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“Laid back and wonderfull”
Review of Arenas Beach Hotel

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Arenas Beach Hotel
Ranked #3 of 7 Hotels in Big Corn Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 13, 2011

We stayed at Arenas Beach Hotel for 8 nights (March 25th through April 2nd). The place is wonderfull. The hotel has 31 rooms (at times only 3 rooms were occupied). During Holy week it is expected to be full. The beach out front is calm and there are few people on the beach. You can walk down to the peer and see fishermen bring in their catch of yellow tail fish each day. We had fresh fish everyday. The couches on the beach are very confortable. The sand flies do bite so just be carefull and use bug stray. Avoid laying down on the beach itself. The bites last about 5 days. We stayed in the bungalows which are very comfortable and have hot water. They have cold A/C. I only wish I had brought my comforter or thin blanket. The cold is great for sleeping but they only have sheets on the bed, no blankets. The hammocks are a peacefull way to spend the hotest hours of the day. You can get a frig in your room if you ask. The food at the restaurant is the best on the island, although it cost a bit more than at other restaurants. Still a whole fish with rice and plantains is only $9. One of the waiters (Oscar), who is from Managua, started the day we arrived and took excellent care of us. There is a store near the hotel where you can stock up on water, soda and BEER! But beers are generally around a $1 anywhere in the restaurants and are always cold. The flor de Cana (Nicaragua RUM) is great. There is a good rental place next to Arenas Beach hotel where you can rent gas powered golf cars to drive around the island. They are a blast and are reasonable to rent. We rented one 3 days because it was so much fun. Taxi's are always driving by and will take you anywhere on the island for a Dollar (most of the time you will be sharing the ride with others but that is how it is on the island). Go up to North Beach to do some excellent snorkeling and have lunch at Seva's (a whole fish with soup, salad, french fries and rice is only $6). The lobster is excellent there and reasonably priced. You can pay anywhere with US dollars or Cordobas. The ATM near the airport will give you dollars or Cordoba's. At the rental place you can also arange to have them take you out on a boat to go fishing or snorkeling. They also rent motorcycles and snorkeling gear. The people at the rental place are really nice and speak english. Everything is laid back on the island. There are no worries. We meant to go to Little Corn for a day or two but really enjoyed the whole island. The island is small, so you will see the same people in different places around the island. People do recomend going to Little Corn. The reef is great, we saw a 5 foot Nurse Shark (these sharks do not harm humans), many sting rays, baracudas and thousands of fish. We stoped by most of the other hotels including Casa Canada. Casa Canada looks very nice but the beach is rocky. You can have breakfast lunch or dinner anywhere. You are welcome everywhere. Although the breakfast is included at Arenas Beach hotel, and it is GREAT. You need to try the creepes with cream cheese and orange marmelade. Believe me Oscar will take care of you there including going out to get you a coconut off the nearby palm tree and cutting it open with a machete. While the beach boat bar is never open, Oscar is more than happy to bring drinks out to you on the beach. Look out for Ricky who delivers the "Pan de Coco" (Coconut bread) around sunset in front of the hotel. Ricky and his wife make fresh bread everyday and Ricky sells the bread to many of the restaurants, tourists and locals on the Island. A loaf of bread is $1 or 20 Cordoba and if he has any buns left they are 4 for 20 Cordoba. He wears a NY baseball cap and delivers his bread on his bicycle. He speaks english, is is a joy to talk to and his bread is outstanding. If you see him telling him Laurens (Lorenzo) and Gina will put his picture up on the internet soon. Please tell Oscar that we miss him. Remember this is not Aruba or Cancun, and that is why I loved this magical place. Corn Island was exactly what I was looking for and I hope it doesn't change...

Room Tip: I loved the Bungalows
  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank 143Beachbum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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131 - 137 of 229 reviews

Reviewed April 9, 2011

Loved it. Choose the "comfort room" instead of the bungalow. A bit more expensive but worth it.
Staff is helpful, speak English well. The food was delicious - best I had anywhere on the island.
The dining patio faces the beach - what a gorgeous beach !!

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank ablask
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2011

The hotel is just on a dead end road, 3 minutes from the airport. They organize the pick up also. The beach is the quietest of the island. The other part is rough, because exposed to the high see and could be also windy, not here. And there is hot water on bathroom.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank drbino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2011

The Corn Islands have been described as what the Caribbean was like fifty years ago – so true from both negative and positive perspectives. There are very few tourists, so you can enjoy almost deserted beaches and restaurants and can easily interact with the locals. There are also no real stores, just pulperias with very limited selections, and the hotels are few and generally more expensive and of lower quality than elsewhere in Nicaragua. Because we stayed for two weeks, we looked at almost all of the hotels on the island before choosing the Arenas Beach Hotel. We paid $70/night for a comfort room in the main hotel, a much better choice than the bungalows which are about half the size and cost almost as much. We chose the Arenas because it is located on by far the nicest beach on the island and has spacious, nicely decorated rooms, and balconies with a partial beach view. Other hotels either have no beach (small with little sand, or rocky as soon as you get to the water) or have small dingy rooms (Martha’s has tiny cell-like rooms and still charges $50/night). Casa Canada is the only other hotel we considered; while the rooms are nicer, there is no beach (Long Beach just down the road isn’t really suitable for wading or swimming) and the pool (the only one on the island) is small with a limited lounging area. It just wasn’t worth the extra $30-40/night.

Restaurants on the island offer pretty much the same menu at the same prices. The hotel’s restaurant is expensive and has a limited menu (many dishes on the menu weren’t actually available). Nearby, Picnic Centre and Martha’s (closes at 6:30) are a short walk down the beach, and both are cheaper than the Arenas ($12 for lobster instead of $20), but watch out for the sand flies at night! There are also some pulperias on the way into town that have comida corriente (usually chicken, fried plantain and rice) for $2. By far the best restaurant we found, however, is in Brig Bay - the Nauwilte Restaurant and Bar. All menu items cost $4 (85 cordobas) regardless of whether you order lobster or chicken. The food is excellent, especially the lobster, conch, shrimp and fish, and is prepared promptly with none of the 1-hour waits that you read about in the tourist literature. It is a pleasant, safe, 30 minute calorie-burning walk from the hotel to the restaurant, but bring a flashlight – the road isn’t well lit.

The hotel has a great lounging area at the beach, with lounge chairs (not common at other hotels) and very comfortable cabanas. The beach is a kilometre of broad, grey sand, and you can wade a long way off shore before the water gets deep. Local kids play soccer or practice their break dancing moves most afternoons. Bar service at the beach is at best intermittent. We brought a small cooler and bought beer ($0.75) and rum ($3.50) at one of the better pulperias (Commisariato CAF) that happens to be just up the road from the hotel – the hotel has an ice machine next to the restaurant. For activities, you can rent bicycles at a place next to the hotel for $1/hour – it took us only 4 hours to cycle around the island, and that includes stops for lunch and snorkelling. We also went on a snorkelling trip with Nautilus - $20 each for three sites that include an old wreck with cannons, a newer wreck, and a reef with live coral. There is a new cultural centre next to the baseball stadium – the exhibits are interesting and the curator provides enthusiastic guided tours. The hotel doesn’t have a book exchange, but the Paraiso Club Hotel don’t seem to mind if you use the one in their bar.

Big Corn Island is a great place for a laid back, relaxing vacation if you like independent travel and don’t need to be catered to by the tourism industry. If that’s you, then the Arenas Beach Hotel offers by far the best combination of price, location and comfort on the island.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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17  Thank ndser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2011

The cabanas are not on the water! They are clean but are small. We spent 4 days there and moved to Casa Canada. The boat bar is not a bar. They never served drinks from there it was always closed. The food was good and the staff was great. There is a road that goes between the hotel and room and the beach. This resort is ok but I think there are better options on the island. Casa Canada is way better if you want to spend a bit more and Hotel morgan is the same or a bit better if you want to spend less. If you have questions I spent 10 days on the island and would love to help joe1@iwon.com

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank jplucna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2011

Our California family of five stayed at Arenas Hotel on Big Corn Island Dec 27-Dec 30. The weather was not good so I must disclose that it could affect our overall experience and this review. We had consistently high winds (40mph!), mostly cloud cover, coolish temperatures and intermittent rain. I know, you can’t ‘predict the weather’ but you can improve your chances by choosing seasons that give you better odds. As an aside, am I the only adventurer traveler that is having difficulty getting accurate weather patterns for out of the way places? This was the ‘dry’ season which was validated by all the web marketing links as well as seasonal weather stats on wunderground, accuweather, etc…but when I spoke to the locals on the streets, the weather we experienced was considered normal for December. Even more frustrating were unanswered emails and phone calls to the hotel inquiring about the weather days before our departure; if it were just a front we had ample opportunity to switch things around. I did receive a reply from the dive shop saying that they ‘they always dive and do not wait for weather’ only to find out that they hadn’t dove in several days when we arrived. What was planned as the water based part of our trip simply didn’t happen; no scuba, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, or even beaching. In fact, no one even went in the water, and we spent a total of two hours on the beach over four days. I would have preferred to blame it on global warming but I can’t help feeling a bit duped.
In spite of all that, we had a good time due in part to Arenas but mostly the friendly people on the island.
So here goes.
Excellent
-the food at Arenas was outstanding, especially given that the supply boat hadn’t run for almost a week due to weather. We had lobster many times and everything else that we tried was very good. Kudos to Arenas.
-the island people are extremely friendly. One of the benefits of not having a lot of activities is that we took to the streets, renting golf carts and bikes, and mingled with the locals. The northern part of the island is a well paved road which made for an easy and interesting tour. This was the highlight of our trip as we met interesting and very engaging people.
Good
-the Arenas property and rooms were nice, especially for an out of the way island. We did have lunch at the Casa Canada and it looks like a good property, too; very nice pool, well attractive grounds, pretty view, but zero beach. There is a very nice beach down the road. Probably a tie with Arenas for nicest on the island. BTW, Anastasia is shuttered for mysterious reasons that the locals don’t seem to want to talk about.
-the service, while not proactive in asking you if you wanted something, was good.
-the beach in front of the property is nice but for frequent travelers you will not consider it to be ‘world class’ as advertised. I can think of five beaches in the Bahamas alone that are better than this one. The water is clear, the sand a light tan (not white) and the hotel lounges are great. It also faces west which gives some block to the easterly winds and the benefit of sunset views. However, it does have some high tide trash (not a lot) and a commercial wharf within view to the north. A good beach, for sure, but not worth the trip on its own.
Not so good
-the aforementioned weather
-management was aloof, seemingly more interested in hanging out with their friends than mingling with the guests. The GM Alex was a nice fellow but seemingly too shy or introverted to be in the role of the manager of a small resort. There was no personal attention at all from him (Enrique, the front desk reception, was very friendly). In fact, the only time he did interact he offered to arrange horseback riding for us as a somewhat weather resistant activity; not only did he fail to follow up but when he saw us off the last morning, he never even mentioned it.
-no pool. I chose Arenas knowing this fact, and might even choose it again. However, a higher end resort needs a pool.
Overall, I would recommend Arenas for those going to Corn Island, but more importantly choose your timing in light of the activities that you are planning.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank Dave Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2010

We spent 4 nights on Little Corn and came to Big Corn for one night before flying out. Alexander at Arenas made sure a driver met us at the dock. We were traveling with little girls ages 7 and 9, so having someone to grab us right off the boat and get us to our hotel was comforting. Arenas is VERY quiet. We were the only guests and treated very well. The hotel is under some renovations so the beaches are not set up like the website shows. We paid $90 for the comfort room, which included breakfast. The beach in front is great and we also enjoyed appetizers and drinks at Picnic Center just down the beach. We liked the vibe on Little Corn better than Big Corn.

Stayed: November 2010, traveled with family
1  Thank Idaho4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenas Beach Hotel

Address: Southwest of Corn Island, Nicaragua (Formerly Cesar Beach Hotel)
Phone Number:
Location: Nicaragua > Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region > Corn Islands > Big Corn Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 7 Hotels in Big Corn Island
Price Range: $107 - $109 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Arenas Beach Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 29
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Also Known As:
Arenas Beach Hotel Corn Islands, Nicaragua - Big Corn Island

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