St. Martin's Island is a small island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal, about 9 kIn. south of the Cox's Bazar- Teknaf peninsular tip in the southernmost part of Bangladesh. The local people call it Narikel Jinjira. It is almost flat and is 3.6 metre above the sea level. The 9.66 km wide channel between the mainland and the island is much shallower than the open sea south-west of the island. There are reefs from 10-15 km. to the west-northwest. The island is 7.315 km. long and is aligned NNW and SSE. Geographically, it is divided into three parts. The northern part is called Narikel Jinjira or Uttarpara and is 2,134 m long and 1,402 m wide. The southern part is known as Dakshinpara, which is 1,929 m long, with a narrow tail of 1,890 m towards the south-east. A narrow central belt or Maddhyapara connects the 2 parts. The length and the width of this belt are about 1,524 m and 518 m respectively and the narrowest collar is known as Golachipa. In addition to the main island there are a number of tiny islets ranging from 100 to 500 sq.m. which are locally known as Chheradia or Siradia, which means separated island. People will miss something great if they miss a shallow lagoon in the middle of Uttarpara and it is connected to the sea during high tide by a narrow channel on the western coast. There are 2 small dead lagoons and a stretch of marshy land in Dakshinpara.
Chhera-Dwip is a part of St. Martin's Island but divided during tides. One can go to Chhera-Dwip by walking during low tide. About two and a half hour walk from St. Martin's Island or one can go there also by local motorboat or tourist boat. One will find the corals all over the Island. A small bush is there which is the only green part of Chhera-Dwip, enhancing the beauty of this Island. People do not live in this Island, so it is advisable that tourists go there early and come back by afternoon.
How to go
St. Martin's Island is the most beautiful Coral Island where one will find live corals. It is only 30 km. from Teknaf and one can go there by local motorboats, tourist boats or sea truck.
One can go to this Island either from ·Dhaka or from Chittagong. Launches and country boats ply between the Island and Teknaf regularly.
At present 2 tourist boats ferry tourists from Teknaf to Saint Martin's. One is Keari Sindabad which takes Tk 450-540 per person. It starts journey from Teknaf jetty at 9:00 a.m. and returns at 3:00 p.m. However, for an exotic journey, many tourists prefer the fishing boats to have a first hand experience of the sea tides.
It is possible to walk around the Island in a day because it measures only 8 sq. km. shrinking to about 5 sq. km. during high tide.
The most interesting part of St. Martin's Island is that 182 species of wildlife are recorded from the Island, according to researchers. Of these, 4 species are amphibians, 28 reptiles, 130 birds and 20 mammals.
A huge numbers of migrated birds come to this Island in winter season enhancing the beauty of this Island.
Where to stay
Accommodation in St. Martin's Island is limited. So it is advisable to book accommodation before you plan to go to this Island. Hotel Blue Marine is one of the best hotels in St. Martin's Island. Motel Nijhum is one of the remarkable hotels there. To book in Motel Nijhum, confirm your reservation from Dhaka. Visitor will hardly get a chance to stay in this hotel if .you are a sudden visitor to St. Martin's Island. The other good hotels are Prashad Paradise and Sraboni Bilash.
Overnight stay in St. Martin's Island is really a great experience, feeling and listening to the sounds of the sea. If you are lucky enough, you can have a moonlit night on $t. Martin's. The beauty of the full moon on St. Martin's Island cannot be described in words; you have to be there feel it and enjoy it.
The population is about 3,700 and most of them are ", ••. i'ishennen belonging to some 535 families.
Several living small coral colonies are found in small sheltered pools very near the low tide level around the island. They also occur in the surrounding shallow sea, mostly growing on the beach rocks. The dead coral colonies also occur in pool-like depressions within the high and low tide levels. Some of them are located at an elevation of several meters above the low tide level.
Interestingly, researchers have detected that the oldest fossil coral on the island is 33,238 years old.
Usually, most of the visitors go to St. Martin's Island during November to February, as the season is the best and most convenient to travel to the Island. Moreover, the government as well as some private initiatives have developed some tourist facilities on the Island.