Aside from its many attributes, our main reason for visiting Nicaragua was to dive Little Corn Island. From the moment that we entered Dolphin Dive and met our dive master we knew that the Caribbean island vibes would extend under water. Having successfully converted his dive master Padi bag into a mobile stereo system, reggae music jammed in the background as we checked our gear, ran through our dive briefing, loaded the boat and headed out to the reef. Good times maaan!
Despite the area not being marine protected, the reefs are looking bright and healthy. The colourful array of coral alone was enough to keep us preoccupied. There is an abundance of macro and micro-species to look out for and on any given dive site you’ll come by a few nurse sharks lazing about the reef. Of course we would have loved to have seen more reef sharks and a hammerhead or two, but unfortunately it appears that those days are over. Turtle numbers are also dwindling due to unsustainable fishing practices and the Nicaraguans demand for turtle meat and eggs.
Dive Operators on Little Corn
If you are keen to dive Little Corn Island there are two dive operators that you should consider, Dolphin Dive and Dive Little Corn. We dived with Dolphin Dive and felt happy with this decision. The management and staff are professional and friendly. The dive equipment is in good condition and the dive shop is well organised. Despite being on Caribbean time everything ran like clockwork!
Both dive operators are located in the main village which might create a logistical problem if you’re staying on the other side of the island. A few hotels will sometimes take on a temporary dive master over the busy season to bring in some extra cash. We would caution against choosing to dive with these outfits until you know more about them. They often fail to meet the very basic standards of good diving practices and are know to drop anchor onto a reef or encourage their divers to “pet” the nurse sharks. Not cool.
General Diving Conditions
We dived this location towards the end of September and decided to schedule most of our diving in the morning to avoid the afternoon thunder showers. Conditions overall were calm and enjoyable. The water temp was a very comfortable 30°C so we didn’t bother with wetsuits. Visibility remained great at up to 25-30m and most dives are less than 18m in depth.
Species to Look Out For
While reef sharks were scarce, we were content with the abundance of nurse sharks lazing about the reefs as this was our first sighting of them. They could often be seen snoozing on a sandy spot or trying to remain inconspicuous underneath a rocky outcrop. Stingrays could also be found competing for a spot on the sand. Looking out into the big blue, we were fortunate to see a loggerhead turtle cruise by before being chased off by an overeager diver.
When you’re not too preoccupied by the reef, take a moment to glance up. On deeper dives, schools of great barracuda, jack fish and kingfish can be found circling above. We also came across green eels, scorpion fish, frog fish and unbelievably big lobsters. On the smaller side, we found colourful nudibranchs, garden eels popping in and out of their holes and mantis shrimps fiercely defending their little patch of reef. Reef fish are plentiful, lighting up the environment with their bright colours.
While we could have happily dived every site on offer, our budget limited us to seven dives…so we made bloody sure that they were good ones!
As we hadn’t dived in a year, we decided to get our fins wet at white holes. This is a shallow dive and a short 10 minute boat ride away. This site ended up being one of our favourites due to it introducing us to the gorgeous corals and fans that we would see throughout our dives. This was also our first introduction to nurse sharks and they obliged by showing up in numbers. This reef is beautiful and worth adding to your list.
Max depth – 9m | Dive time – 50min
Blowing Rock Double Tank
Blowing Rock is at the top of the list for most divers to the area and with good reason. The site is incredible and well worth the 45min boat ride to get here. Your DM will lead you in a circular dive pattern around a central rock formation that protrudes above the ocean surface. Under water though, this site has it all! From overhangs draped with gorgeous corals and fans to deep crevices waiting to be explored. Your list of sightings on the first dive will have you counting down the minutes during your surface interval until you can get back into the water for round two.
First dive max depth – 22m | Dive time – 57min | Surface interval – 53min.
Second dive max depth – 14m | Dive time – 64min
Another great dive site to add to your list. It’s a good feeling when you don’t want to surface because you feel that there is still so much to see on the reef.
Max depth – 21m | Dive time – 48min
Rum Fish Rock
We probably would have dived this site just because of the name. The reef itself lived up to our expectations and we could easily have hit the replay button and done the dive again. The site comprises of large coral outcrops interlaced with sand. When you have finished exploring one section, you can hop over to the next.
Max depth – 16m | Dive time – 57min
What a gem! We couldn’t tell you what the site pattern actually looks like because we felt as though we were in a labyrinth of coral. The reef forms passages that you can swim along, slowly taking in the gorgeous surroundings. You can decide to branch off at times and then circle back or enjoy a few swim throughs.
Max depth – 17m | Dive time – 59 min
Tunnels and Caves
As the name might suggest, this site is a lot of fun. You might well lose track of time weaving through the tunnels and exploring the caves. Between the schools of fish surrounding you and the rays of sunlight streaming in from above, you’ll feel as though you are in an ocean wonderland. If you’re new to diving we would suggest brushing up on your buoyancy before attempting this one.
Max depth – 9m | Dive time – 70min
While perhaps not the easiest destination to get to, the chance to dive Little Corn Island will be well worth the journey. Have a look at our 8 reasons to visit Little Corn and our budget route on how to get to the Island. Happy diving!