a complete guide to Little Corn Island
Your complete Little Corn Island guide!
If you are traveling to Nicaragua, be sure to add the Corn Islands to your to do list! You won´t regret it, I promise.
In this Little Corn Island guide, I will share everything you need to know before visiting including how to get to there, where to stay, what to do and see!
1. About the Corn Islands
Starting this Little Corn Island guide with a bit of general information about the Corn Islands. They consist of two islands, the more popular Little Corn Island and Big Corn Island.
They are located about 70 kilometres off the Nicaraguan coast in the Caribbean Sea.
Once you step foot on the islands, you get a completely different vibe than in other parts of Nicaragua. Most people here are of color and speak English as their first language. Also, the food is partly different to the mainland. A very authentic Caribbean experience!
Even though especially Little Corn Island has gained popularity among tourists in the past years, it´s still a hidden gem and not completely crowded by tourists (yet).
I hope it will stay this way, so the islands keep their authentic Caribbean charm.
2. How to get to Little Corn Island
The quite long and complicated journey is probably one of the reasons why this island is still considered a hidden gem and not completely overrun by tourists. This chapter of the Little Corn Island guide is a long one, so be prepared!
To get there by land you first need to take a 8-hour night bus from Managua, then a 4-8 hours ferry from Blue Fields to Big Corn Island and then a 30-minute boat ride to Little Corn Island.
All in all, we have been traveling something like 24 hours to get there including the waiting times in Bluefields.
I could have literally traveled all the way back to Austria within that time, crazy!
But the good news is, there is another way – taking a domestic flight from Managua to Corn Island and then the boat ride to Little Corn island. Much faster, hasslefree but of course also more expensive.
So let´s look into the option more in detail, let´s call them the easy and the difficult ways to travel to Little Corn Island.
The easy way:
If you decide to take a domestic flight from Managua to the Corn islands (and I recommend this option after having done both), your travel time will only be around 4 hours including transfer and waiting times. The flight takes about two hours and the boat to Little Corn island about 30 minutes.
The only airline operating those domestic flights is La Costena airline. Flights cost about 100 USD one-way, varying slightly. The best option to book a flight is to call the airline under +505 2298 5360. You can theoretically book online, but prices were in my experience about 30 USD more expensive.
The staff actually speaks English very well and booking on the phone was actually really easy.
When arriving to the airport on Big Corn Island, you need to take a taxi or walk to the pier, which is where the boats to Little Corn Island leave. A boat ride for tourists costs about 10 USD, quite expensive for a short ride of 30 minutes.
One of the benefits apart from reduced travel time, when flying, are the amazing views of the Corn islands from the plane! Spectacular!
The difficult way:
This option takes waaaay longer, but is much cheaper and kind of fun and adventurous as well!
If you like adventures and do not mind long bus rides, long waiting times and bumpy ferry rides, you might also consider doing the “difficult option” one way and the “easy option” the other way. That´s what I did and even though I did not really enjoy the long journey by bus, ferry and boat, I am still happy I made this experience and saved some money.
But let´s talk facts now.
Bus from Managua to Bluefields:
Those busses leave at the bus station next to Mercado Ivan Montenengro. This bus station is specifically for this route, so you will need to get here by taxi from wherever in Managua you were.
The bus leaves multiple times a day, we opted for the night bus option, which costs 360 Cordoba (10 USD) per person and the ride takes about 8 hours, leaving at 8 PM and arriving to Bluefields around 4 AM.
Once in Bluefields, you need to make your way to the pier, where the ferry leaves, which is about 4 kilometers from the bus station. Take a taxi, it doesn´t cost much.
Ferry from Bluefields to Corn Islands:
As far as I understood you can´t buy tickets for the ferry in advance, you just show up at the pier, get in line, board the ferry and buy your ticket once you get onboard. The price for the ferry is about 12 USD and the ride takes between 4-8 hours, depending on the conditions at sea.
On our trip the sea was quite rough and the ride took about 6 hours in total. Many passengers got seasick and I saw at least 10 people puking on the upper deck alone.
If you are getting seasick easily, maybe opt for the flight instead!
Boat from Big Corn Island to Little Corn Island:
The last part of the journey is taking a small boat from “Big Corn island” to Little corn island. The ride only takes 30 minutes but costs 10 USD, quite expensive but it´s the only option.
You buy the tickets right at the pier where you disembark the ferry. Last boat leaving at 5 PM.
So, the total cost to get to paradise the complicated way is about 32 USD, not bad for such a long trip!
3. Where to stay on Little Corn Island?
Of course this Little Corn Island guide wouldn´t be complete without a list of places to stay. For being such a small island, Little Corn has quite a few accommodation options, even one luxury one.
I have stayed at the Three Brothers Hostel, which is centrally located and only a few minutes walk from the pier and most bars & restaurants. Dorms start as low as 7 USD here, I had a private room for 15 USD per night.
I initially wanted to stay at Ensuenos, which is located in the North of the island in a beautiful setting, right at the beach, but in the end I was happy I didn´t, as it´s a long 30-minute walk through the jungle to the pier, shops, restaurants and everthing else.
The only luxury option on Little Corn Island is called Yemaya Reefs and located in the North, at the most beautiful beach of the island, Otto beach. A room here costs about 500 USD per night plus and is more for the honeymooners and luxury travelers. But if you got the travel budget, go for it – it definitely looks like an amazing place to stay.
Apart from that there are a few more affordable and midrange options, such as:
Some small hotels or bnb´s like the cute cabanas at Elsa´s restaurant below are not bookable online, but you can either call them or show up and hope they have a room for you.
4. Best things to do on Little Corn Island
Next in this Little Corn Island guide, I will share the best things to do on the island. Apart from sunbathing, enjoying the wonderful beaches, swimming in the crystal clear Caribbean sea, snorkling & scuba diving and eating and drinking, there is not a whole lot to do here! Which is actually perfect!
A great opportunity to slow down for a few days and just enjoy the natural beauty this island has to offer!
The most popular beach is located in the very North of the island and called Otto Beach. It´s also often referred to as the most beautiful beach on the island and it´s easy to see why.
White sand, palm trees and gorgeous water – the picture-perfect beach.
As on many islands in the Caribbean, sargassum is a thing here as well. A part of Otto beach (the one directly in front of the luxury hotel Yemaya Reefs) is cleaned up regularly, but the rest of the beach does have quite a bit of seaweed. Even though it would be prettier without, it was not too bad and it´s actually a sign of a healthy ocean, which is good!
Other beaches on the island do have much more seaweed, some on the east-side are actually completely full of it.
Of course, Otto beach is not the only beach on the island that is worth a visit.
My personal favorite beaches are the ones in the South of the island, which are hard to get to, but you have them for yourself and they are really pretty.
Unfortunately, they are not great for swimming due to rocks in the water and high waves.
The east side of the island has many pretty beaches as well. I really liked the beach in front of Elsa´s restaurant.
It´s a very clean beach but without any shade during the day.
Snorkling & scuba diving
You can either experience the beauty it has to offer by snorkling or scuba diving.
The reefs here are, compared to many other places I´ve been in Central America, in such great shape and you actually get to see a lot of wildlife. I did do on a snorkling tour as well as two suba dives and saw nurse sharks, turtles, barracudas, huge eagle rays and many colorful fish and corals.
Little Corn Island has two dive shops, Los Delfines Dive Center (which I dived with during my stay) and Las Palmeras Dive Center.
If you are into scuba diving or want to try it, I highly recommend doing it here!
Dives and also dive courses are inexpensive here, you can get a certified diver for less than 400 USD and a single dive, if you are already certified is 40 USD (price decreasing, if you do multiple dives).
You can also do a discover dive here, if you are not certified but don´t want to get into the course right away. The price for this dive + training is 80 USD.
We also went on a snorkling tour for 25 USD per person with the owner of my favorite restaurant on Little Corn Island, El Bosque. It was a great trip and drinks are included as well!
Apart from beaches & the underwater world, you just spend your day relaxing and taking advantage of the happy hours in the local bars. My favorite bar on the Island is Tranquilo Bar, but more about that in the next paragraph.
5. Where to eat and drink on Little Corn Island
Of course, such a small island does not have a crazy amount of options for eating & drinking out. But, there´s some really good ones!
My favorite restaurants and bars on Little Corn Island are the following.
Tranquilo bar for drinks, happy hour and events such as Trivia night. I´ve been to this bar every single day during my stay on Little Corn Island. It´s owned by a expat and definitely more on the pricey side, compared to some local restaurants. But for drinks (especially during happy hour) and events like trivia night it´s great!
The vibe at the bar is great and the staff really nice. This is also one of the few places on the island, where you can pay by card. I also had breakfast here a few times, they have affordable hashbrowns, which are great!
El Bosque for dinner – From all the places I have eaten at, this is BY FAR my favorite. Prices are great, portions huge, food delicious and service super friendly.
You can have a full meal for about 4 dollars here – not bad at all! They do also have some more expensive, local dishes like the coconut based fish soup called Rondon, a local speciality. This one cost me more than 10 USD, but it was amazing.
Desi Deri for pizza – the best pizza I had in all of Central America. The restaurant is definitely on the more expensive side, but it´s an authentic Italian restaurant and the pizza is to die for! They also have a really chill seating area in front of the ocean with comfortable chairs and hammocks. Also the best wifi I found on the island! It´s located right next to Tranquilo bar and the two are the busiest tourist places on Little Corn Island.
There are a few more local places to eat, we have been to two more: Mellisa´s and Lugar de Rosa. The pizza at Mellisa´s was unfortunately not great and waiting times really long. Lugar de Rosa is located right next to El Bosque but unfortunately always empty, even though the food was good and people really friendly!
Also been having drinks and some snacks at the only restaurant at Otto Beach – Fry Fish Bar. Probably the most expensive of all, but what we had was OK.
6. mini guide to Big Corn Island
Often overlooked by tourists, I thought I would include a mini guide to Big Corn Island here as well.
We have unfortunately only spent one night here and ended up regretting it, as the island seems to have a lot to offer as well.
Whether you are traveling to Little Corn Island the easy or difficult way, you´ll always make a stop on Big Corn Island and it´s worth staying here for a few nights and explore this island as well.
Where to stay on Big Corn Island?
I stayed at the Wave Hostel, which was affordable and quite good despite the poor reviews online. But there are quite a few options to choose from on this island.
Some others are:
What to do on Big Corn Island?
One thing is for sure: You need to visit the probably coolest bar in Nicaragua: Bit Coin Island Bar. A floating bar off Arenas beach. Having a few drinks here and taking a dip in the blue ocean is just amazing.
The owner is an amazing guy and working really hard to give guests a great experience.
But be sure to visit the correct bar! Another floating bar just opened a few months ago right next to Bit Coin Island Bar, they took the idea and are trying to get customers to their floating bar instead.
Also check out some of the beaches on Big Corn Island:
- Arenas Beach
- Long Beach
- Silver Sand Beach
- Picnic Beach
It´s also possible to go scuba diving and snorkling on Big Corn Island.
Cycling around the island is another great activity and easy way to get around.
I hope you are convinced to spend some time n Big Corn Island as well, it will be worth it!
And that´s it for Little Corn island! I am sure you will love this place as much as I do.
Check out more Nicaragua blog posts below to help you plan your trip: