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Credit: City Nomads
October 2020

Travelling overseas for that dream beach getaway still is a dream, but that’s not going to stop us from holidaying however we can - we’re blessed with a few small islands within our waters that are just perfect to explore in a day trip.

 

 

The day starts at the Marina South Pier, where you’ll find Singapore Island Cruise, the only mode of transportation to St John’s Island and Kusu Island. Ferry tickets are priced at S$15 per adult and S$12 per child. Hop on this Klook offer that’ll get you a dollar off per ticket, and enjoy further discounts if you pay with your UOB Card. The ferries start running at 8.30am on weekends and 10am on weekdays (see the schedule here) in a loop, from Marina South Pier to St John's then to Kusu, before heading back to Marina South Pier.

You’ll be happy to hear that the vessels are air-conditioned, and a single ticket allows you to visit both islands and back to the mainland. Do note that the ferry will only visit St John’s between 17 October to 14 November 2020 as Kusu island is usually visited by tens of thousands of devotees during this Kusu Pilgrimage Season.

Island hoppers will also have to keep in mind to pack their own food and drinks as there aren’t any available on both islands. Flex your home cooking genius and whip up a hearty spread of sandwiches, snacks, beverages (including water!), and other picnic-friendly foods to fuel you on your day out.

 

 

St John’s Island is one of the best-known Southern Islands in Singapore for its nature and history; a far cry from the quarantine zone - before COVID-19, there was cholera - and penal settlement it used to be. Today, St John’s is home to a beautiful blue lagoon and sandy beach, and also diverse wildlife. Teeming with mangroves and coral reefs, there’s lots to see. Funnily enough, feline lovers will also enjoy St John’s community of stray (but not feral) cats. Be sure to pack some cat treats into your picnic hamper to increase opportunities of interaction with the kitties.

One of the island’s hidden secrets is in fact, another island. Lazarus Island is linked to St John’s by a little bridge, and is known for its spectacular beaches and lagoons. If you’ve brought a swimsuit, this is the perfect place to take a dive in some dreamy and undisturbed waters. Also a great place for a picnic brunch, find a good spot to dig your toes into the sand and breathe in the fresh air while you fuel up with some munchies.

After lunch, return aboard the ferry to head to the second stop of Kusu Island, which is also known as Pulau Tembakul (Peak Island in Malay). Steeped in local folklore, many of us know this tranquil place from the myth revolving around a giant tortoise, a Malay man, and a Chinese man. Legend has it that the tortoise transformed into an island to save the men, who were shipwrecked. They were so grateful that they built a Taoist shrine and Muslim keramat (‘shrine’ in Malay).

 

 

Today, Kusu Island is home to three Malay shrines at the top of the hill and a popular Chinese Da Bo Gong (Tua Pek Kong) Temple dedicated to the god of prosperity. Explore these sites and make a wish by tying a yellow piece of cloth to the surrounding trees and branches; believers often visit to wish for wealth, marriage, good health, fertility, and harmony.

Symbolising longevity, power, and tenacity in Chinese culture, the tortoise sanctuary on the island is also a must-visit. Other tiny creatures living on the island also include sea turtles and coral reefs, which you can find by taking a walk along the shore. The scenic walk is also the perfect way to end your little island adventure. Be sure to catch the last ferry back (4pm on weekdays and 6.15pm on weekends), as overnight stays aren’t permitted on either of the islands.

 


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