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Credit: Andrew Hall via Flickr
Corn Islands, Nicaragua

Uncommon Envy: Nicaragua’s Kooky Little Corn Island

Uncommon Envy: Nicaragua’s Kooky Little Corn Island

Our never-ending search for the uncommon in all corners of the Caribbean has recently led me to Little Corn Island, one of two small and eclectic tropical enclaves located 70 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua. So far my time here has been relegated to the virtual environs of my computer screen, though even the small taste I’ve enjoyed in cyberspace has engendered such an infatuation in me that I’m determined to get here this year.

Experiencing sublime sandy shores like the ones pictured above along Kelly Gully Beach are part of the attraction for sure, but as you know, such scenes are par for my typical travel course. What has me more intrigued is the characteristic kookiness that seems to permeate just about every aspect of life here.

Take this uncommon structure, for instance…

Bottle House, Little Corn Island | Credit: Sean via Flickr
Bottle House, Little Corn Island | Credit: Sean via Flickr

It’s called the Bottle House as, well, it’s made almost entirely out of old discarded bottles. The man behind it is a local artist on known as “Tall Boy.” Apparently Tall Boy also makes jewelry and holds the title of mayor for reasons I’ve yet to uncover.

The Bottle House serves as a cultural center for the Corn Islands, which seems a bit off owing to its small size and the islands’ broad history.

Formerly known as the Skeleton Islands, Big Corn and Little Corn bear a distinctly English feel that stands in contrast to Spanish-speaking mainland Nicaragua. That’s because from 1655 all the way 1894 the islands were part of the British Empire, a twist in history that more closely links the Corns in terms of culture and language with other former British Isles in the Eastern Caribbean.

The Nicaraguan Government claimed the islands in 1894, but by virtue of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty of 1914, they became part of the United States. This status was originally supposed to hold for 99 years, but the treaty was repealed in 1971.

How they cram all that cultural history into that tiny Bottle House is beyond me.

Then, there’s this…

Crab Crossing
Cuidado! Crab Crossing | Credit: Claudio Olivares Medina via Flickr

Easily among the most uncommon road signs in the Caribbean – right up there with the “Monkey Crossing” signs in Nevis – this caution sign says a lot to me about the laid back lifestyle that must surely exist in the Corn Islands, as well as their yummy diet!

Speaking of laid back, this aptly-named cafe is apparently the top nightlife spot on Little Corn

Tranquilo Cafe
Tranquilo Cafe & Gift Shop | Credit: Sean via Flickr

Indeed, Little Corn looks to be just about perfect for me, or any other uncommon traveler. If you’ve ever been and have tips on things we shouldn’t miss when we’re there, please drop us a line, or let us know in the comments section below.


* Lead photo credit: Andrew Hall via Flickr.

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  • David M. Morrill

    We visited Nicarugua six years ago splitting our visit between the Corn Islands and San Juan del Sur. We’re glad we visited the San Juan del Sur area but when we return we’ll spend our entire visit on the Corn Islands. We stayed on Big Corn Island and only visited Little Corn on a day trip. While you need a golf cart to circumnavigate Big Corn you can easily walk all of Little Corn. Big Corn Island is laid back but Little Corn is even more laid back and cheap. The picture is Grace’s Cool Spot where we had lunch on Little Corn . A lunch of 2 lobster tails and a Tona beer was $5 and you could rent a beach side cabana for about $15/night! Incredible! We stayed at the Arenas Beach hotel on Big Corn, at the time it was the most expensive hotel on the island and cost us $75/night!! Loved it! You have your choice of two beers, Victoria and Tona and if you ask for rum, you will be serve Flor de Cana. We especially enjoyed ordering what was called a Servicio Completo, which was a 375ml bottle of Flor de Cana and a bucket of Pepsi’s for less than $8. The Corn Islands are also much more Caribbean than Latin American and the islanders don’t really consider themselves the same as the mainland Nicaraguans.

    • Steve Bennett

      Wow, David, THANKS! You now have me wanting to scoot over there ASAP! I’ll be sure to keep you posted as our plans come together…

  • Gerry G

    I don’t think that crab crossing sign is on Little Corn. There isn’t a “road” that wide anywhere on the island as I recall from my visit in June of 2013. It IS true that Tranquilos is a great spot to eat and hang out, but it is more a relaxing place than a lets get crazy until 2 am spot. The cement “road” on Little Corn is barely wide enought for 3 people abreast, and dosn’t need a yellow line, as there are no vehicles on Little Corn. I stayed at Los Delfines, on the west side of island, “in town”, with electricity and AC. There is a good breeze on the east side of island, which is where a lot of the naturally ventilated lodgings are located. For a tiny island, there were many good places to eat, (Tranquilos, the place right next door to it (Desirdes?) and many others, although not much to do besides diving and waking around. That was the beauty of it, it was quiet and peaceful, and has electricity for most of the day….

  • Danny Davis

    “Top nightlife spot called Tranquilo”! THAT’s f__king funny! 🙂 I hope they have some good rum, hot women, or killer w__d there! Otherwise, I’M not going! 🙂 Namaste, Danny

  • Danny Davis

    You know after reading David’s post, I might go for the lobster tails and Servicio Completo. No pepsi, COKE! 🙂

  • Danny Davis

    Oooooooh, AC!!! Thanks, Gerry! Now I know where I’M staying. 🙂

  • Danny Davis

    Oh, you know what, can you get Cuban cigars there?