Little Corn Island is far smaller than Big Corn Island and has some kind of deserted island feel. It was my long time wish to visit this idyllic Caribbean island, where you can spend your days exploring the island by walking the footpaths through the coconut palm tree woods to find small beaches around the island, relaxing in a hammock and enjoying the delicious Caribbean cuisine at a seaside table.
I normally woke up early and started the day with a swim in the sea, just steps from my cabaña. When I returned I opened the door out to the terrace and sat down for a while to enjoy the view. The sun was still coming up and the sea was almost as smooth as a mirror. I often took a morning walk by the sea but sometimes just stayed at the terrace until having a breakfast in one of the island's restaurants. Or preferably, I bought freshly made coconut bread which was sold every morning by local people on the beach, and had a big cup of coffee at Carlito's place.
I was spending the days chilling in a hammock at the terrace of my cabaña reading a book, had refreshing swim from time to time, and quenched my thirst with a cold Toña beer or fresh coconut water. Sometimes sweet Julia kept me company. One morning I took a snorkeling excursion but normally I just put on mask and snorkel and slowly swam to the coral reef, some 200 metres out in the sea. I rarely went to the village during the day but we did have a dinner in the village a few times, always trying to come early enough to take advantage of the magnificent sunset.
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Little Corn Island is a paradise for those wishing to enjoy tranquility of the virgin beaches. And that's just what I was looking for. But walk to the Village should you wish to check out 'civilization'. The island is small, everything is in a walking distance. Staying on the east side it took 15 minutes to get across the island to the village. I only visited the village occasionally, in most cases for dinner, and also when I needed to buy water, fruits or snacks.
Normally you will be arriving with a panga boat from Big Corn Island and will be let off at the pier on the south-west side of the island. You'll find a paved sidewalk that runs the length of the village. This is called the 'front side' by islanders and is the centre of most social activity. Locals live, drink, dine and dance in the Village, which is set on a serene harbour sheltered from the north winds. Most restaurants, several hotels and grocery stores, bakery, cyber café with internet and telephone service, and the two dive shops are set in the Village. This is also from where to watch the spectacular sunset.
My original plan after landing on Big Corn Island was to go directly to Little Corn Island. But due to strong winds and rough sea there was no panga boat so I was stuck on Big Corn Island for one day. I decided to take advantage and explore the island by foot. Starting from Brig Bay where my hotel was located, I took the cobbled street that goes through the town and then further south from the airfield. After a 20-30-minute walk I came to South West Bay, named also Picnic Centre. With white sand and turquoise water, it’s the most popular swimming beach. The water is calm and it’s hot as there is no breeze. There is a smattering of restaurants and hotels, and the picnic centre which has thatch cabanas to sit under. Picnic Centre is also a good place to watch the sunset.
Then I followed the path that leads across the island to the windward side, and walked by the sea to the north until I got to Long Bay. Just as pretty, but a bit rougher and with fever services, it’s a long beach with golden sand and coconut trees, excellent for walking. Sometimes there are larger waves and sometimes there are hardly any waves, and there is great snorkeling. If you are looking for a place to swim in absolute tranquility, this is the place for you. There is an island style bar located on Long Bay where they gladly watch your belongings while you swim. I spent two hours relaxing on the beach and had two beers before I returned to town. On the way back I was accompanied by a local guy who was eager to show me around.
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Only a five-minute taxi ride from the airport is Brig Bay which is the main town of Big Corn Island, the 'downtown' area. Typical Caribbean town with a mixed culture (English-speaking Creole population, mainland Nicaraguans and Miskito people from the Caribbean Mosquito coast) and island flavour is actually a group of houses lining the main road. Here you'll find a few hotels, restaurants and shops. There is Internet café and since recently also ATM. Though it often runs out of money so you should plan ahead and bring enough cash with you. The municipal docks are also in Brig Bay with panga boat service to Little Corn Island.
The town is not particularly attractive but you'll find a few nice examples of typical Caribbean architecture. While the swimming in Brig Bay is ok, the best beaches are on Long Bay and Southwest Bay.
Sport fishing in a boat close to shore is definately worth it. We trolled around for 3 hours and got several Barracuda, a Kingfish, Jacks, and Snapper. Also there was a guy catching bonefish right from the dock of the restaurant at Anastasia's on the Sea.
Ebenezer Baptist Church was the nicest church that I saw on this island. It is located north of the main town close to the north side of the island. It is just across the main road from the oceanside. It was orginally founded in 1852 by Reverend Edward Kelly. Religion has a fairly strong influence on the island as I saw a fair amount of grafitti directed at a woman who was pregnant and unwed.
Directly to the east of the town's dock and behind Fisher's Cave there is an area of the ocean that has been closed off from the rest of the water. Considering how most animal exhibits are in developing nations, this one is not that bad. It is an enclosed area that allows fresh ocean water can go back and forth through the walls. You can walk along the walls to get different angles to look at the marine life. When I was there they had barracuda, nurse sharks, turtles and other aquatic creatures. It was a decent size although I wish it was bigger for the nurse sharks. Hopefully it teaches the local kids to enjoy the marine life that surround their island.
I found this to be a rather interesting thing. The Soul of the World is a project where if you were to put a cube inside the Earth, there is only one possiblity where all 8 vertices would break the surface on land. And one of those vertices is on Big Corn Island. The 7 other vertices are the Cocos Islands, Hawaii, Tierra del Fuego, Spain, Botswana, Russia and New Zealand. The creator of this is Rafael Trenor and he started this project in 1988. There is a lot more symbolic meanings to the project than I care to get into but it is something to check out. The area around the Soul of the World is a park but when I was there it was overgrown with weeds and in poor condition. When we orginally went we hiked up to it which was about a 45 minute hike from the main road and the intersection that leads to Quinn Hill. You can also cab it but not all cabs will go up there because the road is rough.
Long Bay is another one of Big Corn Island's beaches. It faces east and is located just west of the area called South End. The water is a little more wavey here than at Picnic Center and is a lot less developed. It is also a very narrow beach but I didn't see anybody else there. It is easy access to here as there is a road running parallel to the beach and is just off the main island road.
On the top of Mount Pleasant (Mount Pleasant is pretty much in the centre of the island) there is a tower in which you can climb that gives you a 360 degree panoramic view of the island. It is well worth the hike up to it. Although they are building what looks like a cell phone tower right next to it and when I was there the area was beat up from the construction, it was still nice. I know of at least two ways to get up there. One is a road that goes up the hill from the road around Casa Canada that leads to a school. Behind the school there are some paths that lead up to it. There is another road that starts near the north side of the airfield that leads up to it. Both ways will take you about a half hour to get up to it.
Picnic Center is a beach on the southern part of the island that faces west. It is a nice swimming beach from what I hear because the water is calm around here. When I was here it mostly empty but we didn't have our swim gear with us. There are some restaurants in the area if you wish to have a bite. To get here take the road that goes south from the airfield and it will be an unpaved road to the left at near the end of the main road.
The main town of Big Corn Island is basically a collection of buildings along the main road wedge between the airfield and the west coast of the island. I don't think it even has a name. This is where you will find most of the hotels, restaurants, shops and the internet cafe. It is by no means a great place but is the place to organize trips and the municipal dock is here. Some parts of it are picturesque while other areas have quite a bit of litter. This is where we spent our nights and had no problems what so ever.
Here's some news from the Corn Islands:
Big Corn Island: PADI Dive courses at Nautilus www.divebigcorn.com. They also have a new custom dive boat.
Music nights every Saturday night at Nautilus restaurant. Locals and visitors all welcom to join the jam session. Really fun!
New Big Corn Island Map & link to weather: www.bigcornisland.com
Internet center / business center called "Island Spring" in North End
Little Corn Island: Police station being built!
New Scuba Dive Shop called Dolphin Dive at Hotel Los Delfines. Sandy, who runs the shop, has been teaching all over from Key West to Asia for the last 20 years. email@example.com
There is internet access at the Rigoberto Cabezas school on North End, next to The Baptist Church. 20 brand new terminals with fast satellite connection. Cost is c$50 per hour. On Little Corn, Internet is c$200 per hour