We have long heard about the Southern Islands of Singapore - that we should visit there soon before it gets too crowded like in Sentosa. So I decided to make a trip down to the island trio of St John's Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island with my buddies for a weekend outing.
Trip to the Southern Islands began with St. John's Island followed by Lazarus Island and Kusu Island. We got to St John's Island by taking a ferry from Marina South Pier Cruise Centre, which is located at just a stone's throw away from Marina South Pier MRT (Exit A). Tickets were bought on the spot from the counter at the cruise centre before departure.
The ferry timetable can be found here. We boarded the earliest one at 9am and the ride to St John's Island took about 25 minutes. Not that the island was quite far from Singapore. The ferry was super slow, with air conditioned too! Definitely a stark contrast compared to those speed boats I took in Malaysia.
There are no food or drinks sold on St. John's Island. So we bought some snacks along as we are going to spend the whole day for this island hopping. There are also convenient stores at Marina South Pier Cruise Centre.
St. John's Island
We headed to the right side of the island to begin our exploration. We encountered a few stretches of beach which wasn't too amazing. I think this island is more suitable for picnics!
Nevertheless we did find something slightly exciting to do here which was walking and taking photos along the water break.
We also explored the parks on the hilltop as we thought there were some jungle trekking paths. But apart from an old basketball court, we did not see much and it was more like a relax stroll in the park which you could get in other Singapore nature parks (minus the sound of the waves).
We then furthered our exploration to the left side of the island and found a well paved road leading to another larger water break cum pedestrian bridge which connects to the other island - Lazarus Island.
There was a tiny beach right after we crossed the bridge. Please discard this beach and keep walking as you should spend most of your day at the lagoon beach at the back of Lazarus Island.
There were no sign boards over at Lazarus Island. But this beach wasn't very difficult to locate. You should cross some greens to access the Lazarus beach. And yup it was the highlight of the day!
The water here was clearer and the beach was way less crowded than Sentosa. However, the sand was a little on the coarse side. We really regretted we didn't bring our swim wears to take a dip in the clear waters. Besides, this beach is also a popular stopping point for luxurious yachts (mostly chartered by western tourists).
After satisfying ourselves with Lazarus beach, we continued to explore further down the island. It started to rain. Fortunately we managed to find a shelter and also settled our brief lunch there.
After lunch, we headed back to St. John's Island Jetty to take the 1:50pm ferry to Kusu Island. The ferry actually arrived about 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled time.
Kusu Island, or known as Tortoise Island in Chinese (龟屿岛) is located behind Lazarus Island. It took us 15 minutes to get here from St. John's Island. The ferry actually skirted around St. John's on the way to Kusu. Both islands are actually pretty close to each other.
Kusu Island to me was a very touristy place because it has a Chinese temple with a few pavilions built on man-made lakes. I mean, I wouldn't have expected an island to have a temple as its main attraction. There was also a Malay shrine on top of a small hill in which you have to climb around 150 steps of stairs to visit. We went up and indeed there were 3 shrines. Although it was a Malay shrine, the shrine seemed like a Taoist one.
And how would our tour around Kusu Island complete without seeing any tortoise right?
Beaches here were not really attractive so we didn't spend much time exploring the beaches. However, similar to St. John's Island, there were lots of benches, chairs and shelters. Not a bad place for picnics. Just that after visiting these islands, I had itches all over my hands and legs. Make sure you bring your mosquito repellent!
We ended up playing Coup (card game) in one of those shelters as we were exhausted walking the whole day. Our ferry back to the mainland was 4:30pm but once again it arrived early. As the island was small, we could actually see the ferry from our shelter and made our way to the ferry on time.
To conclude, our St. John's - Lazarus - Kusu Island Hopping turned out to be exhausting. Not extremely fulfilling though but it felt good to find a beach that is less crowded and has a cleaner sea view than Sentosa. A tranquil place no doubt. Paths around the islands were all well defined, clean, very typical of Singapore's nature parks.
Location: St. John's Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island
By Public Transport: From Marina South Pier MRT, take Exit A towards Marina South Pier Cruise Centre. Purchase ferry tickets over at the orange booth.