Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Photo: The Colibri Hotel Collection
Photo: The Colibri Hotel Collection

You’re craving a low-key beach destination. No all-inclusive resorts. No scheduled activities around a pool. No saved chairs on the beach. And, hopefully, no children. All you really need is a little cabana and a shaded hammock. Plus a few beachside restaurants—cooking is not part of your plan. You’re picturing Tulum, Roatán, or Ambergris Caye ten years ago. Such a place still exists, right?

Amazingly, it does still exist. You’ve probably never heard of Little Corn Island. Or any of Nicaragua’s Corn Islands. That’s a good thing. If you knew about them, other people would, too. And then they would no longer be an under-the-radar destination.

It took a long day of traveling to reach this secret location. You flew to Managua, boarded a smaller airplane for Big Corn Island, taxied to the ferry, and rode a panga boat across the choppy water to finally reach this little island with no cars and no paved roads. Now, only a short time later, you’re relaxing in an earlier-requested hammock with a glass of coconut water at the Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa. The jungle is on one side of you. The translucent water is on the other. The only sounds you hear are rustling trees, lapping water, and singing birds. And your cute cabana has handmade wood furniture, a stone bathroom, and an indoor garden. Looks good, so far.

Photo: The Colibri Hotel Collection
Photo: The Colibri Hotel Collection

The next morning begins with yoga on the overwater deck. You’re no yogi, but you can deal with the Warrior II Pose for a view like this. When you finish, you even chug down a detox smoothie before asking for your usual cup of coffee. There’s nothing usual about it, though. This is rich, sweet, and smells faintly of chocolate. You make a mental note to buy some. Even the coffee they sell at the airport’s duty-free store would be better than what you drink at home.

The rest of the day, you can do as much or as little as you wish. Join the beach bootcamp workout, if you were inspired by morning yoga. Go deep-sea snorkeling to see green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and hammerhead sharks. Scuba dive around elkhorn coral at Blowing Rock. Kayak to Otto Beach or Goat Beach on the northern end of the island. Fish for bonefish, but don’t be surprised if you hook a 40-pound tarpon. Hike through the thick jungle to Lookout Point for an amazing view over the whole island, its beaches, and the Caribbean. Walk into town—there’s only one—to eat rundown soup (a coconut-curry broth filled with lobster, shrimp, and fish) at Miss Bridget’s, sip a piña colada at the Turned Turtle, and play basketball with little kids on the carless road.

Return to the Yemaya before it gets dark. Sip fresh-fruit cocktails as the sun sets. Lobster cooking in the kitchen makes your stomach growl. After dinner, walk along the beach to see bioluminescent plankton and the nearly full moon. This is exactly what you were hoping for. A true, unspoiled escape. Now how can you keep it that way?

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