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Captivating Saint Martin’s

Published : 17 Jan 2023 09:55 PM | Updated : 18 Jan 2023 04:25 PM

Bangladesh's only coral island, St. Martin has seen an influx of tourists lately, with winter marching in as its strong foot. 

As tourist ships resume plying the Teknaf-St Martin sea route, the number of people visiting the three sq-km marine protected island is en route to trifold. 

The tourist paradise, St Martin, is 120 kilometres away from the longest sea natural beach in the world, Cox's Bazar. Its scenic views are downright unfathomable, with the harmony of its boundless blue skies and clear blue waters stretching to infinity. 

The mesmerising island is only accessible during the calm seas from November to March, allowing tourists safe passage. But the growing tensions on the Myanmar and Bangladesh border had convinced the ships to halt their operation from Teknaf and instead dispatch into salt water from alternatives such as Cox's Bazar and Chattogram, bottlenecking tourists from visiting the isle. 

However, with recent revelations, ships full of tourists are busy pushing through salt waters with their hulls from various ports, including Teknaf and white Gulls (gangchills) accompanying the voyage. Subsequently, the top resorts like the Fantasy Hotel and Sunset Serenity are booming with tourists, with backdoors opening to the beach and views challenging the likes of infinity pools. Popular spots like Chhera Island (Chhera Dwip) have become a tourist magnet offering natural stones and thriving corals, making for sensational scenery. Whilst Chhera is submerged during high tide, sightseers can relish the captivating views of the blue waves splashing on sea pebbles. 

The local cuisine found on the island is also as enigmatic as its picturesque views. Some may consider it a fish heaven with various kinds of fish like Coral, Kalachanda, Sundari Poya, Rupchanda, Lobster, Hilsa, and other dried fish (shutki) offering diverse flavours. Moreover, the isle provides irresistible nightfalls for barbecue aficionados, with most resorts and restaurants ready to facilitate such occasions.

In addition, travellers can rent bikes for a relatively low price of 40-50 Takas and pedal throughout, enjoying the cold sea breeze and picturesque panoramas. Although the travellers are also usually struck by an increase in the cost of virtually every commodity or what the sellers call the "Teknaf Charge" for products bought via Teknaf, which includes additional transportation costs. Additionally, there is a surreal increase in travel fare inside the islet, ruled by electric-propelled three-wheelers. According to the motorists, this is due to the substantial upsurge in electricity prices, which usually peaks after new ship arrivals. Furthermore, Border Guard Bangladesh, Coast Guard Bangladesh and Bangladesh Navy have a considerable presence on the islet, offering a secure atmosphere. It is not uncommon to see their drills taking place on the island.

Overall, the thought that one night or one visit to Saint Martin Island is not enough to quench the thirst for this endless marvel of nature is mutual among every traveller. Also, the idea to preserve its natural magnificence for future generations to appreciate the bewitching beauty with the same fascination should dawn upon every tourist visiting this wonder.