Person X: Let’s take a beach holiday!
Person Y: Sure! What’s on your mind? Phuket? Langkawi? Bali?
Person X: What about St. Martins?
Person Y: St. Martins? Are you sure it’s safe? Is the beach any good there?
Person X: I am not sure actually. Maybe not.
Sadly that is how far a trip to St. Martins goes for most people and truth be told I also was one of them until 2014. But after that I have gone there twice in 2 years and I firmly plan to make St. Martins a mandatory yearly trip. Without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful and serene places to be in Bangladesh and so I feel it’s my duty to write and share about our only coral island.
On our way to St. Martins
One of the most pre conceived notion about St. Martins is that it’s not safe to travel there. I disagree 100%. Trip to St. Martins is no less safe than any other trip inside Bangladesh. Of course there is no direct route to St. Martins, you will have to go to Teknaf first and take a ship from there.
There are a number of busses with direct service between Dhaka and Teknaf. Normally they start at night and reach Teknaf at around 7-8 AM in the morning. The journey takes around 10-12 hours depending on the highway traffic. Another option is to take local bus from Cox’s Bazar. It takes a little over 90 mins to reach Teknaf from Cox’s Bazar but the road condition is not the best. GreenLine, St. Martins Paribahan etc. operates good AC busses in Dhaka-Teknaf route and tickets cost around 1500 taka one way.
The bus drops off right at the jetty. There are 3-4 ships which operates Teknaf-St. Martins ferry service. Keari Sindbad, Keari Cruise & Dine and Kutubdia are the bigger ships which takes around 3 hours. There is a smaller ship of GreenLine Waterways which is much faster and a bit more luxurious, but there is no deck in that ship. Deck Chairs cost around 600 taka one way and they are a real treat when the ship is in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. During winter you will get to see numerous seagulls who flies alongside the ships.
Now to answer the most important question: Yes I have found the ships to be perfectly safe. They do bump a lot along with the tide but not for a second did I feel that the ship was in any danger. So the worse that can happen to you is a little sea sickness.
Where to Stay:
First Advice: If you plan to take a day trip to St. Martins, please don’t bother to go. You have to stay there for at least a night to enjoy what this island has to offer. There are a number of hotels and buildings near the jetty, AVOID Them. During both of my trips, I stayed in Shemana Pereye Resort, A gem of a place if ever there was one. It’s on the side of the island and you will need to take a van from the jetty. As it’s very far from the jetty, you can avoid the day visitors and it’s very secluded. The resort has about 10-12 cottages and its right next to an amazing stretch of beach and it’s only for you to enjoy. The service is simply top notch and they try their best to ensure you have a good time. So I will always suggest to stay there if you plan to visit St. Martins.
View from Shemana Pereye Resort
What to Eat:
Most of the restaurants are near the jetty and they put on quite a display of sea fish, crabs etc. But I found them very unhygienic and I took all my meals in Shemana Pereye Resort. Simple Bengali food, fresh and tasty, what more can you ask for? They also arrange a delicious bbq dinner if requested, I was in a group of 40 and for 4 nights we all had bbq chicken and fish for dinner every night.
Beach Side Cafe at Shemana Pereye Resort
What to Do:
Chera Dwip is part of St. Martins and during high tide, it becomes a separate island. You can walk to St. Martins during low tide but it’s a little risky, better to take a troller or speed from the jetty. There is nothing much to do or see in Chera Dwip, but the water there is much cleaner and blue, so you can take some really nice pictures there.
There is also option to do snorkelling or scuba diving. You can Google Dhaka Divers Club to find more information.
In the afternoon, the island becomes really secluded and that’s when the real fun starts. You can take a dive in the sea, walk on the sands, play beach football, sit on a deck chair with your coconut, take a long walk till the sun sets, sit beside the sea and listen her roar under the full moon..
What is so special?
This picture should suffice!
- There is a clearly marked area in the island where it is dangerous to swim, so be sincere to the rules and stay far away from them
- If you don’t know how to swim, don’t get too deep in the water
- As this is a coral island, the beaches have sharp corals all over the place, so be careful when you get in the water
- Please don’t pollute the beach and water with garbage
- The Van pullers charge 5 times more the actual price when the ship arrives and leaves the jetty, after that the price comes down drastically.
- You can book bus tickets to Dhaka, from the jetty. They have bus counters there.
- The island does not have electricity, but some resorts run generator for a few hours a day, so don’t expect television and a hot shower.