Corn Island, Nicaragua, Horse at sunset

Caribbean Unknowns, Worth Getting to Know

The list of places to visit in the Caribbean is long. And it’s about to get even longer.

Island hopping has long been a thing. A fun thing. But if you’re the type of traveler who likes to go places off the beaten bath, the Caribbean probably hasn’t been on your radar. But good news, there still are spots where mass tourism isn’t the norm.

First stop, Nicaragua’s Corn Islands.

Arenas Beach, Corn Island

This is the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. With an airport about the size of one gate at most airports, it’s just a five minute or so taxi ride to Arenas Beach. Corn Island is small by most folks standards. In 20 minutes you could drive the whole island. You may see people on horseback. You may just see horses wandering along the road. Many taxi drivers have taken on the role of tour guides as well, and an hour touring of touring might run you $10, on the high side.

Corn Island, Nicaragua, Horse at sunset

For the most part, days are spent on the beach or in the water. There’s not much infrastructure here, and for many travelers, that’s the beauty of it.

Not far from Corn Island, about a 40 minute boat ride away, things are even more laid back on Little Corn Island. (You can charter a boat, or take the ferry.) When you get there, it’s what’s not there that stands out. There’s no airport, no roads, no cars. Just beaches, bikes and wheelbarrows.

Little Corn Island Beach, Nicaragua

There’s one luxury hotel, Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa, and a good handful of inexpensive spots to stay along the beach. On both islands, English is commonly spoken.

If you are a snorkeler or diver, you’ll love it here. Fish and shipwrecks are plentiful, including Spanish galleons hundreds of years old, where you can clearly see the cannons on the sea floor. In many cases, the water is shallow, so snorkelers get the same view as divers.

Jacko Falls, Dominica

Time to hop to another island.

Dominica, pronounced “Dom-in-EEK-a”, where you may meet a local walking with his goats, while you are on a hike. Sometimes confused with the Dominican Republic, they aren’t the same place. Dominica is located in the Eastern Caribbean, Martinique to the south, and Guadeloupe is to the north.

It’s not about beaches here, it’s about tropical rain forests and an amazing collection of waterfalls. Jacko Falls is a five minute walk from parking your car along the road, to feeling the spray on your face. Trafalgar Falls is a short walk, (probably less than 15 minutes depending on how many pictures you take) along an easy, well-maintained trail.

The official language is English, so no worry about signage or communication issues of any sort. French and local Creole dialects are also spoken.

Whale Watching, Dominica

Don’t spend all of your time on land chasing waterfalls.

Dominica is the only country in the world where Sperm Whales live all year long. (Sightings are at their best between November and March.) You don’t have to head far out to see them either. And it’s more than just Sperm whales. You could see Humpbacks whales, Spotted and Spinner Dolphins. More than a dozen marine mammal species like to play in the waters off Dominica.

Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. Dana’s trips were sponsored by Visit Nicaragua, and the Discover Dominica Authority, but as always, all of her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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