A young traveler’s guide to the Corn Islands

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In recent times, an archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua has gained popularity among young travelers. This place is known as the Corn Islands, and going by the amount of land for sale on Little Corn Island these days, it doesn’t look like it’s a trend that is going to taper off anytime soon.

As a result of this, it’s vital that you get here to experience this island’s authenticity before development changes the mood of this place forever. In this post, we will run down what you need to know to have a successful visit to the Corn Islands…

GETTING THERE

The trickiest part of a trip to the Corn Islands is getting there in the first place. Until recently, Big and Little Corn Island was little more than a backwater in the Caribbean. Over the past decade though,  pioneering expats have discovered and slowly leaked word of this place to close friends, touting it as being the Caribbean as it was before mass tourism took over.

Despite its dramatic increase in popularity, there is still a limited amount of flights per day from the mainland to the Corn Islands. As a result, a tremendous backlog of bookings develops during the high season,  making it necessary to reserve flights here weeks in advance.

If you don’t have that kind of time, you do have another option, though it isn’t pleasant (what does it matter though …  you’re a tough backpacker, aren’t you?).

It involves getting a chicken bus in the middle of the night from Managua to the riverside town of Rama, which is located deep in Nicaragua’s jungle interior.

After purchasing a ticket and waiting until dawn, you’ll board a river boat that will take you to Bluefields, which is an hour and a half ride away. From there, you’ll take a panga across the choppy waters of its bay to the port of El Bluff.

At this point, you’ll board a cargo ship that slowly crosses the expanse of the Caribbean Sea (6-8 hours) that sits between the mainland and the Corn Islands. The sea state can vary from week to week; sometimes, it is smooth as glass, while heavy seas on other crossings will have you praying to your deity of choice.

Finally, the last leg of your journey involves a panga crossing that traverses the channel that sits between Big and Little Corn.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many guest houses and small boutique hotels to choose from on Little Corn Island, but until recently, there weren’t any hostels in the traditional sense.

This has changed in the past year, as the Green House Hostel has opened, offering most of the amenities that young travelers have come to expect from this type of accommodation.

Solidly built bunk beds, usable internet, and plenty of hangout spots offer young backpackers plenty of comfort and the opportunity to meet new people while staying in paradise.

WHAT TO DO 

While Little Corn Island isn’t exactly San Juan Del Sur, there is still plenty to do here, day or night. When the sun is up, explore the island and find all the beaches that it has to offer.

Be sure to take a snorkel and mask with you, so you can do some impromptu snorkeling as you go, as the reef that rings this island can be easily accessed from the shore.

After dark, the handful of bars that can be found along the main drag make for a straightforward pub crawl. If you are looking for a specific place to hang, Tranquilo Cafe is a great spot on nights when they have reggae musicians playing, so be sure to ask the owners when live entertainment is scheduled to take place.

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