Travel Talk

Cargo Ship or Ferry – Bluefields to Big Corn Island

Greetings readers and internet search surfers alike,

Today we shall discuss the not so distinguished matter of taking an over-crowded passenger ferry or cargo ship from Bluefields to Big Corn Island, Nicaragua. In the last installment we discussed the topic of “Panga / Boat / Ferry from El Rama to Bluefields” and naturally, this is the continuation. It’s literally a cheap thrill that beats buying a plane ticket if you have time and looking for some experiences. Regardless, this is how you’ll do it.

Supposedly passenger ferries and cargo ships leave from Bluefields. Most I know caught one from El Bluff, maybe we’re all on to something or totally missed the boat (literally) from Bluefields!? Rumor has it the passenger ferry leaves at 9:30am or so and it looks dangerously over-crowded and not so fun. Please remember this trip is about 6 hours or so and if the weather is choppy, expect longer and rougher. Could see that whole boat turning into the vomit pie eating contest scene in Stand By Me in a hurry.

Your best bet is to talk to the military officers in the port. They’ll know when all the cargo ships are coming or going. We did that in Bluefields and the gent told us our best bet was El Bluff on this particular day. From El Bluff, found out there was a ferry in 36 hours… We also met this gent pictured in this post about El Bluff who said he could get us on a cargo ship. We agreed to tip him for his services should he come through. He did come through and got us on a cargo ship only 8 hours later…

From El Bluff port go left when you leave the gates, then go right along this narrow(sketchy) alley and eventually you’ll see a big white with blue trim building. It’s the police or military or military police station, they’ll know. That’s where the gent brought us. They checked our ID, searched our bags and let us into the commercial port.

Not long after we were on a cargo ship headed for Big Corn Island. It cost us each C$200, left at about midnight and took a little over 5 hours on a stormy night. The interior was niceish and the staff was watching a particularly violent action movie. The boat was comfortable on the inside and had a particularly strong coffee, definitely not sure if it was a good idea.

Twice someone said if I wanted I could have “the bench” which is padded and where people sit at the kitchen table. We watched the movie and I went to join my friends on the deck like a degenerate hippy who was going to stare at the stars and sing koom by ya while sitting semi-circle on the deck in the middle of a squall. Just take the bench, when I came back in a staff member was passed out on it.

The deck is just a straight up dumb idea. It gets cold fast and “the stars” are less glamorous after an hour or so while laying on large concrete slabs for some construction project with a 2L water bottle pillow. Then it starts raining and things get weird realizing you’re in a micro machinesque Nicaraguan cargo ship in the Caribbean Sea. Remember being freezing cold and wet as gentlemen always give away their warm attire to those in need. It wasn’t a pleasant sleep but gives you a few classic memories you’ll probably look back on favorably.

Do put your laptop in a big zip lock or at least a big garbage bag around your small electronics pack. It rained really hard and my everything got soaked. Had to open up my PC and let it “dry out” for hours and hours before even daring to hit “power”. When on some remote island, having your computer die is well, soul destroying?

After all this you’re finally on the Corn Islands, indeed.

Rumor has it you can catch a cargo ship from Big Corn Island direct to El Rama on an overnight so you avoid Bluefields all together on the way back. Will probably try and do this when I leave on the same ship I came in on. Do ask for the Captain’s phone number, if you got along well they’ll gladly take a known passenger back for some extra cash.

FYI – Was with Spanish speakers, that’s a game changer.


Mental note: Police car running into a parked taxi in Bluefields, diseased dogs & water color.

P.S: The boat above is the passenger ferry, go cargo my friends, go cargo!

P.P.S: Lobster madness is still in full effect, tonight’s tail may have been the finest yet.

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