Singapore is actually made up of 63 offshore islands! 62 surround the main island that we live in. If you’re looking to spend your weekends at somewhere less crowded, you can try island-hopping in Singapore! Yes, time to correct that mindset. Singapore is not just a city of one island. It’s SIXTY THREE!
Besides the main island, these are the largest offshore islands; Sentosa, Pulau Tekong, and Pulau Ubin. The smallest island is Pulau Sejarat Kechil. It has a land area of just 0.1 ha!
With interesting islands you can visit without a passport, you can have more fun in the sun! Why not try something unique during your off-day or weekends? You’ll never imagine Singapore as so alluringly attractive with its many hidden islands.
Here are 6 islands you can visit for a quiet day trip away from the city!
1. Pulau Hantu
Located only 30 minutes away from Singapore by boat, Pulau Hantu is a popular haunt for fishing, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
Credit: Waikiki Dive
This island is fringed by small coral reefs that are home to an abundance of marine life. You’ll be able to spot colourful nudibranchs, butterfly fish, clownfish, crabs, sea slugs, starfish, octopi, and even seahorses.
Pulau Hantu is made up of two smaller islets – Pulau Hantu Besar (Big Ghost Island) and the Pulau Hantu Kechil (Little Ghost Island). The name came about because the mid part of the island “disappears” during high tide.
If you’re not into water activities, both islands are great places to settle down for a nice, cosy picnic. It is also popular with campers and day-trippers who enjoy a unique outdoor experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’d like to camp overnight, a camping permit is required.
How to Get There: There are no scheduled ferries to Pulau Hantu. But you can get there by joining one of the weekend dive trips or by charter boats at the West Coast Ferry Terminal.
2. Kusu Island
Known for its religious Chinese temple and Malay shrines, Kusu Island is packed with people during the ninth lunar month. During this period, Chinese devotees will flock to the island to visit the isolated Chinese temple where Da Bo Gong (God of Prosperity) and Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) reside.
Others make the laborious climb up to the top of the hill to pray at the shrines of three Malay saints. If you’re looking for a quiet refuge, visit the island when it’s not pack during the pilgrimage period.
There are two lagoons, beach shelters, and barbeque pits for you to laze your day away. Enjoy picturesque views and various aquatic plants and animals. What’s more, you may even get to see countless wild tortoises in the area too! Do note that overnight stays are not permitted.
How to Get There: Ferries depart from Marina South Pier daily. Visit their website for the schedule. Ferry will head to St John’s island first before going to Kusu Island. The ride takes about an hour.
3. St John’s Island
You would never believe this beautiful island was formerly a quarantine station for cholera, beri-beri, and leprosy cases in the late 19th century.
Despite its dark past, St John’s Island has been transformed into an idyllic getaway with an abundance of outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
Spot dolphins by the water, trek up hills or play a game of soccer in the fields. If you’re tired after a long day under the sun, there are several bungalow chalets and bunks in this island that can accommodate up to 60 people.
Be it a family outing or a get-together trip with friends, you’re bound to enjoy this island and have a comfortable place to stay!
How to Get There: Ferries depart from Marina South Pier daily. Visit their website for the schedule.
4. Lazarus Island
If you love the sun and beach is your thing, you’ll adore Lazarus Island. Connected by the short causeway to and from St John’s Island is Lazarus Island, a hidden oasis for beach junkies.
Compared to Sentosa and East Coast Park, the beach at Lazarus Island is calm and the waters are cleaner.
Since Lazarus Island is undeveloped, it’s perfect for a visit before it gets too crowded or turns into another Singapore resort. Do note that there are no shower points on the island. The nearest ones would be a short walk away at St John’s Island.
How to Get There: Take a ferry from Marina South Pier to St. John’s Island. Lazarus is a jetty-walk away from St. John’s island.
If you intend to stay overnight at these islands, it’s best to pack wisely! Because there are no amenities or shops, you won’t be able to run out to buy facial wash or tissue.
Here are some essentials you’ll need to bring along: all toiletries, wet and dry tissue papers, water and snacks, mosquito repellent and sunblock! If you’re intending to stay overnight with your BF/ GF as a couple retreat, don’t forget to bring along contraception such as Durex! You’re definitely not going to find any store to purchase contraception in these islands. Even if you’ve been with your partner for a long time and STI is not a concern, you still need to prevent against pregnancy if you’re not ready for a family. Always play safe!
5. Sisters’ Island Marine Park
Home to Singapore’s marine biodiversity, the Sisters’ Island is a dedicated site for marine conservation and research. Visitors to the island will be able to observe marine life such as such as sea fans, sponges and sea anemones.
With many trees providing shade for a leisurely picnic and BBQ pit around the area, Sisters’ Island is the place to visit for a quiet weekend day-trip or evening camping a night here. Yes, you can camp overnight with an approval obtained from Sentosa!
For a more unique experience, sign up for a guided walk to learn about the Marine Park’s amazing biodiversity. These walks are conducted free of charge! Click here for more information on the schedules. In addition, to encourage a deeper appreciation for Singapore’s marine biodiversity, NParks is organising guided dive trails.
How to Get There: Charter your own boat from West Coast Pier or Marina South Pier. Boats will be chartered for participants of NParks’ guided walks.
Bonus: Pulau Satumu
Tiny in size, Pulau Satumu is Singapore’s most southern island and is surrounded by crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life. Home to the Raffles Lighthouse, this island is a beauty!
Unfortunately, this island is not open for public visit. However, there are some golden opportunities at certain times of the year when you can join a guided tour operated by Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority!
Bored of spending your weekends and free time in the main Singapore island? Call all your kakis and have a fun time out in the sun! It’s time to discover the other side of Singapore you’ve never seen before!
(Header image by mothership.sg, edited by writer)