A view of the beach and palm trees on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

The Best Beaches on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua

If you’re travelling in Central America, no matter the reason, my guess is that at some point you’ll want to hit up the beach. Whether you’re looking for great surf, snorkelling and scuba diving, or just somewhere to relax in paradise, the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua has got something for you.

Now, most of the beaches in Nicaragua are concentrated along the pacific coast, and if you’re searching for beaches in Nicaragua that are closest to the tourist hotspots of Leon, Managua, Granada and Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua, these are the ones you’re going to find. Most of the touristy things to see and do in Nicaragua are on this side of the country, by the pacific ocean, but what will you find on the other side?

The Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is a largely untapped paradise. It can be difficult to get there, but trust me that it’s worth it! These are some of the best places to visit in the whole of Central America.

All of the most beautiful beaches on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua are on islands (and, yes, that’s why it is so hard to get there!) 

Pearl Lagoon and Pearl Cays

Pearl Cays is a group of small islands on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, close to Pearl Lagoon. You can travel first to Pearl Lagoon, which is on the mainland, and then do some island hopping and beach-relaxing around Pearl Cays. To get to Pearl Lagoon from Managua, you can either fly or take a bus to Bluefields and then take the ferry to Pearl Lagoon, or you can take the bus from Managua to El Rama and then either take private transport or hitchhike for another two hours to arrive in Pearl Lagoon. You see what I mean when I say it’s hard to get there?! You can also take a tour here if you’re staying on the Corn Islands (see below).

However, it is completely worth it. This part of the Caribbean Sea offers an untouched paradise with the bluest waters you’ve ever seen. Think idyllic coconut palms, white sandy beaches, and snorkelling on the coral reefs. Pearl Lagoon is truly a great place to go if you have time on your hands, and you want to get off the beaten path.

Read more about Central America: How to Get from Guatemala to Nicaragua by Bus

Big Corn Island

Much further off the coast, but in the same general direction (and yes, it is worth doing all of these beaches if you’re heading that way!) you have the Corn Islands. As you might have guessed, there are two of them, and I’ve separated them into Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island because they are two distinct locations. Whilst Big Corn Island is, of course, bigger, and home to the only airport around, most tourists tend to head to Little Corn Island.

The best beach on Big Corn Island is called Paraíso Beach or Playa Paraíso, which quite literally means beach paradise, but the island is basically surrounded with beaches, cliff edges and viewpoints, all within walking distance of each other. Ask at your accommodation for a great spot to go snorkelling if you want to see the coral reef, or book a scuba diving excursion if you’re feeling more adventurous (you should be able to see sea turtles, dolphins, and even sting rays). You can also book day excursions to Pearl Cays if you don’t have time to make it a separate visit!

To get to Big Corn Island, you can either fly straight there from Managua (flights leave twice a day), or you can again fly or take the bus to Bluefields and take the ferry from there.

Little Corn Island

Of the two Corn Islands, Little Corn Island is generally more touristy but still provides the crystal clear waters and tranquil experience you’re searching for. It’s home to many backpackers, hostels and tourist-friendly establishments, but the best thing about it is that there are no cars. And you can walk anywhere on the island. 

There are many beaches on Little Corn Island, but the most popular one to visit is Otto beach. This beach has the most accessible coral reef for snorkelling, 

To get to Little Corn Island, you first have to get to Big Corn Island and then take the boat or ferry to Little Corn Island. Here’s a full guide on getting to Little Corn Island by Christina from Christina in the Clouds. 

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