International flights arrive at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua. Having a grasp of some basic Spanish (or using a friend who speaks Spanish) may be helpful for the International airport, however you can navigate alright without it. Many people in Managua speak at least some English, especially those who work in and around the airport.
Upon arrival your first stop will be the customs desk where you will need US$10 (or the equivalent in córdobas) IN CASH to purchase your 90 day tourist visa. If you do not have exact change or do not have cash, this step takes much longer. After you acquire your visa you will get your luggage, which will be run through an X-ray machine and may or may not be hand inspected before you may leave the main terminal.
Depending on your flight schedule, you may have an overnight stay in Managua, which can be spent at a nearby hotel (there is a Best Western directly across the street) or, for the more budget-conscious, in the airport itself.
Flights to Big Corn Island are run twice daily by La Costeña (website link). Their office abuts the main airport terminal—just turn left on the sidewalk outside the main doors and walk until you reach the La Costeña terminal. You can’t miss it. If you need help with your bags, there are plenty of porters outside of the airport who will gladly assist you for a small tip. All of La Costeña’s employees, as far as we know, are bilingual and will be able to help you in English.
Inside La Costeña you will wait in line at the counter directly to your right when you walk in the door. They will ask to see your passport, then print your ticket, hand you a large laminated boarding pass with a number on it (this should say Corn Island on it), and then they will weigh your checked and carry-on bags. You will be charged US$2.00 for each pound of luggage over 30 lbs. This is payable by credit card if you prefer. You will be given a small, square paper as a baggage receipt. HOLD ON TO THIS. You will need it to claim your bags when you reach Corn Island.
After you check in, there is a window across the room where you will pay a US$2.00 tax. Then you walk through the security check and you’re in the terminal. When it’s time for your flight there will be an announcement in Spanish, calling out the destination and the boarding pass numbers. This announcement can sometimes be hard to hear, so if you don’t catch it, or if you don’t speak Spanish, go ask the person by the door to the tarmac who is making the announcement.
The flight may or may not land in Bluefields, a city on the Caribbean coast, before coming to Corn Island. Pay attention to the announcements or simply ask a flight attendant to be sure. If you have a window seat, though, you’ll know Corn Island when you see it, with its Africa-esque contours and turquoise waters all around.