Diving On Little Corn Island
The Corn islands lie 70 miles of the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean sea. These two islands are both lined with unspoiled white sand beaches, tranquil turquoise blue waters, and surrounded by shallow fringing and patch reef systems. Dense tropical forests clustered together with towering coconut palms fill the land.
Big Corn is the larger more populated island and spans about 6 square miles. It is much busier than little corn with cars, paved roads, an airport, hospital, fishing harbor, and far more hotels and restaurants. It hosts a laid back reggae feel with friendly locals and Caribbean vibes.
With no motor vehicle traffic (only foot and bike paths) and electricity for only half the day, Little Corn boasts a much simpler lifestyle. Nights are easily spent out on the town at the few bars listening to live music or making new friends at a beach bonfire. During the day you can relax and unwind on your own stretch of pristine beach, or enjoy the beauty of the reefs surrounding the island. It’s easy to fall in love with the culture and relaxed vibes that Little Corn offers.
Diving on little Corn
With shallow warm waters, great visibility, and a large variety of marine life, Little Corn Island (LCI) is the perfect place to spend your time blowing bubbles and exploring the underwater world.
There are around 20 dive sites surrounding the island, with a diverse mix of topography ranging from patch reefs, shallow walls with overhangs and caves, sandy bowls surrounded by reef, to tunnels weaving through rock and hardpan.
It’s a great spot to learn to dive or upgrade your skills with a continuing education course because of the shallow calm waters and sandy bottoms. It’s also a perfectly suitable island for advanced divers looking for a relaxed dive getaway.
Larger marine life such as eagle rays and nurse sharks are local residents and are frequently spotted on the reefs around Little Corn. Other common biggies are large groupers, kingfish, green and hawksbill turtles, barracuda, and stingrays. If you are lucky enough, hammerheads have been spotted on the east side of the island (this is a very rare sight, and not promised. And sightings are becoming less a less often, unfortunately. But, they have been seen and are known to come into shallow water to hunt rays).
Reefs fish such as parrotfish, butterflyfish, angels, fairy basslets, snappers, grunts, and damselfish all call the reefs around little corn home. While Toadfish and Juvenile Drumfish can be found hiding in small holes and coral overhangs. There is also a wide variety of crustaceans and mollusks. Octopus, squid, sea slugs, shrimps, crabs, and lobster all take refugee in the shallow reefs.
The reef systems are made up of hard and soft corals. Large boulder corals such as brains and porites massive in yellows and greens cover the bulk of the reefs. An abundance of fan coral, sea whips, vase, tub, and rope sponges in various shades of purple, reds, and pinks sway in the gentle swell.
It’s a richly diverse area, that hosts an abundance of life in the colorful ecosystem right off of the shore.
The waters off of Little Corn are extremely pleasant ranging from 25-29 degrees Celsius (77-84 Fahrenheit). With the coolest water temperatures in January and the warmest in September.
The sea is comfortable “bathwater” and you shouldn’t have a problem diving in a short 3mm wetsuit. If you are more tolerant, a rash guard for protection should be fine.
Tips*** When I am doing multiple dives in a day, I always like to wear a wetsuit as I tend to get colder as the dive day progresses.***
Great visibility is also an added bonus when diving around Little Corn. The waters are usually exceptionally clear except for the odd storm and windy day. In the months of April/May and September/October, the visibility is at its best ranging from 20-30 meters (65-100 feet) most days.
In December/January and June/July the visibility often times becomes a bit less because of the heavy winds. It can range in anything from 5 meters on a stormy day to 20-30 on calm clean days. Generally, the water is clear and enjoyable as to be expected in the Caribbean.
The waters surrounding Little Corn remain relatively shallow which allows for comfortable diving, a steady bottom time, great visibility, and colorful corals and sponges.
Some of the most popular dive sites are anywhere from 7-18 meters at their deepest. This makes little corn a great place for beginners or anyone wanting to learn scuba diving in a relaxed environment.
There are a few deeper sites along the Northside of the island that are around 12- 16 meters at the top of the reef, and drop between 21-26 at their deepest.
With over 20 dive sites around the Island. There is plenty to choose from whether you are looking for an adventure coasting through tunnels and caves, or would like to submerge into fish soup.
Here is a list of some of my favorites.
White holes is one of the most famous dive sites on LCI. Because of its shallow reef is also a great site for snorkeling. The max depth on the sandy bottom is around 8 meters and the top of the reefs nearly reaches the surface on low tide. The average depth throughout the dive is around 5 meters, giving you a long bottom time to enjoy the stunning reef.
It lies to the Northeast of the island and separates the outer reef from the inner reefs. Three large bowls of sand run in a line, surrounded by large boulder corals and gardens of staghorn. The location, sandy bottom, and channel into the inner reefs make it a popular spot for nurse sharks, stingrays, and eagle rays. It is also common to find turtles and loads of reef fish such as schools of surgeon grazing on the reef.
Yellowtail is one of the only dive sites on the south of the island. It is made up of a maze of sandy channels carved out of the coral and hardpan. The topography is a unique blend of overhangs and sand canyons. Large sea whips and fans cover the hardpan surrounding the dive site creating the illusion of a sandy lake surrounded by a grassy meadow swaying in the wind. Southern stingrays can be found hiding in the sand, will reef fish take refugee in the maze of channels. Barracuda, eagle rays, and nurse sharks are also frequent visitors. This site is also a common place to spot dolphins that enjoy playing in the channels of the reef.
The tunnels lie on the east side of the island and require good conditions with little wind and waves to be able to dive. A series of tunnels weave through the shallow reef and hardpan with a max depth of around 10 meters (30 feet). The tunnels have numerous skylights allowing sunrays to shine through creating a picturesque dive. Large Schools of silversides often inhabit the caves. Along with the thousands of tiny shinny fish, you will find various crustaceans, reef fish, and sometimes large groupers hiding in the caves and overhangs. On the outside of the reef, you will often see spotted eagle rays swimming by.
Long Rock and Jarhead
These are two of the deeper sites on the northwest side of the island. With a max depth of around 25 meters in the sand, they still allow for decent bottom times. These sites are essentially long sections of reef surrounded by coral bommies, sand, and soft corals. Schooling fish such as snappers and grunts hover over the reef. While lobsters, drumfish, and toadfish hide in the crevices in the coral.
Both of these sites are often times fish soup and there is always something to look at. During your safety stops giant barracuda often swim by to check you out.
Blowing Rock is the most well-known dive site in the Corn Islands and a favorite among divers. It is located 7 miles from Big Corn Island and 16 miles from Little Corn. Because of the long-distance, it is a more commonly visited site from the dive centers on Big Corn. Although if the weather is permitting, and there are enough eager guests, dive centers on little Corn will be happy to take the 1 journey (2 hours roundtrip).
The journey is definitely worth the large amounts of sealife congregated around the rocky pinnacle. The pinnacle drops down to around 24 meters on the sandy bottom and breaches the surface to form a rocky islet. This site is well known for its larger marine such as reef sharks, nurse sharks, eagle rays, and stingrays. There is also a vast amount of barracuda, jacks, snappers, grunts, and schooling fish that take refuge from the open waters in the safety around the pinnacle.
It is truly a dive not to be missed on your dive trip to the Corn Islands and is done as a two-tank dive trip by all operators.
There are four dive operators located on the LCI. Two of which are located on the more remote north of the island, and two in the main town.
I would highly recommend Dolphin Dive Little Corn as your tour operator. With knowledgeable friendly staff, well-maintained quality equipment, comfortable well laid out boats, and a high standard for safety they are the most reputable company on the island, and for good reason.
They offer courses from Open water through divemaster as well as one day Discover Scuba Diving experiences. The boats go out three times daily for one tank dives around the island, and all of the surface intervals are conducted back at the dive center after each dive. Giving you the opportunity to only do one dive if you would like, or up to three day dives.
They also offer night dives with a minimum of 4 divers that can be scheduled up to 24 hours in advance.
*** Dive trips to blowing rock from Dolphin Dive can be arranged and will have a minimum for divers as well. These trips require good conditions and will be a two-tank trip with a surface interval on the boat. ***
Diving prices On little Corn island are extremely reasonable for a Carribean island with a one tank dive costing $35 dollars including equipment. After 5 dives or more some dive centers will give a packaged discount so be sure to check with all of the operators before you book.
Helpful Hint *** Dive professionals take note that some operations will offer a pro discount***
Open water courses start at around $330 USD for a 3-4 day course. This is one of the cheapest prices in the world you can get for an open water course and with Dolphin dive you don’t miss out on quality. They also offer dive and accommodation packages with their partner hotel. All prices can be found on their website.
Dive Little Corn Island
I spent two months Diving the reefs off of LCI and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The visibility was stunning and the reefs were bright, colorful, and full of life.
Whether you are looking to enter the world of diving and get certified or are already an avid scuba diver, LCI is the perfect place for a simple island dive getaway.