When trying to figure out whether the trip to Corn Islands is worth the money spent, you must ask yourself… Are you ready for an adventure? Or are you more looking to have a Hawaiian vacation with the same expectations and hospitality that you find there, without the price tag? If you’re hoping for the latter, you might be disappointed to find out that if you’re expecting the same, you’ll pay the same. You’ll have access to a “private” beach (but people access it anyway) and exclusive access to beautiful property and 1 exclusive restaurant. Other than that, get ready for the ride of your life.
To get to Corn Islands you must first either take a flight from Bluefields or Managua, which, if you’re lucky you get the larger plane that holds 60 passengers. If not, well, let me just tell you… If you’re like me and already hate flying, or get motion sickness easily, the trip there will be nothing short of misery.
BUT!!! It’s only an hour and a half of flying (from Managua or 30 mins from Bluefields) before you arrive at Big Corn Island, which has dreamy white sand beaches on the west side and coral reefs on the east side. If you’re venturing on to Little Corn Island, you have to make your way from the air strip in a cab for $1.00 to the dock, where you have to buy your ticket for the boat and put your name and passport number on the passenger manifesto. If there aren’t enough people to fill a boat (usually they will say full, but they really mean 10 people, which is NOT full), you will have to wait until the afternoon to take the boat across, when they bring all the workers back to Little Corn.
After purchasing your ticket, you just wait for enough people to be there and they’ll start loading you up with all of the luggage going in a compartment to keep from getting it too wet. If you are prone to motion sickness, I urge you to take something for it prior to getting on the plane. The boat ride will definitely put you over the top. It might look calm and inviting near the shoreline, but let me tell you…. Once you leave the security of land and are on the panga, crossing the OCEAN, the waves get bigger, they crash onto the boat, getting the passengers wet. It’s a rough and exhilarating ride, to be sure.
You will find that some of the waves are so big that the captain will cut the engine and wait for it to pass before continuing on. Some of them feel like they’re going to tip the panga, but they don’t, and if you’re afraid of that, everyone is equipped with a life vest and you’re not actually that far from either island. Too far to swim, but only half an hour between islands by boat. The ride there was so turbulent, I literally did double leg wall squats the entire time to save my neck and back. The swells can be so big that the front of the boat feels like it’s literally facing the sky.
The trip back to Big Corn is a little better, as you leave early in the morning, about 6:30-ish. You will experience much of the same, the later in the day it gets as the currents switch and swells grow. On the way back, the captain gave us a tarp that the people sitting on the east facing side of the boat were to hold up as water splashed onto the passengers. I got wetter on the trip back than on the way there. It’s a good thing the weather is hot and the water warm. Just put on some sunglasses and embrace the suck. It’s only temporary. If you’re lucky enough to make the trip, it is all worth it in the end.
This trip is not for the feint of heart. But it will give you one hell of a story to tell.