Getting to the Corn Islands on a budget the backpacker’s way. Step by step directions from Managua to Little Corn Island. Itinerary, times and prices.
We had 10 unreal days on Little Corn Island, diving, snorkeling, running, picking fresh fruit and drinking vodka out of coconuts we collected. The initial plan was to stay for 3 or 4 days. We had such a good time and did it so cheap that we ended up staying much longer! See our Complete Backpacking Guide to Little Corn Island.
I read some horror stories online about the overland trip to Little Corn Island. It was quite an adventure and much cheaper. So if you are a backpacker with time and a limited budget I will recommend this option over flying.
Getting to the Corn Islands from Granada
This is how we got from Granada to Little Corn Island (total $40) and back to Managua ($30).
It was actually quite fun, take sun cream and motion sickness tablets if that is a problem. ENJOY!!
We did it the following way:
– Granada – Managua, (bus, C29)
From Granada arrive to Managua at UCA bus terminal; take taxi or bus 109 to get to Mercado Ivan Montenegro bus terminal from where bus departs to El Rama.
– Managua – El Rama (bus, 6 hours C160) departs Mercado Ivan Montenegro bus terminal
– El Rama –Bluefield (speed boat, river, 1.5 hours) bus+speedboat C414
– Bluefield – Big Corn Island (The Rio Escondido, C250, ferry 6 hours)
– Big Corn – Little Corn (speed boat, C150, 40 min).
Instead of a speedboat you can take a slowboat between the Corn Islands. There used to be a cargo ship ‘The Captain D‘ doing a slow trip directly from El Rama to Big Corn Island. This is not an option anymore since it sank recently (2017).
The Rio Escondido is the only reliable boat going from Bluefield to Big Corn. It only does this trip once a week, Wednesdays 09:00. To catch this boat you have to take the bus from Managua to El Rama Tuesday 21:00 arriving in El Rama at 03:00. There is an area to wait for the speed boat that leaves at 06:00.
If you walk around the street corner there are cheap empanadas and coffee for sale. Trust me you will be bored, tired and hungry. The boat and bus ticket can be bought as a combination in Managua at the bus terminal, and then you have a guaranteed seat on the speed boat. Try to buy your bus ticket in advance, or at least arrive a couple of hours early. We could only get standing tickets and were very lucky that there were cancellations and we got on the bus that night!
Here is the route with a map and prices as given by Rome2Rio July 2017.
Getting Back to Managua
To get back you have more options, you can go back reversing the same way on Thursdays. Another option is to take a cargo ship. There is no schedule and there are a couple of them a week. We took the Islano D on a Sunday it works out cheaper than the ferry. Our ride on the cargo ship, The Islano D, was interesting it looked like a refugee ship crossing to Europe. Most people were sitting on the deck. If you want to travel in a bit of comfort buy a hammock.
Speed boat Little Corn to Big Corn C150 ($5). The Islano D went all the way from Big Corn to El Rama for C250 ($9). It departed from Big Corn at 09:00 (it only actually left at 11:00), arriving in El Rama at 23:00.From El Rama we took bus 160 to Managua for C160 ($6). The bus left at 02:00 arriving in Managua at 07:00 C25 ($1). Thus Little Corn Island to Managua $21
Flying to the Corn Islands
It is a magic little island an the boat trip is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea. Luckily there are flights! Fly to Big Corn Island and take a speed boat (Panga) to Little Corn Island.
There are several flight options with La Costena Airlines. Daily flights leave Managua at 6.20am, 11.30am and 2pm. Return flights are at 8am, 1pm and 4.30pm.
Return flights: $164
Managua to Bluefields $60
Bluefields to Big Corn $60
Little Corn Island Hotels
We stayed in Three Brothers a very basic place, nice location close to town not on the beach. Think the cheapest spot on the island. Very popular with backpackers, easy place to meet travelers, we had a great time here. There are some cooler spots on the beach.
Christina’s guesthouse is another nice place, central location, clean, friendly staff, nice vibe, good budget place.
Elsas and Grace’s Coolspot are two cool budget places on the beach.