Travel and Leisure — July 11, 2016 at 5:00 am

Discover Nicaragua’s Corn Islands

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Big Corn Island, Nicaragua.

A secluded hideaway for buccaneers and pirates during the 17th century, the Corn Islands of Nicaragua are today an all but forgotten tropical paradise. Located just fifty miles northeast of Bluefields on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, the two Corn Islands are ideal travel destinations for adventure travelers seeking pristine white sugar sand beaches, lush tropical vegetation, cool breezes, exciting dive sites, serenity, and isolation: all at a surprising low cost.

Underwater Paradise
The sparkling turquoise waters surrounding Big and Little Corn Islands, also known as Las Islas del Maíz, are a mecca for fishermen seeking a trophy-sized catch, snorkelers and scuba divers. Protected by a living barrier reef, the Corn Islands offer a unique ecosystem that supports a healthy habitat for sponges, coral, diverse varieties of tropical fish, barracudas, spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, snapper, dolphins, and green sea turtles.

A diver’s dream, the Corn Islands feature a horseshoe shaped bay replete with crystal clear coves and dramatically shaped underwater caves. Divers find further delight in the many shipwreck remains and sea floor formations available to explore. Experienced destination divers remark that if you haven’t dived in the waters of the reef off the Corn Island, you really haven’t “dived” the Caribbean.

Laid Back Beach Life
If swaying in a hammock, beachcombing, and enjoying spectacular sunsets are part of your dream Caribbean escape, the Corn Islands are an excellent choice. Life in the Corn Islands is simple and serene, in many ways retaining the old magical charm of the Caribbean. The native Creole population live in colorful wooden houses cloaked in flowers and thick vegetation.

If you seek a secluded beach for sunbathing, you will find several isolated coves that provide privacy and serenity. Just be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water, as there are no lifeguards or public services.

Photo from Wikimedia Contributor Jagal

Photo from Wikimedia Contributor Jagal

Cheap and Off the Beaten Path
There are no 5-star restaurants, fancy hotels, glitzy casinos, country clubs, martini bars, tour buses, or t-shirt shops. However, there are a wide array of small hotels, casual cabanas and quaint bed and breakfast accommodations. A rustic beachfront hotel room starts at $10 a night and lunch from a street vendor cost less than $2. Local restaurants and bars delight tourists with scrumptious fresh caught seafood, icy cold local beer and strong rum: all at affordable prices.

Several different airlines service Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. From Managua, La Costena Airlines provides several flights a day to Big Corn Island. Little Corn Island is accessible from Big Corn Island via the panga water taxi. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Little Corn Island, but all areas are accessible on foot.

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