About 4 cubic kms of tropical island with no roads and no motorised vehicles, only a happy laid back pace and smiling relaxed vibes emanating from people while they make their way from here to there. The warm creole caribbean vibe one conjures up when smelling delicious coconut fish stew or wafting marijuana is what this island has been built on, also known as pure love mon.
December is considered high season in Central America, so when October came to a close and we still hadn’t booked our holiday period plans we started to feel the pressure. We’d heard from a few people the “Corn Islands” were their favourite place in the entire sub continent, so when we looked at a map and calculated our progress we decided that would be the perfect place to stop for a couple of weeks to avoid buses and bookings over the silly season. Big Corn is some peoples favourite island, but the draw of no cars or traffic noise had us headed straight for Little Corn.
There are a couple of ways to get to the islands, one is to fly from Managua straight to Big Corn, then take the infamous panga to Little Corn. The other one is a 24 hour journey including a chicken bus from Managua, 3 unreliable boats and is reported to be a nightmare. Because we were on the final leg with Sam and Shayna (our amazing travelling family) we decided to save the time and hassle and pay the extra for the flights to enjoy our time together more.
Getting the “Panga” from Big Corn to Little Corn needs a mention here, it was friggen CRAZY! We arrived on the 1st day it had been running after 3 days of seas too high to sail. Well. It was 45 minutes of madness. The waves were so big the horizon kept getting swallowed, so there went my sea sickness trick of eyes out to the level spot! Luckily the adrenaline kept the vomit down, and Shayna kept me laughing hysterically with her cries of “Ohhh Jesus” “Here it comes” whenever an especially giant wave would look like it was going to capsize us. Who needs theme-park rides? Arriving on the island after that was such a relief, the boat pulled up to the dock and the sun was shining like I’d never seen it shine before. We were all so eager to get away from the boat that when we saw the man holding a sign with our names on it we all just numbly followed… Momentarily forgetting to collect our backpacks!
The flights to Big Corn had set us back $200usd return each ($300aus at the time of writing) so we thought we’d better look for some budget accomodation. Luckily we struck the jackpot on that front when we found a little hotel called Three Brothers. We each had a huge private room with private bathroom and a little patio for $25usd per night and the place is owned by a complete legend of a man called Randy Rigby. He is a giant local guy with a rumbling creole accent who knows what hospitality is all about. He even gave us a 10% discount for staying 2 weeks and the hotel was always sparkling clean with a big kitchen and a great social area for making friends with like minded souls.
The island itself is not very big and everything is absolutely walkable. However, by the end we had made lots of friends from all over the island, and some had a nightmare of a time getting back to their respective hotels along slippery tracks in the dark after the party shut down. We heard of two people slipping and breaking ankles and if you don’t have a torch you can forget it. Unfortunately it rained every day we were there accept one. Luckily the showers are sporadic but boy are they heavy! So the paths really didn’t have a chance to dry out and you could tell the people who were staying on other parts of the island by their mud stained legs.
So, what to do on a tiny little island over the most fun filled time of the year? Well believe it or not there are actually a handful of great little bars and restaurants that really get going at night. We were treated to fantastic live music most nights which consisted of the soul filled sounds of the beautiful Chapman Family and Duane Forrest which were rotated between Tranquilo, Desideri and Lighthouse. So much dancing and laughing goes on when kindred spirits reconnect!
We also booked a fishing and ron don tour with Randy Rigby which turned into a scene from survivor! The winds were howling and the rain was coming at us sideways but we persevered drinking and dancing and warming up in the ocean when the weather got too unbearable. The best part of the day was definitely the steaming hot ron don warming our bellies. What? Or who is Ron Don you ask? Well it’s a delicious coconut stew boiled for hours and served hot. Needless to say the seas were too rough for much fishing and the currents were too crazy for much snorkelling but a fun day was had due to the energy of the sparkling shimmering friends who were all present to warm each other.
Some days we had actual plans but mostly we just spent our days reading in hammocks or wandering the island, machete in hand, searching for coconuts to spike with the delicious Flor de Caña Nicaraguan rum! There is some kind of a magic about Little Corn, and it’s not in the water, the water will make you sick (take it from the group of us that experimented by drinking it). I think it’s more to do with the size of the island and the sense of community, there are no barriers to making new friends when you have abundant time and energy just to chat and share food, music and stories.