Memos from Asia

St. Martin, The Only Coral Island in Bangladesh

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Every island is a treasure island if you’re a connoisseur of quietness and silence. While the idea of living on an island can sound dull to some, others find it very adventurous and attractive, including myself. Most people will always choose the company of a human being rather than spending some time alone in nature. But there are also people like us, who feel the urge to disappear from this crowd and blend into the greatness of nature. Creative people have also stated the fact that their ability to create dramatically improves when they come close to nature.

(Photo Credit: Fatima Nisha, CC BY-SA 4.0)

There is no better place than St. Martin Island to disappear from your busy life. St. Martin is the only coral island in Bangladesh. So if you’re considering Bangladesh as your next holiday destination, then keep that island in your bucket list.

Discovery of the island

(Photo Credit: Fahimabrar420, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Situated in the southernmost part of Bangladesh and separated from the mainland, there is an island called St. Martin Island that was first discovered by the Arabian sailors 250 years ago. The sailors named the island Jazeera. However, during the British Period, the island was named after the then Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Mr. Martin as St. Martin Island. The locals living there, on the other hand, call it Narikel Jinjira, which refers to Coconut island. You may also hear the name Daruchini Dip which is the Bengali term for Cinnamon island.

The inhabitants

(Photo Credit: Ahmad Kamal Kallol, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The total area of St. Martin is 36 square kilometers, which you can walk around in a single day. The island has a population of 3700 people. The livelihood of the inhabitants mostly depends on catching fish from the sea and collecting algae. They later sell the fish to the tourists and other buyers in a temporary market and sell algae to the people in Myanmar. Their staple food includes rice and coconut. Not having any supply of electricity from the national grid of Bangladesh, the island mostly runs on generators and solar power.

How to get there

To get there from the capital, you can either travel by bus or plane. If you are choosing the bus as your medium of transportation, then you can directly reach Teknaf, the last part of the mainland of Bangladesh. From Teknaf, you’ll find ships leaving for the St. Martin Island. But if you are choosing air travel, then you’ll have to land in Cox’s Bazar airport, which is very close to Teknaf. After reaching Teknaf, you can follow the same procedure to reach the St. Martin Island, as mentioned before. On your way to the St. Martin island, you’ll see thousands of birds flying around the ship.

Accommodation

Once you reach the island, you will find several resorts to stay. So you will not have to worry about accommodation. The charge for your accommodation usually starts at $10 and ranges up to $50-$60 per night.

Things to do

(Photo Credit: Niaz Morshed Shovon, CC PUBLIC DOMAIN)

Once you’re in, start roaming around the island on foot. You’ll see plenty of Coconut trees on the island and this is why the locals also call it the Coconut Island. You’ll find people selling coconuts almost everywhere on the island.

(Photo Credit: Saad Faruque, CC BY-SA 2.0)

There is no better place than St. Martin to observe the sunrise and be a part of the sunset. The clean air and the lack of electricity throughout the island will give you an amazing view of the Milkyway above.

(Photo Credit: Salim Khandoker, CC BY-SA 4.0)

You’ll find rocks millions of years old in the southern part of the island formed from the coral. You’ll also have the opportunity to scuba dive. Some organizations rent out gears and you can also hire instructors to perform the scuba dive.

(Photo Credit: Fahad Faisal, CC BY-SA 4.0)

While visiting the island don’t forget to try the plates of seafood found there.

(Photo Credit: Muminur Rahman, CC BY-SA 4.0)

You’ll find corals laying down in the sands of the island.

(Photo Credit: Salim Khandoker, CC BY-SA 3.0)

St. Martin is also full of Pandanus Tectorius.

The best time to visit the island is anytime between November to February. But make sure to check the forecast before traveling because the island can be hit by occasional cyclones at any time of the year.

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