The long arduous journey
Travel Little Corn Island from Managua your easiest option is to fly as far as Big Corn Island and take the half-hour ferry to Little corn. This trip can potentially have you to LCI by noon of the same day. But at about $170usd round-trip, this is not on the average tramper’s budget — so here’s the other option:
Just remember to remind yourself often and enthusiastically that whether this journey takes you two days (as it should) or four (as it did us) it is utterly and totally worth every cent and every second of travel to see the unimaginable paradise that is Little Corn Island.
(Full disclosure: It took us four days to get from Managua to LCI. We were stuck in Bluefields for a night due to the Big Corn boat having a hole in it. By the time we could depart the next day we arrived too late for the Little Corn ferry so we were stuck on Big Corn for a night as well.
We took the overnight cargo ship to save on lodging costs. Honestly, it was rough but the only thing I would change is to buy a little plastic hammock for sleeping. Easy fix to discomfort on this ship.)
So, from Managua grab a bus to El Rama. Bad news: It takes 6 hours (no joke). Good news: it only costs $5usd/120 cords.
Once in El Rama you need to catch a boat down the river to Bluefields. Neither El Rama nor Bluefields are a particularly charming place to spend the night, but if you’re traveling to LCI by land, you’ll have to choose one. And since we were already dirty and the sun was still shining, we decided to keep on moving onward toward Bluefields and toward Little Corn.
Here is where your options vary wildly. You can take a pancha (speed boat) that will get you to Bluefields in 2.5 hours for just under $10usd/230 cords. Or for just $2.50usd/60 cords you can take the overnight lancha (cargo) ship. If you have your own hammock, not so bad. And there is something to be said for the tranquility of floating down a river on a starry, moon-lit night. However, if you don’t have the inherent ability to be positive in the face of what others might deem a miserable environment — don’t expect much romance on this ship. The fumes from the engine room do help lull you to a slumber that is only occasionally interrupted by rats or fellow passengers stepping on you. Remember: This is worth it — it might be hard to imagine a place that warrants this type of travel, but LCI is that place, trust me.
Once you do finally arrive to Bluefields at sunrise you should be able to hop right on over to the pancha for El Bluff, the staging area for your 5-hour ride in the Caribbean to Big Corn Island. The boat to El Bluff should cost around $2usd/40 cords, depending on number of passengers.
At El Bluff you’ll need your passport to get into the port there and onto the boat which will cost another $10usd/250 cords. It’s a large boat with few seats and little shade — just keep reminding yourself that your reward at the end of this voyage is beyond any you have ever known.
And voila! You’ve reached the Corn Islands. But this is just Big Corn, not a lot to swoon over here. There are some nice beaches — but unless you have to stay the night (as we did) just get on that ferry to Little Corn! A half-hour and $5.50usd/130cords later you have arrived. Breath deep and don’t worry about how filthy you are, just get to the north/west side of the island and secure yourself a room at one of the beach huts (preferably at Grace’s). The rooms go fast, so pick one you like and hunker down for a week or two so you can balance that budget after all the travel expenses.
It was a struggle, but once you set foot on Little Corn you’ll want to cry at the beauty and simplicity of this island. Truly one of the most special, relaxing, inspiring and friendly places I have ever experienced. I can’t wait to get back there.