Last week I wrote a post about some off-the-beaten-path islands in Southeast Asia I had the pleasure of visiting. This week I write about the rest. The most beautiful, weirdest, most off the beaten path islands. I hope that you enjoy this post as much I have enjoyed writing it.
Corn Islands, Nicaragua
Location: Off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua
Getting there: Lord, are ya’ll ready for this? This island is without a doubt the most isolated island I visited and definitely the hardest to get to. To get to this island you have 2 main choices you can go by land or by air.
By air: You need to go to this website where you can find flights for roughly $112 that take about an hour. Note: Flights are no always offered everyday. Make sure to plan it out so that there is actually a flight for your preferred dates.
By land: To get to Corn Islands you need to take a bus that leaves from Managua at 9pm and arrives in Rama at sometime in the early morning (depending on how many stops they have to make). Once in blue fields you will catch a boat from Rama to bluefields. From there you will rush and try to catch the ferry from Rama to Corn islands, this is very hard as they don’t have ferry’s everyday, and those that do exist fill up very quickly. If you are trying to catch the ferry, I highly recommend you get to Rama at the very minimum the night before. I missed the ferry and ended up taking a flight from Rama to Big corn because my flight home was looming and I wanted to have some time on the islands.
Note: there are two corn islands. I prefer the much more isolated little corn. For a much more detailed version of how to get there check out my post from 2016 here.
Setting: Little corn is a carless island with unpredictable ferries/boat transportation. So much of this island depends on the weather. When the weather is nice you have easy transportation, about 4 hours of electricity and fun opportunities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and wind surfing. When the weather is bad, you are stuck, for better or worse, in your rented room and if you felt brave enough, the closest restaurant. The island itself is almost completely walk able and had some really great views if you’re willing to make the effort. You can find massages, yoga, and more to help you relax during your time here. Although don’t expect anything to be fancy. This island is the very definition of off the beaten path.
Experience: As you have probably read I spent so much time trying to get to little corn (3 days!). When I arrived I walked around to the quite side of the island where I got a semi clean, relatively cheap room ( I think like $10/night) and scheduled both diving and wind surfing for my time. Turns out mother nature had other plans. The first day the weather wasn’t good and diving got canceled, no worries we can just reschedule for the following day. That very night I woke up in some of the worst pain in my life. It honest-to-god felt like someone was trying to scoop out my eye balls. The next morning I was nauseous and was pretty sure I had a fever. I can honestly say I don’t remember exactly how many days I was on little corn, but I can tell you that a mosquito from Isla Omepete had an interesting sense of humor and decided to give me Zeka/Dengue/Chikungunya ( the symptoms of these three viruses are so similar you can’t usually tell which of the three you’ve gotten). As a result I spent much of my time in my room, or reading boos on the beach. Turns out the rash I had got worse in the sun severely limiting my options.
So there I was so excited to enjoy this beautiful island I had worked so hard to get to, and instead of being able to enjoy my time I was going through the cycle of headaches, fevers, rashes, and temporary arthritis. Yay travel gods. All this being said I did really enjoy my time here I would go back in a heartbeat.
Isle of Eigg, Scotland
Location: In Scottish Inner Hebrides on the western side of Scotland
Getting there: Starting in Edinburgh/Glasgow you can take a train to either Fort Williams or Mallaig. I wanted to take the “Harry Potter” train and so opted to go Edinburgh to Fort Williams, Fort Williams to Mallaig. From there you take a ferry to Eigg. The most important thing to note here is the timing. I ended up having to spend 2 nights in Fort Williams because of the train and a night in Mallaig because the Eigg ferries were only leaving in the morning.
If you are starting in Aberdeen you can take a bus to Fort Williams and then a train from Fort Williams to Mallaig.
Setting: The Isle of Eigg is about 5 miles long and has a yearly population of about 86 people. There is one pier, one general store, and one road that runs down the length of the island. There are a couple of camping, hotels/yurts/ airbnb spots, but on a very small scale. I stayed on a farm that also has a yurt that you can find here. I have to say that I’m probably pretty partial because I worked for Celia for over a month and love her to pieces, but I would highly recommend staying in here.
Experience:As I stated before I spent my time working on a farm for a woman name Celia who is now someone I call a friend. I worked on her farm and for her sailboat charter. If you are going anywhere near Eigg I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Selkie Explorers. Celia is the skipper for a really cool sailboat and takes people out to explore the Scottish Isles, a definite must. You can learn more about Selkie Explorers here. I hiked the sgurr, explored the beaches, and got to know some of the awesome locals.
Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua
Location: In the middle of Lake Nicaragua in the southern part of the country
Getting there: It can be very complicated trying to get to Isla Ometepe. After taking the cheap route I would actually recommend taking the more expensive bus ride that takes you from Managua to the pier that then takes you to the island. If you are interested in reading more or are trying to get to Ometepe from Esteli check out the post I dedicated specifically to instructions on how to get to Ometepe here.
Setting: Isla Ometepe is a volcanic island. Although it is a tropical island (at least I consider it one) it’s not one where you are going to find loads of beautiful beaches and white sand. Ometepe is more along the lines of interesting (and challenging) hikes, cool bike rides, and intriging animals. This is one of the busier islands on this list with lots of cars and trucks on it many roads.
Experience: I actually didn’t spend too much time on the island. I spend one day exploring the roads via bike and stopping at a lovely swimming hole, Ojo de agua, which was beautiful, and the second day I went on a grueling hike up the top of the small volcano, Maderas. Unfortunately, after the incredibly challenging hike to the top of the volcano there was supposed to be a beautiful lake, instead I got freezing cold rain and fog. During my time on the island I stayed at Hospetaje Ortiz located in Altagracia.
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Location: Off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico
Getting there: From San Juan there are two ways to get to this little slice of heaven. You can take a taxi and then a boat, or you can fly. During my trip here, M and I decided to fly there because we were tight on time, and take the ground on the way back. Note: there is a strictly enforced weight limit on your bags and you will have to pay more if you are over the limit.
Setting: Culebra is a stunning little island of the East coast of Puerto Rico. We camped along Flamanco Beach and spent our time laying in the sun and swimming with the turtles. At the time that we visited there didn’t seem to be a bunch of other things to do beside laz at the beach.
Experience: As I stated above I went to this beach with M and we spent our entire time camping. I loved this experience as the beach was basically visible from our tent. There’s a really cool old tank on the beach that we explored when we wanted to move a bit, and a great little hike to a black beach on the other side of the peninsula where we found a bunch of turtles. If you are looking for an rough-around-the-edges experience on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been on I would highly recommend taking a visit to Culebra.