… and I’m not talking about Sentosa here. What most people don’t realize is that Singapore isn’t just made up of just one island (or two, if you count Sentosa). Believe it or not, this tiny city-state is actually made up of 63 islands — most of them being uninhabited! I had the chance to check out some of these islands last year with friends and it showed me yet another side of Singapore that I hadn’t known previously despite living here for several years.
A short ferry ride from the Marina South Pier via Island Cruise (SGD 15, roundtrip, inclusive of stops) transports one from the hustle and bustle of an ultramodern city to tiny, mythical tropical islands lined with lush palm trees and some of the best beaches in Singapore. The ferry ride took us to three of the more well-known southern islands (aside from Sentosa). First stop was the larger St. John’s Island – a great getaway for those planning for a swim and/or a picnic.
one can get a great view of the singapore skyline on a clear day from st. john’s island
the lagoon in st. john’s island which is okay for swimming
the island also boasts of several walking trails which can be covered in a day
the island is connected to the nearby lazarus island via a bridge – it was, however, closed during our visit
Then we headed off to Kusu Island. Though much smaller, its origins are anything but. A story passed down by both Malays and Chinese in Singapore claims that a magical tortoise turned itself into an island after two shipwrecked sailors got stranded in the high seas. Today, the island is recognized as sacred by both the Muslims and Taoists in Singapore and each of these two religions has a shrine in Kusu. Childless couples are said to come to these shrines to pray for children.
Kusu Island is also known for having one of the best beaches in the country. The water here is definitely better than Sentosa. If you’re adventurous enough, you can even charter a fast boat for around SGD50 to Pulau Hantu (Ghost Island) which is generally recognized as having the best waters in Singapore for swimming. During really pleasant days, the water’s clear, revealing the coral in the shallow seafloor. t’s even possible to snorkel there.
the da bo gong temple in kusu island
turtles play a big part in the kusu island mythology
the beach in kusu island is one of the best that can be found in singapore — the water is cleaner compared to sentosa’s
the beach facing south is much better
How to get there: Best day to come to Kusu and St. John’s Island is during Sundays. Ferries from Marina South Pier depart every 2 hours from 9AM to 5PM and head first to St. John’s and then to Kusu Island. The $15 fee is inclusive of stops to both islands. It is also possible to stay overnight in holiday bungalows in St. John’s Island with rates starting from SGD 53.
Tip: Avoid coming here in October / November as thousands of devotees come here for pilgrimage. Food is not available in either of the two islands except for a drink stand in Kusu. Bring your own food or starve!