HOW TO GET HERE
Little Corn island is situated approximately 70km off mainland Nicaragua and is accessed from BigCornIsland, which can be reached either by plane or boat.
Flights run three times daily from both Managua and Bluefields, operated by La Costena, a subsidiary of TACA airlines. Flights can be booked on their website, through travel agents/tour operators in Granada/Leon, or in person at the airport. Note there is an $18 fee for online bookings and you have to fix your return date, if you book in person then you can avoid this fee and also buy an open return and book your return ticket at a later date. If you buy a fixed return date then later date changes cost $40 and have to be paid for in person or through their website, date changes and payment for them cannot generally be done over the phone.
Flights depart Managua at 6.20am, 11.30am and 2pm, taking between an hour and an hour and a half depending on the plane they use and whether is flies direct or stops in Bluefields on the way. Return flights from Big Corn to Managua run at 8am, 1pm and 4.30pm.
It is advised that you make reservations before your journey as seats can be limited, especially in busy periods. A return journey from Managua costs from $164 (they have recently introduced variable pricing) and you if you buy an open return then you will need to reserve a seat for your return trip either on arrival at the airport in Big Corn, or by calling the airport there on 505-2575-5131. Generally if you have an open return then you should call to reserve your seat 2-3 days in advance, or a week in advance for busy periods.
The airline's website has started charging higher prices for busy times, but you can usually pay the standard fare if you are able to call the airline and book by phone on (505) 2298 5360. This can be a lengthy and frustrating process, but we recommend you buy tickets in advance if possible as purchasing them at the airport is reliant on there being spare seats available, which is a gamble (in low season they uses smaller planes).
Please note though that checked in baggage is limited to 30lbs per person with an excess charge of $1.20 per pound over this. Note also that excess baggage is treated as standby baggage so there is no guarantee it will arrive on the same flight as you.
You are however allowed two carry on bags so it worth giving some though to packing before boarding.
Once you arrive at the airport you can get a taxi to the wharf for the panga to Little Corn for $1 per person.
The Rio Escondido passenger ship runs between Bluefields and Big Corn, leaving Bluefields at 9am Wednesday, returning 9am Thursday from Big Corn, journey time approx. 5 hours.
There are supply boats running from Rama/Bluefields every week, usually on a Thursday, but at no fixed time, returning from Big Corn to Bluefields/Rama on Sunday nights usually around 10pm to midnight, check at the dock.
Boats to Corn Island leave from Bluefields which can be reached either by plane from Managua as above, or you can get a bus from Managua to Rama, and then take a boat downriver from Rama to Bluefields.
Express buses leave from the Costa Atlantica Terminal in the Mercado Ivan Montenegro each evening at 9pm, arriving in Rama at approximately 3am. The cost of this service is $8 or $16 including the boat fare to Bluefields.
Chicken buses leave from the Mercado Mayoreo at 6am, 8am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm and 9pm and cost $7, but make many stops on the journey.
Once in Rama the boats to Bluefields operate when full, starting when it gets light, and cost $9.
On occasions there may be other supply boats running from the mainland to Big Corn but there are no schedules available for these so it's just a case of being in the right place at the right time.
Please note though that boat times may vary so it is worth getting there in advance to check sailing times and to reserve a space.
BOATS TO LITTLE CORN
Small open 'panga's leave Big Corn at 10am and 4.30pm (ish!) taking around 30 minutes to make the crossing. They often wait if the plane is late so you don't miss the ride, so the evening panga especially can run up to an hour late at times.
Prices are $6 or 145 cordobas and tickets must be bought at the office at the dock before boarding the boat. There is a dry storage area for your main bags, but both yourself and any hand luggage may get wet so be prepared, or buy a sack to keep belongings dry, especially when windy.
Pangas back to Big Corn leave from Little Corn at 6.30am and 1.30pm. There is also another boat which runs at 4pm but takes around an hour so will not connect with any flights, but is fine if you want to spend the night in Big Corn before flying the next day.
WHEN TO LEAVE
La Costena will ask you to check in an hour and a half before the flight time, but in reality that's not necessary and you can generally catch the morning boat at 6.30am for the morning flight (also the mid-day flight) and the afternoon boat for the afternoon flight.
HOWEVER - During busy times (December to May) and also when winds are above 16-18 knots, we suggest that you leave earlier to make sure you catch your flight. The boat has limited capacity and may need to make multiple trips so if you're not on the first boat there is a risk of missing your flight and any connections you may have in Managua. We suggest that at these times that if you are on the morning flight at 8am that you leave the afternoon before, and if you are on the lunchtime or afternoon flights then you leave that morning. At quieter times this is not necessary, you can ask for advice locally when you are here on what best suits your travel plans.
STAYING ON THE MAINLAND?
We recommend the following places to stay if you need to overnight in Managua...
Mid range - Hotel Bello Horizonte - clean comfortable hotel close to Rotonda Bello Horizonte with bars and restaurants.
Telephone (505) 22490435
Close to airport - Best Western - directly over the road from the airport, for those early starts.
Miss Margrit's - spacious and beautifully decorated guest house with only 3 rooms, a short walk from Granada's Parque Central. Manager Chris will make you feel at home and is able to help with travel arrangements etc.
*** ARE YOU TRAVELLING FROM THE US? ***
If so then you may be able to help us. As we're on a small island it is often difficult for us to obtain spare parts and other supplies which take a long time to reach us from the US. If you're willing and able to carry a few small parts with you then please contact us in advance of your trip and we'll see if there is anything we need to order than we'll get sent to your address. Don't worry, if there is anything it will only be a small package and we'll be happy to give you a discounted rate on your diving with us in appreciation.
© Dolphin Dive 2008