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La Costena Airline
Flights leave Managua at 6.30am, 11.00am and 2pm, returning at 8.10am, 12.45pm and 3.40pm . Return flights cost $164, singles cost $106 each way from Managua or $60 each way for either of the legs from Managua to Bluefields or Bluefields to Big Corn. https://www.lacostena.com.ni/default.aspx. The airline has also recently introduced flexible pricing so flights will cost more if you book at short notice, there is also an $18 online booking fee. You may be able to avoid both of these if you are able to call their office in Managua and buy tickets by phone.
From the airport you can catch a taxi to the dock for the boat to Little Corn for $1 per person, 5 minute ride.
BOATS FROM BIG CORN TO LITTLE CORN
Boats from Big Corn leave at 10am and 4.30pm, but will generally wait if the plane is delayed a little.
All trips cost $6 or 145 Cordobas each way.
And for those of you who have read or heard horror stories about the panga ride over here, here is a great clip showing what the crossing is usually like……. Thanks to Brendan Lewis, Flaco and Lewis for this……
The Cheaper Way….. So the other way gets mixed reviews, depending on the weather usually! From Managua you can get a bus to the river port of Rama, located on the Rio Escondido which is as far as you can get by road from the capital! Buses leave from the Mercado Ivan Montenegro (Costa Atlantica terminal), express buses leave at 9pm and arrive into Rama around 3am, costing $8 each way.
From Bluefields the Rio Escondido passenger ferry has a scheduled boat every Wednesday at 9am to Big Corn, taking about 6 hours and costing $12 each way.
Note – there are also supply ships that leave Rama on Thursday mornings that may also take passengers, but you need to speak to the boat captains to check on space and journey duration as they usually stop in Bluefields on the way, sometimes for a few hours.
Boats return from Big Corn Island to Bluefields/Rama on Thursday mornings at 9am, and on Sunday nights at around 11pm.
We highly recommend both of these companies for safe, clean, reliable and well priced transfers to/from Managua airport to destinations south such as Granada, San Juan del Sur and even the Costa Rica border at Penas Blancas. Their scheduled trips work out cheaper than hailing a taxi on the streets of Managua in most cases, even for one person, although their private trips are only really viable for groups. Bookings can be made online or by phone.
GETTING TO NICARAGUA
Officially you need to be able to show an exit ticket from Nicaragua in order to board an international flight destined for the country (the same is true for some other Central American countries also). This rule seems to be randomly applied and if you’re backpacking then you probably don’t have one. Note that Spirit Airlines enforce this strictly and make you buy a return ticket in order to board you, even if you don’t plan to use it! If this happens buy a refundable one and hopefully you’ll get it back, although that in itself is a process! If you search online there is a company in Costa Rica that can buy exit bus tickets on your behalf and email you the details, even at short notice, but they charge a premium for this service.
Best bet is to fake an itinerary in advance of travel just in case you need to use it. Note that the main border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica at Penas Blancas also seems strict on enforcing this rule for entry into Costa Rica, although you can buy a bus ticket at the border that satifies this requirement.