Many people do not realize that Singapore is not just a lone island, there are 64 offshore islands surrounding the main island. I have only been to Pulau Ubin and I have been itching to check out the other islands. TLC Adventure Tours organized a Half-Day Southern Islands Tour which was exactly what I was looking for so I signed-up for it.
There are ferries from Marina South Pier that will bring you to St John’s Island, Kusu Island and back to mainland. The problem with taking the commercial ferries is you have to strictly follow the ferry timings. The last ferry from Kusu Island back to Marina South Pier is 5pm on weekdays and 6.15pm on weekends. This means that you will only have a few short hours to explore the islands.
TLC Adventure Tours ‘s Half-Day Southern Islands Tour didn’t have such problems because they chartered a ferry with Island Cruise for this tour. We don’t have to follow the ferry timings and have more time to explore the islands.
Half-Day Southern Islands Tour – Kusu Island
Our first stop is at Kusu Island. Most people will go to St John’s Island first. By coming to Kusu Island first, we avoided the public crowd.
Kusu Island is famous for the Da Bogong (Tua Pek Kong) Temple. Every year in the ninth month of lunar calendar, thousands of devotees make pilgrimage to Kusu Island to pay homage at this Chinese temple.
Enroute to the Da Bogong Temple, there is a Wishing Well where you can toss a coin and make a wish.
There is also a Malay temple called Datuk Kong on top a small hill but it was closed for renovation after a landslide.
Another point of interest at Kusu Island is the Tortoise Sanctuary. You will see dozens of tortoises gathering under a man-made sheltered pond to escape the heat.
You can also walk along the rocky breakwater that extends into the sea and take some nice photographs.
Half-Day Southern Islands Tour – St John’s Island
St John’s Island was once where new immigrants, as well as returning pilgrims, were quarantined if their ships arrived with infectious illnesses. Later, parts of the island was also used to detain political prisoners and as a drug rehabilitation centre.
You can explore St John’s Island Trail which covers the history, natural habitats and biodiversity of St John’s Island.
Half-Day Southern Islands Tour – Lazarus Island
Lazarus island was also known as Pulau Sakijang Pelepah. In Malay, ‘sa’ means one, ‘kijang’ means barking deer, and ‘pelepah’ is a palm frond. Put together, it means ‘Island of One Barking Deer and Palms’.
The Singapore government imported sand from Indonesia to make the 800-meter Lazarus Island beach. Every grain of sand has been checked for sandfly eggs, prefect for beach-lovers.
Besides beach activities, yacht parties and kite-flying are some of the popular activities on Lazarus Island.
Half-Day Southern Islands Tour – Kias Island
Kias Island used to be a shoal that was barely visible at high tide. It now houses an electricity generator with enough capacity to support the other three islands.
There’s nothing to do on Kias Island but you can see a panoramic view of Singapore’s coastline from the northern part of the island.
If you are lucky, you can catch a glorious sunset from Kias Island.
Half-Day Southern Islands Tour – Intertidal Walk
The highlight of this trip was the intertidal walk at St John’s Island where the seashore was exposed at low tide.
Armed with torchlights and aqua shoes, we searched the swimming lagoons for marine life. We got to see small fishes, fiddler crab and flower crab and baby octopus .
This is a half-day tour where there isn’t enough time to visit Sister’s Island. I really wanted to visit the turtle hatchery on Smaller Sister’s Island. There are apparently more marine life to see at Sister’s Island during intertidal walk.