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The Corn Islands: Big Corn vs. Little Corn

The Corn Islands: Big Corn vs. Little Corn

Last Updated on January 15, 2024

So you’ve read our article if Nicaragua’s Corn Islands are worth visiting and have decided that the off-the-beaten-path Caribbean adventure is indeed worth a visit. The key question now is which of the two islands, Big Corn or Little Corn is right for you.Corn Islands NicaraguaLocated 50 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, these two islands are nowhere near the better known Caribbean islands, but still have the same stunning features –white-sand beaches, crystal clear water, breathtaking sunsets and palm trees as far as the eye can see. What sets the Corn Islands apart from the more well-known Caribbean islands is the lack of 5* luxury resorts or fancy spa hotels and forget about an afternoon of cocktails at a swim up bar.

What sets the two islands apart is the fact that while Big Corn has an airport, roads, cars, international cuisine options and 24-hour electricity, just a 25 minute boat ride away Little Corn Island is a very remote island where aside from getting out on the water, the only thing to do is relax.

The Corn Islands: Big Corn vs. Little Corn

Little Corn Island

Getting to Little Corn is the only real adventure; the rest is truly about relaxation. Little Corn is reached first by flying in to Big Corn from Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, making your way down to the ‘dock’ and jumping in a simple motor boat which takes you to the smaller island. The day before we traveled to Little Corn, one of the boats had capsized at sea, and although rescue boats were immediately at hand and no one was hurt. Pack your belongings water-tight and hold on, because if you are up for that little adventure, you will land on a tiny island without any motorized vehicles and a laid-back way of life.Little Corn ferryHere, wheelbarrows are the common means of transport. Don’t expect paved roads (although on the West side of the island there is a paved footpath), and there’s no electricity either – at least not before 2pm each day, so switch off your Blackberries, pull up a hammock and get ready to relax for a few days.

Walk around the 1.6 sq km island in about two hours, and cross from west to east side in about 10 to 15 minutes. During the day, you might meet Frank, who will climb up a tree and cut down a coconut for you for a buck. You can do it yourself for free, as did fellow vacationers we met here.Frank cutting coconuts on Little Corn IslandIf crossing at night, bring a flashlight, as the main east-west path is actually a trail through the jungle, although the closer to the beach you get, the path is lit by the millions of stars in the sky. Take a boat trip out off the coast and snorkel, or join the many avid divers who enjoy the great diving off the coast of the Corn Islands.

In terms of food, don’t expect anything fancy. Shops sell basic essentials and there are a few simple restaurants along the main path on the West side of the island, including a pizza place, a café with muffins and quesadillas, and a few places that serve cheap, local food. The island doesn’t have an ATM (yet) and cash is essential, so make sure you get enough cash while you are on Big Corn Island.Huevos Rancheros on the Corn Islands

Who might prefer Little Corn Island?

  • Adventurous travelers who don’t mind packing a flashlight and insect repellent when going on vacation
  • Travelers who like to get to know a place and its people well, and meet other travelers
  • Families with kids looking for family-friendly adventure
  • People who don’t mind basic accommodation, are not freaked out by the occasional spider or mind eating at local hole-in-the-walls

Fresh fish1

Where to stay on Little Corn Island

We loved that even with quite a few hotels for such a small island, it felt like an unexplored piece of land in the middle of the ocean. The beaches are gorgeous and yet completely empty, the people are friendly and you can get a good feeling of how the islanders live rather than being tucked away in a resort somewhere.delfinos hotel room

  • Grace’s – Cool Spot for shoestring travelers with no fear of insects (US$23 for a beachfront bungalow for 2 people with shared bathroom, from US$23 with private bathroom, free wi-fi)
  • Carlito’s for travelers who don’t need much comfort (Beachfront bungalows with private bathroom from US$50, free wi-fi)
  • Sunshine Hotel – small hotel with a lovely garden; every room has a balcony (from US$51 per night, free wifi)
  • Derek’s Place Eco Lodge – beachfront hotel with restaurant & garden (from US$80 per night, free wifi)
  • Las Palmeras Oceanfront Hotel & Dive Center – for divers (from US$37 per night)
  • Little Corn Beach & Bungalow for a bit more comfort (from US$183 for a double room with hot shower, free wi-fi) You can read our full review here.
  • Yemaya Reefs – The most exquisite hotel on Little Corn Island. The bungalows are stylish and spacious and each one comes with its own private plunge pool. Pure luxury! Rates start at US$398, depending on the season.

corn island hotels

Big Corn Island

Coming from the mainland, Big Corn feels tiny, but returning here from Little Corn, the island earns its name. The population is 7 times that of Little Corn, and yet Big Corn still feels sleepy. The island is still walkable at 6sq km, although here hopping in a cheap cab makes much more sense to get from A to B. You can easily cut across the airport runway whenever the two planes that fly in and out each day are gone.

big corn islandDespite the more developed infrastructure on Big Corn, there is not an awful lot to do here either. No shopping, little entertainment and relatively few hotels scattered around the isle. The electricity is on 24 hours a day, which makes getting online easier, and lazing around watching TV possibly an all-day activity.

Diving and snorkeling are possible from here, as is cruising around in a golf cart. enjoy the fabulous beaches, drink cocktails while watching the sun set on Southwest Bay beach, where the Arenas hotel even has white leather lounge sofas right on the beach. Nicaragua is big into baseball, so fans of the sport (or anyone looking for entertainment) can head to the well-built baseball stadium which turns into the place to be for the entire island once a week.Sunset on Big Corn IslandBig Corn Island does not feel as secluded as Little Corn and is missing that deserted island feeling. Whereas on Little Corn, you can spend your days walking through the luscious green coconut palm tree woods to find small beaches around the island, Big Corn has only a few beaches (though bigger than the ones on LC). In fact, the whole north part of the island seems rather rough and not suitable for swimming.

The food choices on Big Corn are considerably more expensive, but the island has everything from Caribbean and Indian curries, to Italian, vegetarian and top sea food choices.

Who might prefer Big Corn Island?

  • Travelers who prefer a little bit more luxury and easier travel options.
  • Those who prefer taxis or golf carts rather than doing everything on foot.
  • Tourists who just want to relax in one place rather than doing much exploring.

south beach big corn island nicaragua

Where to stay on Big Corn Island

The range of hotels is wider on Big Corn, with more shoestring cheapies as well as a higher level of luxury.

  • Seaview Treasure Hostal for budget travelers (from US$39 for a double room)
  • Corn Island Hostal ALAL SUITE – for budget travelers (from US$26 for a triple room incl free wifi)
  • Paraiso Beach Hotel for a comfortable beach vacation (rooms starting at US$92 for 2 people, including breakfast and free wi-fi)
  • Ocean View – full apartment with kitchen and sea view, as well as satellite TV and wifi (from US$32 per night)
  • La Princesa de la Isla – small hotel on the south side of Big Corn Island. Onsite restaurant, free wifi. (from US$54 per room per night)

Marthas B&B Corn Islands

Have you visited the Corn Islands? Which island do you prefer: Little Corn or Big Corn? Where would you go for the perfect Caribbean vacation?

Angela g

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

Which island would you recommend if your main interest is snorkeling and diving? I know Big Corn has the Dive Center with boats going out daily when conditions allow? How is LC, both for boat availability and for snorkeling from shore? Thanks!


Tuesday 20th of June 2017

I can't recommend Little Corn Beach Bungalows. The reservation price was significantly higher than the walk-in rate (and way higher than listed here). I kept getting the feeling they just wanted to wring every last dollar out of me. Filling a water bottle costs a buck, self-serve crappy coffee was two fifty. Stay at the Lighthouse instead. Also Beach Bungalows is on the opposite side of the island from the main drag so getting home at night can be a dark and wet adventure.


Friday 5th of February 2016

I'm torn! My fiance and i are going in July and I can't decide on big corn or little corn. We are suoer laid back and little corn seems more our vibe but most reviews I read about lodging there includes cockroaches..... I have a terrible ohobia of cockroaches. What was your experience there?


Monday 22nd of February 2016

Hi Autumn, this is a hard decision but I'd go for Little Corn! I don't remember any cockroaches in the places we stayed at!! If you google the name of a place you're considering + tripadvisor + cockraoches you'll find reviews that mention roaches, if there are any. But really, I don't recall seeing any on the islands!

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Wednesday 6th of January 2016

[…] The Corn Islands: Little Corn vs. Big Corn [Globetrotter Girls] […]


Friday 20th of November 2015

Stayed at both twice in last 6 months. I love both a lot, but LC gets small quick. BC has better beaches more options for everything. If I went back I would spend two days at LC and the rest at BC. Just the FACTS! Have find! Say hi to Turtle man!!!??


Sunday 22nd of November 2015

Hi Andy, thanks for the recommendation :) I guess everyone's got a different taste.. I'd still spend more time on LC than on BC but that's just my opinion ;-)


Monday 10th of August 2015

Hi My partner and I have been to Nicaragua 3 times before. We are thinking of visiting Little Corn Island on our next trip. Can you please provide some direction from your experience about how gay friendly people are overall. We are a male/male couple, traveling with a lesbian friend. Any information you share will be valuable and greatly appreciated. Thank you


Wednesday 12th of August 2015

Hi Wil, I would say it is relatively gay-friendly (especially the Lighthouse, I've been told), but keep in mind that it still is a tiny island in the middle of nowhere where people aren't exposed to same-sex love very often. I would definitely recommend toning it down and respect the local culture (I found Central America in general not overly gay-friendly, with the exception of Costa Rica, but I mean that in the sense of gay establishments, etc). I hope this helps - I still think Little Corn is amazing and since you've been to Nicaragua before, you kinda know what to expect with regards to the people.