A quick guide on how to get from Cox’s Bazar to Maheskhali Island in Bangladesh, a pleasant day trip from Cox’s Bazar. The island, surrounded by mangroves and home to several Hindu and Buddhist temples, can easily be reached by boat.
Cox’s Bazar is famous for being the world’s longest stretch of beach.
… but honestly, it’s not that impressive of a place in my opinion. The town is grubby, and the beach is pleasant but nothing spectacular. Maheskhali Island, on the other hand, is a very pleasant place to spend a day roaming around. And getting there is half the fun!
How to get from Cox’s Bazar to Maheskhali Island
There are boats throughout the day heading from rickety Kastura Ghat. Kastura Ghat is north of the Laldighi area. You can find it on Google Maps, or just ask around. Locals will point you in the right direction. A rickshaw from the Kolatoli area should cost 30 – 50 Tk.
To enter the Kastura Ghat, you have to pay 5 Tk per person. Don’t worry, this is not a scam, locals and foreigners pay alike. From Kastura Ghat speedboats and wooden slow boats go to the island throughout the day. The last boat back from the island to Cox Bazar goes around 18:00 hours.
Speedboats take roughly 15 minutes, and cost 80 Tk per person. They hold about 10 people. They go when full, and it usually doesn’t take long for them to fill up. Slow boats take roughly 45 minutes, and cost 30 Tk per person. They house as many people as they can fit. The boat I was on had around 30 people on it.
If you take the speedboat, the island can easily be done as a half day trip. Speedboats are fast and run regularly. If you want to take the slow boat, factor in a full day, as slow boats take longer to fill up and are (obviously) much slower. I arrived at the jetty around 09:30, and got back from the island around 16:00.
An army of rickshaw and CNG drivers awaits when you arrive on the island. This might have been the only time I was pestered by rickshaw drivers while in Bangladesh, as several followed me for a couple of hundred meters convincing me I needed a rickshaw. But unless you want to overpay, ignore these guys. The sights are easy to walk to, and it’s only 500 meters to the first town where you can get a rickshaw or CNG for a decent price.
Things to do on Maheskhali Island
The island is home to several Buddhist and Hindu temples. Most of these are in or within walking distance of the main town, which is 500 meters beyond the jetty of arrival.
The most famous sight on the island is the Adinath Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is about a half hour walk from the main town, to the east, and overlooks some beautiful scenery. A rickshaw from the main town to Adinath should cost around 30 Tk one way.
On the way to the temple, you’ll be able to see boats being made by hand, and there are plenty of wood workshops where carpenters are hard at work. All and all it’s a pleasant experience, made even better by the fact that locals are friendly and welcoming.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any bike rental places on the island, as this place would be perfect for cycling. The roads are okay, there’s not much traffic, and the scenery is stunning. If you’re resourceful, you might be able to rent a bike from an enterprising local, but you’ll need a little bit of Bangla for that.
Where to stay in Cox’s Bazar
Unfortunately, Maheskhali Island has no accommodation geared towards travelers. This is a shame, because it’s a more pleasant place than Cox Bazar (in my opinion), and it would’ve been nice to stay and explore the island a bit more.
For budget travelers, the area of Laldighi in Cox’s Bazar houses several budget options. The most popular is Hotel Panowa, but unfortunately it’s often full. If this is the case, there are several other budget options in the streets around Panowa, of varying quality. A single at Panowa starts at 500 Tk.
For a more luxurious getaway, head to Hotel Coral Reef, in the Kolatoli area. Rooms here start at 3,500 Tk.
So there you have it, a quick guide on how to get from Cox’s Bazar to Maheskhali Island. Let others know in the comments if anything changes.