This week my pal Jackie from over at Jackie Travels takes us to the Corn Islands located off of Nicaragua’s coast in the Caribbean. So why exactly did she find this part of the world so enchanting?
Where did you go?
I visited both of the Corn Islands but spent most of my time on Little Corn. A lot of people skip Big Corn altogether because Little C is much more quaint, quiet, and relaxing. I spent a week there and only a night on Big Corn.
How did you learn about this place, and why did you want to visit?
When I was planning this trip and mentioned I was headed towards Nicaragua, everyone told me that I would be insane to skip the Corn Islands. I didn’t do any research beforehand and so only knew what people had told me – that the beaches were perfect, that the little island didn’t allow cars, and that everyone spent the majority of their time diving, fishing, or snorkeling.
Can you tell us about your experiences there?
I stayed in a hostel owned by Randy, a large man with gold teeth and a heavy accent. We only had electricity for a few hours each evening, and water was provided from a well in the courtyard. I didn’t wear shoes around the island the entire time I stayed there. There are no banks or ATMs, no hospitals, no stores bigger than a single room. It would rain in ten-minute intervals a few times each afternoon and early in the morning.
We usually had one meal a day at the same café in town – the only place to get wifi – and would stay there until my laptop ran out of battery. We bought fresh coconut bread from some guy who lived in the pink house next to our hostel. Every house is like that – either pink or purple or yellow.
On the day we ventured across to the other side of the island, we spent about two hours trekking through muddy paths until it got dark, not another person in sight, trying to hold each other up and avoid stepping on rocks as we used my iPhone for light. All of the locals are very friendly and will, without fail, say hello as you pass by, with a quiet “baby” added at the end if you happen to be female and walking alone.
Apparently there are about five families who run the entire island – and it seems like there are only one or two hundred people that live here full time (although according to a guy we met on a cargo ship on our way back from the island, there are about 1000).
What are some things we can try there?
I am not personally a diver, as I fear the ocean, but apparently the island is great for it and you can get your certification pretty cheap. I did venture out of my comfort zone enough to go snorkeling (I lead an extreme life.) and I will admit it was pretty cool, probably because the instructor held my hand the whole time and gave me a sand dollar as a reward for not crying (too much). Fresh fish is available at any time of day from any restaurant and it is amazing, so eat it. The coconut bread is famous and rightly so – I want to eat it and only it for the rest of my life.
What makes it stand out from other places you’ve been to?
The no-cars thing is pretty different. Honestly, this island probably stood out for me a lot more than it would have for other travelers who’ve covered more ground. I’ve only ever traveled throughout Europe (and once to Israel), so this entire region of the world has been completely different from any other place I’ve seen. Every single thing here – the way the people talk, the fruit and fish, the tropical weather – is new and exciting for me. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who’s already covered tropical ground, but I also can’t imagine that there are too many places in the world like this little island. It feels so far away from everything else.