Saint Martin Bangladesh, The Only Coral Island Of Bangladesh.
Saint Martin Bangladesh, in the Chittagong Division, is the only coral island of the country. The local people call this tiny island “NarikelZinjira” meaning coconut island in their native language because of the abundant coconut growing here. The island is located in the southernmost part of mainland just at the river mouth of Naf river.
This landmark demarcates as the international borderline between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Somebody named it “Daruchini Dwip” for the surrounding naturally beautiful scenery and crystal clear blue water of the Bay of Bengal.Unlike the long sandy beach of Cox’s Bazar, you can walk around this entire small island.
Usually, tourists take off for serene beach of Saint Martin island Bangladesh to refresh themselves after merriment at Cox’s Bazar. I wanted to explore this untouched territory when I was there. So, one fine morning we got on a bus and headed for Saint Martin island Bangladesh.
Best Time To Visit Saint Martin Island :
The weather forecast is a must before visiting the island especially during the tourist off-season from March to July. Cyclone can frequently strike during this period. In the cyclone of 1991, this place was extremely damaged but has been totally recovered. In 2014, fortunately, it was completely untouched by the Tsunami.
The island gets its best weather from November to February.So, these are the main tourist season with the best weather conditions. The island becomes full of life from 10 a.m. just as the ferries dock full of tourists. They move about across this place till 3 p.m. This is the time for the ferries to leave this place.
How Saint Martin Island Bangladesh Become Discovered?
Around 250 years ago, first Arabian sailors settled down on this island and named it Zajira. It was during the reign of the British was it named Saint Martin. There was the first Anglo-Burmese War from 1824 till 1826 during which period there was major conflict regarding the ownership of this place between the British and the Burmese empires.
This Marine Paradise is located northeast of Bay of Bengal. From Cox’s Bazar- Teknaf point it is 9 km south and from the northwest coast of Myanmar 8 km west.In a simple word, the island’s location is on the getaway in Bangladesh. The Island has an extension named “Chera Dwip.”
It is the surrounding coral reef off the island. The meaning of “Chera” is “separation” as it does from the main island during tide. Roughly 7500 inhabitants of this island mainly live on fishing. Fishers from adjacent areas bring fishes to sale on the temporary wholesale market of the island during October to April.
Besides tourism services, they collect and dry algae from sea rock to sale to Myanmar where people eat this. Their staple foods are rice and coconuts.It was not before 2004 that Bangladeshi residents were allowed to visit this island.
Non-resident Bangladeshi and foreigners could only visit the island from 1989-2004. The island has no supply of electricity from the national grid, no need to worry hotels run on generators.
Top 10 Things To Do In Saint Martin Island Bangladesh.
1. Explore Sandy Beach
Though there are some developments are on their way to meet the full standard as a tourist spot, nothing compares to the beauty of the beach. As if it compensates for all the lacking there is. The blue water surrounding the sandy beach with lines of coconut trees offering fresh coconut drinks, fresh live seafood- all beckoning to explore this unchartered territory.
Whoever comes here for a short visit ends up repenting not staying for long like overnight and turn this unforgettable journey into a memorable one.Though the area of the island stretches 8 square kilometers, it shrinks into only 5 square kilometers during high tide.
So, yes, it is completely possible to trod around the whole island. Tourists bored with their hectic daily routine looking for quick but refreshing change must visit this island of sun, sea and coconut trees.
2. Scuba Diving
It looks as if the island has become alive as the tourist season hits in. All the beach sports, beach parties, and a bonfire lit up the evening sky during this particular time of year. You can go for scuba diving, hire an engine or speed boat and go for a tour around the island.
It may cost around BDT 2000 for dive, and you can rent snorkel gears for another BDT 500. Boats can be hired for a fee of BDT 600-800.
If you are interested, do get down to check out the Coast Guard station not that there is any security issue for the visitors. You can communicate easily with others through the mobile phone network. Also, go online with wireless devices and connect to the world though there are no land phones available on the island.
3. Chera Dwip
As the name implies this adjacent part of the island gets separated from the mainland during tide. It is the coral island which is reachable either by foot or by getting on a boat. It can be a tourist boat or a motor boat. To hire an engine boat, you need to pay around 150-200 BDT, and for a speedboat, the fare rises to about 1200-1500 BDT if you are not willing to walk.
The mainland is made up of both live and dead forms of different species of corals. There is little greenery on Chera Dwip. Though is no permanent residents on the island, there are temporary shops which serve fried fish and coconut water for the tourists. So, visitors can start early to visit the island and come back by evening.
4. Enjoy Local Fresh Sea Food
Compared to Cox’s Bazar food is relatively costly here because the inhabitants acquire all major livelihood goods are required from the mainland. Food stalls are everywhere. Breakfast comprising of egg omelet, vegetable curry along with parathas cost only BDT 15.
You can get rice, daal (lentil) and different fish with vegetables day and night. A cup of tea costs only BDT 5.Furthermore, all the restaurants in hotels offer more or less similar menu in better quality at an obviously better price.
Chickens, lobsters, and crabs are in abundant in the hotels. One thing is if you like dried fish better to get pricey ones from here as they are fresher than those available at Cox’s Bazar beach area.
You can drink plenty of fresh coconut water at a very reasonable rate. But if you want something hard to drink you can also get hold of this at some particular hotels.
One restaurant needs to be mentioned in particular for its location as well as the menu. The Narikel Zinjira Restaurant is just at the forefront of the island.
You get the ship, and there it is. They have Bar-B-Q, a buffet of Bangla, Indian and Chinese cuisine. They are an expert group of diners with the ability to serve around 200 guests at a time.
Top 5 Saint Martin Bangladesh Hotel :
1. Blue Marine Resort
The most modern of all resorts this one has excellent sunrise and sunset view from its balcony and verandas. Reasonable rent comes to around 2000-3000 per day.
2. Coral Blue Resort
This hotel offers modern facilities with a good restaurant serving delicious seafood. Room rent ranges from BDT. 2000 to 5000.
3. Music eco resort
This very eco-friendly location is a paradise to wildlife. With modern facilities and an expertized kitchen, this resort is very close to Chera Dwip. The room rent is BDT 3000 with BDT 1000 extra for three meals a day.
4. Shayari Eco Resort
The very close to beach location, good food, and natural scenery makes it a good choice for the tourists.
5. Seemana Periye Resort:
This resort has a variety of rooms and prices. For brick rooms, the charge is BDT 2000, for wooden rooms, it is BDT 2300 whereas for rooms made of Bamboo you have to pay BDT 2500 per night.
How To Rеасh Saint Martin Bangladesh ?
Only means of transport to reach the island is by sea truck, local motorboat or tourist boats. The both way journey to the island is very enjoyable irrespective of the company you are with. I remember the great time I had with my kids while we aboard the ship that carries tourists to the island.
We started very early at morning on the bus, and after 2.5 hours ride, we reached the ferry ghat or dock where you get on the ship. The seagulls accompanying us during the boat ride made the journey quite enjoyable. My kids had a fun time feeding their snacks to the gulls so that they may continue the whole of the journey with us.
The ship, boat that daily run the route from Teknaf are ‘Keari Sindbad,’ ‘Keary Cruise & Din,’ ‘Shahid Sher Niabat,’ ‘Eagle,’ ‘LCT Kajol,’ ‘LCT Kutubdia’ etc. Usually, they leave the ghat at 9.30 a.m. You can book the trip beforehand from Dhaka, Chittagong or Cox’s Bazar.
Then you may reach there via plane or take a direct bus ride from Cox’s Bazar.
Tourist will enjoy a sea-truck travel experience more with open dock receipt. This will gain the extra advantage of appreciating the scenic beauty of hills of Teknaf and excitement of the Bay of Bengal.
You can get aboard a sea-truck that leaves Teknaf early morning at 9 am daily and return at 3 p.m. the very same day. The two-way fare comes to about BDT 450-2500 per person. It is important to remember that during the offseason that is from may till September ships and cruises avoid the route because of harmful weather.
What You Should Do And Not ?
There are a couple of well-known tourist agencies serving arranged package tours for visitors besides Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation which is government operated. It is advisable to leave the worrying in the hand of these experts while you enjoy your journey wholeheartedly. So, plan the journey, accommodation, foods and so on with an experienced tour operator and go on to Saint Martin Island during
November to February.Be respectful to the people and the place. Noteworthy, it may be there are few species of sea turtles (for example Green and Olive Ridley turtles) that are in danger of extinction that nest on this island. There is also some corals only particular to the coconut island. The sea turtle conservation project is going on, and if you visit the island during the hatching season, you may come to their nesting ground.
They are sometimes taken for food while still nestling, and corals are isolated to be sold. As the removal of the coral may cause the extinction of the island, so preservation is the core to survival. To preserve the biodiversity and keep this gorgeous coral island undiluted and spotless we require support from everybody.