Little Corn Island’s accommodations run the gamut, but my assessment after exploring most of the island would be that many genuinely have “idyllic” in common.
The island - less than 50 miles off the coast of Nicaragua but worlds away - boasts a handful each of hostels and family-run beach cabanas, guesthouses and motels, plus a couple more upscale bungalows and even an ultra-luxe hideaway, providing a good range of choices, prices, and amenities. The largest array is located in town, within a 10 minute walk to the left or right of the town pier, with the bulk of the remainder on the east or north shore and just a couple perched in the island’s interior.
Generally speaking, the cost for the kind of room my son and I were seeking - “a room steps from the ocean where you hear the waves” or a “cabana on the beach” - is excellent by international standards. We stayed in three different establishments, securing the largest, higher-end ocean-front unit in each case, and paid $46-$75/night, without breakfast. We could easily have cut those costs in half with a smaller unit further from the water, doubled them on the high end in an international-class beach bungalow, or quadrupled them at the posh resort.
We prioritized the east and north shores for breeziness and wave action. The locally-owned and operated beach cabanas clustered on the eastern shore seemed like a good toes-in-the-sand start. Gracie’s Cool Spot provided a very basic cabana on the beach, with fan and private bath, simple restaurant, plastic beach chairs and shaded tables a few feet from the water.
Gracie's unique second-story palapa provided a memorable and private space for my son and I to write for hours while sipping the day's fresh-squeezed juice. Ask if their fantastic "Island Rondon" is available - a huge bowl of steaming seafood chowder incorporating vegetables/potatoes/chayote, a whole fish, a generous pile of shrimp, and a whole lobster tail simmered in one of the most savory coconut-based stocks I've ever tasted.
(This traditional coastal fare literally features a “rundown" of whatever's available. My son concurred that it was one of our best meals in Nicaragua - and at $10 per very large bowl, a huge value.)
Gracie’s Cool Spot is sandwiched between Elsa’s Sweet Breeze and Carlito’s Paradise (?!!). Each offers roughly similar accommodations, amenities, location, and pricing. Hard to go wrong if you are looking for a simple, very basic beach cabana stay. No wifi, but the Turned Turtle - arguably Little Corn’s best restaurant - is just up the beach, providing excellent, well-priced fare, outlets for recharging, and decent wifi.
Further south, on its own promontory with 40+ well-tended acres, Casa Iguana offers a meandering line of well-maintained cabanas facing the sea. The original place to stay on Little Corn has figured out what works, and does it well. Iguana features a laid-back hostel-like atmosphere, simple restaurant with good food, small but nice beach area with hammocks and beach bar plus two additional private coves. The breezy common-area deck (with slow but steady wifi) and airy, well-sited cabanas are nicer than the website conveys. A highlight for both my son and I.
Tucked away in its own world on the north shore, Ensuenos is some people’s dream getaway and others’ worst nightmare. I loved it. Ramon, the compound’s enigmatic founder, runs Ensuenos with his wife Judith and a well-managed local team. An eclectic array of cabanas a hobbit would love, scattered amongst the palms, fronts one of the island’s best beaches.
Most units are “candle-powered” and share a bathroom and outdoor shower in the edge of the forest, which you will either love or hate. A couple have their own bath, and two come with solar panels providing limited electricity. Artistic touches, rickety platforms, and random driftwood sculptures add an other-worldly touch.
My son and I happily settled into Casa Bawisa (recommended!) for several days, enjoying mostly-steady breezes that mostly-kept the heat and mosquitos at bay. (North-side breezes are a big upgrade from the town side, but the ocean breezes are slightly stronger and more consistent on the east side.) Our time at Ensuenos was another trip highlight, in a different way. Other guests tended to be happy with their accommodations, or not, based mostly on airflow. Caveat emptor.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available by request, reasonably priced for what you get. The thoughtfully-prepared, multi-course, artfully presented $7 breakfast is a great deal, incorporating an egg dish, coffee and fresh-squeezed juice-of-the-day (we had papaya/starfruit, pineapple, melon, and mango) and the best bread we tasted in Nicaragua (freshly-baked!).
Small plates and an outstanding happy hour at Yemaya's taco bar, just down the beach, add a nice option. Internet and plugs are available if need be in that resort’s lobby, accessible with a drink from the fantastic but pricey juice bar. Good fishing and the island’s best snorkel and dive sites lie just off the north shore.