Rainbows and Stars: The Corn Islands

Nicaragua mapThere are two ways to get to Islas Del Maiz or the Corn Islands (known as Big and Little) which sit off the eastern coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean. You can take a bus from Managua to Rama (about 6 hours), a panga (boat) to Bluefields (about 2 hours) and then, either stay a night or two there in that less-than-thriving metropolis or hope to time the arrival to catch the twice weekly ferry (a 5 hour trip) to Big Corn Island.  Or you can take one of the twice daily flights by La Costena Air from Managua to Big Corn Island. The direct flight is just over an hour and is reasonably priced at $175 round trip. We opted, for the first time, to discard our by land only, budget-traveler philosophy and flew to the islands.

Loading the bags

A rainstorm had just passed and, upon our arrival at the very small island airport, we stepped out onto the dirt (mud) parking area.  The dense, moist air enveloped us, rain drops sparkling upon the leaves.  In the distance was a perfect whole rainbow stretched from end to end, an uplifting and auspicious beginning for our month long stay on Corn Island.

A little shoppingTwo or three taxis were lined up and a very large man with a friendly smile and outstretched hand introduced himself in a lilting Caribbean accent as Puma.  It was a pleasure to listen to him as he drove and spoke about the island in a deep-toned, melodious voice with the words flowing around us; some in English and the rest in a barely decipherable island creole.  He deposited us at our roof-top apartment called the Crow’s Nest which had screened and shuttered windows overlooking an empty and pristine golden sand beach with one row of foamy breaking waves and the turquoise water stretching to the horizon.

the beach and pangasDarkness arrives about 5:30 at this time of the year in Nicaragua so we moved quickly. After meeting the owners of our apartment, we dumped our one suitcase and backpacks and hurried to a little store for a few staples for breakfast.

The Island Style Beach Bar and Reastaurant Then we set off in search of dinner, walking in the dark down the dirt road with flashlights pointing ahead trying to avoid the large mud puddles.  We arrived at the Island Style Beach Bar and Restaurant which sits next to the beach, empty except for one other couple, with classic old-style country and western music reverberating from the speakers.  Our meal of chicken, homemade plantain chips and coleslaw arrived on island time; the meal good and the setting tranquil.  That is until an apparition appeared halfway through our dinner emerging from the shadows of the jungle behind the restaurant, wielding a machete a machete dangling from his hand. He ambled in, sat down a few tables from us, ordered a beer and listened to the country western music for a bit before dozing off.

We walked back down the dirt road in the velvety darkness talking softly and laughing over the thought of a man walking into a restaurant in the U.S. carrying a machete.  On the left was the sea with the sound of the waves filling the night.  We turned off our small flashlights for several minutes, standing in the middle of the muddy road, turning slowly. . and saying “oh” ….  our faces upturned in wonder like children, gazing at the stars that filled the night sky.View from Long Bay

By Anita and Richard, November, 2013



  • Pingback: Little Corn Island – Paradise at Derek’s Place | TOMMY SHAW TRAVELS...

  • I am always curious as to costs. How much is rent in Big Corn island for a month ? I just read a blog about Little Corn and they paid $15 a night for a small thatched roof cabana.


    • Hi Mark. I also like reading about what things cost in different areas so I understand your curiosity. We paid $900/month to rent a furnished studio apartment that is right on the beach here on Big Corn Island (rented through Airbnb). However, it’s true what you read about rent costing quite a bit more when you reserve online versus feet on the ground searching. A couple of days ago we ate a lovely meal at a little café run out of a woman’s home. She showed us around her home and told us that the nicely furnished apartment she rents out was $500/month (the beach was across the street). Oh yeah, and the meal we ate? Less that $20 for 2 meals of lobster!


    • These pics remind me so much of when we lived in British Guiana, SA (now Guyana ). Such fond memories!


      • Hi Andy. Big Corn Island does seem to be a throwback to a simpler time, kind of like the mythical Mayberry. I love walking down the road exchanging greetings and pleasantries with strangers and having a friendly conversation with the shopkeepers (even when the items we’re looking for are nowhere to be found). Thanks for visiting and commenting on our blog. Anita


  • So COOL! And such a beautiful place. I love your stories. What’s next?


    • Thanks Jim – Our blog readers are so appreciated! As for what’s next, we’re returning to Granada for the holidays and then we’ll be exploring the Caribbean side of Costa Rica on the lookout for some of its famed flora and fauna. Other than that, our plans are pretty loose which makes it easy to grab opportunities as they come along.


  • So how do you pick where you are going next?
    Corky and I are headed to Los Barriles Sur Baja Mexico for a week. Fly and buy sort of trip, but you guys are inspiring me to do a road trip down there in January.



    • Pickin’ and Choosin’ has been a mix of reading online travel websites like the lonely planet, my favorite website bootsnall, following travel blogs from all over the world and clipping places that sound interesting and, finally, talking to expats and locals we meet (taxi drivers are great!). If you and Corky are heading south into Central America let us know – a meet-up could be fun!


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