Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

Big Corn Island (sometimes referred to as 'Great Corn') is a Caribbean gem—home to lively bars, adorned by colorful wooden houses, and surrounded by virgin beaches. Visitors come to enjoy such activities as swimming, snorkeling, diving and fishing. One can also explore the island on horseback, or simply relax and stroll across the landscapes. Measuring ten square kilometers in size, Big Corn is large enough for to lost when wandering the hillsides and beachfront neighborhoods, yet small enough to find your way home again.

People

Big Corn is Creole. May people have British ancestry—carrying such surnames as Quinn, Downs, Morgan, Campbell, Taylor, Forbes, and Bowden. Islanders tend to be very proud of their distinct heritage and feel that they have more in common culturally with other English-speaking Caribbean islands than they do with the mainland of Nicaragua. Many emphasize their distinctions from the "Spaniards" from mainland Nicaragua.

The people are characteristically friendly and genuine. Locals enjoy pick-up baseball games and lounging on their verandas.

Language

Most Islanders speak a unique dialect of Caribbean Creole, though almost also command both passable Spanish and English. Some people also speak Miskito and other Caribbean dialects and langauges.

Economy

The Corn Islands' primary industry is fishing—especially lobster fishing. Fresh lobster is a staple ingredient in the islands' traditional fare. Lobster is also Nicaragua's third largest export commodity, Most of the country's lobster is is processed on Big Corn.

Lobster Traps on the Beach

Tourism is Big Corn Island's second-largest industry.

Climate

The average year-round temperature on Big Corn Island is ca. 30° Celsius (85° Fahrenheit) with fresh easterly breezes. The rainy season extends from mid-May through mid-September (but can extend longer) with afternoon showers almost daily.

Health & Logistics

Special vaccinations are not required for travelers, though use basic preventative health care measures: mosquito repellent and sun block.

US Dollars are widely accepted on the Corn Islands (and almost everywhere in Nicaragua, for that matter). An increasing number of hotels are accepting credit cards, though if you intend to pay for your accommodations with credit card, confirm the arrangement prior to arrival. There is an ATM machine at the bank on Big Corn and a bank that also accepts Visa cards.

Electricity and water supplies on Big Corn Island are and constantly improving. Most parts of the island now have 24 hour per day access to both. Internet available at various restaurants, bars and hotels.

Getting In

Getting to Big Corn Island from outside Nicaragua is usually accomplished by way of Managua— Nicaragua's capital city.

Domestic flights from Managua do not depart from the main airport terminal but rather from a separate building next door. Anna and I used La Costeña Airlines; the departing terminal was just next to their office [to the right of the main airport terminal building, if you're facing it with your back to the street].

La Costeña flights depart from Managua to Big Corn Island twice daily. Round trip tickets cost approximately US$165. Tickets can be booked online. Flight time is approximately 1 1/2 hours, typically (but not always) involving a layover in Bluefields. Baggage is limited to 30 lbs per person ($1.20/lb over). La Costeña flights can be subject to delays, though services are improving dramatically with La Costeña recently joining the Taca/Avianca Group.

Boats from Bluefields to depart Wednesdays at 9:00 AM. The cost of the ticket is C$250 and arrive at Big Corn's Brig Bay Beach. More information about reaching Big Corn by boat can be found here.

Insider Tip: When arriving on Big Corn, be firm with the taxi driver about going to your preferred hotel. Some taxi drivers receive a commission for bringing guests to particular spots.

Getting Around

Big Corn Island is walkable. The 12-kilometer road takes about 3.5 hours to walk.

There are also many other forms of transportation of which to avail. Taxis use a fixed-rate system for any destination on the island, with each stop costing 15 cordoba per person during the day and 20 at night ( < US$1). There's also a bus known as "flash" that each hour goes around the entire island. There are also several sites where one can rent a bicycle. Some places even offer golf carts.

References

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