Category Archives: Central America
We arrived back in Big Corn on the 6:30 a,m. panga from Little Corn. We were able to get into our hotel room immediately and showered up and hit the beach (yes, we hit the beach by 8 am). We spent the entire day at the hotel, hanging on the beach, swimming and just generally relaxing. We went out for dinner, had a good sleep and then were able to spend all the following morning on the beach as well before we headed back to the airport for our long journey home. Big Corn to Managua, Managua to San Jose – overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica and then San Jose to Toronto, Toronto to Ottawa…voila….home….to frigid weather and snow storms a brewing!
Some photos of our last day (or so) on Big Corn Island!
No cars…..bicycles, horses … FEET ….. these are the mode of transport on Little Corn. You can of course take a boat/panga from one end of the island to the other. We didn’t do that. Every day we went wandering, exploring the entire perimeter of the island, walking through the neighbourhoods and fields on the inside. Little Corn Island was a pleasure to spend time on. We would visit again!
Baseball is the local sport of choice and the fans and players are passionate! The only baseball I have really watched is Major League Toronto Blue Jays games back when they were a new team. Every once in a while we might turn on a baseball game during the world series. As mentioned in a previous post we were fortunate enough to get a ride to Little Corn along with the Big Corn West End team for their Sunday baseball against the Little Corn team. We raced to our hotel and got settled so we could get back to watch the game. The stands were full with a mix of tourist types and locals.
2 of 3 times during the game play was stopped due to disputes that could not be rectified. Of course the absence of cameras to catch every move makes calls difficult to contest. The players, umpire and lines people were all very animated. I kept having to ask the lady next to me what was going on. She was one of the more vocal individuals often becoming `seemingly`riled by the calls that were being made. Truth is though, she would start yelling and cat calling and looked really angry, and then she would start grinning from ear to ear. Even the players would be carrying on and yelling disputing something and then break out into a smile. There is a fierce rivalry between Little Corn and all of the Big Corn teams, but in the end, baseball is their sport, their passion, and their fun!
The game actually got called somewhere in the 6th inning because the final dispute just couldn`t be rectified. It was tied 5 to 5. They were supposed to have a game the following Saturday in Big Corn. We actually left a day early to see it, but in the end it was cancelled *sigh*. Unfortunately, I have never heard who ended up winning the series they were playing *sigh* *sigh* . . . .if you are ever in the Corn Islands I would absolutely recommend a baseball game. So much fun!
Shanna took this photo of Johnny and me at the Lighthouse Hostel/Restaurant.
Shanna is a Canadian gal from Barrie, Ontario who had just finished her contract teaching Derek’s daughter at Derek’s Place. We met Shanna during communal meals. She was leaving Little Corn Island to head back home to Canada the day after we were leaving Little Corn. Shanna is an incredibly fun and interesting 22 (I think) year old who is very independent. She went to university in Toronto and worked as a tour guide, she planted trees, she was looking into forest fire fighting for her next adventure.
Our last breakfast at Derek’s was spent with Shanna, and two other young couples, one from Georgia, USA and the other from UK. We had a great breakfast discussion mainly about health insurance and education in the 3 countries. After breakfast we had mentioned we were heading to the Lighthouse with thoughts of climbing the tower and Shanna offered to join us and lead the way! We happily accepted! We met at 11 and walked to the Lighthouse, had a great lunch (I mean really gooood), and enjoyed the views from what I believe is the highest point on Little Corn. We also took a tour of one of the hostel rooms and they are really quite impressive. Newer, clean, well appointed. I would highly recommend this location to get some night breeze, great views and still be close enough to the main village.
Shanna seems to make the most of where ever she is. During her time on Little Corn she became an important part of the night time social scene helping to organize (and very much participate in) Karaoke, Quiz Nights, Open Mic Nights and probably more! As we wandered through Little Corn with her almost everybody said hello to her or stopped to chat. She had only been there for a couple of months but a very positive ‘mark’ on the Island!
Yes, first photo is me…halfway up the tower with Johnny behind. Shanna & I both agree I could simply post this photo and say that I did it…well…uhhh…I didn’t lol…..the tower kind of hyper extended outward after the point I was at and given my lack of arm strength I was terrified. I actually tried three times to do it and froze each time. Shanna was absolutely hilarious trying to encourage me to do it…and in the end, she spurred Johnny to the top!
After this first attempt (because no-one went because I didn’t)….we went back to the restaurant, grabbed another drink….and fortified Johnny and Shanna did the job and climbed the tower! These are my photos from the ground looking up at the brave souls Johnny & Shanna.
These are the photos Johnny and Shanna took from the top!
We stayed at Sea Star Spa on Big Corn Island, Nicaragua from February 26th until March 5th, 2017. We shared the taxi with another Sea Star ‘guest to be’ Tripp who was our ‘next door’ neighbour for the week. Our cab ride from the airport took between 5 and 10 minutes. We turned off the main road onto a VERY bumpy road which ran alongside the sea shore of Long Bay. The cab wouldn’t even go the last bit (a 3 minute walk) because the road was so bad. The good news is that this road is being updated in the not to distant future to cobble making this area very accessible. We had no issue jumping out, grabbing our packs and heading up the hill. We were lead to Karel the day time chef/bartender/server and he took us to our room! Honestly, it was all very magical! The 4 rooms 2 on top of 2 are nestled into a hill side with palm trees, a beautiful beach…heaven!
My previous posts showed a number of photos from Sea Star and I confess that I have left this post too long to convey the excited ‘in the moment’ feeling we experienced while there. We loved staying there. We were treated like royalty! Upon arrival we ordered drinks & lunch from Karel (the usual afternoon host). He delivered our freshly made local style lobster, rice and salad and it was delicious! Breakfast was included and there is a switch in the room when flicked in the morning summons the morning host (usually Errol) to bring a plate of fresh fruit. When he delivers the fruit he takes your order for breakfast omelette’s or french toast or pancakes and then delivers those to the room. Later in the morning Errol would always bring us a fresh coconut to quench our thirst! Yummy food and drinks all served on our terrace!
Darcie the Owner took us on a ‘tour’ of the island Saskatchewan style – in the back of her pick up (which she actually brought from Canada). Tripp (one of our fellow guests) and Darcie pictured below in camp chairs. A great tour of the island with beverages in hand! We arrived at Sea Star on Sunday afternoon and did this tour on Monday perfect timing to show us the island. We stopped for lunch, and for drinks at a beach. Miss Darcie (as the locals call her) told us so much about the island, it’s history, the manner in which it is evolving and so much more.
We slept with our doors open each night and loved to listen to the sound of the sea. There is air conditioning but we didn’t feel the need to use it. Darcie has night security and even though our room was on the ground level we didn’t feel the least bit insecure.
Although the name has the word ‘Spa’ in it…it doesn’t really currently operate as a Spa in a big way – the facilities exist but the demand isn’t there yet. Darcie has larger long term plans for the property and is learning as she goes what works and what doesn’t work. It is comfortable without opulence. There are many different areas to sit and relax and enjoy the views. The pool is ‘almost’ complete and I would imagine will be open in the not to distant future. We aren’t pool people, so not an issue. When not out wandering around Big Corn Island we spent most of our time reading on our terrace, or on the beach chairs.
The sea really wreaks havoc on these places, so much salt, so much wind and it is a constant struggle for owners to keep up with the deterioration caused by these elements. Definitely food for thought if considering owning your own seaside property. During our stay we didn’t have any issues at all. The water is drinkable from the tap (very much appreciated) as they have their own I believe spring fed well.
Our room and views from our room. The room was really perfectly appointed to take in the amazing views, had great storage and big enough to spend 7 nights without feeling cramped. It even had a big sofa at the foot of the bed if you want to cozy up to watch the sea!
Some of the common areas at Sea Star Spa.
We loved our 7 nights at Sea Star. Our main issue related to the windy weather (which not usual for this time of year and was in effect the whole time we were on the Corn Islands which made for big seas and of course was luck of the draw). Sea Star beach will never be a quiet beach as it is on the windy side. Generally great for wave jumping and boogie boarding. Great for walking on the beach. If you aren’t a walker or don’t like stairs the location might be a bit of a challenge for you. For us, it wasn’t a problem and in fact the type of location we seek (to keep us busy and active). It is between 1 and 2 km to restaurants, but you can have all of your meals at Sea Star if you just want to *hang* there.
Darcie is a great host and she has terrific staff. We particularly enjoyed time spent with Errol! I can’t believe I forgot to take photos of the staff…they were all awesome!
OK….I have more posts to make but unfortunately I’ve reached my data capacity with wordpress and until Johnny has time to move this site over to our own server I won’t be able to finish up my Corn Island posts…*sigh* …. see you when it’s done ….
We stayed at Derek’s Place on Little Corn Island from March 5th to 11th. Originally our plans were to stay another day but decided we wanted to get to Big Corn in plenty of time to catch our plane and to see the baseball game (which was cancelled after we had already got to Big Corn).
Derek’s Place has some REALLY mixed reviews on Tripadvisor. I always read the reviews and look at the photos ad nauseum before booking. In spite of some crazy reviews we decided that this place was EXACTLY what we were looking for on Little Corn. The price was right, the rustic off-grid style was perfect. Even more perfect was that Derek`s is tucked in the north east windy side of the island a good 20 or more minute walk to the main village area of Little Corn.
Derek`s Place was exactly what we expected and we were so happy we had chosen this location. It was a little rustic piece of paradise powered by a windmill (and apparently solar which we didn’t see).
Derek and his wife Anna own/run Derek’s. They have been there about 15 years, Derek hails from Chicago oops, Johnny just read this – says he’s from Washington area (I think) and Anna from Spain, they have two children (about 12 & 14 now). Anna and the children were away in Managua during our visit so we didn’t have the opportunity to meet her. Derek is an eccentric kind of guy, was pleasant, loved to ‘agitate’ as it relates to world events during our communal style meals, is probably a fellow who prefers quiet and his own company, but most importantly was very responsive to any requests we had during our stay.
Derek’s as mentioned above is off-grid. We stayed in the Beach House (also known as Casa Grande). I believe it is the oldest most rustic cabana. What we have learned about the Corn Islands is that the sea, wind, waves, and sea salt are all very hard on not only the natural environment but also the ‘built’ environment. It was very very windy (keeping it warm without being hot) and it was wreaking havoc on the wiring. There are always outages with this type of power from time to time but in our case the outages were caused possibly by wind making the wiring blow around and requiring it to be ‘re-taped’. Once we got the hang of it, all was good. Of course, we had running water (non-potable), a 2 pc bathroom (toilet, sink) inside the unit and just outside (off the veranda) an Island style shower. See photo below 🙂
You can see through the floor boards and the walls in some places. We had a visit from a HUGE spider a bit hairy…tarantula perhaps? He liked the bathroom wall…pleasant little guy..seemed to just want company 🙂 Otherwise, we slept (on the upper loft level) with our windows wide open and our heads almost outside. One night there was a hard rain and our pillows got wet…refreshing!
The Corn Islands are not manicured and Little Corn even less so. The jungle and beach paths that you take to get to Derek’s are wind blown and laden with palm frons, coconuts and whatever the sea blows in (an amazing amount of sandals and lobster claws). Sargassum (look it up if you don’t know what it is 🙂 is everywhere. Sargassum is a phenomena that is plaguing the Caribbean and in expensive all-inclusive resorts it is raked up daily and you might not notice it. In all other places it piles up….can be a bit smelly, catches debris from the sea…sometimes it appears, then disappears…always on the windy side of the islands….it is what it is…..the beaches are not pristine…just jump over the sargassum and you can get to the water 🙂
We went for longggggg walks every day (temps were around 29 c plus humidity) and on the windy side near the sea was lovely to walk….the jungle paths were pretty warm when there was no breeze from the sea or if you were out of the shade. Will do another post of our walks. While at Derek’s we mainly read and relaxed. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to snorkel with the high winds. Normally, you can swim easily and snorkel off beach, and we had planned on doing a diving trip…but we decided we weren’t comfortable in the windy conditions (just watching people getting on/off Derek’s dive panga was a challenge).
We really enjoyed our time at Derek’s. The communal meals were tasty and authentic island style food. The little ‘service’ we required was great. Derek is a quirky guy, but I think if you treat him well, he will treat you well – makes sense, huh? If your expectations are high, or if you are a person who requires maintenance this might not be the place for you 🙂 Also staying at Derek’s were people from Canada, U.S., U.K., France and Germany Most were couples, all were interesting to chat with over communal style meals (one big table). We didn’t do all of our meals there, but always breakfast, 1 lunch and 2 dinners over our 6 days. As our cabana was the only one with cooking facilities (no fridge) we did do a couple of dinners at the cabana. The rest of the meals were in the village.
OH YEAH. If you do decide to stay at Derek’s or travel anywhere on the Corn Islands (Little or Big) don’t forget to bring a flashlight. We have headlamps and always take them with us so we can read outside after dark. The paths are not ‘flat’…roots, stones and it is a challenge walking back after dark the 20 (or more minutes) to Derek’s. It was all part of the adventure though!
We got lazy on when we left. Danny the maintenance worker/wheel barrow guy took our luggage to the docks for us (at 5:15 a.m. in the morning). He was a wonderful young man, almost no English. One night he came to fix our electrical and brought his wife and their beautiful little girl (about 1 or 2 years old). We passed his house and it was a house I had passed daily and kept saying, I love this house. A beautiful green bungalow sitting alone in the jungle with views of the sea.
The seas are rougher than normal and the pangas were not running. We were told we needed to be at the docks by 8:30 am….just in case the pangas were running. If they weren’t we would have to wait until 12:30 ish for a big boat. Sea Star owner Darcie offered to drive us to the dock as she had to drop some bats off to the North End baseball team who were taking a supply boat to Little Corn. Luckily we were able to ride with them and were on our way by 9 ish. I say luckily because as it turns out the other boat didn’t leave until 4:30.
The ride over was VERY wavy and water was washing up the sides. Johnny and I and the north end team were in a small area of the boat and it was up close and personal. I had some great chats with a couple of people and we found a new friend…right fielder Shane. He was very helpful and informative and we enjoyed our time on the boat! I won’t mention that one of the players (not Shane) was pretty sick with the waves (and maybe a little hang over? 🙂 …oh my 😎
We arrived on Little Corn before 10:30 a.m. Getting on this boat was a challenge having to step off the dock and jump onto the deck….that was easy compared to getting off. We actually had to get on the side edge of the boat..with some assistance get hoisted to a higher boat that was docked on the short pier and then jump onto a big cart..then jump onto the pier…..voila we had arrived at beautiful Little Corn Island.
At this stage we then had to find our way to Derek’s Place about a 20 minute walk with our heavy packs. First we stopped at a beach bar…I had a smoothie and Johnny had a beer. At only 10:30 in the morning it was a lively little bar!
There are no street signs or street names that I am aware of. Essentially, in Little Corn with no motorized vehicles there are a couple of concrete sidewalks and the rest are paths. Suffice it to say that we didn’t find the most direct path to Derek’s…what should have been 20 minutes was a 40 minute walk with heavy packs and going slightly out of our way.
Finally we reached the paradise that is Derek’s Place (to be described in a later post)…a casual check in…threw our bags in the room….relaxed for a few minutes and then headed back down a path to watch the baseball game….to be described in a separate post!
We are visiting the Corn Islands during a period of very high winds. The bay we are staying on is on the east side and the windiest. After Johnny’s rip tide experience the seas just got higher so swimming was out. Our 2nd last day on Big Corn we decided to walk over to the calm beach – Playa Arenas/Picnic Centre.
We chose a new path…trying to get there by skirting the end of the island to the south, taking us around the tip to the west side where Playa Arenas is. This part of the island is hilly and it was hot so mildly challenging but wonderful when a sea breeze found it’s way to us.
Oh…but wait….first I have to show you the giant millipede or centipede that was clinging to our coffee pot switch…it wrapped itself around Johnny’s finger and landed easily on the curtain when he flung it aside! Later to be removed and deposited in the grass and the guy expanded to about 6″ long as he walked away *eek*.
After rounding the tip and heading down hill toward the west coast we encountered two teen boys with machetes out collecting coconuts.
As we saw them in the distance I said to Johnny…hmmmm…encountering strangers with machetes in the jungle could go more than one way. rounding the tip and heading down hill toward the west coast we encountered two teen boys with machetes out collecting coconuts.
The boys were Spanish and they offered us a fresh coconut for $1 each.
They didn’t speak english but between our Spanish and gestures they showed us the way to get to Playa Arenas. On the way we passed a house where they stopped. Another young man came out, a bit older and he spoke English. He told us that it really wasn’t safe to be where we were and that we shouldn’t come to that area without a guide. He then told us the best way to get to the beach was over the big rocks on the shore and not through the local area close by. The rocks were a challenge but we did make it to Playa Arenas.
A few days earlier we had gone through a local neighbourhood not far away to see the Soul of the World Pyramid. We recalled reading somewhere that you should only visit there with a guide. We thought that related to having someone help you find it and explain it to you. We now believe that guides are recommended to help ensure your safety. That said…. Big Corn feels much safer than many other places we have travelled too. One must always exercise caution. In speaking with others later we were told that robberies of cash and cell phones did sometimes happen. You just have to remember that even in paradise you need to remain vigilant and use your common sense…which occasionally we are short of 😉
We had originally planned to ‘hang’ at Sea Star this day…..however as always the call for further exploration over took. We headed up the hill and then came to a concrete road we hadnt yet been down.
There was just the odd house at first and then it turned into a local barrio. As in many less prosperous local areas in Central America some Corn Islanders have simple homes most very close together with a certain amount of trash spread around. I take few photos in these neighbourhoods so not to intrude. Within the barrios they have small shops offering a variety of services. In most cases the shop keepers live in the same building. We forgot our water so stopped at a local home/shop for some natural juuce served in thin plastic bags.
We just kept walking…exploring and enjoying all things and people we met along the way. We discovered a beach we hadnt seen before, tried out a new restaurant, then finally hailed a taxi and headed back to Sea Star.
Beyond our hotel and up a narrow rocky roadway is an estate which is known as the George Morgan house. George Morgan is apparentally a decendent of the famous pirate of days gone by…. Captain Morgan. We can see the gazebo from our beach, however our beach is separated by large rocks. So…for a change (lol) we headed up the hill to see the Morgan house. Did I mention that my feet hurt and I have blisters??
To get to the Morgan house you have to go down a long narrow driveway. We saw workers and they didn’t have an issue with us being there. We came to a spot where we saw the house…the sea….the beach all very manicured and tidy. We came across another worker who indicated it would be fine for us to walk up to the gazebo for the view….breath taking!
We later heard that no one stays at this estate and that although it is for sale the owners have refused the offers received. I wonder if our lottery numbers came in?
We continued walking along the cliff until there was no path. We continued even further through piles of fallen coconuts and huge boulders. Eventually we had to turn back as it was too dense to maneuvre.
Back at Sea Star we relaxed, had lunch and headed off to Sally Peachie to snorkel.