Saint Martin Island, locally known as Narikel Jinjira, is the only coral island in Bangladesh. It is the southernmost union of Bangladesh situated in 120 km away from the Cox’s Bazar city, and 9 km or 5 nautical miles from Teknaf coastline.
Narikel Jinjira means the chain of coconuts. The name results from this island producing coconuts in a huge number. The island is also known as the Daruchini Dwip (Cinnamon Island) because local claims, once an Arabian ship, crashed with a large rock and spread cinnamons all around the island.
Saint Martin’s is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bangladesh. But the government restricted its public access to the season only. You can only go there by ship from November to March depending on the season. Rest of the year, you’ll have to go by trawler or speedboat which is risky.
Enough of introduction. Let’s get you through the amazing places of this small but picturesque island. Here are the top 8 places you should never miss in Saint Martin:
North Beach is the polar beach on Saint Martin’s Island. When you leave the ship at jetty and start walking towards the island, the beach on your right-hand side is the North beach (Not the immediate one with the Jetty). Most of the tourists who return to Cox’s Bazar on the same day go to this beach. This beach produces the most powerful waves during high tide.
This is also the riskiest beach if you are considering getting wet. There is a rip current zone around the corner, and you will see red flags and danger signs nearby. Most of the people gather here when they first arrive on the island.
West Beach of Saint Martin Bangladesh:
West Beach, as the name says, is in the west part of the island. This is also one of the most popular spots on the island. Tourists usually gather here in the afternoon. One reason for this beach being so popular is the beach market near it. This is the only beach on the island with a beach market.
Besides, there are food stalls to eat and some small carts where you can buy local foods and hand-crafted items and Burmese products. This is ideal for families and groups who want to sit and relax beside the beach and may as well eat something.
Somudro Bilash Cottage:
Somudro Bilash is a rest house owned by deceased fiction writer and director Dr. Humayun Ahmed. It is by far the costliest cottage on the island. The cottage is popular because Humayun Ahmed directed a movie on the island named “Daruchini Dwip” and hosted the actors and the crew here.
Almost every Bangladeshi tourist goes there to get a peek at this famous cottage. Although you can’t enter the cottage without boarding there, you can still take pictures outside the gate. This Cottage made the west beach so popular.
Saint Martin’s Island campsite:
You might have already understood where I am going with this. This place is heaven for camping lovers. There are two camping sites in Saint Martin’s Island. This one and the Hindol Campsite on the East beach. This campsite is on the west beach. It is near the beach and ideal for camping as it is one of the quietest zones of the island.
Agontuk is a Bangla word which means stranger. Well, the beach justifies its name. It is the beach that provides the best views on the whole island, but almost no one knows the spot except passionate travelers like you who research well before the trip.
This beach is in the west beach, but it is closer to the south vicinity. This is a sandy beach and probably the beach with most corals remaining. It will be hard for you to go there on foot. So, maybe hire a rickshaw or bike to get there.
Cinnamon lake is very close to Agontuk beach. It is the largest surface level source of fresh water on the island. Although there is nothing special about this lake, you can pay a visit if you want to see the largest source of fresh water in this remote island.
Pebble Stone Zone:
This is on the Southwest corner of the island. Here you will find the largest corals and stones on the entire island. Besides, there is a Keura (A local tree) bush which gives a photogenic vibe.
The word Chera means torn. As the name suggests, people call it Chera Dwip because a part of the island stays underwater throughout the larger part of the day. You can go there on foot during the low tide. This is by far the most popular tourist attraction in the island as it holds the southernmost corner of Bangladesh known as “The Final Frontier of Bangladesh.”
What makes this disconnected part of the island more special is the fact that only one lives here, alone and without electricity. They make dry fish on the island and sell them on the main market in Saint Martin’s Island. They also make a little shed for tourists and sell lunch to earn some money during the tour season.
Into the Saint Martin Island, Bangladesh
You can go to Chera Dwip by three methods, by boat, by bike or bicycle or on foot. The boat will take you to the Chera Dwip Boat Ghat where you will get off from the boat and walk on water a little to get to the island. I recommend going there by boat if you are with family or have female group members. If you are in your youth and want to explore the whole island, you should go on cycle or on foot.
Now, one thing you should keep in mind is riding a bike or bicycle on the shore is an extremely difficult job. If you are not used to riding bike on rural roads, you might get sick during the trip. same goes for walking. If you are a regular walker, I would suggest you drop the idea as it is a very long route.
I suggest you buy a two-liter water bottle as you will need it in the sun. If you don’t, you will have to buy it for a price twice as much. Applying sunscreen is a must and wear a cap if you can.
How to go to Saint Martin Island, Bangladesh
There are three ways you can go to Saint Martin Island, Bangladesh. One is through Teknaf and the rest two are Cox’s bazar and Chittagong. But, in my opinion, the Teknaf to Saint Martin route is the one thing that makes the trip so pleasant. You will see hills and forest as you will go through the narrow lane of Naf River between Bangladesh and Myanmar. This was for people who want to enjoy the journey to the fullest.
If you are in Dhaka, then you will find a lot of bus operators operating in Dhaka to Teknaf. We don’t promote any company so we are not naming any bus operators but if you have any queries, please contact us and we will get back to you soon.
After the bus drops you at Cox’s Bazar bus stop, go to the BIWTA ghat to get onboard. You will have to book your tickets beforehand to go from Cox’s Bazar. It is usually a 6-hour trip from Cox’s Bazar.
You can also go directly to Takenaf and then board your ship. The bus of this route usually departs from Arambagh, Dhaka. The bus will directly drop you on the jetty ghat and from there you can board your ship.
There are three ways to go to Saint Martin’s Island from Chittagong. You can go directly from Chittagong, or you can go to Takenaf and then go to Saint Martin. The ship from Chittagong boards only once a week, so you must book tickets beforehand. You will have to go to Patenga water bus terminal to get on the ship. The process of going from Cox’s Bazaar or Takenaf is the same as Dhaka.
Where to stay
You don’t have to worry about staying in Saint Martin as it has hundreds of resorts and cottages. Here you will find basic cottages as well as three-star hotels. We won’t name any hotels, but you can find them yourself on hotel booking sites.
Most of the restaurants on this island are not up to the standards as certified chef stops don’t want to come here. But there are some good restaurants who serve quality food. Ask your hotel owner and he will take you to the good ones.
What to expect
As this is a remote island, transportation is not that good. Only one ship comes a week to deliver consumer products and other necessary documents. As a result, their products’ sourcing cost increases by a great margin. Subsequently, you will have to pay an added price to balance the scale. So, don’t be upset if the products in Saint Martin cost a little more than the mainland.
Also, you should always keep your sunscreen on while roaming outside. Always wear a cap and keep a pair of glasses. Keep necessary medicines close and buy a mosquito repellent. Try to eat from restaurants that maintain hygiene properly and keep the tourist polices’ contact number in your phonebook in case of any unexpected event.
NB: Please throw waste in the bin wherever you go and help keeping the environment clean.