The Caribbean coast’s biggest tourist draw is actually 70km offshore on a pair of enchanting islands with horseshoe bays, crystalline coves and underwater caves. Great Corn is larger and peopled by a Creole population that lives in colorful wooden houses, many of which are sprinkled along the main road that encircles the island. And though tourism is the second-largest industry, behind lobster fishing, you won’t see mega-developments here. Little Corn, a tiny, jungled, car-less jewel, actually attracts more tourists, with most visitors heading for funky, creative beachside cabañas that are the perfect setting for Robinson Crusoe 2.0. The dive sites are more diverse on Little Corn, the jungle is thick and the food is outrageously good, which explains why so many ignore the larger island and indulge in car-free tranquility. But there is a catch. During high season there can be more foreigners than locals.
Colonised by the British, the vibe is more Caribbean than Latin, and no one is ever in a rush. North of here lie the seldom-visited Miskito Cays and to the east you’ll hit San Andrés Island.
While it’s possible to take a twice-weekly boat to Big Corn from the remote mainland town of Bluefields, it’s much easier to opt for the 1.5-hr flight from the capital Managua. Take a taxi to the dock, where a boat timed to meet the plane ferries passengers to Little Corn (around 45mins).
Smaller and more scenic than its neighbour, Little Corn is the place to bunk down. The most idyllic lodgings are scattered along the eastern shore, ranging from simple shacks like Elsa’s to more comfortable digs like Little Corn Beach and Bungalow (littlecornbb.com). Little Corn’s first luxury resort, Yemaya (littlecornbb.com), recently opened on the north coast.
There’s great diving and snorkeling, and you won’t return from a fishing trip empty handed. There’s not much else to do but swing in a hammock and gorge on fresh seafood, which suits most visitors just fine.