Publicado por USA Today 

You might think Caribbean vacations are out of your budget and may have relegated that white sand postcard trip to cashing in your retirement plan or winning the lottery, but you don’t have to do either to have a dream trip. Most folks have never even heard of Nicaragua’s Corn Islands, but now you have. Here are five reasons you need to know about them and start making your travel plans.

You might think Caribbean vacations are out of your budget and may have relegated that white sand postcard trip to cashing in your retirement plan or winning the lottery, but you don’t have to do either to have a dream trip. Most folks have never even heard of Nicaragua’s Corn Islands, but now you have. Here are five reasons you need to know about them and start making your travel plans.

DAVE STAMBOULIS

<strong>1. Beautiful beaches</strong><br />Comprised of two islands, Big Corn and Little Corn, these Caribbean gems offer blinding white sand beaches, turquoise bays, super-welcoming locals and a taste of what places like Thailand were like 20-plus years ago. Relatively hard to get to and off the main Caribbean radar, you&rsquo;re in for a treat if you make the effort to come here.

1. Beautiful beaches
Comprised of two islands, Big Corn and Little Corn, these Caribbean gems offer blinding white sand beaches, turquoise bays, super-welcoming locals and a taste of what places like Thailand were like 20-plus years ago. Relatively hard to get to and off the main Caribbean radar, you’re in for a treat if you make the effort to come here.

Sunsets are magical here, and most accommodations have an array of hammocks, rocking chairs or both to enhance your viewing habits. Little Corn Island has no roads or cars, everything comes in by boat and one of the main pastimes here is sitting along the beachfront of the island’s only real “village,” and watching activity on the boat pier come and go.

<strong>2. The flight in</strong><br />Getting to the Corn Islands is half the fun. While you can sail from the Nicaraguan coastal town of Bluefields, it is an arduous 7-hour ferry ride, often in pretty turbulent water, so most visitors choose to fly (you still have to take a speedboat&nbsp;or &ldquo;lancha&rdquo;&nbsp;from Big Corn to get to Little Corn, which has no air facilities). La Coste&ntilde;a, the Nicaraguan airlines, flies from Managua to Big Corn using primarily 12-seater Cessna turboprop planes, which are more akin to getting into a minivan than a plane.

2. The flight in
Getting to the Corn Islands is half the fun. While you can sail from the Nicaraguan coastal town of Bluefields, it is an arduous 7-hour ferry ride, often in pretty turbulent water, so most visitors choose to fly (you still have to take a speedboat or “lancha” from Big Corn to get to Little Corn, which has no air facilities). La Costeña, the Nicaraguan airlines, flies from Managua to Big Corn using primarily 12-seater Cessna turboprop planes, which are more akin to getting into a minivan than a plane.

On these tiny Cessna flights, you look right out the cockpit as the friendly pilots point out the landmarks. Photo ops are great, and the beautiful islands look even more fantastical from up above. The airport on Big Corn is just a small building with an airstrip that actually is walked and driven on the rest of the time, once the morning departures and arrivals have come and gone. Welcome to paradise!

On these tiny Cessna flights, you look right out the cockpit as the friendly pilots point out the landmarks. Photo ops are great, and the beautiful islands look even more fantastical from up above. The airport on Big Corn is just a small building with an airstrip that actually is walked and driven on the rest of the time, once the morning departures and arrivals have come and gone. Welcome to paradise!

<strong>3. The price</strong><br />As opposed to places like the Bahamas, Barbados or Curacao, the Corn Islands are actually wildly affordable. There are a couple of fancier resorts on Big Corn, as well as one on the north side of Little Corn, but most places to stay here are local guesthouses. There are affordable bungalows right on the beach, where your porch hammock offers up a five-star view, and rooms in local homes where your guesthouse owner might be your snorkeling trip boat driver as well.&nbsp;
3. The price                                                                                                                  As opposed to places like the Bahamas, Barbados or Curacao, the Corn Islands are actually wildly affordable. There are a couple of fancier resorts on Big Corn, as well as one on the north side of Little Corn, but most places to stay here are local guesthouses. There are affordable bungalows right on the beach, where your porch hammock offers up a five-star view, and rooms in local homes where your guesthouse owner might be your snorkeling trip boat driver as well. 

Where else in the world can you buy lobster for $6-7 a pound, fresh off the boat from local fisherman? Beachside restaurants here serve up delicious seafood, with shrimp, lobster and a variety of fish heading the menu lists.<br /><br />While here, make sure to sample a bowl of&nbsp;rondon,&nbsp;a seafood stew pronounced &ldquo;run-down,&rdquo; due to its origin of being made with any ingredients a housewife could &ldquo;run down.&rdquo;&nbsp;Vegetables like yams or taro are thrown into a coconut milk base, fresh seafood is added, and you&#39;ve got a stew fit for royalty. Don&#39;t forget to order a Flor de Cana rum mojito to chase it all down.&nbsp;

Where else in the world can you buy lobster for $6-7 a pound, fresh off the boat from local fisherman? Beachside restaurants here serve up delicious seafood, with shrimp, lobster and a variety of fish heading the menu lists.

While here, make sure to sample a bowl of rondon, a seafood stew pronounced “run-down,” due to its origin of being made with any ingredients a housewife could “run down.” Vegetables like yams or taro are thrown into a coconut milk base, fresh seafood is added, and you've got a stew fit for royalty. Don't forget to order a Flor de Cana rum mojito to chase it all down. 

<strong>4. The vibrant culture</strong><br />You&rsquo;ll find plenty of gaily painted murals cute bungalows, funky beach bars and some drumming and live music. The hues on the island match the bright sun, blue sky and vivid technicolor landscape. The village on Little Corn even has a local gospel church where people gather and sing right next to the beach, and if you stay here a week, you&rsquo;ll feel like you know everyone on the island.

4. The vibrant culture
You’ll find plenty of gaily painted murals cute bungalows, funky beach bars and some drumming and live music. The hues on the island match the bright sun, blue sky and vivid technicolor landscape. The village on Little Corn even has a local gospel church where people gather and sing right next to the beach, and if you stay here a week, you’ll feel like you know everyone on the island.

<strong>5. Two islands to choose from</strong><br />Little Corn is probably the more idyllic or charming island, considering that it doesn&rsquo;t have roads or cars, is smaller and is harder to reach, requiring a lancha trip of around 40 minutes (in what often can be choppy seas). But don&rsquo;t forget to spend some time on Big Corn as well (which you&#39;ll probably have to if you have an early morning flight out).<br /><br />Big Corn also has beautiful beaches, some great restaurants,and a selection of really nice places to stay, not to mention a bustling fishing port where you can see the working side of the Corns away from tourism.&nbsp;

5. Two islands to choose from
Little Corn is probably the more idyllic or charming island, considering that it doesn’t have roads or cars, is smaller and is harder to reach, requiring a lancha trip of around 40 minutes (in what often can be choppy seas). But don’t forget to spend some time on Big Corn as well (which you'll probably have to if you have an early morning flight out).

Big Corn also has beautiful beaches, some great restaurants,and a selection of really nice places to stay, not to mention a bustling fishing port where you can see the working side of the Corns away from tourism. 

Pic-Nic Beach might be the nicest beach anywhere in the Corns. It&rsquo;s a gorgeous emerald bay with a sweeping long white sand beach, which in other Caribbean holiday spots would probably be jam-packed with visitors. Here you can laze on a raft, swim out to a floating beach bar or just lay in the sand and gawk at the amazing scenery. Start making your plans for this underrated and lovely hidden Caribbean escape.&nbsp;

Pic-Nic Beach might be the nicest beach anywhere in the Corns. It’s a gorgeous emerald bay with a sweeping long white sand beach, which in other Caribbean holiday spots would probably be jam-packed with visitors. Here you can laze on a raft, swim out to a floating beach bar or just lay in the sand and gawk at the amazing scenery. Start making your plans for this underrated and lovely hidden Caribbean escape.