Budgeting a trip to Corn Island

Hey, something to celebrate! Nicaragua was recently named second on LP’s list of top budget travel destinations. That means for North Americans it ranks #1 because getting to Bangladesh is about three times as expensive as a round trip ticket to Managua. But before you buy your ticket, you will need to take into account how much you want to spend.

So where is the cheapest place to go in the cheapest country to travel in? Who cares? You want to get to Corn Island and need to know how much to budget.

Artist’s rendition of Captain D. cargo boat

Corn Island is not the most expensive place to visit *coughsolantiname islandscough*, but it is close. That does not mean that a visit will break the bank by any means…you can still find cheap beds near white sand beaches. But the fact of the matter is that the high cost of transport has driven prices up for most goods, and that increases costs of most services as well. So how much are we talkin?

General prices

You can expect to pay a range of prices for different goods and services on Corn Island, depending on what they are:

Camping $5 – $7 hammock or tent, beach included
Backpacker quality $10 – $20 for single bed, shared bath, fan, table, beach
Couple quality $20 – $75 for double bed or cabaña, ensuite bath, beach
Family quality $50 – $100 for bungalow or cabin, ensuite bath, beach

Eating out
Snacks $.50 – $1 for soda cake, pico, pati or fresco
Street food $4 – $6 for fried chicken or pork, rice and beans, salad, fresco to drink
Cheap menu $5 – $7 for  fried chicken, chop sui, appetizers
Normal menu $7 – $10 for  fish, shrimp, beef or soup
Expensive menu $10 – $15 for rundown, lobster, Italian

Renting snorkel gear for a day $10
Snorkeling trip from some dude who walks up to you in the street $20 – $50 for 2 – 4 hours
Snorkeling trip set up by a hotel $30 – $50 for 3 – 6 hours, may include lunch

Fishing trip from some dude who walks up to you in the street $50 – $100/person, half day, may be using handlines
Fishing trip set up by a hotel $50 – $200/person, half day, rods and reels, may include lunch

Diving for people who have never dived or want a refresher course $40 – $70
Diving for people who know what they are doing $35 or less if bought in a package

Walking around the island is free
Renting a bike $10 – $20 a day
Renting a golf cart $15 – $20 for a couple of hours
Taxis are $.75 during the day, $1 at night or with luggage

Five days of expenses

So what does it really cost to visit Corn Island? I recently visited Big Corn Island for the world-famous Crab Soup Festival and recorded all my expenses from the ride over from Bluefields to the ride back. Keep in mind I was on a very tight budget so I was really pinching cordobas to be able to afford to get my return ticket!


So maybe you are saying to yourself, wow, $25 a day? That sounds cheap. But I want to go to Little Corn Island… how much does that cost? Well…there are places to stay on LCI that start at $15 like Grace’s Cool Spot, meals cost another $1 – $3 more than on the big island and activities can be another 10% – 20% more, but it still beats a lot of Pacific coast destinations and attractions.

But I want to fly there! Well, tack on another hundred-someodd bucks for a flight from Managua.

Ouch! Well, what other ways to get to Corn Island are there? Glad you asked: http://rightsideguide.com/2118/how-to-get-from-managua-to-the-corn-islands/

First class snorkeling in Big Corn Island

Sure beats a holiday in Costa Rica or Granada if you ask me! If you have any questions, leave a comment below.



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28 Responses to “Budgeting a trip to Corn Island”

  1. Eddy Stone23 September, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I spent 3-4 nights at the Casa Blanca, so never made it to Little Corn. One of my favorite places, in all my travels.

    • Casey23 September, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Yeah, Miss Dolly is a sweetheart. I had the tiny little room facing the sea. Simple, basic and cheap…yet priceless.

  2. Dave24 September, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    Did you do much snorkling on Little Corn Island (or Big Island)? How is the marine life and coral holding up to the visitors. Any shark sitings?

    • Casey24 September, 2011 at 8:09 am #

      The snorkeling is great! You can swim right out from the beaches on the leeward side of the islands where the water is calm and easily find fish, rays, barracuda and even a few sharks.

  3. Sheila27 January, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    This might sound like a stupid question, but how safe is Big Corn Island? I’ve read the Caribbean side isn’t very safe, but also know not to believe everything you read. I want to travel and stay awhile in Nic and think I NEED to see it! But….I’m 61 and wonder too if maybe it’s an island for younger people. Was thinking about renting a place for 2-3 mos.. any ideas on rentals? Cost & availability.
    Oh, also, I don’t speak much Spanish, yet..problem?
    Thanks, Sheila

    • Casey27 January, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      The Corn Islands are safe. They might suffer from the occasional unscrupulous taxi driver who may overcharge an unsuspecting tourist, but overall you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

      Little Corn attracts more of the younger crowd, though you will find young and old on both islands. I don’t know of any houses for rent at the moment, but one place you may try is Cabanas del Norte. Mr. Siu might have something available. Nearly everyone speaks Caribbean English, a Jamaican-influenced Creole. It’s not too difficult to understand.

      In short, check it out and see what you think!

    • Penny Williams20 March, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

      Sheila, send me an email …..I know several people with houses to rent.

      I am a young single white woman who has been living on big Corn Island for almost 3 years. It is very safe, as with any where in the world use common sense, and keep your wits about you and you will be fine!

      • rhonda1 June, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

        very interested in coming to the corn islands and seeing about renting a place for 2 .If you have any recommendations that would be wonderful.Will be there mid january till end of march.

        cheers Rhonda

        • Casey4 June, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

          There are several good options depending on if you want a cabana at a small resort or a cabin rental. I would suggest checking out the most complete listings for accommodation on Corn Island on the internet:

          Good luck!

      • Mia13 March, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

        Penny! I am planning a trip to big corn island. What is the cheapest hostel I can stay at? And what is the cost? Thank you 🙂

        • Casey15 March, 2013 at 10:49 am #

          The cheapest place (there are no hostels open as of yet) would be Los Gauchos (sp?) for $5, which is just before Casa Blanca for $10, both on Brig Bay beach.

      • Carol Mackey28 September, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

        We are a family of three looking for a house rental. Our daughter is disabled and uses a wheelchair for distances. A few stairs are OK. We like to snorkel and she likes the water. Do you think this is a doable vacation for us

  4. Rob8 February, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    That budget sounds about right, it’s the random $70 print after an egregious evening you gotta watch out for.

    • Casey8 February, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Indeed. Drinks can get expensive… and the french toast in the mornings adds up!

  5. Usvala28 February, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Well, it seems that Big Corn Island is not any more expensive than Caye Culker, Belize. In Cay Culker I stayed in a one of the cheapest rooms and payed 15 USD. The cheapest meals started from 6 USD. For 5 USD all you could get was a chicken sandwich.

    By the way, are you aware of any guesthouses where there is a common kitchen on Big Corn Island?

    • Casey1 March, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

      On Big Corn there is 3 brothers, located about a block left if you are leaving the wharf. Also one of best budget options in town!

  6. aaron9 May, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    What restaruants did u eat at in big corn? Thanks

    • Casey11 May, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      There are several places to eat on Big Corn. Check out the listings here:

      • Colette26 June, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

        Hi, I don’t see sites or links after your replies on the most complete listings for accommodations or the places to eat listings. thanks

        • Casey26 June, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

          Not sure I follow you…can you explain it to me with a little more detail? I have links to the hotels and restaurants that have websites, and I don’t have any replies to comments for the Places to Stay or Places to Eat pages. Thanks

  7. Scott Morrison16 July, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Hello Penny
    I am an American wondering how much house rentals go for.
    Any advice much appreciated.

    • Casey22 July, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      You can find places on Big Corn for rent for anywhere between $400 – $1000 a month.

  8. Lenka24 August, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I have a question about the weather. We would like to go there at the end of October. But there is still rainy and hurricane season. Isnt it risky to visit Corn Island at this time?

    • Casey24 August, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      October is a good month to visit. You will likely see some rain, but usually it is just enough to cool down the hot sun and then passes. Hurricanes pass about every five years, but of course I can’t predict the weather tomorrow much less in October! 🙂 Come check it out anyway. 95% chance the weather will accommodate.

  9. charlie8 January, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Casey–I’ll be coming in March from U.S. Will they take my low denomination dollars on Corn Islands, or should I convert to cords in Managua? cheers

    • Casey8 January, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      They can accept all US bills as long as they are in good condition with no marks or tears. But they also accept cordobas in any state, including taped together! For small items it is usually better to use cordobas and for purchases over $45 (about C$1000), dollars.

      Have a good trip!

  10. Sara5 December, 2013 at 7:07 pm #


    I have plans to go to the Corn island with a small budget, any cheap hostels in Big Corn island and Little Corn island? I want to travel by road, any advice from Managua?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Casey5 December, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Sara,

      Yes. Actually if you read this post, you will see some budget lodging options listed as well as a link to transportation information.

      You are welcome!

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