Nicaragua is a tucked-away, uncommercialized paradisein small part due to its volatile relationship with civil war and hurricanes. As a result, budget-minded travelers have found peace and quiet on its tropical sands, a laid-back lifestyle, and plenty to explore at almost every turn. And while the local tourism industry would love to see the countrys tarnished imaged polished up a bit, the common-knowledge misunderstanding about Nicaragua means its still a bit off the beaten path.
Big Corn Island
Safety concerns are no different than any foreign country, and with the lowest crime rate in Central America, Nicaragua is even safer than the United States.
As for Bluefields
we suggest you bypass this town and head out to sea. Bluefields, located on the countrys eastern coastline
Settled by the British by way of Jamaica, Big Corn Island spans approximately three and a half square miles. Upon arrival, head to Anastasias on the Sea on the eastern shore of the island via scooter, which can be rented at Corn Island Car Rental for $46 per day. From this little resort by the sea, book a five-hour trip to test your hand at catching bonefish, barracuda, and tarpon in some of the best fly-fishing waters in the world. The abundance of fish (and minimal population) makes even the worst fly-fishermans day successful one. The coral reef at the north end of the island is a must-see, and snorkeling is the best way to do it. Anastasias has created a marine park just 100 feet from their restaurant. Swimmers will find buoys marking all the hot spots, including a sunken steam ship and aquatic species like spotted eagle rays and nurse sharks. And if youre a little weary of setting out on your own, the resort offers guided tours. Once youve been underwater and know what to look for, take an open-sea tour. Kayak rentals are available, and paddling the shore is a perfect way to see the islands shoreline. Rooms at Anastasias start at just $34 per night and include A/C, TV, and private bathroom. Because there are just 17 rooms, be sure to book ahead of time.
During your stay, make sure to catch the panga, an open boat that seats approximately 15 people, for a nine-mile trip to Little Corn Island. Even more underdeveloped than the small islands big sister, this square-mile island is where youll find the countrys best scuba diving and even more peace and quiet. Make your way to Casa Iguana [casaiguana.net] on the southeast end of the island where youll find private cabanas and casitas. The resort is also home to the countrys first PADI registered dive resort, Dive Little Corn. With everything from a single dive ($38) to a scuba certification ($195), the resort offers adventure packages such as night dives, rescue dive courses, and pro-level PADI courses. After youve mastered scuba, kick back at Casa Iguana for one of the three daily gourmet meals of fish, conch, or lobster, caught and served daily. They also provide a variety of home-grown fruits and vegetables from their eight-acre shoreline property. And dont forget to pack your headlamps, as most of the island has limited electricity at night. Cabins start at $35 per night and reservations are recommended.
Amy A. Clark