Escape to Hidden Paradise: The Southern Islands

Feel like having a short getaway but don’t want to go too far? You can consider a day trip out to the less-known Southern Islands of Singapore.

WingShark's Note:
Flying to Singapore and transfer somewhere else?
Enjoy your layover with Singapore's less-known islands!

Presently, Singapore has approximately 60 islands (according to Wiki) and the popular ones are Sentosa, Pulau Tekong, Jurong Island and Pulau Ubin. Recently, Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon) is becoming more popular after it reopened in October 2015. I have yet to visit it but hopefully soon. Anyway, to make the “island experience” more authentic, you got to take a boat out to sea and the Southern Islands seem to be a perfect choice. (Pulau Ubin should be next on my list since my last visit was more than 14 years ago..)

Well.. when we said we were going “island-hopping” in Singapore, my friend’s brother said something like isn’t Singapore an island? Are you gonna hop in Singapore? roll-eyes

There’s a simple graphic of my adventure that Saturday morning:

southern island hopping singapore

I’ve summarized my experience in SEVEN simple pointers.

1. The ferry departs from Marina South Pier

It is the building nearer to the Marina South Pier MRT Station, not the fancy looking Marina Bay Cruise Center which is for cruise ships. No idea how I got confused with the names and my poor friend walked to the wrong building as a result.. With the opening of the Marina South Pier MRT Station (Nov 2014), it is a breeze to travel there via public transport. When boarding the red line, do pay attention as some trains end at Marina Bay instead. It is usually on an alternate basis.

If you’re feeling hungry or forgot to pack food, there’s a mini provision shop selling tibits, snacks and drinks and another food place selling Nasi Lemak, roti prata etc.

 photo IMG_4453_zpsvxn0326x.jpg

2. $18 FERRY TICKET GIVES YOU ACCESS TO ALL 3 ISLANDS

Check the departure timings from Singapore Island Cruise’s website. Schedule below is accurate as at August 2016. Try to be punctual as if you miss the ferry, there’s nothing more than a mini provision shop and a food stall. Do note that online booking is not available and tickets sell on first come first serve basis at a counter at the terminal. There is a possibility that tickets may sell out on popular dates so it is best to be as early as possible. For the rarest time ever (probably the earliest we’ve ever met), we were able to catch the 9am ferry.

For children under 12, tickets are priced at $12.

DEPARTURE FROM MARINA SOUTH PIER TO ST JOHN’S ISLAND

Monday to Friday: 10am, 2pm

Saturday: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm

Sunday & Public Holidays: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm

3. ST JOHN ISLAND USED TO BE A QUARANTINE CENTER

Back in the late 1800s to early 1900s, St John Island was known to be the quarantine center for immigrants with infectious diseases like Cholera and Leprosy. It was also a drug rehabilitation center in later years and today, it houses several bungalow chalets suitable for a weekend getaway. My mum used to have her NPCC camps at St John Island. For more information on staying overnight at St John’s Island, you can visit Sentosa’s website. Prices start from $53.50+

Below: Jetty of St John Island

 photo IMG_4455_zpsfipttsyu.jpg

Old vs New Jetty

 photo IMG_4457_zpsifdiglbq.jpg

We didn’t have time to walk to the other side of the island to snap some photos.

Oh, and if you are a cat lover, there’s an area with a lot of cats in St John’s island. There were at least 5 to 6 cats just lazing around in the shade waiting for humans to play or take photos of them. Not too sure if you should be feeding them though. Don’t think there were any disclaimers.

 photo IMG_4505_zpsvqlgsa7l.jpg

4. LAZARUS ISLAND IS ONLY A SHORT WALK AWAY FROM ST JOHN ISLAND

I’ve heard about the wonders of Lazarus Island from the lucky ones that have been on a private yacht to the island. Before this trip, I never knew that Lazarus Island was so convenient! It was only a short 300 to 400m walk away from St John Island! By the way, the paths in these islands are pretty flat and smooth – baby strollers/wheelchairs shouldn’t be much of an issue.

 photo IMG_4460_zps82b2xd3p.jpg

This area is a popular fishing spot too. Even though we were on the first public boat from Singapore to St John Island, there were already people fishing when we reach. Not sure if they had their private transport to this island or they camped overnight.

 photo IMG_4462_zps7d4ksc90.jpg

 photo IMG_4504_zpsdhy9b9o6.jpg

5. LAZARUS ISLAND HAS A BEAUTIFUL CRESCENT-SHAPED BEACH

This island is truly a “Laid-back Charm“. The Crescent beach (with fine sand) and clear waters makes you feel very relaxed and at peace. It’s hard to believe that you’re still in the same country. When we first reach the beach, we were the only ones apart from that random yacht docked close to shore. We went towards the end of the breakwater and basked in the sun for quite some time, doing nothing; just spacing out and taking photos and spending time on social media. It would be desirable if I can reduce the extent of social media in such situations but the island’s reception was way too good.

 photo IMG_4469_zps1irc993k.jpg

 photo IMG_4489_zpsqnxjfewr.jpg

Almost an empty beach.

 photo IMG_4472_zps7v3ymsff.jpg

We did not enter the water as we were all wearing shoes. Maybe next time (probably years later) I will consider bringing slippers so I can at least dip my feet in the sea. Do note that there are no toilet or shower facilities at Lazarus Island. You will have to walk back to St John Island.

Brought my two mini bears along for the adventure.

 photo IMG_4478_zps3wamqray.jpg

6. THERE IS NO THROUGH ROAD AROUND THE ISLAND

Being the adventurous one (or so I assume at times), I wanted to walk one round around the island despite the maps showing me otherwise. I led my friends off the pavements into.. urm mangrove areas and we walked and walked and walked until there was no way we could proceed without our shoes getting wet. That was the end of our exploration T_T

 photo IMG_4494_zpsa4ylfrge.jpg

It was pretty sad to see debris along the beach even though this was such an isolated area.

 photo IMG_4498_zpsuqidezq6.jpg

 photo IMG_4500_zpsev6uowb0.jpg

We could see Kusu Island (looks really tiny) from the distance and we were wondering if we could swim over during low tide. Just kidding.

 photo IMG_4490_zpsliyd8ki0.jpg

 photo IMG_4495_zpsvr1nqltl.jpg

7. SMALLEST & MOST-VISITED ISLAND – KUSU ISLAND

Despite being only 85,000 sqft or rather the size of 13 football fields, Kusu Island (Which means Tortoise in Chinese) is actually the most popular island among the three. It is home to a famous Chinese Temple which attracts huge crowd during the Ninth Lunar Month and a Malay Shrine which requires you to walk up 152 steps.

 photo IMG_4509_zpswaahxylg.jpg

This is the only island (among the three) where you can purchase food and canned drinks at the temple. It is also the most “commercialized” island with fun stuff like a wishing well. We don’t have much of such stuff in Singapore so it was fun trying to aim your coin at the 3 bells in the middle of the lotus flower. We emptied all the coins in our wallet in the process.

 photo IMG_4521_zpspvgsakay.jpg

There are also various signage throughout the island which shares a bit

 photo IMG_4529_zps8sv4wbzl.jpg

Mini turtle sanctuary at the temple but whoops we spotted a dead turtle here =/

 photo IMG_4528_zpsycthgqcq.jpg

I’m not really sure what this Food Centre is for but I suppose that it will be occupied during the Ninth Lunar Month when there will be crowds of people.

 photo IMG_4530_zpsmkrxtkz8.jpg

Behind the food center, you will find the toilets and this yellow railings and steps that will bring you up.

 photo IMG_4531_zpseemphbcn.jpg

 photo IMG_4534_zpsrbxsh5nn.jpg

 photo IMG_4532_zpsv7glzsfy.jpg

I’m really confused with the existence of Graffiti at such a sacred place =/

 photo IMG_4533_zpshinehhp9.jpg

After walking down (a different stairs), we were greeted with beautiful views of the ocean, albeit not as beautiful as Lazarus Island.

 photo IMG_4510_zpscfgj17zw.jpg

 photo IMG_4512_zpsf0s3lvhf.jpg

Spot MBS & Singapore Flyer!

 photo IMG_4513_zpswzh8vaqq.jpg

Lonely random tree that can possibly be a good backdrop for wedding photoshoots.

 photo IMG_4538_zpsnsfg0uac.jpg

There was a long breakwater too but this was a little low and unstable. We did not walk out to the end unlike the one in Lazarus.

 photo IMG_4542_zpsz3jtrs2a.jpg

Just space out.. and hear the waves crashing in. When was the last time you last appreciated the sounds of nature?

 photo IMG_4560_zpsrydspqsr.jpg

Ample land available for picnic. Not sure if Kite flying is allowed on this island but it should be easy with the strong winds.

 photo IMG_4546_zpspkmagkhw.jpg

Random Tortoise Shelter.

 photo IMG_4562_zpsnq1nmfax.jpg

 photo IMG_4563_zpsmlx8a54v.jpg

Perfect location to take Singapore’s City Skyline which doesn’t look too good from this angle. Too many tall buildings clustered together =/

 photo IMG_4564_zpsgz0xp3gq.jpg

Kusu Island is really a small island. I think it takes maximum 20 minutes to walk one full round around the island.

In fact, we had too much time on the island and we just ended up seeking shelter under this random pavilion while waiting for the ferry timing.

Final photo of Kusu Island from the ferry:

 photo IMG_4566_zpsakgsgniy.jpg


It was definitely an interesting day trip out of mainland Singapore. To be honest, I haven’t been spending much effort in exploring my own country as compared to my overseas adventure but I’ll try to visit more and write more about Singapore, especially on the hidden gems and places that people don’t always visit!

Hope you enjoyed reading and feel free to share your experience or anything that I might have missed out!

hellowings

*All text, images, and links are from FlyHoneyStars.com
*All "WingShark's Note" are from HelloWings Journey, aims to provide readers more current information and tips assisting in FlyHoneyStars' travel itinerary.

FollowMyFootsteps x FlyHoneyStars

FollowMyFootsteps x FlyHoneyStars

The author is a fan of free and easy travel and I enjoy exploring really random destinations, which could range from filming locations to places in those viral photos that are shared online. Right now, finding data sim or free wifi is the first thing I do in every travel destination as I enjoy flooding my timeline with "wish you were here" photos.
FollowMyFootsteps x FlyHoneyStars

Latest posts by FollowMyFootsteps x FlyHoneyStars (see all)

Author: FollowMyFootsteps x FlyHoneyStars

The author is a fan of free and easy travel and I enjoy exploring really random destinations, which could range from filming locations to places in those viral photos that are shared online. Right now, finding data sim or free wifi is the first thing I do in every travel destination as I enjoy flooding my timeline with "wish you were here" photos.