Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Rocking Out on Little Corn Island

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Kate on Little Corn

Despite how long I’ve been traveling, I’ve never actually been to the Caribbean before!

I knew that would change when I planned a trip to Central America — because I knew the Corn Islands would be on my itinerary.

The Corn Islands lie about 43 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. From what I had read, they were blissfully underdeveloped, well-priced, and on the verge of becoming the Next Big Thing. I knew I had to get there before their popularity and prices exploded.

Well, I got there. And this is what you get in Little Corn:

Little Corn IslandYemaya Little Corn IslandLittle Corn Island

Salivating yet?

I came here because I wanted to see a side of the Caribbean that was still a bit undeveloped, away from being a collection of resorts and vacation rentals. Little Corn certainly fits that bill, from its isolation to its rugged interior to its sheer beauty.

I also wanted to visit my friend Rob of Stop Having a Boring Life, who discovered Little Corn a few years ago and has since made it his winter home.

Kate and Rob in Little Corn

(Rob is also responsible for four of the stranger nights out I’ve had — in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Zagreb, and Dubrovnik, respectively. We may have added Little Corn to the list.)

“How many other bloggers have visited you since you’ve been here?” I asked Rob.

“Just one guy a few days ago and you,” he replied.

“SERIOUSLY?” And then I realized — the tourism industry isn’t very developed in Central America, and that’s something that keeps many travel bloggers away.

Path to Yemaya

Taking the path from Yemaya Resort (more on Yemaya below) to the center of the island was a twenty-minute walk down dirt paths. It shows you how rugged the island is.

Little Corn Island

I loved all the Caribbean color!

Little Corn Island

Despite having a population of around 1,200, Little Corn is home to several churches.

The Corn Islands have a very different ambiance from the rest of Nicaragua that I saw. The people here speak a combination of English, Miskito, and Spanish, and while the islanders were once largely descended from freed slaves and British, the mestizo (mixed race Spanish and indigenous) population from the coast has a greater presence there these days.

Rob's house, Little Corn Island

Rob has bought two plots of land on Little Corn and he’s building a house on one of them. Every item is brought to Little Corn by boat and carried up the path via wheelbarrow.

Starfruit tree, Little Corn Island

I actually spent an afternoon chilling out beneath a starfruit tree in Rob’s neighbor’s yard. Never thought I’d do that in my life.

Flor de Cana, Little Corn Island

No matter which island I’m visiting, I love island people — both island natives and the people who choose to move there. The former are beautifully languid, friendly, and relaxed; the latter the kind of people who could offer you shots of Flor de Caña served out of a coconut shell.

Little Corn Island

We walked to a remote stretch of beaches and found an abandoned boat being reclaimed by the woods.

Little Corn Island

I’m fairly sure that was an outhouse.

Little Corn Island

The outhouse from a much-further-back angle. The views from the water are excellent!

Little Corn Island

These bottles decorated farms and gardens on the island’s south end, much more developed than the north.

Little Corn Island

This was perhaps my favorite viewpoint on the island — looking over the cliffs on the south end at sunset.

Little Corn Island

Where I Stayed: Yemaya Island Hideaway

Months ago, I worked on a campaign for Yemaya Island Hideaway on Little Corn Island. We got to know each other online and when I mentioned I was coming to Central America, they offered to host me for a few days. Since I was coming to Little Corn Island no matter what, I happily accepted. I made the decision to accept very few comps from now on, and this would be my only comp for my time in Central America.

Little Corn is tiny and Yemaya is the sole luxury property on the island. It’s located on the northern end of the island, a good twenty-minute walk from the center of the island. It’s a bit isolated, but the locals I met universally told me that Yemaya has the best beaches on the island.

Little Corn Island

I don’t disagree. They really were the best!

Being on the north end sets you up for some nice beach sunsets, too:

Yemaya Little Corn Island Sunset

First of all, the grounds:

Yemaya Little Corn IslandYemaya Little Corn IslandYemaya Little Corn Island Sunset

Yemaya consists of several eco-friendly cabanas and buildings built into the natural landscape. It all blends beautifully, and naturally.

One of my favorite things was walking on the grass — the grass on Little Corn is bouncy and spongy!

The accommodation:

Yemaya Little Corn IslandYemaya Little Corn Island Yemaya Little Corn Island

All the guests at Yemaya have their own cabanas.

The rooms had incredibly comfortable beds (mine had both a queen and a single), huge fluffy pillows, and HOT SHOWERS! This is one of few places in Central America where I had a hot shower!

The food:

Yemaya Breakfast

Every meal was fantastic, from the first breakfast with coffee and a view.

Yemaya Ceviche

Ceviche. My favorite Central American staple and something I try to eat as much as possible. That’s a huge serving, by the way.

Yemaya Lobster Curry

From reading Rob’s blog, I knew that Little Corn was drenched with lobster. One of my favorite dishes was a lobster and hearts of palm green curry.

They also made a lobster dip that rocked my world…

Yemaya Smoothie

But the best part? THE SMOOTHIES. Oh my GOD, the smoothies. Yemaya had some of the best smoothies and juices I’ve ever had in my life.

The best smoothie? The Energizer, with pineapple, banana, pistachios, coconut, mint, and basil. Dangerously delicious.

Yemaya Smoothies

Yemaya’s wifi, only in the dining/common area, is intermittent and you should plan on having zero access. I found it tended to work when nobody else was using it and the weather was clear. Most of the time it didn’t work.

The activities:

Yemaya Spa Treatment

Yemaya is famous for its wellness programs — yoga and spa. There are daily free yoga classes that anyone can join (including a gentle class appropriate for all levels) and private yoga instruction is available.

As for me, I went for the most unusual spa treatment I could find — a chocolate scrub. It was awesome. I smelled like a Lindt factory for the next three days.

It’s also worth mentioning that the staff here is fantastic — everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful and the dining room staff address you by name for your whole stay. I loved that!

Yemaya also offers escorts that will walk you back to the resort from town at night. While I felt very safe on Little Corn, I wouldn’t walk back to Yemaya alone at night — the path is long and rough and dark and I wouldn’t want to walk it alone at night anywhere in the world.

Yemaya Little Corn Island

So is Yemaya for you?

It might be, but it’s not for everyone.

If you’re coming to Little Corn Island to recharge, disconnect, do yoga, get some spa treatments, enjoy luxury amenities (including hot showers), and spend your days either relaxing on the beach or being active on the water, and maybe spend one night in town, Yemaya is the perfect choice for you.

If you’re coming to Little Corn Island to socialize, bar-hop (well, there are about three bars on the island), be in the middle of the action, have decent internet or 3G, and if you’re on a budget in the least, Yemaya isn’t the best choice for you.

As for me, I really loved my stay and I’d love to stay there again, especially if I had someone to share it with. I loved waking up in the morning, going for a swim in the Caribbean Sea, having a tomato basil omelet and smoothie, then relaxing and reading on the beach.

Yemaya Little Corn Island

Should You Go to Little Corn Island?

I am definitely placing Little Corn on my “go now” list — it is changing so quickly and it’s not going to be this low-key for long. It’s such a small place that I predict prices will balloon any day now, and I worry to think that it won’t be as special the next time I come.

My island friends have been telling me that more and more pangas (small boats) have been arriving from Big Corn each day. That’s pretty much saying where things are going. The word is out. Come here and come here soon.

Still, know that Little Corn is a very remote place. It’s a challenge to get to, the wifi is extremely limited, and I don’t want to think about what would happen if you got seriously injured here. That is enough to keep people away, but I promise you that if you decide to come here, you’ll be very glad you did.

I loved it here. It has been one of the biggest highlights of Central America so far and I know I’ll be back!

Essential Info: To get to the Corn Islands, take a flight from Managua to Big Corn Island on La Costeña Airlines. Round-trip flights cost $182 USD including taxes. From Big Corn, take a panga (small boat) to Little Corn for 130 cordobas ($5 USD). Pangas run twice per day. Wrap up your electronics in a dry bag; it gets wet!

Yemaya offers private panga transfers that take you directly to the property; you should use this option if you have bulky luggage as it’s a long walk down rough paths otherwise.

Yemaya’s rates start at $350 per night in low season (May 2-Dec 15), $400 per night in high season (Jan 11-May 1), and $450 in peak season (Dec 16-Jan 10). Guests must be age 12 and older.

The main bar in Little Corn is Tranquilo Cafe. You’ll find a host of characters there, as well as decent wifi and great ribs. It’s a chill hangout by day but really gets going at night.

I later spent time on Big Corn Island and did not like it at all. It felt empty, I got street harassed constantly, and I found very little to do. The one good beach I found was full of sandflies. Next time, I’m going to time my flights so I can go direct from Little Corn to the airport and avoid spending time on Big Corn.

Many thanks to Yemaya Island Hideaway for hosting me at their resort, which included four nights’ accommodation, food and beverages, a spa treatment, and round-trip panga transfers from Big Corn. Everything else, including airfare, I paid for out of pocket. All opinions, as always, are my own.Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Comments

81 Responses to “Rocking Out on Little Corn Island”
  1. The views look amazing! I don’t know when I will ever get to Nicaragua, but when I do, it would be awesome to visit his hideaway and the Little Corn island!

  2. It appears as though you did not hate Little Corn Island. Yemaya absolutely looks like it’s for me — very similar to Ti Kaye, a resort where we stayed in St. Lucia for our honeymoon (with a splurge cab ride to Ladera for dinner, a hotel with amazing views that’s on all of the “top places to see before you die” lists these days). I haven’t been back to a place like that since, but now you’ve given me the urge once again! Oh, and I 100% agree with you about island people.

  3. ~Heather~ says:

    Hello! I just discovered your blog yesterday thanks to Harper’s Bazaar. I can’t stop reading it. I’ve been looking for a good travel blog for a long time now, and your blog is EXACTLY what I have been looking for!

    I’m 40, and I’ve been hoping to do more traveling in my free time. Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me introducing me to places that I may have never considered travelling to, much less places that I have never even heard of! It’s brillant!

    Your pictures are fantastic, your reviews are amazing and I truly appreciate the “essential info” at the end of your blogs. It really brings to light that travelling is affordable when I see the prices you have listed and your travel tips.

    I just wanted to say thank you for opening my eyes to a different way to travel! I wish you all the best and I look forward to your future blogs!

    Happy travels!
    ~Heather~

    • Heather, welcome! I’m so glad you’re here (and so glad Harper’s Bazaar brought you here!). I hope you’re able to do some more traveling to places that never occurred to you before!

  4. Kate, I’m so jealous, Little Corn looks gorgeous! I love off the beaten track places and wow, little corn delivers! Looks like a great place to recharge and disconnect.

  5. Little Corn looks like paradise! I would adore a chocolate treatment like that, and those smoothies, yum! Rob is a lucky guy to live there 🙂

  6. Debby says:

    Beautiful, fell in love with it! Such a coincident haha, I also published an article on the island this week. I stayed with the neighbours at Dobedos and absolutely loved Yemaya’s view. About that little ‘outhouse’, no idea what that is. I do have pictures of the guys that were building it :’D

  7. Ashley says:

    Little Corn looks stunning, and it definitely seems worth the extra effort to visit! And that energizer smoothie sounds so delicious- I think I need to attempt to make it!

  8. very grateful for this post — i’ve been looking into beach vacations that are a little underdeveloped, non-all-inclusive-luxury-resort, non-isolated rich white people bubbles. i’m not really a beach person myself but my sweetheart is, so i’m trying to find us a compromise place that has enough beach/luxury for him and enough tiny town/locals/culture for me. i think little corn may have hit the nail on the head! many thanks for sharing!

    michelle marie
    http://www.wherewevegone.com

  9. Diana says:

    It looks amazing out there!! Sigh!
    http://dianaratemo.com

  10. Amanda says:

    Those beaches look AMAZING! I’ll definitely be keeping Little Corn (and that gorgeous resort) in mind! Really need to spend more time in Central America.

  11. Emily says:

    We were in Little Corn a few months ago – an absolute highlight of our trip to Nicaragua. Would recommend that everybody make the effort to go if they’re passing through Central America, but then it probably wouldn’t stay so beautiful!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi, where did you stay in little corn island? I’m trying to figure that out now. Thanks!! Yemaya is a bit too $$$ for our family of 5.

  12. Kaile says:

    I really like how you talk specifically about your personal experience! It really helped me visualize what it would be like. I also like that you included lots of pictures within your article, it helped me learn what the island actually looks like rather that just imagining it.

  13. Megan says:

    I just spent a week on Little Corn at the end of February and beginning of March, and absolutely loved it! It was such a nice little island!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi, where did you stay? I’m trying to find a place for our family of 5. Derek’s place has availability but the reviews are quite mixed.

  14. Oh man, Tom and I had vague plans to make it to Little Corn island this Spring, and these photos are almost making me regret that we decided to stay in Mexico instead!

  15. I love Nicaragua! Such a hidden gem. Little Corn Island reminds me of Caye Caulker in Belize. I’m sure in a few years in definitely be a quite more touristy like Caye Caulker.

  16. Lauren says:

    I’d never even heard of this pocket of the Caribbean until now. I’ve only ever been to Barbados and, although it is crazily beautiful, it is catered purely to tourists. I love the Caribbean lifestyle and it seems like you get it in heaps here!

  17. oh, my. gosh. that scenery is AMAZING. As a person who is addicted to the turquoise blue/clear water beaches of the world, it’s hard to believe I’ve never been to the Caribbean, but i REALLY need to – and need to add Little Corn to my list!! Incredible. How amazing that your friend is building a house there!
    Jessica
    http://www.thebellevoyage.com

  18. Looks dangerously lovely Kate! I’ve only ever been to the Caribbean once, and I haven’t been to the Americas at all. I have absolutely no idea why!

    However, for a few days, the island would be lovely and the best thing about it. The hot showers! I really can’t stand cold water LOL!

    • You know, it’s funny how quickly you get used to cold showers! They’re more room-temp than cold, though. Very welcome in hot places like Nicaragua and El Salvador. Thankfully we had hot showers in the chillier parts of Guatemala and Costa Rica.

  19. Anna says:

    Yikes, pricey! But really looks like a little slice of – very uncrowded – heaven.

  20. Erica Ortiz says:

    Breath taking! Would love to recharge here.

  21. The photos are inviting! The ideal getaway if you want to disconnect from the world… err… the internet. 😛

  22. Ah, I can’t believe I missed this when I visited Nicaragua. It looks so amazing!

  23. Nadeen says:

    great info and it looks beautiful! And the lobster! Yum! I am an island girl by way of Jamaican but have never heard of these islands so thank you!

  24. ashley says:

    That wasn’t an outhouse. It’s a windmill that powers Farm Peach and Love. It was built by Bing, an islander.

  25. Trevor Barre says:

    wow – one very comprehensive and interesting post, thanks (and one more to add to the list!

  26. Out of my price range but beautiful. I will definitely be visiting Little Corn when I am back in Nicaragua – I didn’t have enough time last time

  27. Pauline says:

    It looks beautiful, is there any other good options for accommodation? Is there anything for around 15-20 Dollar for a night? I know you said not for a budget, is there an option?

    Im in Buenos Aires now, but trying to find were to go next in south and central america…

  28. Alex says:

    I’m sure theres much more to the story then told here! Looks awesome can’t wait to see it one day.

  29. Little Corn has been on my travel wishlist for several years now. When we go we definitely have to stay at Yemaya, how gorgeous! This is the 3rd year we’ve talked about going to Nicaragua, sounds like we shouldn’t put it off much longer.

  30. Tana says:

    This looks beautiful! I love travelling in the Caribbean. Do you happen to know (or did you hear while you were there) how the scuba diving is? Were the bugs bad?

    Thanks for writing! I really enjoy reading about your travels.

    • The scuba diving and snorkeling in Little Corn is EXCELLENT. Really, really good. And while there were some flies, I didn’t find it to be as much of a problem as in some places in Guatemala.

  31. Zascha says:

    Well, I know where I’m gonna move to now! 🙂

  32. Little Corn looks beautiful! I’ve definitely heard a lot lately about how its “the next big thing.” I’m planning to spend some time in Central America soon, and really excited to see what the culture there is like. You’re right about the fact that its not really on the typical tourist trail for some reason. South America seems to be much more popular, even though its further away from many places (like the US).

  33. Brooke says:

    Wonderful to learn about a small treasure tucked and hidden away in Central America. I’ve been drawn to Central America since it hasn’t been developed by tourism yet. I think we definitely need to have those untouched and untapped places in the world.

  34. kara says:

    Great post. I am actually Rob’s land neighbor on one of the properties, the one on the hill. we haven’t started building yet, but I dream every day about it. We have been traveling to little corn island for the past 5 years and it is still our favorite place on this earth so far.

  35. William says:

    Looks awesome! I’ve always wanted to go to that part of the world.. One day 🙂

  36. Beautiful! It looks like a tropical paradise! I’m currently in Thailand, heading to the islands in a few days… cannot wait to sit back and enjoy views like this!

    the-living-spree.blogspot.co.nz

  37. Wow, beautiful photos, and it sounds super relaxing! I’m making my way down into Central America from Mexico now and will also be looking for some of the more underdeveloped places like this along the Caribbean. I’ll certainly add it to my list!

  38. Sofia says:

    I think a very nice smoothie could really make a huge difference.. every place is beautiful, I just mostly choose whose got the best smoothies! haha shallow, I know.
    Great shots, by the way!

  39. Brian says:

    Is Ceviche really as great as you say it is? It looks like a hard dish to judge by its cover.

  40. Amy says:

    Little Corn sounds lovely! Sad that it’s changing so fast, I doubt I’ll even come close to making it over there before the impending ‘boom’ but definitely on my ‘to visit’ list now! 🙂

  41. Allison Thomasson says:

    We took our kids to Little Corn in December 2013 and it was absolutely amazing! You can find other places to stay for 60-100 US there is no warm water but it is super hot there you actually love having a nice cold shower at the end of the day. For such a little island the food was absolutely amazing in most places and don’t forget to try the coconut bread (we would go back just for the bread). The locals are all super friendly. I hope Little Corn doesn’t get to touristy it is great the way it is, a wonderful place to relax and unwind. Nicaragua is an amazing place to vacation we spent a month there and also did the Pacific Coast in San Juan Del Sur amazing if you like to surf!!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi, where did you stay? We’re a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 teens). I’m finding it difficult to nail down a place. So far hotel los delfines & deteks place have space.

  42. Brenna says:

    I love Little Corn! Unfortunately, when I was there, it rained for the entire week. I can only imagine how amazing it is in the sunshine. Despite the weather, I still had an awesome time… glad you did, too!

    • It actually rained one day I was there — it stormed really hard, actually. So glad it cleared up the next day, and it was a good reminder to book several days there in case one is bad!

  43. That is great! Interesting place 🙂

  44. Aaron says:

    Amazing photos, it looks like a beautiful lost little island that nobody knows about.

  45. Deserae says:

    Wow. This place is so beautiful! I also love the idea of the basil in the smoothie, what an unexpected combo.

  46. Awesome place!
    For sure I want to go visit this place, is wonderful!
    I liked the tips too.

  47. Renata says:

    Kate, I am going to Nicaragua on May 2nd for work. Flying into Managua from Washington DC then staying in Masaya for work until May 6th evening. With work, we will have group activtites that involve a tour of Masaya volcano and Granada. I am staying in Nicaragua until May 10th flying back to the US from Masaya. What would you recommend me to do during the 3 days off? I am a female and will stay there on my own so def. safety is a number 1 concern. Also, I am not the most athletic type of person so hiking volcanos might not be the best activity for me. Would be best to go to Costa Rica? Let me know your thoughts.

    • Renata says:

      Correction: I will fly back to the US from Managua

    • If you’ve got three spare days, I highly recommend two places: Ometepe or San Juan del Sur. I love Little Corn, but it’s a bit far for three days once you factor in how long it takes to get there. I’ve written posts on both destinations; I bet you’d love both!

  48. Nessa says:

    Me encanta Corn Islands, my family is from Nicaragua and we use to go to Corn Islands a lot. Gosh I haven’t been there in a while, seeing your pictures makes me miss it back out there! But it makes me feel proud and just amazing that you were able to go out there and enjoy the beauty!

  49. Sharon says:

    What a beautiful place! Are you aware of any rules against beach camping? I am planning a backpacking trip and would love to stay on the beach here for a couple days

  50. Rose says:

    Little Corn is literally heaven on earth – so jealous that you stayed at Yemaya it looked incredible, when i visited it was on a backpackers budget – for a low-cost way on how to see this Caribbean gem check out my blog! xx

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