Island Life

Recently I've been hearing from friends that are curious about life here on Corn Island, so its probably about time I posted an update and some general information about every day things here. If you're already down here this probably will all be old news to you but for those looking for a glimpse of Island life from afar I hope you will find this information interesting and perhaps even useful.

First off some things we really like about living on Corn Island. Of course the first thing has to be the ministry, the work we do here is very productive like anywhere else in Nicaragua and we see a lot of fruitage. Secondly the obvious advantage to living on a Caribbean island is the spectacular beaches and ocean views. Even in bad weather this is among the most beautiful places in the world.

Some of the activities we enjoy here are swimming, snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Jean and I particularly love to go snorkeling in front of our apartment. There is a reef not far from the shore, and when we swim past it there is a small cliff where the water gets suddenly deeper and many colorful fish can be seen. After going on a tour I decided to take up free diving, and after just a bit of practice both of us have become much more confident swimmers and able to dive much deeper than before, even collecting cool shells from the bottom.

Getting around on the Island, for us is usually done by bicycle. We find it to be the most practical and cost effective, since the Island has good roads and not too many hills (although there are one or two big ones). Other options are taxis which cost 18 cords per person per trip, or the bus which costs 10 cords.

Now, some of the challenges we face while living in this almost paradise. First and foremost is travel, obviously being on an Island surrounded by ocean results in a degree of isolation. There is one passenger boat that leaves once a week on Wednesday from Bluefields, and returns the next morning. Frankly, I would say this boat is simply too small to be in the open ocean, and riding it feels like sitting on a cork in a blender when the weather is rough. The better choice is to catch a ride on one of the larger cargo ships, although their schedules are irregular. The other option, if you absolutely have to get there quickly is to fly, but even then you need to book your flight some days in advance, and it will cost you. Up to $120 US per person each way. Since this is something few of the local Islanders can afford, doing so also affects the way the locals perceive you in the ministry (and on an Island, everyone knows what your up to, and when you've been to the airport)

Another challenge is internet. How this works is still a mystery to me, but as far as I understand it goes something like this.

You can get 3g data on your cell phone, but that data is limited to a very small amount, and is slow. If you want the "residential" service, that is internet as we know it in other parts of the world where you pay a monthly fee and have wifi in your house, well then it gets complicated. In my case, Claro (the internet people on the island) simply told me "no".

Allegedly, the reason is that there are only a certain number of connections available on the Island, and they aren't interested in installing more. So if your house has it, good for you. If not, tough luck. So most of us get by on data, which is also inconsistent, in fact as I was writing this post I ran out of data and had to save it for posting later. Somehow writing a couple lines of text used around 350 megabytes.

Claro also has a habit of taking your money and not providing the service. This is a country wide problem however. You can put money on your prepaid phone or modem, and then never receive the package you ordered, even after receiving confirmation of your payment. No refunds will ever be given, thats their policy and sadly they have no competitors.

Cost of living here on Corn Island depends very much on the individual. Local people make around $200-500 per month at their work, be that fishing or working in a company, and they live fairly well off of that in comparison with communities on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. My wife and I spend about 600-700 Cordobas per week on food, eating mostly Nicaraguan style foods. basically whatever happens to be available when we go shopping. I have the advantage of being married to a Nicaraguan who knows how to cook with local ingredients. I would say though that many locals spend much less than that on food, but at the same time have a lot less variety in their diet.

Rent ranges dramatically based on what you're looking for. Typical homes here do not have closed ceilings, air conditioning, or screens. Often they don't have indoor plumbing either. Islanders who do not own property or a house usually opt to rent or lease a piece of land for $100 or so per year, and build a simple, movable home out of wood and zinc sheets. This way they do not pay rent. Otherwise, there are apartments in several areas of the island that rent from 1,000 to 2,000 cordobas per month. If you want something more modern, american-style homes are plentiful and range from $200-$500 per month, furnished and unfurnished, with and without air conditioning. It is good to do your research as on corn Island, the addage "you get what you pay for" simply does not apply. Some houses are on the market for $650 to $1000 per month, and are in bad locations and have fewer amenities than many cheaper homes. Many homeowners would rather take the chance of getting a big payday and let the house sit empty for years than rent it for a cheaper price.

Hopefully this gives you some insight on what its like to live on Corn Island. We have enjoyed our time here on the Island, and despite the inconveniences I would still say that this is one of my favorite places in the world.


  1. We really hope to come visit one of these days. It's on the to-do list for 2017. Seems like such a long way away, but definitely seems like it will be worth it!


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