Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Hotels and diving are very cheap and it is known as a back packer destination.
Diving is done on the pacific and the caribbean side. The Corn Islands have the better diving.
Los Delfines Hotel and Dolphin Dive on Little Corn Island Nicaragua
Little corn island, Nicaragua is the smaller of the Corn Islands which is located off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean.
Little Corn Island is a wonderful little island that is what other Caribbean islands must have been like 50-60 years ago. There are no roads and no motorized vehicles. All supplies are moved via wheel barrels around the island. I highly recommend going for the experience of the island and you can get some very cheap diving in!
There are no big luxury hotels. Just small simple hotels. Some look a lot more simple than others.
The island was very clean. On many Caribbean islands it is common to see trash on the sides of the roads as you go inland. There are no roads on Little Corn Island., but there are pedestrian walk ways. These were all clean and the locals did a good job placing recycling stations around the island.
This is Nicaragua which is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Things are very cheap. The Los Delfines Hotel was $30 per night. It is not nice by USA terms, but remember where you are and what you are paying. There are hotels that cost less and hotels that cost more on Little Corn Island. If you are expecting a hotel with room service and 5star accommodations you should not go to Little Corn. If you are looking for a really laid back relaxing vacation you are looking at the right island.
When picking a hotel on Little Corn be very aware of whee your hotel is and how long a walk is it to town and dive shops. Remember there are no cars, you will be walking. There is a map of the island at the end of this article.
US Dollars are accepted everywhere. It is not worthwhile to convert any money to Cordobas unless you are going to a remote area within the mainland. Even in Managua US dollars are accepted everywhere. Almost all prices are quoted in US Dollars.
The electricity is 110 Volt with the same plugs as found in the USA
The Generator for the island shuts off every morning for 4 hours from 8 am to noon. On monday morning it shut down at 5 am.
Bring a flashlight. This is very important if you are on the east side of the island and you want to go to dinner in town. There are no lights for much of the walk. It is also nice when the power goes out.
Many of the hotels and restaurants have free internet. Internet is slow and unreliable.
Getting to Little Corn Island
Update. The New Ferry service via Yacht is operational as of March 9, 2013
- Departs Little Corn to Big Corn @ 5:30am and 12:30pm
- Departs Big Corn to Little Corn @ 10.30am and 5pm
Both the panga and yacht times work with arriving and departing flights.
Cost is 205 Cordobas vs 145 on the panga, both including the 5 cord. wharf tax (In dollars: $8.5 vs $6.0)
You must fly to Corn Island from Managua. There is only 1 airline that flies to Corn Island. La Costena. The roundtrip ticket is about $160.
The flight is about 45 minutes and it maybe a smaller Cessna or an ATR42. There are weight restrictions of 30 lbs luggage per passenger and excess baggage will fly standby. The flights I took were on the larger ATR and there did not appear to be anyone who had any restriction on their luggage. However they will charge $1.20/lb for excess.
The airports charge a 40 Cordoba tax each way.
Once you get to Corn you will take a taxi to the Dock and pay for a Panga ride to Little Corn. There are 2 crossings that are timed with the arrivals and departures of the flights. The Municipal pier charges a small fee to enter the dock area.Panga Schedule 10am and 4:30 to Little Corn 6:30Am and 1 PM From Little Corn
The Panga is 140 Cordobas or about $8. The Panga is an open boat with no protection from the weather or seas. Bring a rain coat, you may get wet. There was a new boat that was delivered in Feb 2013, it will be a new larger ferry with better weather protection. I do not know when it will start service or what the cost will be. It is a large cabin cruiser with seats on the bow and a covered area in the stern area.
The crossing takes about 25-40 minutes depending on the water condition. It can be a rough ride.
The return trip was interesting. The Panga leaves Little Corn at 6:30 AM. The airline told be to be at the airport at 6:15Am for the 7:30 flight. I arrived at the airport at 7:15. The flight is actually not scheduled to leave until 8 am. The flight also ended up being 2 different planes! I had plenty of time!
Once you arrive in Little Corn, you pickup your bags and walk to your hotel. There are no cars or other motorized vehicles. There are plenty of locals who will carry your bags for a few dollars if you choose. The dock is very crowded with people waiting for their luggage and locals trying to get your business.
The walk to Los Delfines was about 300 yards. There are signs pointing which direction most major hotels are. There are people handing out maps too.
Hotel Los Delfines
Los Delfines is a group of bungalows located on a narrow strip of land on the west side of the island. It is attached to Dolphin Dive. Dolphin Dive and Los Delfines are owned by the same person. The restaurant and the bar are on the water side and the rooms go back inland. The grounds are nicely landscaped.
The bungalows are fairly close together and thus get very little breeze. All of the rooms have a/c which is needed. This is the tropics with high temperatures and very high humidities and so my room was a bit musty. Most of the hotels on this island do not have a/c. However they are located in spots with a better breeze. If a/c is important. Los Delfines is a great choice. If you prefer a room with ocean breezes I would pick another.
There are only 2 dive shops on the island.
Dolphin Dive and hotel Los Dolfines are the most convenient combination. You can pay for your dives and hotel at the dive shop with a credit card. Many of the hotels DO NOT take credit cards. There are no banks or ATM’s on Little Corn. Expect a 5% fee to use a credit card.
The bathroom was a bit weathered.
The room does not have hot water. However the cold water is not very cold. This is common in many hotels in Nicaragua. If a hot shower is important to you contact hotels ahead of time to see if they have hot water. During my walk around the island I did not recall seeing any solar hot water heaters.
Better attention to scrubbing the bathroom to eliminate mildew would have been a big improvement. However, this room is very cheap and it is Nicaragua.
The restaurant at Los Defines was not exciting. It provided a choice of basic dishes. It had several choices of fish, meats, pastas and sandwiches. There are several other choices for dining within a very short walk.
Dolphin DiveDolphin Dive is the only shop I would recommend on Little Corn.
There is only 2 choices of dive shops on Little Corn.
Dolphin Dive and Dive Little Corn.
The other dive shop is Dive Little Corn. Dive Little Corn is part of the hotel Casa Iguana. The owners of Casa Iguana have not paid their staff for 2 to 3 months. While I was there the dive shop staff and the hotel staff was on strike.
In a poor country like Nicaragua it is in excusable to not pay your staff and I refuse to do business with companies that do this
In addition, Casa Iguana is a 15 minute walk from the dive shop. They are located on different sides of the island. (See map)
So needless to say. Dolphin Dive was very busy while I was there. Dolphin Dive has two small boats. The larger of the 2 holds 10 divers maximum. Several dives had 10 divers and its was very crowded. I was thankful that most of the boat rides were 5 to 10 minutes. There are sites further out but the seas were rough and we dove closer in.
Dolphin Dive caters to beginners. Very few divers had their own gear. Dolphin Dive had the process of staging gear for a constant influx of gearless divers down to a science.
Entries were back rolls into the water. The dive masters requested everyone stay on the surface so that they could descend as a group. This annoyed me a little as many of the newbies can take quite some time to gear up and I frequently use this time as my bonus bottom time. Most dives lasted 45-50 minutes. Most dives had a fairly square profile.
The staff was very friendly and attentive to the beginner divers. Boats returned to the shop after every dive.
The diving at Little Corn
The diving was average Caribbean diving.
The entire Caribbean is in a terrible state. Coral bleaching, coral diseases and now algae.
Algae is taking over many of the reefs in the Caribbean including Little Corn. Most of the Caribbean islands are massively over fished and this appears to be the issue with Little Corn. The Corn Islands have a large commercial and recreational fishing business. It has taken its toll. The reef is a very delicate balance of creatures, coral and nutrients. When fish are eaten by humans in large numbers, things go out of balance. The entire Caribbean is out of balance
In Little Corn island there were not many fish. There were huge patches of algae and the reef had a fair amount of algae starting to choke the coral
Things seen. Several nurse sharks, reef shark, several very large sting rays, pod of dolphins and a very large school of yellow snapper. Critters, cryptic teardrop crap, Peterson cleaner shrimp, several varieties of lobsters, channel clinging crabs.
Average diving, but there are great moments!
Other hotels on Little Corn
There are other hotel choices on Little Corn. Please be aware that these are not close to the dive shop and you will have a 15 minute walk to the shop (or longer)
One hotel that I did not see but was told is a very interesting place to stay is Ensuenos. Very cheap, very artistic, very rustic. It is a fairly long walk from the dive shops. My guess is about 15-20 minutes.
I was told by several that the nicest is Little Corn Beach and Bungalow. It is significantly more expensive ($>100 per night) and it is about a 10-15 minute walk from the dive shops.
Photos of hotels on East Side
The east side was even more laid back. Very primitive cottages on the beach.
I did not go inside. But the area was beautiful I would not expect fancy accommodations
Map of Little Corn with Hotels dive shops and restaurants
Note, the roads are sidewalks and paths
The island is a little over 1 mile long