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When we arrived at Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa on Nicaragua’s Little Corn Island, it reminded me of my younger backpacker days roaming around the islands of Thailand and Indonesia. An unspoiled coast with natural beaches, little cottages tucked away behind the coconut palms. No big resort complex with sprawling concrete structures, just some unobtrusive buildings that look like they belong there.

Once we looked inside those little bungalows though and sat down in the restaurant with an exotic smoothie in hand, it was clear that this is no shoestring travel place. Launched by a Mexican hotelier with experience running low-impact beach resorts in Tulum, Yemaya is a yoga-centered retreat meant for people who want a true getaway for unwinding, but without giving up good food and comfort.

Yemaya lounge

The journey to Little Corn Island will certainly make you feel like you’ve left the world of stress and hurry behind. You take a prop plane from Managua to Big Corn, then a very simple ferry boat with wooden benches across the water. Once you get to the island, it’s five minutes around the bend on another small boat to reach the spot where Yemaya is located.

cottage at Yemaya NicaraguaBut what a spot it is! The restaurant and lounge are on a small promontory , with the color-shifting Caribbean sea in three directions. The cottages are spaced along the rest of the property, most having a view of the water and none more than a minute’s walk to the beach. Behind all that are a huge open-air yoga platform, a large organic garden, and support structures for composting and laundry. Paths lead from here to the rest of the island: there are no roads or cars on Little Corn.

That organic garden is the centerpiece of the cuisine here, combined with fresh seafood caught by island fisherman and Nicaraguan items coming from the mainland, like local cacao and coffee. The menu changes daily according to what’s fresh and available and is written out on a chalkboard. Sure, there’s always a vegetarian dish, but it’s not all super-healthy and low-calorie. The extensive smoothie menu probably puts your local joint to shame, with loads of fresh ingredients and a few health booster items in the mix depending on your tastes and needs.

If there’s a dieting yoga enthusiast with a partner that’s neither, this place still works. There’s a full bar, plus a slate of activities available, including snorkeling and kayaking. Rooms are attractive and comfortable and if you must, you can still get online here to make sure the world is still turning without you.

See our full review and more photos of Yemaya on Little Corn Island.