Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
Trip End Apr 08, 2006

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Today was one of those rare, annoying days on the road. I woke at 5:15am in order to get the first bus to Teknaf, and this is when the trouble began. I was locked inside my hotel and I couldn't get out! After trying every possible avenue I started banging on the steel gate as loudly as I could hoping someone would come to my rescue. Unfortunately all I did was wake the rickshaw drivers outside and attract a crowd. Finally, one of the staff members came with a key, and then demanded some bahksheesh for his trouble. I shouldn't have been so surprised!

I got a rickshaw out to Laldighi Park, grabbed some roti and jumped on a bus. No more than five minutes later we stopped by the side of road and waited there for almost three quarters of an hour. I was almost convinced that I wouldn't make the ferry for St Martin's Island, and faced the possibility I may have to spend the night in the end of the earth smugglers town of Teknaf, which was something I really didn't want to do.

The bus stopped a few times once it got going, and at around 9:15am I noticed a few well dressed locals get off the bus. There was nothing unusual about the stop, and I figured people would tell me when I had to get off, so I stayed in my seat. As soon as the bus started moving again a few people turned their heads slowly and looked at me, and at once I realised that I'd missed my stop. I had no choice but to draw even more attention to myself and ask the driver to stop, and then walk a few minutes back down the road.

The scenery around here was was quite interesting, with rice fields and a few small mountains and villages. I saw what I figured were a number of Burmese refugee camps, evident by the men with thanakha on their faces.

The ferry to St Martin's Island was a pleasant two and half hour journey, with Bangladesh on one side and Burma on the other side of a very wide river to begin with. Further out to see there were a few sandbars and waves crashing onto hidden reefs. It was the first time I'd seen the sea since I was in Thailand, five weeks earlier. As usual I managed to attract a bit of attention, but I spent most of the journey talking to a few teenagers. They seemed to be from a reasonably well off family, but I was just glad for the opportunity to speak with people in English at a little more length.

Upon arrival I was astounded at the beauty of St Martin's Island, the only coral island in Bangladesh. The entire island seemed to be surrounded by a huge beach, and the interior was covered in palms. However one of the best things was the fact there wasn't a single car on the island! I wandered around for half an hour more to get my bearings than to find a hotel, but in the end I settled for a 150Tk dive near the restaurant strip.

After another lunch of rice and vegetables I spent the afternoon on the beach, relaxing, getting into my book and going for a few dips. Unfortunately, for the first time in Bangladesh I was hassled here. This ruined what could have been the perfect afternoon. Children constantly hassled me to by shells and coral that had been hacked off the rocks, and were unrelenting in their persistence in speaking to me in Bangla. Not to mention the twenty or more people who came over to ask me which country I was from. I just had to remind myself that I wasn't an everyday occurence in this country, and the locals were genuinely interested in me. Later on I went for a walk to see the sunset and was pursued by a 14 year old Burmese boy who was after my money. Despite these hassles though, I was glad to be by the sea witnessing a fantastic red sunset.

It was a restless nights sleep thanks to what must have been some pretty large rats in the ceiling of my hotel room, and the first thing I did after breakfast was find a new hotel. Given that it was very difficult to find a place that sold coffee, I bought some mixture in Dhaka before I continued on. It was obvious that "coffee" was a completely alien concept on St Martin's Island, as my waiter simply put the mixture into a cup of tea!

My new hotel was more than double the price of my previous one, but it had a great location right on the beach. I spent most of the day relaxing at the same spot as the previous day, but at around 4pm I went for a walk south along the beach before cutting inland through some small villages nestled amongst the hundreds of palms. I just couldn't get over how beautiful it was here, despite the constant "Hello country!" It certainly was worlds away from the overpopulated filthy city of Dhaka.

I saw another stunning sunset that evening and spent the following morning chilling out a little more before getting the 3pm ferry back to Teknaf. St Martin's Island certainly had character. Friendly inquisitive locals and beautiful long beaches. I was glad I took the Dutch traveller from Yangon's advice on visiting the island. Unfortunately, the stares, constant questioning and complete lack of decent food was starting to annoy me though, and I made the decision to head for India from here. There were going to be some long bus rides to look forward to.
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will on

Refugee Camps in Teknaf
I did see a number of Burmese people with the traditional Thanakha painted on their faces, however the refugee camps I saw, which were in such deplorable condition, were actually those of the 'Rohingyas.' Muslims from the west of Burma who fled the Military government following the 1988 uprising, and have been living here in Bangladesh ever since. These people were the poorest I had seen anywhere in the world, and are denied many rights by the Bangladeshi government. It's a situation that receives very little attention in the outside world, and I feel very sad knowing I was a tourist travelling in the region, relaxing on a beach whilst so many thousands had such terrible lives their.

shahanaus on

Shahana from Bangladesh
I am a Bangladeshi and now planning to visit the same island, sent martins island. Nice to know about your experience. and extremely sorry for the problem you face in our country...
I am regularly writing in this blog

will on

Re: Shahana from Bangladesh
Hi there. Thanks for your comment. If you have any questions about St Martin's Island, please let me know. I spent 3 days there. It's a really beautiful place.

will on

Re: Hotel
Hi! Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the hotel I stayed in. Actually, I stayed in two, but the first one was so terrible (rats in the roof) that I moved somewhere a little better the next day. From memory, it was a blue or white building, and when you get off the boat you go straight up the main 'street' about 300m, then turn right and head towards the beach. It's the nicest on that part of the island.

St Martin's was a cool place to spend a few days. Worth going for a walk and exploring a little. But be warned, if you're not Bangladeshi you'll find it hard to relax on the beach, as everyone will want your attention!

will on

Re: hey !
Hi! I didn't have a bad time with the kids. I just found that they wouldn't leave me alone! They followed me everywhere I went! The first hotel I stayed in was truly the worst I've ever stayed in though. I lay awake all night fearing the giant rats or whatever they were I heard in the roof wouldn't fall down on top of my head! The hotel I moved to was much better though. You can find me on facebook if you do a search on my name, Will Alderton.

Max Ax on

What is there at st. martin what i can do. . .???

will on

There's really not a lot to do on St.Martin's Island except laze on the beach or go for a walk through the villages. That said, it's a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

Max on

Very soon me n my frds are heading toward st. martin...
I heared that we can go under water for swiming is that true. . .???

will on

Yes you can definitely go swimming. I'm not sure about any really good spots for snorkelling or diving though. I didn't find any, but then again I didn't ask.

Sandipan Majumder on

St. Martin is the fairest island of Bangladesh. When I had visited this island for the first time as a Khulna University student in 2007, it enlarge the wish of living in the world more and more to observe the beauty of the earth. Then I have gone there more 2/3 times for my research work not for tour/visit. No enjoy but experience was gathered automatically about the socieo-economic and cultural activities of this island's inhabitants............

will on

Your research sounds interesting. Is there anywhere I can read some of it online?

Max Ax on

New upcomming news....
No one can't stay there now... they can just pay a visit and come back day to day...
I got the oppurtunity to stay there for 3 days last year... It was totally awesome!!!

Max Ax on

Yes there is scope for scuba diving....

will on

What do you mean "No one can't stay there now"? You mean all of the accommodation on St. Martin's has closed, and people can not stay the night there any more?! I find that difficult to believe! Tourism was probably the islands biggest source of income!

Max Ax on

Yeah you got it right...
As the tourist are distroying the natural beauty of the Island...
so now the Goverment dicided that no tourist can stay there...
And all the Hotels over there are closed...

will on

Wow, that's really surprising. Although I don't think closing the hotels is the best solution to the problem. A little development such as clear walkways and signs warning people about damage to the environment could be just as effective.

anuradha mukherjee on

Hi! I had been to St. Martin's island on 15th December,2010 for spending one day alongwith my family. It was a wonderful experience which I would like to share with you. I am an Indian and that too a Bengalee. In India we donot find a single coral island along our coastline. So the sight of living coral was great. The sea was serene, the island was polution free. No motor cars. No electricity. You could see only cycle-rickshaws and vans.Roads within the island were narrow and clean. We stayed in a brand new hotel- Blue Sea Eastern Resort and which was reasonably good..In the evening we went to sea beach close to Abakash Parjatan and spent wonderful time relaxing on deck chairs, under giant umbrellas. At night we watched bar-b-cue in our hotel complex. Next morning after breakfast we hired a speed boat and visited Chhera dwip. The speed boat couldnot reach the beach so small dingi took us to our destination. Lovely experience thrilled me. The Keya trees, the huge fruit of Keya tree, the jumbo size green coconuts, the living corals enthralled me. After spending an hour or so we returned to the main island to find sumptuous lunch ready for us. We tasted fishes of various types the names of which were not known to us. Thereafter in the afternoon we took the same launch Keari Sindbad to return to the mainland. This journey to and fro St. Martin's island will be ever cherished by me.

will on

Hi Anuradha! Thank you for sharing your story with me. It sounds like you had a fantastic time. I also had a great time when I was at St.Martin's Island, almost five years ago now. I doubt it has changed much!

anuradha mukherjee on

Hi! It is true we had a wonderful time at our neighbouring country Bangladesh. You may be aware of the fact that when India got her freedom in 1947 the price that she had to pay was partition. Erstwhile Bengal in undivided India was divided into two. East Bengal became part of Pakistan and West Bengal remained part of India. Later in 1971 Bangladesh was born and became independent. Though I am born in West Bengal but my parents had their roots in the present Bangladesh. Lots of emotion flowed when we visited this country as we speak the same language i.e., Bangla. We struggled against the British with a common goal and it was our hard luck that separated us. So you see, I visited Bangladesh with lots of expectations and dreams and my dreams came true. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Bangladeshis and the love showed to us during our stay. The other places which we visited were Cox's Bazar, Bandorban, Rangamati Chattogram and ofcourse Dhaka. As you overlook the small deficiencies in your loved ones I would also ever remember the beauty and warmth of Bangladesh and the Bangladeshis! Hope, I have not bored you! Bye.

will on

You certainly haven't bored me! I've really enjoyed reading about your experience in Bangladesh, and I'm very happy you had such an amazing time!

Anuradha Mukherjee on

Hello Will...
I'm eager to stay connected with you through Facebook...
I tried to find you out with your name, but a dozen of Will Anderton appeared on my screen. Here I'm giving you my Facebook account link.. Please do send me a friends request.., if you don't mind...


Max Ax on

I visited St. Martin this year at January 2011. This was my 3rd time in St. Martin. The place is still beautiful with much more facilities. But as its becoming populated day by day. I travel a lot. Next time I'm going to "Nijhum Deep" . Another Island of Bangladesh. I do believe its more beautiful then St. Martin...

Kim on

Will, I realize your trip to St. Martin's was several years ago, but I have questions for you - as a Westerner. I'm planning to visit next month. My email is I'd love to hear back from you.



Zaved Rahman on

hi, Now St.Martis is not like you visited before, There are some midium quality Hotel. And you can find coffee there, Communication is better than before. if you willing to visit again please contact me at

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