Adventurous travellers should definitely include the Corn Islands on their list of things to do in Nicaragua. Situated 40 miles (70km) from the mainland, near the city of Bluefields, the two islands are home to howler monkeys, while the seas and coral reefs surrounding them are popular with divers wishing to see barracudas, nurse sharks, spotted eagle rays and green turtles. In the 17th century the islands were a haven for pirates and smugglers but today the locals mostly make a living from the sea, although there are still mutterings of sunken treasure and old shipwrecks. Tourists visiting Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island won't find modern hotels or resorts as the tourism industry is in its infancy; instead there are a few sparsely populated villages offering simple, cheap accommodation, and a wealth of unspoiled plant and animal life. The Corn Islands are a perfect off the beaten track destination in Nicaragua, a tropical paradise somehow still overlooked by development and offering the sandy white beaches and fruit trees that complete the picture of what a island retreat should be. Popular activities on the islands include fishing, scuba diving and snorkelling.