Lying 70km off the country’s Atlantic coast, the CORN ISLANDS (Las Islas de Maíz) offer white beaches, warm, clear water and a Caribbean vibe – the kind of place you come to intending to stay for a couple of days and end up hanging around for a week or more.

Like many parts of the Caribbean coast, during the nineteenth century both larger Corn Island and tiny Little Corn were a haven for buccaneers, who used them as a base for raiding other ships in the area or attacking the inland towns on Lago de Nicaragua. These days it’s drug-runners who use the islands, unfortunately, as part of the transportation route for US- and Europe-bound cocaine.

Big Corn is home to virtually all the islands’ services, has a reasonable selection of hotels and restaurants, and is large enough to ensure that – if you’re prepared to head far enough – you can get your own patch of beach. More backpackers head straight to idyllic Little Corn, though if you have time you might want to try them both out. Reached by a quick but bouncy panga from the bigger island, “La Islita” is extremely quiet, with rustic tourist amenities – bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a torch and money. Set on just three largely undeveloped square kilometres, with a population of just over a thousand, the island boasts lush palm trees and beautiful white-sand beaches, great snorkelling and diving, good swimming and, above all, plenty of peace and quiet – with no cars on the island, traffic consists of bikes, dogs and wheelbarrows.

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