There are two ways to get to Corn Islands.
Option One –
Many major airlines fly into Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city. I stress using Spirit Air, you can join their flight club and pick up some nice $9 flights. I paid about $140 each for round trip from Fort Lauderdale to Manaqua. Current airlines providing service to Manaqua are American, Continental, Delta, Spirit, Copa, Grupo Taca & AeroMexico. After clearing customs and immigration, exit the terminal and walk to the left.
TRAVEL TIP – Time your flight right. We arrived about 11:30 and figured we would just hang out in airport as we had to be in line early. NOT much open late, after midnight till 6am virtually nothing. Also, buy a disposible phone here with minutes. It is cheaper than using your cell phone. I paid about 10 for a phone and bought a card with 50 minutes on it.
Take a short walk to the end of the airport terminal, you will find a separate terminal building for the regional airlines which provide service to Bluefields, Big Corn Island and Puerto Cabezas. Get there early! Lines start at 7 am. The planes out of Bluefields that connected to Corn Island when we went were La Costena (we used) and Atlantic Airlines which I hear is not flying in there anymore. La Costena Airlines flies these routes with the last flights leaving Managua at 2:00 p.m. Round trip tickets to Big Corn Island cost approximately $165.00 USD. Reservations are required and can now be made online. Flight time to Big Corn Island is approximately 1 1/2 hours with one stop in Bluefields. You will change planes. Baggage is limited to 30 lbs per person ($1.20/lb over). Bring your patience, they fill the planes on a first come, first serve basis. I was given a cardboard boarding pass with a number.
The planes are archaic. Nothing like what you will experience in the US. The plane we got on to Big Corn sat about 15 passengers and it looked like something out of a WW2 movie. You are cramped and just dying to get some fresh air when you get off. If you happen to get stuck next to a very smelly European, you are wishing it was over quicker. I had a really nice gentleman sitting in the row in front of me who smelled like he had not had any contact with water in well over a month. I had a small travel bottle of perfume and dabbed it on a tissue and had a little relief.
Option 2 – slow boat or bus from Manaqua
An alternative to flying to the Corn Islands is to come by road, river then ocean. This route offers scenic
views of rural villages few people have ever seen and is an ideal option for those who are traveling on a
budget and have some extra time. Let me stress the extra time. Add a day each way.
Managua – Rama – Bluefields: The express coach bus from Managua to Rama leaves Mercado Ivan Montenegro (Costa Atlantica Terminal) each evening at 9:00 p.m. and makes one rest stop in Santo Tomas. The bus arrives the Rama wharf at 3:00 a.m. and most passengers who are connecting to the river taxi to Bluefields will sleep on board until daybreak. Tickets cost C$150 (bus only) or C$ 350 including a guaranteed seat on the first river taxi to Bluefields. The river taxi takes 1 1/2 hours and this option will get you to Bluefields by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.
Local “chicken” buses from Managua to Rama leave from Mercado Mayoreo at 6am, 8am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm and 9pm with many stops enroute and cost C$ 130. You can also check Nicaraguan bus schedules here.
The river taxis Rama-Bluefields cost C$ 170 and depart whenever they become full.
To get from Bluefields to Corn Islands by boat.
Bluefields – Corn Island:
Bluefields Express – Rio Escondido:
Government operated fast cat
Departs Bluefields Wednesday 9:00 a.m. for Corn Island
with one stop in Bluff
Departs Corn Island Thursday 9:00 a.m. for Bluefields
Travel time is 5 hours with one stop in El Bluff C$210
+(505) (8) 437-7209
135′ former USCG Buoy Tender (sleeping bunks available)
Departs Rama Wednesday 12:00 noon for El Bluff (just outside of Bluefields)
Departs El Bluff Wednesday 5:00 p.m. for Corn Island -arrives Corn Island 10pm
Pangas from Bluefields to El Bluff leave the Bluefields Wharf regularly
15 minute ride (C$ 30) We opted for the Panga, what a hilarious trip we had!
Departs Corn Island Saturday night “midnight” for Bluefields or
Departs Corn Island Friday 5:00 pm. for Puerto Cabezas (one time per month –
arriving back in Corn Island Sunday morning)
C$ 350 Rama – Corn Island o/w
C$ 250 Bluff-Corn Island o/w
(+505) 850-2767 Capt. Capt. Norman Downs
Call to reconfirm schedule – speaks perfect english & spanish
Corn Island – Bluefields Sunday
Bluefields – Rama Tuesday
Rama – Bluff Thursday
Bluff – Corn Island Friday
Corn Island – Little Corn Saturday
Corn Island-Bluefields C$200
Bluff-Corn Island C$250
Corn Island-Little Corn C$50
(+505) (2) 575-5248
Call ahead to confirm schedule and be there an hour early. There is a quaint little place you can have a FDC and coke. $5 for a fifth and a bottle of coke.
Once you are in Corn Islands, Claim your luggage and reconfirm your return flight. This is important, if you are not one the manifest back, you don’t get back that day. We checked the day before and they lost our name and had to put us on again. When we showed up the day of flight, they lost us again but we showed up early with some liquid libations. From here you can get a taxi anywhere on the island for (each stop) costs 15 cordoba per person (<$1.00) during the day and 20 at night. I had been told to use a certain taxi driver (Sergio)from Tom on a yahoo group I belong to so we paid $5 to get a tour and see the island from his point of view. He was waiting for us when we arrived. I had his cell and used him the whole trip. If using someone else, be firm about going to your desired/reserved hotel as many taxi drivers receive commissions for diverting visitors to particular hotels .
To get to Little Corn
To get to Little Corn Island, take a taxi to the Municipal Wharf in Brig Bay(pay a C$3 tax to enter)
where you will find the water taxi waiting on the lower, wooden dock. The schedule for the water taxi to
Little Corn is coordinated with flight arrival and departure times.
Big Corn – Little Corn at 10a & 4p
Little Corn – Big Corn at 7a & 2p
Travel time is 1/2 – 1 hour
depending on weather.
TRAVEL TIP –
Be sure to get a life vest and use it to sit on. It will make your ride less painful and more enjoyable. Sit towards the back, less bumpy. Also where the locals sit. Be prepared for chickens and other life necessities to share the ride. Cost for either water taxi is C$ 110 one-way.