With one more month to go with our COVID-19 Circuit Breaker period here in Singapore, I am sure everyone is raring to head outdoor once we are allowed to.
A lesser known outdoor destination in Singapore is the Southern Islands! If you intend to avoid the crowd – I meant everyone and their family will probably be out and about once the CB is over – here is an idea for you to step out of our mainland and head to the tiny neighbouring islands.
Which are the Southern Islands? How do I go there?
The Southern Islands that we are referring to here are Kusu Island, St John’s Island and Lazarus Island. Singapore Island Cruise provides ferry transport to Kusu and St John’s Islands from Marina South Pier.
Ready for our list of 5 things to do at this Southern Islands excursion?
1: Take a walk around St John’s Island
Some of us might have visited St John’s Island as part of our school trip when we were kids but most of us might not know that St John’s Island was the site of Sir Stamford Raffles’s anchorage before meeting the Malay chief of Singapore in 1819.
The island was formerly a quarantine station for cholera cases among immigrants in the late 19th century. Later on during the 20th century, St John’s Island housed a penal settlement and a drug rehabilitation centre.
The island is not very big but it reminded me of Singapore in the 1980s with its laid-back walking trails, several picnic area and benches, as well as buildings which were reminiscent of an old quarantine facility.
2: Meet and greet the resident felines at St John’s Island
Apparently, St John’s Island is home to families of cats, and is somewhat known as Singapore’s answer to Japan’s cat island Okishima. (source) There are apparently about 16 cats on the island and they are completely at ease and relaxed with passerby.
The cats are being looked after by caretakers, so they are well-fed and friendly. Don’t forget to keep a look out of these resident felines while walking around St John’s Island!
3: Chillax and picnic at Lazarus Island
Just a short walk from St John’s Island lies the Lazarus Island, which is almost a private beach with clear water, fine sand and nothing else! There isn’t even a trash bin or restroom here.
The island is a regular anchor spot for private yachts. You could enjoy the peaceful and tranquil environment by having a picnic at Lazarus Island… before the party yacht arrives. Remember to pack your food as there is no eatery or shop at both St John’s and Lazarus Islands.
4: Visit the tortoises and temple at Kusu Island
From St John’s Island, you can take the ferry to Kusu Island (means Turtle Island) where you could visit the Chinese temple that is located just beside the jetty, and check out the turtles in the ponds around the temple.
Quick tip: For those who forgot to pack their bento box or picnic basket, apparently the Chinese temple sells delicious fried beehoon for hungry visitors to the island.
There are also three Malay shrines (or kramats) on the small island which requires a trek of 152 steps up the hill to visit.
5: Take a dip at the almost private beaches
Other than the places of worship, Kusu Island has a quiet and clean beach, and resting areas nearby suitable for picnic, suntan and a dip! I highly recommend visitors to go on a leisurely swim at the beach to conclude your excursion before you head back to Marina South Pier.