Travel options for the Corn Islands
If you’re reading this then chances are you’re looking to travel to the Corn Islands / Las Islas del Maize? Below I will break down the two main routes to get here because, when I was looking for my trip, there was minimal information on how to reach the remote Caribbean islands. Both routes include travel through or from Nicaragua.
Option one: a boat from Bluefields, the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua
I chose against this option because the hassle involved didn’t warrant the fifty or so pounds I would save compared to flying (approx. $70) The trip included travelling by at least one bus across country to Bluefields. Reviews generally say how stunning the scenery is but also that the busses can be full and that it can take a good proportion of the day. Equally, once in Bluefields, the boat which sails across to Big Corn Island may be called off if the sea is choppy. This means you could spend more than if you had flown because you’d need to seek last minute accommodation. If you’re already on the Caribbean side and you’re fairly flexible with travel then definitely go by boat (of which there are two options I believe; a slow scenic one or a fast one)
In order to reach Little Corn island you need to go via Big Corn island. Again, the boats may be cancelled if the waters are choppy so best to prepare to stay on Big Corn Island on either side of your trip. No planes fly to Little Corn island (they don’t even have cars there)
Option two: flying with la Costena
La Costena is a small airline which flies across Central America. They have various bases but the one which I flew from was Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. The Augusto Sandino airport hosts international flights and, alongside it, almost appearing like a staff entrance to the far right, is the entrance for flying with la Costena. They only fly a few times a day so it’s fairly self-explanatory once you’re there – just go with the flow. I only had hand luggage so the shiny new tin of insect repellent I had just bought had to go in the bin. Other banned items include the obvious, sharp blades and animals to name a few. Boarding passes are laminated numbers which you hand back once yours is called out. In true Nicaraguan style a 2pm departure will likely mean a 2.30 departure – but still, best to arrive in good time. The terminal is about the size of a large doctor’s waiting room, although the planes only carry about 40 passengers anyway so it doesn’t feel too claustrophobic whilst you wait. There are a couple of small café-style kiosk shops lining the back wall although the prices are ridiculous ($2 for a small bottle of water) You get a free drink in-flight. The best service La Costena’s terminal offers is free wifi – meaning no matter how late your flight departs you can stay connected to the world or have entertainment.
Big Corn island airport hosts only one run way. The airport itself is, again, more similar to a doctor’s waiting room. The runway isn’t secure; between flights kids play football or baseball on it, and locals cut across it like you or I would cross a road. When you disembark the small propeller-powered plane, you wait in the small ‘doctor’s waiting room’ for the luggage to be carted across. You walk out the door and you’re here, greeted by a dozen or so taxi drivers. If you think you need to arrange a transfer from Big Corn Island airport to your hotel then I would advise against it. Even if you can’t flag down a taxi on exiting the airport, if you’re happy to wait you may as well wait. To arrange a transfer you could be looking at anything between $20-$50 – and you’ll get the exact same service as if you had rocked up and flagged one down for a dollar. The quality of the taxis is an interesting subject; some might not have seatbelts, others might be missing windows or you may come across a few without door handles. It’s all pretty standard. And it’s all part of the experience.
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