Where to stay in Saint Martin's Island
About 500 km away from the bustle and busy hum-drum of Dhaka and 10km away from the mainland, across the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal lies the only coral island of Bangladesh -- Saint Martin's Island.
This 8-km mass of island is fringed with coconut trees and 'kewra' plants, lush sandy white beaches and a very quiet, almost lethargic, village life. A cruise from Teknaf via Eagle-1, Kutubdia or Keary Sindabad will bring you to this small island. The onset of tourism has drastically increased in the last couple of years and Saint Martin now sees more tourists than ever before with the peak season starting from early November and ending in March.
A place where life takes on a slower pace, walking on the sandy beaches, reading a book and eating a freshly caught fish become the norm. With the onset of a large number of tourists, the number of resorts has radically increased and is mostly concentrated near the jetty and north of the island. But if you are looking for a more intimate and private experience, there are very few places which offer the clandestine isolation that you may want.
Music Eco resort is one such place. Located in the last south-western corner part of the island, this place blends into the nature very easily. Tents are the choice of accommodation in this place, with proper washrooms and a specialised chef.
The tents lie in the shade of coconut trees and hammocks sway in the muted shades of the sun's rays. Quiet and serene, this place is literally music to your ears: the call of birds, leaves rustling and the sea beating on the corals all lend tunes to the wind.
You can choose to dine out in the yard where seats are laid out so that you can eat in the awning of coconut trees whilst slow breeze plays out in your vicinity. The seclusion is infectious. Walk out to the beach, and bathe in the sun's rays, dip in the cool, crystal-blue waters of the sea, and lay in the soft sand to read from your favourite book.
At night, the place takes on a bewitching look as small kerosene lamps are lit up, and the night-sky is clamoured with a million stars. Sleeping under the brilliantly busy sky, look for Andromeda, Hercules, Gemini or your very own Milky-way! The tents can accommodate 2-4 people each, and for families there is a tent for 6-8 people. The tents are priced at Tk 3000 per night, and 3 meals a day comes at Tk 1000. ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or call +8801761775155-9; +8801613339696).
Blue Marine Resort is the most high-end option on the island. A little on the environmentally unfriendly side, the place is impeccably clean and encompasses a sandy tropical island feel. The beach can be seen from the veranda and you can enjoy a private sunset and sunrise in the cosiness of your balcony. The prices start around Tk 2000-3000. (They can be reached at 01727 266077).
Other places to stay are the Coral Blue resort which lies in the last tip of the island adjacent to Chera dweep -- an extension to Saint Martin's Island. This resort promises the same kind of seclusion as Music eco-resort and is built on 24 acres of land with the landscape changing between low-cut grass and towering coconut trees. Prices start at Tk 2000-2500 and the in-house restaurant serves excellent sea-food and barbecues as well.
Another place to stay is the Shamudra Bilash Ananda Ashram which is particularly famous because it was owned by the Late Bangladeshi writer Humayun Ahmed. (Contact: +880172736589, +880173390400.)
The island is an excellent excuse to head out of busy Dhaka and soak your feet in the crashing blue waves, relax in the sun's beating rays and enjoy the calm tranquillity this place epitomizes.
By Abida Rahman Chowdhury