With a population of around 6,000 and a land area of less than 10 km squared, this is still considered the bigger of the Corn Islands. Located about 70 km off the east coast of Nicaragua in the Carribean sea, you’ll find a mix of English, Spanish, Creole and Moskito spoken here. Besides the expanding tourism market, lobster and shrimp fishing are primary industries.
Although it serves mainly as a gateway for tourists visiting Little Corn Island, there is plenty to see and do in Big Corn so I recommend at least a 1 to 2 night stopover. We sandwiched our visit to Little Corn with a night in Big Corn on either end which broke up the travel nicely.
Getting there: Upon arrival in the capital city of Managua, which can be a bit of a harrowing experience, you take a 1 hour domestic flight to Big Corn Island on La Constena, which is currently the only carrier flying into the Corn Islands ($164 USD return). Flights depart 3 times per day at 6:15 am, 11am and 2:30pm and plane size can range anywhere from 8 to 50 seats. On the larger plane you get drink service, which includes local rum, and our flight attendant was very heavy-handed with the pouring!
I highly recommend packing light and not bringing wheeled suitcases. The 11am flight is the busiest and none of the wheeled bags made it on the plane, which apparently is a daily occurance. They had to come over on the 2:30pm flight and apparently there is a taxi service that will pick up the bags at the airport for you for $1 USD.
Where to stay:
Accommodation options include about 7 small cabana style hotels, as well as some cheap private room rentals. We stayed in two spots on opposite sides of the island.
Paraiso Beach Hotel has 14 cute cabanas with thatched roofs and personal hammocks which range from $60-70 per night for 2 people (5% surcharge for credit card payments). It’s very close to the airport, includes free breakfast, internet and provides transfers to the airport and ferry docks. It has direct access to a small rocky beach and is within a 20 minute walk to the nicest beach on the island at Picnic Bay. The food was great and reasonably priced.
Casa Canada has 20 cabanas at $99 USD for 2, which includes breakfast, internet and the island’s only pool, which is actually a beautiful infinity pool. It does not have a beach but is right on the water so the rooms have lovely sea views. The rooms also have strong A/C, a fridge with beer and snacks for purchase and island luxuries like a hair dryer and tv. The style of the hotel feels a bit like an all inclusive resort, although the room decor is strongly cottage kitsch. The food was ok at best and there are better options on the island for sure. Beer is very cheap at $1.25 USD each.
The number one hotel on the island according to Trip Advisor is La Princesa, which was not available during our stay. Even though it’s not top rated, Arenas Beach Hotel is on the most beautiful stretch of beach so it would be my top choice for a future visit. Keep in mind, hotels charge a 15% tax also.
What to see:
Given the size of the island, its fairly walkable and if you are feeling lazy, a taxi ride anywhere is $1 USD per person.
Picnic Bay has by far the most beautiful large beach with crystal clear water. You can rent a lounger at Arenas for $5 per day or grab a bite or drink at Picnic Bay Centre and use their chairs for free.
Baseball is the biggest local recreational activity and a fun outing between 10am and 4pm if you happen to be there on a Sunday.
There is tons of local character on this island so I highly recommend a walk down the side streets checking out the farms, houses and multiple places of worship. Also be sure to check out the dock area to see what the fishermen have brought in, as well as the fruit stands nearby. Corn island is a great spot to get a fresh coconut off a tree or buy delcious coco bread from a local lady selling it out of a bucket!
Of course the biggest reason to come to Corn is the underwater adventure with mutiple shipwrecks for diving enthusiasts, great snorkelling and paddle boarding.