The island is calling

Many years ago Mike and I discovered our perfect slice of paradise, Little Corn Island (LCI), Nicaragua. This past trip was even more incredible having shared the experience with our dearest Minneapolis friends.

The journey of getting there is all apart of the adventure. We’ve found island life be much simpler, light beers taste better and swimming in the warm gulf waters pulls the heartstrings to keep coming back for more.

PDX meets MSP in Atlanta

PDX meets MSP in Atlanta

If you crave adventure and enjoy a relaxing beach escape then LCI may be your dream come true. A few fond memories of our beautiful island experience list below.

Tona

  • swimming randomly throughout the day
  • sand everywhere
  • snorkeling and / or diving to see the largest antler coral
  • tasty fish tacos
  • coconut bread
  • fresh fruit juices
  • cold Toña beer
  • bottles of Flor De Caña rum
  • piña colada with toasted coconut
  • dim evening light
  • millions of stars so bright
  • gorgeous sunsets
  • hammock lounging with a book
  • afternoon naps
  • yoga on the beach

You may want to reconsider if your ideal vacation includes hot showers, 24hr electricity, consistent wifi and short restaurant waits –  then this place is definitely not for you.

This last trip I documented the journey to the island and wanted to share our experience.

Below is my recommended booking steps for the trip:
1. Book accommodations on Little Corn Island
* Recommendations Little Corn Beach & Bungalow or Derek’s Place
2. Purchase the commercial flight to Managua
* Skyscanner is a great place to start looking for flights
3. Purchase domestic flight on La Costeña from Managua to Corn Islands from their site
4. If needed, book Managua accommodations. This is only needed if you are unable to make connects work with flights and panga times.
* Recommendation Camino Real

The Journey
• Once you arrive in Managua Augusto C. Sandino International Airport there will be a $10 entry fee per person in immigrations. The officer will give you a small piece of paper that you need to keep throughout your stay in Nicaragua. I typically leave the slip in my passport.

• If staying at Camino Real a free shuttle service will pick you up at the airport upon arrival. The hotel is 1 mile away.

• La Costeña has three flights to Corn Island (Big Corn Island), 6:15am, 11am and 2:30pm.

• When departing on La Costeña airlines from Managua to the Corn Islands they recommend arriving 1.5 hours ahead of time, but the reality is arriving 45mins early is even better. The check-in process can be long and exhausting. The ticketing area is tiny, hot and packed with people and baggage piled on the floor. If there are more people than the plane can hold, another plane is called and leaves a bit later.
I highly recommend to check your baggage. The planes are small and only a handbag or small bag fits under or above the seat. This space is much smaller than on a commercial flight. When checking baggage, you are given a small piece of paper with your baggage number. It is important to keep it. When arriving in Big Corn Island you’ll need to present the slip to the person with the luggage cart to receive your baggage.

• Once checked in you are given a laminated boarding pass with your location name, Corn Island. Next, stop by the window before security and pay the tax of $2 per person. Security is the usual, taking off the belt, empty the pockets and pass your bags through the belt where items are scanned.

La Costeña Borading Pass
• The flight from Managua to Big Corn is about 1.5 hours. There are times, depending on where passengers are flying to, the flight may stop in Bluefields to drop off passengers. Also depending on the amount of passengers flying, La Costeña may have more than one flight to Big Corn  accommodate the number of passengers.

• When arriving at Big Corn Island the group is herded into another small terminal to wait for baggage. Each individual is required to present their passport and the officer writes the details in his book by hand. If more than one flight was needed to accommodate passengers, your baggage might be on the next flight. Bags will arrive on a wheeled cart and the baggage number is given to the guy.

• There are two airport restrooms, mens and womens. Typically only one is working and usually there is no towelette paper. Pro tip; carry a small pack of kleenex when traveling to be safe.

• Next you’ll need a ride to the wharf to get on the panga. When walking out of the airport there will be 20+ taxi drivers waiting to take passages to the wharf or hotels. Flag down a guy for a ride. Rides are $1 per person. Some drivers might sell a tour of the island for a couple extra bucks. There typically is enough time before the panga arrives to do so. But if you need food, skip the tour and go straight to the wharf.

• There is a decent small restaurant close to the wharf to grab a bit and beer before the panga arrives. Pay in cash and keep the córdoba for the wharf tax.

Big Corn Island

Big Corn Island Wharf

• Head to the wharf about 20-30 mins before it departs. The panga fills up fast and depending on the driver sometimes will leave before the scheduled time.

• You enter the wharf through a chainlinked fence and will be approached by a guy to way the whaft tax of about 6 córd or .20 US dollars. Once paid, the guy will give you a slip of paper as receipt. If you leave the fenced in area you will need to present that receipt to re-enter.

• There are two different ways to pay for the panga, depending on how it’s setup for the day. There is a building to the right that has a covered patio. Find the person with the tickets and money. The trip is typically $6 US per person. Once paid you will receive a laminated ticket for the ride.
If the panga is present, head to the pier and place your bags in the front. The seats closest to the front of the boat will be more bumpy. I highly recommend applying sunscreen before they take off. The sun can get pretty intense and if you are like me will burn quickly.

4_Panga

Panga’s packed and ready to go

Sit back and enjoy the ride! 30 minutes later you will have arrived in paradise!

Little Corn Island

North end of LCI

DSC_0781

Perfect temp for a swim

LCI_Sunrise

Sunrise on LCI