Photo Credit: TN
Traveler Story: Little Corn Island, A Perfect Off-Grid Getaway In Nicaragua
POV: you’re craving rest on Nicaragua‘s Little Corn Island, an off-grid getaway in the middle of the Caribbean sea. It is the desirable combination of tropical weather, coconut water for breakfast and an endless supply of ripe mangoes. Being off-grid on a small island, with dense vegetation, zero cars and crystal clear sea is just a plus.
My trip to Little Corn Island on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast was the vacation from the workcation that outdid my expectations. It was here on this tiny 1.5 square miles worth of island views that I discovered what an off-grid tropical getaway does for the soul. Simply put, it is a less-traveled Central American destination and even still a paradise in its own right.
Here is what happened on my mini trip to Little Corn Island. (Spoiler, I immediately appreciated the rest, even if it was hard to reach…)
Arriving from one palm-treed island to another
Central America has lots to offer, but the Caribbean energy of this coastal region is my main motivation for traveling this particular stretch of world. It is as spiritual as it is densely green; as peacefully silent as it is overwhelmingly touristic – it’s not for everyone but I am obsessed with the journey so far. The Caribbean coast, with its Jamaican and wider Caribbean and African diasporic settlement in Costa Rica, Belize and Panama makes this trip personal for me, and I haven’t even seen it all yet.
This is why I headed straight to Corn Islands in Nicaragua, an island destination often described as feeling like an entirely different country from the rest of Nicaragua. When I told my Airbnb host, a friend I made on the bus from Costa Rica to Nicaragua or the taxi driver to the airport, that I was Jamaican and heading to Big Corn and Little Corn island, the response was the same: “te vas a sentir como en casa” or, you’re going to feel at home.
I knew this, was ready for it even. Something else that I definitely knew? It was super difficult to arrive at Little Corn island, the smaller, car-less island out of the two.
Having spent over a month on Big Corn Island (which in itself is already a relatively small island), getting to know the community and starting my mornings by the ocean, I eventually made my way in a small boat to the even smaller island.
From the mainland, you can catch a flight with La Costeña airline from Managua to Big Corn Island and then catch a boat (a panga) which leaves at 4pm each day to the small island. You can also travel by bus and then boat from Bluefields to Big Corn Island, but that journey is technical and requires a lot of organizations, patience and the stomach for sleeping on a boat.
Sleeping to the sound of waves & rising with the sun
Once arriving on Little Corn Island after a 40- minute boat ride, we arrived on Little Corn island. With no cars or taxi system, often hosts arrange for a guide to walk travelers to their hotels/accommodations. In true backpacker fashion, I decided that I could make the journey myself, asking around and using my above- average sense of direction. But only after eating. Slowly as the sunset over me and my fresh plate of in season (highly seasoned) food, I contacted my host to bring me a guide – the solo female traveler instinct making the final call.
Arriving at my cabin on the other side of the island, through the jungle along the sea, I was rested. Without any phone signal and any real cares, I rested in my cabin to the sound of the crashing waves as I went to sleep.
The next day I naturally rose at sunrise, a blessing for very obvious and very beautiful reasons. If this isn’t a perfect representation of ’emails off’, I don’t know what is.
Off-grid, island style
The off-grid lifestyle is one I deeply adore, even as someone born in a big city. As a digital nomad, it is not my current reality, but the opportunity to be connected to the land more than I am to my phone is an encouraging prospect that I try to tap into on the weekends. On this particular Sunday on Little Corn Island I woke up to properly explore my accommodation and surroundings in the daylight.
The outdoor shower, the sustainable eco-cabin abode (I stayed at Derek’s Place; I absolutely recommend if you’re down to be set-apart and disconnected for a while) and the perfect combination between jungle walks and ocean breaks all serve to remind you of your relationship with life, in its natural state. On Little Corn island the lights are turned off during daylight hours, the only time that electricity is used is during the night/dark hours. It allows you to slow down and acknowledge the ways you take energy for granted.
Same same, but different
Truth be told this is no anomaly for me, it surprised none of my friends and family that I was somewhere unreachable on someone’s island enjoying the sun until it made its fiery descent into the sea. A typical Amara-type trip includes some sort of limitless access to patacones and sweet plantain, blue skies and transparent waters, reggae beats heard from the patio while I write and the opportunity to be surrounded by some form of Creole; it is a formula I learned quickly for my ideal nomadic path. I think of traveling to Belize to exclusively experience Caye Caulker or Panama for Bocas del Toro. The tiny island set apart from the noise is clearly my thing. They also exist plentifully in this region but Little Corn Island, with it’s pride and its famous Rondon dish and its ox-carts in the place of cars and its surprisingly quiet beaches despite the sometimes endless flow of tourists (and algae), seems to have left an impression on me.
Before heading back to Big Corn island, I really took the time to breathe in the air, cleansed by sea salt and untroubled by car pollution and I enjoyed being on a small, walkable and super friendly island in the middle of the Caribbean sea. An island without a bank and reliable internet (although you can hotspot during the day), isn’t an ideal location for a digital nomad, but, for someone looking to disconnect for a few nights – I couldn’t recommend you book the trip sooner.
The Caribbean has much to offer and Little Corn Island certainly makes it’s small and green stamp on the world, making it an unforgettable off-grid island trip.