Saintmartins Island (ECA)
The first settlement started 250 years ago by Arabian sailors who named the island ‘Jazeera’. During British occupation the island was named St. Martin Island. During the First Anglo-Burmese War between the British and Burmese empires in 1824–1826, rival claims to the island were a major factor. The local names of the island are “Narikel jinjira” which means ‘Coconut Island’ in Bengali, and “Daruchini Dwip” which means “Cinnamon island” in Bengali. It is the only coral island in Bangladesh.It is also the southernmost part among Extreme Points of Bangladesh
During the rainy season, because of the dangerous conditions on the Bay of Bengal, the inhabitants have no scope to go to the mainland (Teknaf) and their life can become dangerous. There is a hospital on the island, but in the past there has often been no doctor.
From 1989 to 2004, non-residential Bangladeshis and foreigners were the only people permitted on the island; however, this has changed and now residential Bangladeshis are allowed. St. Martin’s Island has become a popular tourist spot. Five shipping liners run daily trips to the island, including Shahid Sher Niabat, L C T Kutubdia, Eagle, Keari Cruise & Dine, and Keari-Sindbad. Tourists can book their trip either from Chittagong or from Cox’s Bazar. The surrounding coral reef has an extension named Chera Dwip. A small bush is there, which is the only green part, enhancing the beauty of this island. People do not live on this part, so it is advisable for the tourists to go there early and come back by afternoon.
It is possible to walk around the island in a day because it measures only 8 km2 (3 sq. mile), shrinking to about 5 km2 (2 sq. mi) during high tide. The island exists only because of its coral base, so removal of that coral risks erosion of the beach. Because of this, St. Martin’s has lost roughly 25% of its coral reef in the past seven years.
Shootings of St. Martin’s fishermen
On October 7, 1998 between three and five Bangladeshi fishermen were killed by Burmese Navy forces just off the coast of St. Martin’s Island.
‘Keari Sindbad’an advanced sea-going vessel with modern facilities for tourists
In 2011 pirates attacked fishermen 5 km off the coast of St. Martin’s Island and killed four of them.
Climate and weather
The best weather is usually between November and February; this is the major tourist season. Between March and July, cyclones can strike. The island was devastated by a cyclone in 1991 but has fully recovered, and was untouched by the 2004 tsunami. Thus, March to July is off-season for tourists.