Winter sun away from the crowds on Little Corn Island

by rwicks

Pack your suncream for the Nicaraguan secret - Little Corn Island. A paradise relatively untouched by tourism and technology, it is definitely worth the bumpy trip there!

If you can endure the bumpy ride from Managua, through occasionally stormy skies on a plane the size of your average car, and then an even bumpier speed boat (panga) from the island of Big Corn, you’re half way to this semi-secret paradise. Big Corn’s baby sister, Little Corn, is a 3km long island in the Caribbean Sea with less than a thousand residents and wheelbarrows in the place of cars. Casa Iguana, on the windier side of the island is regularly hailed as the friendliest place to stay.

Don't forget your torch

Winding our way through jungle paths towards a row of casitas overlooking the sea, our host from Casa Iguana, Betsy chats. “I hope you brought your flashlight!” She points out the only two places en route to the lodge from “town” that offer light on the walk home at night. Bring plenty of batteries if you’re staying a while. She continues, “Dinner is at seven if you’re eating with us. We all sit down together, and if you’re not there and haven’t told us before, you’ll be billed for your food.” She doesn’t mean to be harsh. Casa Iguana cooks fresh each day and the fisherman catch to order.

Some of the best diving in the world

If you’re PADI qualified, you can join the young and energetic team down at the Little Corn Dive Shack in exploring one of many stunning coral reefs in the surrounding blue waters. Nurse and reef sharks, puffer fish and turtles are common sightings. Don’t miss John’s Garden – a beautiful field of purple and orange coral named after the man who discovered it and first set up the dive shack in 2000.

Escape from technology

BlackBerry and Facebook addicts don’t belong here. There’s one Internet shack on Little Corn, next to Dephine’s and above the only other dive shack, Dolphin Dive. “The guy keeps saying he’s coming to fix it,” were the words accompanying the shrug when asked when it would be working. Phone reception is decent on one side of the island (the opposite side to Casa Iguana) but don’t plan any important calls. In general, the people here don’t make many plans, and neither do its sun-loving visitors. Best times to visit are August through to February, with many people choosing Christmas as the perfect chance to catch those island rays.

Beautifully basic

Our casita was basic, with an outdoor shower running from a tank and a bed constructed from what looked like a giant table, with a mattress on top. It was levelled with the mesh-covered window, so lying there at night you could hear the waves breaking almost beneath you, or watch fork lightning blaze a vertically striped firework display across the sky. And if you’re ever in doubt that nature reigns supreme on Little Corn, just ask the plastic looking lizards, clinging to your ceiling.

Get your canine guide

Need a guide as you explore the island? The dogs on Little Corn are something special. Each automatically assigns itself to a new visitor, sleeps within barking distance of your casita and follows you around the island. Our canine guide was a mongrel named Bushman who has, according to Betsy, saved a tourist from a vicious boa constrictor and miraculously shown up when she’s needed a walk home in the dark, on many occasions. Feed yours a leftover lobster tail or steak tip and he’ll be yours forever; or at least until you hop back on that panga and it’s time for him to follow someone else.

How to get a free (or very cheap) dinner

Fisherman Chris, who moved from Hawaii and makes a healthy living pulling Mahi Mahi and Barracuda from the water for the local restaurants will take you out on his boat for three hours ($50) and you’ll get to eat your catch the next night at Casa Iguana, for free! Elsewhere at spots like the Lobster Inn, Elsie's and Delphine’s, seafood is abundant and excellent (a lobster dinner will set you back on average $8 USD). Mango Pizza offers delicious takeaway options, if you just can’t take any more fish.

Tie the knot

Love it so much, you want to get married there? Casa Iguana will gladly help you out in their own, personal way. With room for 50 guests and a view to die for, Little Corn is a dream wedding, honeymoon and holiday destination.