea.
The Cordoba is the national currency of Nicaragua. And you should take a good pile of either it, and/or U.S. dollars along with you. There are no banks or ATMís on Little Corn; and donít expect to be able to use travelers cheques. Dive operations will take Visa, but expect to pay 5% or more to use your credit card. Tipping is expected at restaurants.
Just about everyone speaks English. Amongst themselves the Caribbean locals speak a completely indecipherable Creole. When speaking with the minority Latinos, an odd sounding Spanglish is used. Being fluent in Spanish wonít help with this mish-mash.
Accommodation is moderately inexpensive and plentiful. However, advance reservations are a good idea if youíve got a particular spot in mind. Casa Iguana (starting at $35.00 per night/shared bath, economy cabins) www.casaiguana.net is the spot everyone seems to flock to, but there are three choices near Garrett Point that are quieter and come highly recommended.
Farm, Peace & Love is quite pricey at $60.00 U.S. - $70.00 U.S. per night. They have only two cabins. The food is reportedly excellent. www.farmpeacelove.com
Derekís Place offers well constructed bamboo cabins at $40.00 U.S. - $60.00 U.S. Prices have risen sharply in recent months. Tasty meals can be had with advance notice. www.dereksplacelittlecorn.com
Ensuenos with its sand beach and shallow reef is the place to stay on little Corn if youíre looking for a touch of eccentricity. Quirky Spanish owner, Ramon has built architecturally fascinating gnome houses. The property is a feast for the eyes. The shared bathroom and shower a gem. And if youíre lucky you might be able to reserve your own gnome home, right on the beach for $25.00 per night. Check out number 3b on the website below. Palm trees sprout right up through the ceiling of this magnificently odd dwelling. On the downside, Ramon favours creating Hundertwasser type design over answering e-mails. Ensuenos takes reservations with a one week minimum stay. But give yourself ample time as response could be slow. Tasty meals can be had with advance notice. www.ensuenos-littlecornisland.com
Hotel Los Delfines in The Village, where Dolphin Dive is located might be a decent option if you feel the need for A/C or TV and want to be close to the Internet. Be aware that the hottest, maybe only disco is said to be located on the premises as well. www.hotellosdelfines.com
There are five or six restaurants in The Village and most hotels offer reasonably priced meals. Casa Iguana with its rock-top terrace serves excellent breakfasts and claims to be the only place on the island where you can get a Ďrealí cup of coffee. But the best place for dinner is called simply, The Cuban Restaurant. One seafood meal - especially the shrimp and lobster dishes - at the CR and youíll want to eat there every day. The roast pork and spicy shredded beef are supposed to be excellent too, but with the abundance of seafood I never considered trying either. Reservations are required unless youíre content in having an early meal in the blazing sun.
Snacks and decent baked goods can be purchased in The Village, near the boat dock. Thereís also an abundance of the Nicaraguaís treasured, Flor de Cana rum. But bring your own lime from the mainland. And always remember never to put anything but pure squeezed lime in this wonderful copper coloured potion. All other mixes should be drunk separately.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Strengthen up your leg muscles and try to secure accommodation at the quieter northeastern Garrett Point. Itís a good 30 minute walk from The Village, but well worth the effort. If youíre not already a certified scuba diver, consider becoming one on Little Corn. Prices are excellent. The mostly shallow reefs are great for both novice and skilled diver alike. They also offer exciting world class cave diving for the more experienced.
There are two dive operations on the island. Dive Little Corn (www.divelittlecorn.com) is about thirty metres from the boat dock and Dolphin Dive (www.cornislandsscubadiving.com) is one-hundred or so metres beyond that.
If youíre into sports join the locals for a game of baseball or basketball. Afterwards, climb into a hammock with a flat rock beside it, stare at the sea, your navel, or read a book. Use the rock as a place to set your Flor de Cana rum or thirst quenching Victoria beer.
Reasonably priced, fairly fast Internet service is available in The Village at Hotel Los Delfines, also home to Dolphin Dive. Telephone calls can also be made at the Internet site.
In years past Little Corn had some fairly significant robbery problems. Rape was also reported. In recent years however, an increased police force checks incoming boats for undesirables. Those who have no business being on Little Corn are sent away. As in any foreign country, take the usual precautions to protect yourself and your valuables.
WHAT TO PACK
Less is definitely better than more on Little Corn. Toiletries, medications, a T-shirt or two, and a pair of short pants, a bathing suit, money and above all a mask and snorkel. Thereís an abundance of reef snorkeling possibilities from several shores and daily rentals can be costly. Bring a good strong fishing pole, if fishing is your game. Iíve snorkeled with barracuda right off the shore in three feet of water. Extra batteries for your camera are a good idea. Electricity is not available at many places.