Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Aug 31-Sept 7, 2002

Jimmy Bill K Reba Vicky Phil Jeanne Houston Thomas Paul Jim Gwen Mike, yours truly Bob
Point on persons head to get their name

I had never heard of Little Corn Island before and after searching the web I can't say I know a whole lot more. I first heard about the trip at one of my dive club's (Scubadillo Dive club) meetings when one of our members - Jimmy Atkinson (far left in picture) of "Toys for the Children" fame spoke about a trip he was putting together. It sounded like a great adventure and I was definitely interested. It took awhile to get my time off approved but finally my manager caved in and I signed up. Jimmy had met the owners (Grant and Cathy Peeples) of Casa Iguana and the local dive shop at DEMA where they had a booth. We were 13 people going including two non-divers. Jim and Reba have been on previous trips with Jimmy and they were there to fish.

The island is about 45 miles off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. It's a tiny island just over 1.5 square miles with about 250 people living on the island. It's not easy to get to the island: First you fly in to Managua, and from there you take a puddle jumper fist across the country to Bluefields and then to Big Corn Island. From there you take a 40 minute water taxi (panga) ride across to Little Corn Island. They run the boat up on the beach right in front of the dive shop as there are no docks. Most people live on the west side of the island and that's were the store, church, the local bar etc. are. There are no motorized vehicles on the island at all - everybody walks or ride on their bicycles. To transport heavy items, you use a wheel barrow. The distances are so short there's no need for any cars.
This is a panoramic picture
Point and drag mouse left/right to see the whole island.

The hotel

The hotel Casa Iguana. is located on the southeastern part of the island, about an 8-10 minute walk through the jungle from the dive shop and the main street. The hotel consists of a main lodge where the meals are served and 8 cabanas spread out along the water. There's a steep dropoff down to the water but you have an excellent view and it's very nice sitting on the porch with a view of the ocean. The cabana I stayed in is a basic 12x16 ft house with two beds, a bathroom, and a porch. The shower located outside around the corner from the front door.

There are two hotels on the island and also a couple of places with just a few beds each, more like bed and breakfasts. The other real hotel on the island, Los Delphines is a new hotel and is located very close to where the water taxi arrives. The whole week we were there the hotel was empty and we were pretty much the only people frequenting their restaurant/bar too. The hotel looks nice and it's very close to the dive shop. I don't know what they charge though. I didn't even know the hotel existed (no internet presence...) if it wasn't for a guy (Hi Clam) I found on the internet that had been on the island and stayed at that hotel.

The diving

We did a total of 15 dives including two night dives. We met at the dive shop at 8 am every morning to pick up our gear that we left at the dive shop every afternoon/evening to dry out. Well, the humidity was high and it rained a lot so the gear never got really dry as the storage area for our wetsuits and BCDs didn't have a roof, but it saved us from lugging our gear across the island every day. It also made sure that all the salt was washed off so the salt didn't dry on our gear.

One of the nice parts of the diving was meeting Waz and Elle, our dive guides for the week. They run the diveshop and have been on the island for 5 months. We were their first big group and they were really excited about it. They made sure we had a good time and good diving and were very helpful and accomodating. They let us do our own dives but stayed down with us for about an hour and showed us the site. If anyone had any problems with their gear, they helped to fix it or lend us a spare. During their stay on the island they have found many new divesites and continues to look for new ones. Isn't that a perfect life???

We left for the divesite around 8.30 every morning and normally had a 10-20 minute boatride out. The dives were normally about 1 hour long as most of them were really shallow. I always came up with between 1000 psi and 1500 psi of air left and only on one dive was I ever remotely close to a deco obligation. Most times it didn't even register... The dives normally had about 30-50ft visibility,and due to it being rainy season, most days were mainly overcast which cut down on the light a little. Throughout the week my computer showed the water temperature to be 82 degrees and my 0.5mm full wetsuit was just fine.

In between the first and second dive of the day we were dropped of at the hotel and were picked up there again after the surface interval for another 1 hour dive. We were then again dropped off at the hotel for lunch and in the afternoon we walked over to the dive shop to do our third dive. Was and Elle had then filled the tanks and they were ready to go. Two days we skipped the afternoon dive and did a night dive instead. Friday we didn't dive as we had a very early flight Saturday morning. If you really wanted to, you probably could have made a dive or two Friday morning, but why take the chance and it gave us time to explore the island a little.

#1: White Holes

Depth: 29 ft Time: 72 min Looked kind of like a golf course with sand patches surrounded by the "rough" low coral ridges. I had a good start of the trip by seeing a small 3ft nurse shark just after jumping in. I guess he was rudely interrupted in his morning swim by some noisy funny looking animals jumping in the water just above him - he turned and took off... The water was pretty clear compared to the rest of the dives off the week. It was a very good dive with some more nurse sharks, several eagle rays, beautiful elkhorn coral, misc. Angel fish etc. The Eagle Rays are amazing creatures and I saw several swimming past me getting within 25 feet of me.

#2: Shark Hole

Depth: 33 ft Time: 71 min
This site has a lot of swimthroughs and they are spectacular - big and with very nice rock formations. Definitely better than the ones in Cozumel - the only one's I really have to compare with. We saw blacktips, nurse, stingrays, trumpet fish, miscellaneous Angel fish, lobsters etc.

#3: Grant's Cave

Depth: 27 ft Time: 56 min
This was named after Grant, the owner of Casa Iguana. We started in shallow 6ft deep water and went through the swimthrough to the other side of the reef. It's a very nice swimthrough. The thing with this site is that the reef almost goes to the surface so it's very difficult to get back if you don't find the entrance when you are on your way back. A few stragglers found that out the hard way... We saw them surfacing about 100 yards from the boat on the other side of the reef.

#4: Yellow Tail

Depth: 60 ft Time: 69 min
This is one of the "deep" dives. It's basically small "canyons" in the ocean floor with a lot of little things to see. There were a lot of Ocean Trigger fish but we also saw barracudas, misc. Angel fish, and misc. other fish.

#5: Sueñas Caves

Depth: 37 ft Time: 60 min
This dive had some nice swimthroughs as the name implies. This was one of several dives we saw Eagle rays on.

#6: Stanley Reef

Depth: 40 ft Time: 92 min
A long and relaxing dive - my computer said I had 30 minutes left but I didn't want to keep the others waiting. We saw lots of cleaner shrimps, peocock flounders etc. The visibility was around 30ft again but if you got close to the reef you had plenty to see.

#7: Point of Reef

Depth: 77 ft Time: 58 min
My deepest dive - all of 77ft... It's a sloping coral ridge with a sandy bottom around it. The visibility was around 50 feet but it had that weird light that makes everything look washed out. But if you got close to the reef, there was a lot to see - a paradise for macro photographers. We saw lobsters, crabs, miscellaneous damsel fish, Flamingo Tongues etc.

#8: Abel Hole

Depth: 53 ft Time: 66 min
This site consists of a hard flat floor with 8-10 ft deep canyons cut into it. I "got" separated from the others and had an interesting and a little disturbing experience - I was swimming along and turned my head and saw this big school of barracudas swimming right towards me. They were 3-5 ft and about 20-30 of them. I hoovered about 5ft from the bottom and they swam right around me. It was a little disturbing being surrounded by that many barracudas... Apart from that the dive was like most others - lot's of fish and critters. We saw one turtle - it looked like it was missing the left front flipper.

#9: White Holes (night dive)

Depth: 29 ft Time: 49 min
This was the first night dive and we went back to where we did our first dive. It was one of the best night dives I have ever done. We saw sharks (nurse and reef), several octopi, more lobsters than you could count, a toad fish, crabs.A the end of the dive we all met close to the boat on sandy patch with coral reefs all around us and then turned off our lights. We then saw the most fantastic display of bioluminescence I have ever seen. It lit up the reef like the stars on a clear night. It was beautiful.

#10: Shark Hole

Depth: 33 ft Time: 55 min
This dive had some nice swimthroughs and we did sea one eagle ray and one shark, but other than that it wasn't that memorable. The visibility was only about 30ft and since it was overcast, it was kind of gloomy.

#11: Baga Cut

Depth: 48 ft Time: 62 min
This was THE shark dive - nurse sharks, reef sharks and my "bump and run" encounter with a nurse shark - it swam right into my video housing.

#12: Buouy

Depth: 39 ft Time: 85 min
We saw quite a few turtle net buouys here and we "accidently" cut some of the lines. It's a round reef with small sand patches within it. Most people loved it but for some reason I wasn't in the mood and didn't see a whole lot. My video housing fogged up too. It was still a long dive but I just tooled around doing very little - kind of a "Zen" dive.

#13: Casa II

Depth: 56 ft Time: 67 min
This reef has a shape of a donut - a round reef with some patches of sand in the middle. The vis was about 40ft and light wasn't good. My video housing fogged up again so I didn't shoot much video on this dive. I had another "off" dive but others seemed to have liked it...

#14: Baga Wall

Depth: 60 ft Time: 61 min

Two Gray Angel fish getting cleaned This was one of my favorite dives (together with the first night dive). It is a drift dive were we followed a ridge rising up form the sand on our left. Vicky and I stayed together and went real slow as we constantly found stuff worth filming. It was one of those dives where you find something, stick around observing it, raise your head, find another interesting fish and follow that one. I saw lots of nudibranchs in different colors, puffers, cleaning stations. At the end of the dive we noticed at the safety stop that it rained hard. All of us had gone at different speeds and in the rain the boat had lost our bubbles. When I came up the waves were high and I didn't see the boat the first time I looked around the horizon. The second time I saw the boat far a way and I deployed my safety sausage and Vicky used here whistle. My safety sausage didn't stay up in the strong wind but they heard the whistle and found us.

#15: White Holes (night dive)

Depth: 29 ft Time: 71 min
This was a repeat of our previous night dive with a little less bioluminence (still clearly visible though).

Click on thumbnails to see the full size pictures

This is a sure sign that we are our plane is small - all the passengers are weighed...

Bob, Thomas and Bill in Bluefields waiting for the second leg to take us to Big Corn Island.

Getting into the water taxi that took us to Little Corn from Big Corn.

Surface interval.

Celebrating yet another good day of diving...

An early morning walk on the beach.

View from the bar at Hotel Delfines.

Talk about a self-prophesy...

View from the lodge...

View from the light tower. This is overlooking the southern part of the island.

(From left) Thomas, Phil drinking from a coconut, Paul, Elle, Waz. Some surface intervals we didn't make it up to the hotel but stayed down on the beach drinking from coconuts and relaxing in the shade.
Brazilian Rose coral