So you’ve done all the Singapore sightseeing you wanted and you’re quite sated. You’ve checked out the magnificent Gardens by the Bay; you’ve watched the incredible light show at the Marina Bay Sands complex. You’ve done the mandatory shopping journey through Orchard Road and tipped your hat to the hipster pubs on Haji Lane. Now you want to do something a little different and we have the perfect solution for you. Singapore has several blissful offshore islands that are eminently worthy of exploration. Why not check them out?
- Sentosa Island
Asia’s favorite playground, the manmade Sentosa Island is visited by about 20 million people a year. Sentosa is famed for its excellent beaches, the Resorts World Sentosa, Universal Studios Singapore, fabulous hotels, a waterpark and many other attractions. So whether you’re the beach bumming type, or you like swimming, snorkeling or diving, you’ll find the waters perfect for your chosen activity. There are heritage sites on the island that date back to before the Japanese occupation – do check them out. You can go yachting, enjoy amusement rides, play golf, check out the beach clubs and bars, and spend some quality time at the refreshing Quayside Isle.
- Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin is quite famous as one of Singapore’s more beautiful offshore islands. You’ll find one of Singapore’s last village communities, called a kampong here at Pulau Ubin. The best way to get around the island is via bicycle. The rustic roads that swing this way and that underneath the swaying coconut palms are just poetic. Explore the shady trails and the overgrown rubber plantations, the flourishing mangroves and the secluded beaches. The air is so clean, everything feels nicer and food tastes so much better on Pulau Ubin. Make a trip to Pulau Ubin part of your Singapore New Year holiday package.
- Lazarus Island
If you’re looking for uninterrupted expanses of pristine beach, then you want to get to Lazarus Island. It’s the best idyllic beach escapade, a real island getaway in all of Singapore’s offshore islands. Consider this – long stretches of white, sugar sand beaches. You’ll dip your toes into water so clear you can see several feet down into the clear turquoise waters. It’s a tropical paradise without convenience stores so remember to carry everything you’ll need including towels, sunscreen, and food and so on.
- Kusu Island
The word ‘Kusu’ means ‘tortoise’ in Chinese. Kusu Island is home to a tortoise sanctuary; you can enjoy feeding the cute fat tortoises and watch them as they go about their business. Kusu Island is for the animal lover in you and one of the best Singapore islands to visit. Legend has it that Kusu Island was formed when, in order to save two shipwrecked sailors, a giant tortoise turned itself into an island. These two shipwrecked sailors returned to give thanks to the giant tortoise. This tradition continues till this day; on the ninth lunar month every year, throngs of people get to the island to pay their respects at the he Chinese Da Bo Gong Temple. Climb up to the temple’s top, 152 steps high, where the 3 holy shrines of Malay saints is located, to be blessed with fertility, health and prosperity.
- Sisters’ Island
The Sisters’ Island is actually two separate islands with a narrow channel in between. One of the legends about this island states that a pair of sisters drowned at sea and after their death, the two islands were formed. The island is a pristine natural spot, excellent for picnics and camping with long expanses of green grass, plenty of trees and rocks. There’s also the Sisters’ Island Marine Park where you can see and admire the extensive biodiversity of the island’s waters. The islands make a pretty picture when seen from a distance – two small islands, almost round in shape, chopped through by a narrow channel in the middle.
- Chek Jawa
The Chek Jawa wetlands are located on Pulau Ubin’s eastern border. These wetlands are home to one of the richest ecosystems in all of Singapore. If you’re traveling to Pulau Ubin to delight in that pristine natural gem of an island, why not check out the Chek Jawa Wetlands as well? Stroll the long boardwalk and observe strange wildlife such as mangrove-dwelling fiddler crabs and carpet anemones. Check out everything from the seagrass lagoons, to mangrove swamps to the many sandbars which protect a rich marine life. The boardwalk leads to a high tower that’s 20 meters tall, from whose top you can enjoy a fabulous view of the island’s coastline. Look out for hermit crabs and star fishes that are frequently washed up on the rocky beach. The local visitor center was once a Tudor cottage called House No.1 and is now used as a welcoming shelter for visitors.
- Pulau Semakau
Pulau Semakau is Singapore’s only offshore landfill site that still exists. You may wonder why you should visit a landfill, but the landfill only occupies the eastern side. The rest of the island is still pristine and full of incredibly-rich flora and fauna. If you’re an eco-adventurer, Pulau Semakau is perfect for you. The rich mangrove habitats support a wealth of marine and land life along with a healthy coral population. The island serves as a coral nursery and a center for natural research apart from being a landfill.
- St John’s Island
St. John’s Island is a paradise for cats. So if you’re a cat lover, just head out to St John’s Island for some quality petting with the cute furry creatures. There are thousands of friendly cats lounging around on the island, looking for tasty tidbits from tourists. St. John’s Island has its own history – it was once a quarantine center where people infected with infectious diseases were sent. Later on, St. Johns was used as a drug rehabilitation center. In 1975, the island was taken in hand and given new life with picnic grounds, hiking trails, beautiful swimming lagoons and beaches, with thousands of cats for adoring company. Camp on St. John’s Island and enjoy a fabulous island vacation.
- Coney Island
Pulau Serangoon, also known as Coney Island Park is a top destination if you want to hike or bike on the many trails here. The park closes at 7pm so you’ll need to be back before then. It’s an eco-friendly island and therefore no artificial lighting is allowed. It’s called Coney Island because of the innumerable rabbits that run around the place. Coney Island Park is rich in history and natural beauty. The island teems with casuarina woodlands, coastal forests, grasslands and mangroves. Some of the plants at Coney Island are actually extinct in the wild throughout Singapore. The island has 80 species of birds, including the male Baya Weavers that weave intricate nests in the Acacia trees. You can take a guided walk conducted by the park volunteers and get a closer look at the island’s incredible bio-diversity. Visiting Coney Island will be one of the best island holidays you’ve experienced.
- Pulau Hantu
The name of the island literally means ‘Ghost Island’ in Malay, but there’s nothing supernatural in the island. The reason it’s called a ghost island is that during high tide the middle portion of the island disappears under water. If you’re a diving enthusiast, you’ll love this island and the rich coral reefs under the water which support an equally rich marine life. If you’re not into diving, the waters are perfect for some swimming and snorkeling. Enjoy watching exotic marine life such as seahorses, clownfish, manta rays and more. You can camp here overnight with special permission from the Sentosa Leisure Group. Don’t miss this Singapore island during your Singapore vacations.
Singapore actually has more than 60 natural and manmade islands offshore. Except for a few, most of Singapore’s offshore islands are free to visit and explore. Always check for prior camping permission requirement before you take off with a tent and spades. If you love the outdoors and love to explore new environments and study flora and fauna and marine life, you’ll love Singapore’s offshore islands. Then again, if you love diving, snorkeling, swimming and beach bumming, you’ll love them.