How To Get To Little Corn Island

If you’re literally just here to find out how to get to Little Corn Island then jump straight to Useful Shit. This isn’t a recipe blog, you don’t need my life story. But I feel like this two day mission needs a blog all of its very own so when I’m old and decrepit I have something to show the cats about that time we spent two fucking days travelling to a Caribbean island because we thought it might be pretty.

First thing you need to do is decide what’s going to pay for this; your butt or your wallet? You can fly into Big Corn Island with La Costeña then take the panga to Little Corn from there, but that’s going to cost your first born child and a small portion of your soul. We decided to do it the cheaper way which is actually relatively straightforward albeit long. So very fucking long.

The market/terminal at Masaya.

We woke up at Laguna De Apoyo and decided to catch the local bus rather than take a taxi to the highway. The guy who checked us in told us it left at 6am. The guy who settled our bill told us it left at 6.30am. Well, shit. Obviously we need to err on the side of caution and aim for 6am which we did and sat there for 40 fucking minutes whilst I tried to decide whether we should just go and ask for a taxi or wait it out. It didn’t help that my guts weren’t sure what they wanted to do today. Would they behave or would I shit myself on the longest overland journey we’d done since Argentina? I practiced my clenching.

So yeah, 6.40am the Laguna – Masaya bus showed up and we all got on. It drove a little further down the road, turned around then made its way back up towards the highway. We’d considered jumping off there and flagging a minibus bound for Managua but those things get packed out before they even leave Granada. We figured we’d head all the way into Masaya so we’d have a chance at getting a seat on a big chicken bus. Also if there was a toilet I could probably annihilate it. An hour later we were deposited at the terminal which is also a market so yeah, you can imagine the chaos. I gave up on any plans to drop the kids off and hoped there’d be minimal seepage. I’ve no idea what’s wrong with pretty much my entire digestive system right now but it’s not okay.

Terminal Costa Atlantica in Managua. Terminal Costa Caribe is a little red building in the corner (not pictured).

The done thing in these situations is to simply locate a bus with “Managua” painted across the front which will likely have a bloke stationed outside it loudly and repeatedly stating the destination. If you’re not sure where to start looking you can just ask. We piled on, our bags slotted nicely into the racks above the seats which is a rare and satisfying thing then at 8am the bus finally pulled away. It took over an hour to get to the Huembes terminal and as soon as you alight you won’t have problems finding a taxi driver. They’ll launch themselves at you.

The cheeky fuckers wanted C$150 each to take us to Terminal Costa Caribe insisting it was “very far”. Yeah I know it’s far, mate, that’s why we’re looking for a taxi, we’re not going to walk it but it’s not eight fucking dollars worth of far. I’ve read if you walk a couple of blocks from the terminal you can flag a taxi for way cheaper but I’d no idea which direction to wander aimlessly in in what’s quite an unsavoury city so we ended up paying C$100 each to a guy parked outside. I’ve no idea how much it’s meant to be but it was a price we were comfortable with.

Timetable for buses between Managua and Bluefields. They’re express buses which means you buy your ticket before you board and are assigned a seat. Once all the seats are taken you have to wait for the next bus, they won’t cram you on.

We missed the 9.15am bus to Bluefields by half an hour. Buggerations. Nevermind, we grabbed tickets for the 11.15am bus and went to get some food from one of the comedores before my stomach digested itself. We knew we were going to get overcharged as soon as she asked if we wanted the bill in dollars or córdobas but whatever, we were so stuffed full of rice, beans and fried chicken that we’d not need to eat again for a while.

Phone numbers for some of the buses should your Spanish stretch to a phone call.

The bus arrived an hour early to be loaded up with all manner of goods. Our bags went on the roof with everything else and we jumped on to take our assigned seat. God I love assigned seating. Usually they absolutely pack people onto buses in Nicaragua but this one seemed to be sitting room only and they weren’t randomly stopping to pick people up from the side of the road. We only stopped for two ten minute breaks for snacks, wees, and so they could pour more water into the engine which was comforting. Hahaha so fucking comforting. God I hope we make it to Bluefields.

I do not honestly remember the last time my arse ached so much. I felt like I’d been kicked by an angry donkey on crack. You know when you’re sat for so long that when you dare to move your coccyx loudly reminds you of its pointless existence? Yeah, so that. It was 7.5 hours later when the bus finally rolled into Bluefields and we all spilled off and waited for our belongings to be passed down from the roof. I’ve got a habit of trying to dodge taxi drivers until we’ve got our shit together so we don’t feel rushed or pressured but this resulted in a bit of panic as I looked around and all the drivers appeared to have passengers. Oh. Bollocks. Well that backfired. Eventually a driver with one passenger, a guy from our bus, beckoned us over and we jumped in. I think it’s common to share taxis in Nicaragua, fares are quoted per person so it does make sense.

Our chariot awaits. All luggage goes on the roof.

We’d booked a room at Typical House Bluefields which turned out to be more of a homestay. The family were just chilling in front of the TV. I mean, they were all lovely but it threw us a little bit as we were expecting a hostel. It’s called Typical House. Of course it’s going to be a typical house, numpty. It was fine though. We managed to get to a supermarket just before it closed at 7.30pm then we just showered the day off and went to bed. After two sleepless nights because my organs were boiling in my blood in a stuffy, hot dorm room, followed by twelve hours of travel, it was nice to have a decent fan and a comfy bed. We both slept so fucking well.

Typical House Bluefields. Literally someone’s house.

The following morning we necked a Red Bull each and shuffled to the pier. We arrived before 7am and joined a surprisingly orderly queue. Where are we and when did we leave Central America? All was familiar again though when the boat pulled up and the nice, Britishesque line surged forward into a flailing mass of shoving humans. That’s more like it. Tarrant was mortified. We slowly smooshed our way onto the boat, registered our names and just took seats right there inside near the front. Dear reader, do not do this. The port tax was collected, the boat set sail at 9am as scheduled, and all was fine for about an hour until we rounded the Bluff. I’d been putting off taking a travel sickness tablet, they rob me of my basic motor functions and I’m a drooling mess for, like, twelve hours which in hindsight is probably better than being the sweaty, retching mess I was about to become.

The port at Bluefields. Just queue on the jetty for the boat.

We were a mere ten minutes into the choppy water when I realised my error. Fuck. Should have taken a tablet. I took one then but they’re meant to be a preventative, not a cure. It was at this moment the ticket seller came around, I thrust my córdobas at him and tried to stare outside. Nope. No good. I stood up and made my way to the back of the boat. Shit it was hot back there! I went back to where we were and slumped against the door.
“You need to go outside,” someone called out in English, “Get some fresh air.” The room agreed. So did I. I stumbled onto the wet, narrow deck at the side of the boat and sat down. A guy on the bench to the right of me asked if I was okay. I was not.

Well I’m not upset to see the back of you!

“You need to look at the horizon,” he told me. A woman to my left insisted, “You need to look up!”
“She needs to look at the horizon, she’ll be okay if she looks at the horizon!” the guy disagreed. The general consensus though was don’t look down. Eyes fixed on the immovable line that would apparently convince my brain that we weren’t being poisoned at all, I willed that Red Bull to stay where I’d left it. Oh man, this was fucking miserable and we still had hours left. I was getting soaked too as spray drenched the boat but right now I gave no fucks. I just needed to not die. We were doing this journey so we could marinate in the Caribbean Sea for a few days anyway. Might as well get a head start.

Whilst you buy your tickets for the Bluefields to Big Corn ferry on the boat you buy your Big Corn to Little Corn tickets before you board.

It wasn’t too much later when Tarrant burst onto the deck, and Tarrant doesn’t usually get sick so you know shit got real. She actually puked too, I mostly just dry retched into a plastic bag which wasn’t pleasant for anyone in the vicinity. Whilst Tarrant is skilled in the art of the stealth vom I sound like velociraptors having sex. They probably heard me back in Bluefields. Five and a half hours the journey took. I was a shadow of my former self by the time we sailed into Big Corn Island. The guy to my right told us this wasn’t even that bad. The woman to my left told me she always sits outside and takes her tablet. I will be following everyone’s advice from the outset for the return journey which I’m already dreading.
(Pro tip: We’ve since found out that the Wednesday boat is bigger and offers a much smoother ride than the Saturday boat. We found this out when we returned on this lovely, big boat on Thursday)

That little boat in the foreground is the inter island panga. The vomit machine we came in on is behind it.

I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the idea of another seafaring vessel but we still had one more to go before we were where we wanted to be. We had a couple of hours to kill so we convinced our tortured stomachs to accept an offering of pork, rice and beans. Mine grudgingly accepted about half of it. The half hour panga ride from Big Corn to Little Corn was surprisingly and mercifully easy and we were deposited on the tiny pier where we were met by a guy from the hostel which was nice. It always makes you feel like royalty when someone has your name on a piece of card.

We were covered in more salt than Bolivia so pretty much all we did was shower, attempt a beer, then actually we just crashed out for the evening. Two bastard days of my life I can’t get back. You better bloody be worth it, Little Corn.

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Laguna De Apoyo, Masaya Department to Little Corn Island, South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, Nicaragua

Stayed at: Typical House Bluefields, Bluefields

Typical House Bluefields. Literally someone’s house. The first time we stayed here our room was right next to the living room where the family were chilling, eating dinner and watching TV. The second time was in a dorm room upstairs. You can’t really fault it for a night or two. The shower is really good (cold, but you need that) and the WiFi works well. It’s tucked away down a dodgy looking alley but it’s actually fine. There’s no sign pointing the way but everyone seems to know it and if they see a confused foreigner they’ll point you right. There’s a shop called Chow Páiz and the alley is next to that. Taxi drivers know the shop. It’s really close to supermarkets, comedores and the jetty.

Useful shit to know…

How To Get From Laguna De Apoyo To Little Corn Island Via Bluefields By Bus

Laguna De Apoyo To Bluefields
  • Three buses a day go from Laguna De Apoyo to Masaya.
  • We caught the first one at 6.30am, except it showed up at 6.40am.
  • The other two are at 11.30am and 4.30pm.
  • You can get off on the highway and just flag any bus or minibus going to Managua from there but we thought there’d be more chance of getting a seat if we went all the way to Masaya.
  • It took about an hour and cost C$20 each.
  • The terminal is at the market in Masaya so obviously it’s a bit chaotic. We found a bus with Managua written on the front with a bloke out the front loudly and repeatedly stating the destination.
  • It took an hour and 15 minutes and cost C$20 each.
  • We were dropped at Terminal Huembes, around coordinates 12.123468, -86.244472.
  • My research pointed at three terminals that we’d need to go to but it turned out they’re all more or less the same place.
  • We told the taxi driver we wanted to go to Terminal Costa Caribe and he knew where we wanted to go. It’s around coordinates 12.132936, -86.192274.
  • I’m not sure how much it’s meant to be but we agreed on C$100 per person. It took about 25 minutes.
  • We were dropped outside a sign saying “Entrada Costa Atlantica”. You just go inside here and you’ll see a ticket office in the corner with a painted timetable for buses to Bluefields.
  • We bought tickets for the 11.15am bus.
  • (We only missed the 9.15am bus by half an hour. To be fair this then gave us time to eat and use the toilet but you could probably make this bus if you took a taxi to the highway from the Laguna, flagged a minibus taking you to the Terminal UCA then took a taxi across town from there. I’m not sure how much any of this would cost though. If you want any chance of arriving in Bluefields in the light you’ll need to catch the 9.15am bus).
  • There are comedores at the terminal which you know are going to overcharge you as soon as they ask if you want the bill in dollars but it still wasn’t obnoxious.
  • There are toilets around the back of the comedores for C$10.
  • The bus to Bluefields cost C$320 each and we were assigned seats. These are express buses so you buy your ticket from an office before you get on and if all seats have been sold you’ll have to wait for the next one.
  • The bus arrived an hour early to load luggage and goods. Your bag goes on the roof.
  • It took 7.5 hours including two ten minute breaks.
  • We took a taxi from the bus terminal in Bluefields to our accommodation on the recommendation of the guesthouse owner.
  • It cost C$40 and took about 20 minutes I think? But it was shared and we dropped the other guy off first.
  • I would, if I were you, secure a taxi before you retrieve your belongings from the roof of the bus. There weren’t that many waiting and I was concerned we’d have a long wait ahead of us.
  • Total cost of Laguna De Apoyo to Bluefields: C$500 (US$13.69) each.
  • Total time: 12.5 hours. But this includes the 90 minute wait at the terminal in Managua.
  • We stayed overnight in Bluefields but it’s possible to travel overnight from Managua instead. Be aware these are not comfortable buses and your coccyx will not thank you.
Bluefields To Little Corn Island
  • The boat arrives at the port in Bluefields around 7am. 6.45am in our case.
  • The once orderly queue dissolves into chaos as everyone surges forwards.
  • Once you’re on the boat you need to queue for the guy inside at the front where you show your passport and he registers you.
  • Take a seat and wait.
  • People were boarding with no issues right up until the boat left. It’s just a case of whether you want to be able to choose where you sit or if you just wedge yourself into where’s left.
  • Shortly before the boat leaves you’ll be asked to pay a C$5 port tax.
  • We departed at the scheduled time of 9am.
  • One the boat is underway they’ll come around to take payment.
  • It cost C$255 each and took 5.5 hours. I’ve read other accounts that took up to 6.5 hours.
  • If you’re in any way prone to seasickness take your tablets, waterproof your shit and sit outside. You’ll get wet but it’s worth it.
  • (I’ve since discovered there are two boat that ply this route. It appears the smaller, shittier, more vomit-inducing boat goes on Saturdays and the much nicer, bigger boat goes on Wednesdays)
  • Because we arrived at 2.30 pm we had two hours to wait before the panga to Little Corn left but there was a guy in Cafetin Ashelle selling the tickets.
  • There’s a comedor in a blue building if you’re hungry but they do like to overcharge foreigners.
  • The panga to Little Corn leaves at 4.30pm (and 10am), costs C$360 each and takes about half an hour.
  • Total time from Bluefields: 8 hours (not including the pre-ferry faff).
  • Total cost from Bluefields: C$620 (US$16.87) each.

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