Places, Posts

Corn Islands: My Taste of the Caribbean Coast

29In April of 2010, I visited the breathtaking Corn Islands. It was a slice of the Caribbean life that I will never forget.

The Corn Islands, aka Las Islas del Maíz,  are two islands about 43 miles east off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. The Corn Islands were colonized by the British from 1655 until 1894. During this period, they were called the Miskito Coast. Miskito or Mosquito was a term that came up many times from my conversations with the locals especially when asked them about the different dialects they use. Given the long British colonization, it was not difficult to talk to the locals as most of them speak English. Pretty good, actually! They also speak Spanish, which is probably because of those who came from Nicaragua and lived there when the Nicaraguan government claimed the area in 1894 after the British protectorate.

The two islands are called Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island.

To get to the Big Corn Island, you have to fly via La Costeña from Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city.  It is the only way you can reach Big Corn Island. As far as I can remember, we reserved a little less than $200 for the round trip tickets and other fees. I tried their website as I am writing this to check how much the trip would cost now. It gave me $182.22. Sounds just about right. Just reserve extra for any terminal fees that you might need to pay. You may check their website for more details.

The aircraft can seat about 9-12 passengers. And yes, it was a bumpy ride! It was something I was warned about. Some even discouraged me. But hey, this ride was one of the many things I loved about this trip.  There was only one known disaster for La Costeña at the time of my flight. I was not sure if I could consider that good or bad news. Nevertheless, it was fun.


Our flight passed by Bluefields, another beautiful city on the Carribean coast of Nicaragua, to drop off some passengers. Here’s a photo I took just before we landed on it.


Upon landing Big Corn Island, we immediately met up with our homestay contact. Lucky to have been connected to a very nice host family by a good friend. Look at how cozy and homey it was.


The accommodation came with free breakfast, neat bedrooms, a nice backyard with fresh air and a view and sound of coconut trees around, a car, a very nice driver, and a great view of the sea just a few steps away the front door.




An hour after settling down, we immediately went around to see the nearby coastline. We passed by the historical small pyramid at the top of Quinn Hill. It is one of the eight sites around the world. Others include: Cocos Islands (Australia), and their antipode, Kalahari Desert (Botswana) and the Hawaiian Islands (USA) Tierra del Fuego (Argentina or Chile) and Lake Baikal (Buryat Republic) Galicia (Spain or Portugal) and the South Island of New Zealand.


At night, we went a little uphill to a nice restaurant overlooking the sea. Drinks, food, friends, and the sea – this combo always works.


Meet Harry, our driver and awesome tour guide. He’s a Manny Pacquiao fan and so are a lot of the male locals I met. Harry is also a very good dancer. He gave me all the courage I needed for that spotlight on the dance floor. When you come to Big Corn Island and you want to enjoy the night life, you gotta try the so-called “sexy dance”. I wasn’t spared from that. Thanks to cheering friends who gave me all the courage that booze can’t offer.


My spotlight did not end there. Just when I thought I was wearing the proper attire, I mean, what could go wrong with this attire… white beach pajamas, red halter…


I later found out we are going to a bar with black lights. So as I was going crazy on the dance floor, I was, also,  glowing in the dark. You can’t miss me. Am like a shining beacon of light going bananas! Ha! Note to self: People will forget. They wouldn’t even know it’s me. I will leave in a few days.

Night life in Big Corn Island is as laid back as its island. It’s a small community and people know everyone. It was very obvious that I was not from there (the glowing white was a giveaway). The look is probably the weirdest a traveler could get but everyone seemed nice. We got a chance to mingle with some of them. Them referring to Harry’s friends and relatives.

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After the dancing and drinking, we went for a joyride with loud music and moving a little bit fast and furious, too. Ha! To sing your heart out while on a fast moving sunroof car on a strange place can be liberating.

Corn Island 098

We had some interesting stops along the way.

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We almost ran over this crab. They are everywhere.
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A lot of the bars along this strip of Big Corn Island are actually fish or lobster storage during day time.

Time flies when you’re having fun. We didn’t notice that we were already way past the gate hours. We did not have a choice but to … shhh.


Now fast forward to a more appropriate scene.

When you have already reached the Big Corn Island, there is no reason not to take the tour to Little Corn Island. We did not let the chance pass us by. It is about 10 miles of sea travel. We went to the Municipal Wharf in Brig Bay and got on a water taxi, which took us about more than an hour. They say that this travel can be challenging due to the raging waves. There were times when trips are cancelled to ensure safety. We were blessed to have gone on a perfect weather.


Once your eyes meet the beautiful coastline, you will instantly forget the travel time and the shaky ride that got you there. Little Corn is such a small island that, they say, you could walk around the coastline for two hours. There are no cars or bikes. You walk and that’s what makes it even more beautiful.


The serenity, beauty, and innocence of the island are insanely captivating. As I write this, I realize that I am not sure If I really knew where I was at the time that I was there. I am not sure if I had thought or felt what I am suppose to think or feel on that island.


It’s an off the beaten track escape. All you hear are the sea, the air, the people and the simple life they have created for themselves. Food is good, too. A bit more expensive for obvious reasons. Almost everyone I got to talk to  speak English. Tourists are everywhere and are all willing to share a story and a smile.

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Corn Island 120

Do not underestimate this island’s naive look. It offers great water adventures such as diving (what it is famous for), snorkeling, fly fishing,  and more. For those who just want to enjoy the peace and quiet or are staying for only half a day, like us, there are a lot of restaurants to choose from. You can also hire locals who can braid your hair for you to complete your island look. This gives them a chance to earn and you a chance to talk to them.


One day is not enough but it was all we ever had.

As we went back to Big Corn Island to eventually go back to Managua, I knew I was coming back a different person. In what way? I don’t know exactly. I guess that’s what happens to anyone after a travel. Islands like these two (Big and Little) scare me. It does in a way that it can control and consume me. It was as if I could leave everything behind for it. It’s one of those things that you purposely stay away from just to gain control. Something you know you’re losing.

I couldn’t resist your beach, sand, sunset,  sound, waves, and the serenity that goes with all of them.

You had me at the first plate you offered me. I mean who needs more? We only need what we need on our plate.
 You lured me into sitting down to take time and take things a little slower and feel right about it.
 You made me fall for your naive ways.
Angeline, the little girl who calls me Little Girl.
 Leaving Corn Island is like letting an opportunity pass you by. It’s like it was meant for you but just not yet. It was like I was leaving only because I had no choice but to leave – I have a flight to catch, I have a job to show up to, and my friends can’t leave me there. There is no certainty that I will ever get to come back. So for now, am grateful that it was once my home. Mine.
Note: I first posted about Corn Island on my other blog
September 2010

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