As a traveler, I love to spend time with nature and its serenity and also experience adventurous journey. Travelling to Saint Martin Island was one of my adventurous journeys.
It is possible to visit St Martin Island without a travel agency, at a minimal cost.
There are three steps to reach Saint Martin Island from Dhaka, a 472 km distance, as there is no direct route.
First, you have to reach Cox’s Bazaar by bus or airplane. Then, by bus you can reach Teknaf from where you have to get on a ship or speed boat for the Island.
There are so many good bus services like Hanif Enterprise, Green Line, TR Travels, Soudia, Shohagh Paribahan etc. All of them have A/C and non A/C services. Ticket prices start from BDT 800 to BDT 2000.
Generally, there are two routes — by boat or ship. If you are an adventurous, boat is definitely the right choice for you. But, if you are scared to travel on water or have hydro-phobia, then try to get the ship.
By boat, it will start from Teknaf Boat Ghat. The ticket costs BDT 210 per person.
On the other hand, availability of ship depends on season or weather etc. Ticket costs BDT 600 to BDT 800 per person. I travelled by a ship as I am extremely scared of travelling on river or sea.
Selecting a resort or hotel
Almost every family in St Martin Island is engaged with tourism business or hotel business. Actually, they have no other business to do without this. Some of them have shops in market where they sell food and goods.
Some of the young people work as freelancer travel guides to St Martin Island. So, every house becomes a hotel or guest house during tourist season (especially in winter). So, it is easy to get a room with two beds, much comfortable for a group of 4 people.
But, there are hotels too. Hotel costs vary in different seasons. I had trouble finding hotel room or resort. So, I managed a house to get three rooms as I travelled with my family.
Places to visit
The island is only 8 square km in area which makes it possible to explore the whole island in a day on foot. Bring some sunscreen, water and especially a pair of sandals because you might not be able to resist wading through the water. It will take you around 1.5-2 hours walking the length of the island.
There is no motor vehicle in the island to roam around, nor even a motorcycle. The only other way to roam around the island is flatbed cycle-rickshaws (popularly known as vans). These are great for those who cannot walk long distances. Drivers are courteous and polite. But make sure you negotiate and fix a price for the ride before getting in.
A boat ride to Chera Dwip is a must to do! You can either hire a speed boat or a local fishing boat which will take to Chera Dwip. It is an extension to the island surrounded by coral. I was so much excited as we hired a speed-boat. The journey reduced my fear of travelling by boat or ship. I could feel the love for water growing inside me because of the serenity and closeness of the sea.
This extended island has beautiful small beaches and Keya plantations – a great place to capture some photos. This extension goes under water in high tide and is walkable otherwise.
What to eat & where
Lined the beaches are hotels and restaurants where you can enjoy local dishes. Best set up by Narikel Jinjira Restaurant is a barbecue dinner in the late afternoon.
You can even buy fresh catch from the local fishermen and have them barbecued for dinner. They intended to give the flavor and the environment with their visitors’ health in mind. They let you dine with a view. But my favorite is the beach side huts that serve barbecue fresh fish and crabs.
You must never leave without a memento to take home with you. Except from the photos, you can bring home different souvenirs to your love ones left home. Best is their dried fish or shutki which does not rot so fast. You can have them at a very low price. Other items you can find are t-shirts, hats, sandals, shoes and many more.
I enjoyed drinking coconut water again and again. Another name of St Martin Island is Coconut Planet. Just go to market when you are hungry. You will get various types of fishes just caught from sea & still alive. Food price is higher than the regular. A medium size Rupchanda fish will cost you around BDT 200 to 400. There are so many types of fishes that I even can’t remember their names.
What to buy
There are some exclusive good things to buy in St Martin Island. If I choose one of them, it will be dry fish. You will get almost every kind of them. Either you love dry fish or not, you should check dry fish shop. Cost is lower than the rest of the world & quality is very good.
This journey will always be memorable for me as I have experienced many new things and got rid of my fear of travelling by boat or ship.
Zakia Tasnim Chowdhury