If you’re looking for things to do on Little Corn Island, you’re in the right place. Little Corn Island is truly one of my favourite places that I’ve ever been. Its a small, low-key Caribbean island in Nicaragua with sandy beaches, clear turquoise water, outdoor eateries with dogs sleeping on patios, and friendly people who welcome tourists of all ages.
Little Corn has a relaxed vibe that is rare to find, even on a Caribbean Island. Its described as being ‘the way Caribbean life used to be’ on other islands before big businesses took over and turned it commercial. I agree with that sentiment completely after visiting Little Corn Island.
What makes Little Corn Island unique to other Caribbean islands? For one, its completely car-free, which gives it a relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle. There are no chains, or all-inclusive resorts. If you’re looking for an action-packed vacation with a million activities to do, then Little Corn may not be for you. If you want to unplug and disconnect, then you’re in the right place!
Here’s everything you need to know about Little Corn Island and visiting there as a tourist. So, let’s jump in!
Little Corn Island Facts
Here’s a snapshot of the main things to know about Little Corn Island before visiting
- English is the main language, although most people can communicate in Spanish
- If you were to walk around the entire island, it would take around 1 hour
- Little Corn is completely car-free
- US dollars and Nicaraguan Cordobas are both accepted as currency here
- There are currently about 1,000 people living on Little Corn Island; both locals and some expats
How to Get to Little Corn Island
In order to get to Little Corn, you’ll need to take a domestic flight via the La Costeña airline from Managua to Bluefields on Big Corn Island. The flights leave at 7am and 2pm.
From Big Corn Island, you will take a boat called a Panga (pictured above, right) which bring you to Little Corn in a 30-minute ride.
The Panga tends to coincide with the flights, so if your flight is late, the Panga will most likely be waiting for you. Once you’re at the main airport on Big Corn, you can either walk or take a taxi (around $1 USD) to the municipal dock where the Pangas leave from. There will be plenty of taxis waiting for you at the airport.
The Panga ride costs about $10 USD. You can pay with either Cordobas, or US dollars. You can book it at the pavillion where the Panga leaves from once you arrive there. (No need to reserve in advance.)
Be aware that the Panga ride can be a bit turbulent and choppy, as its going over waves. If you suffer from sea sickness – I recommend anti-motion sickness pills before the ride.
Good to Know: There is a small chance that the panga ride can be cancelled due to bad weather. Safety is the first priority. It might be good to have a back up plan of somewhere to stay on Big Corn in case the panga ride is cancelled.
Where to Stay on Little Corn Island
Here are some great places to stay on Little Corn Island according to the budget that suits you. Each of these places are about a 15 minute walk from where the Panaga drops you off.
- Budget: Derek’s Place Eco-Lodge Located on the northeast of the island, close to Otto Beach, Derek’s place offers oceanview balconies and à la carte breakfast each morning
- Mid Range: Little Corn Island Beach and Bungalow Perfect if you’re visiting with kids, or for couples or solo travellers too. Located right on the beach on the east of the island, and serves a great breakfast served every morning
- Luxury: Yemaya Reefs Close to Otto Beach, Yemaya offers oceanfront bungalows on the north of the island with hammocks and an organic, locally-sourced restaurant on-site. Fish Fry Bar, serving Caribbean food, is also right next door
Things to Do on Little Corn Island
Little Corn Island is perfect for a relaxing vacation, where you don’t schedule too many things to do. However, here are the things to do on Little Corn Island to enjoy the area
1. Spend time at the beach
The beaches on Little Corn have soft sand, and transparent water and picturesque shoreline. There are a number of beaches on Little Corn Island that are great for relaxing, swimming and/or snorkeling. Some of them are:
- Otto Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island
- Pelican Beach, along the main strip – great for snorkeling and lined with lots of restaurants
- Goat Beach a quiet, unspoiled bay surrounded by jungle
- Kelly Gully Beach, private small cove with calm waters and sandy shoreline
2. Have breakfast with a view
Head over to The Shack Café for a delicious breakfast overlooking the sea. Having breakfast at the Shack was one of the most memorable breakfasts I’ve ever had on a trip. There are cinnamon buns, omelettes, eggs and toast, and great coffee. Breakfast at the Shack is one of the things I miss the most about Little Corn.
Note: The Shack was rebuilt in 2022 since we visited so this ledge overlooking the water no longer exists, but you can still grab a table with picturesque morning views.
Pro Tip: The Shack opens early (6:30am) so its the perfect place to grab breakfast if you’re heading out on a dive or snorkel tour.
3. Take walks along the main strip
There are no cars on Little Corn, so you can enjoy the most relaxing and leisurely walks around the island on the paved strip along Pelican Bay, which is close to the area where the Panga drops you off. You’ll pass restaurants and hotels, but also some shops that could stop into, and of course, there are beautiful views of the ocean.
4. Try snorkeling
The ocean surrounding Little Corn is tropical and clear, with beautiful corals and fish of all different colours. There are a few places where you could try snorkeling on Little Corn Island. There are a number of locals on the island renting out snorkel gear, usually for $20 USD for 2 hours.
One of the easiest ways to rent snorkel gear is to head to The Shack on the main strip on Pelican Bay. The beach right in front of The Shack is a great place to spot colourful fish and stingrays in the water.
5. Explore the coral reefs and sea life
Scuba diving was what initially brought me to Little Corn Island. Dolphin Dive on Little Corn offers PADI courses, as well as fun dives for experienced divers, and people who have never dove before. I’m an experienced diver and took my Advanced PADI course with Dolphin Dive.
My husband had never dove before, so he went on a fun dive adventure with Dolphin Dave, and had a great experience. The staff is very kind and professional. I lost my diving log book, and they went to the trouble of mailing it back to Canada for me. I can’t say enough good things about them.
6. Go for a hike
Little Corn Island is full of small dirt pathways, so you can walk from one end to another. In fact, don’t expect to see cement roads at all. The entire island is walkable only through these dirt paths. Its very walkable, and easy to get around. There are a few different trails on the island to check out:
- Atlantico Sur, a 5.5 km ( 3.4 miles) out and back trail that brings you from the south of Little Corn to the north. It takes just over an hour to complete. See details here.
- The Lighthouse Trail (1km or 0.6 miles) from Otto Beach, brings you to a beautiful view from the lighthouse.
7. Enjoy the nightlife
There are a few great pubs and bars along the main strip to enjoy some nightlife. At Tranquilo Café, you can enjoy live music, DJ parties, cultural dances, game nights and a bonfire on the beach at night. Desideri’s has hanging lights, chill music, and drinks with a view of the sea by night.
8. Grab a book from the Lending Library
Tranquilo Café has a lending library at the back of the restaurant. Feel free to take a novel, or leave a novel. Just another way to relax and unplug on Little Corn.
9. Get a panoramic view of the island and beyond
The lighthouse on Little Corn Island isn’t used as a lighthouse anymore, but is a great place to get panoramic views of the island and surrounding sea. The sunset views from here are also incredible. The lighthouse is just a short hike (1km or 0.6 miles) from Otto Beach.
To get to the lighthouse, head to the Lighthouse Hotel and turn left when you’re in front of it. From there, follow the big red telephone tower. You will see a little passage between the fence and the wall. Go through here and you will soon find the lighthouse tower.
Tip: If you’re looking for somewhere extra special to stay on Little Corn, you can consider staying at the Lighthouse Hotel and Spa
10. Try some crab soup (in August)
If you’re lucky enough to be in Little Corn in the month of August, you can experience the annual Crab Soup Festival. Every year since 1841, Little Corn has been commemorating the end of slavery on the Corn islands by celebrating with a variety of homemade crab soup recipes to try. There are also parades, beauty pageants and sporting events.
Where to Eat on Little Corn Island
- Café Desideri (pictured above) an Italian inspired restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have live music on select nights
- Tranquilo Café on Pelican Bay, which serves coffees, cocktails, and island-bar inspired lunch and dinner. Remember to check out their lending library, and gift shop
- The Shack for breakfast by the sea, and snorkel-gear rentals
- Rosa’s Place, a family-owned joint that serves fresh island food for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Little Corn Island: FAQs
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Little Corn Island and visiting there
What is Little Corn Island known for?
Little Corn Island is known for being a small Caribbean island, the smaller of the two Corn Islands, home to a relaxed, slow-paced island lifestyle, and an annual crab soup festival.
How long does it take to walk around Little Corn Island?
The entire Little Corn Island is 2.9 square kms (1½-square-miles), and you can walk around the entire island in just a few hours.
How many people live on Little Corn Island?
Little Corn is home to approximately 1,000 people; many of which who were born and grew up on the island, but you will also see some expats from around the world as well, working in the dive shops, for example.
What language do they speak in Little Corn Island?
Unlike the rest of Nicaragua, English is the main language on Little Corn Island, although most people can communicate in Spanish as well. The English is spoken in an English Creole dialect. Communication I found, wasn’t a problem.
Little Corn Island: Final Thoughts
Some people may wonder, ‘is Little Corn Island worth a visit?’ And I would say without a doubt that it is. I loved travelling around Nicaragua, but Little Corn Island felt very unique to the rest of the country. Its also unlike anywhere else. It is hard to find a Caribbean island that is this quiet, relaxing and unspoiled by the tourism industry. On Little Corn, you won’t find big hotel or restaurant chains, cars or any kinds of motorized vehicles. But you’ll find a place where you can enjoy the island way of life, connect with nature and yourself, and get that relaxation you were always craving