Singapore offers well-preserved and lush green beaches that server as a perfect gateway for weekend and outdoor activities. After the hustle and bustle in the city it is nice to switch to a laid-back ambience where you can enjoy sandy beaches and enticing waters.
St. John Island or Pulau Sakijang Bendera
A former penal settlement is now one of the most frequented islands in Singapore. Located on the southern part of Singapore, this large hilly island has been transformed into an idyllic holiday island. Known for its tranquil resort and plethora of enjoyable activities, this resort island offers a vast of activities for all ages. Around the island are camping grounds, trekking routes and nice sandy beaches.
The island houses a number of government facilities including the Marine Aquaculture Center and the Tropical Marine Science Institute. The short stretch of natural shores in the island offers exquisite coral reefs and wide variety of sea creatures.
To shelter the holiday makers the resort island offers affordable holiday cottages as well as bungalows which come comfortably furnished with kitchen.
Kusu Island or Turtle Island is one of the southern islands in Singapore just half an hour ferry ride from the mainland of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. This island is also known as Peak Island or Palau Tembakul in Malay.
Legend says that this 8.5 holiday island resort was formed from a giant tortoise which had transformed itself into a hard rock to save two shipwrecked sailors, Malay and Chinese. Situated in the island are the Taoist temple and the Malay Shrine.
During the 9th lunar month in the Chinese calendar, thousands of devout Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian pilgrims pay a visit to the Kusu Island. On the island is the famous Chinese temple- Da Bo Gong (the Merchant God or the God of Prosperity). This temple was built by wealthy Chinese merchant, Chia Cheng Ho in 1923. The temple houses two primary deities – Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Devotees are said to seek for five blessings – longevity, wealth, tranquility, love of virtue and fulfilled destiny.
At the peak of the knoll stands three Kramats (holy shrines of Malay Shrines), these holy shrines are built to honor Syed Abdul Rahman, his mother and sister. Devotees climb 152 steps to reach the Malay shrine to pray for wealth, good marriage, good health, harmony and child for childless couples.
Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight in the island only the caretakers of the temples are allowed to lived in the island. Within the island are lagoons, pristine beaches and serene panorama.
Situated to the south of the main island Singapore is two inseparable islands known as the Sisters’ Island. These islands are relatively untouched due to the strong currents and hard accessibility. A great place to snorkel and dive, it houses a number of Singapore’s richest reefs, wide variety of corals and sea creatures.
Legend says that once there were two sisters Minah and Linah, who have a very strong bond that cannot be separated by anyone. One day the chief of pirates spotted and fell in love with Linah. At dawn, despite of the plea of the sisters who are clinging to each other, the chief pirate took Linah and was forced to leave with the pirates. Out of desperation Minah swam after the boat but was drowned, the sorrow of the death of her sister led Linah to dive into the stormy water. The next day the villagers saw islands on the same spot that the two sisters had drowned.
The two islands are known as Big Sister Island or Subar Luat, this island is about 3.9 hectares and the Little Sister Island or Subar Darat, about 1.7 hectares. These two islands are separated by deep narrow channel; the currents are too strong which makes it unfeasible to swim from one island to another.
The Sisters Island has 19 huts to shelter visitors as well as barbecue in the tables. With nice pristine beaches and lagoons to swim in, experienced divers would surely enjoy the abundant marine life offered by this island.
At the south west of Pulau Bukum lies the enchanted ghost island known as Pulau Hantu. Pulau Hantu has a total land area of 12.6 hectares and actually composed of two islets the Pulau Hantu Besar (Big Ghost Island) and the Pulau Hantu Kechil (Little Ghost Island).
The island was called “ghost” because at one time it was a small sand bar that tend to be submerged at high tide. Its appearance and disappearance led it to it to be called “ghost”. Though legend says that once there were two great warriors locked in a fierce battle at the sea, the battle led to the death of many people and thus the blue sea slowly became polluted with human blood. Upsetting the Jinn at the bottom of the ocean, the Jinn created a whirlpool and sucked the two warriors into the deep. The warriors were not discouraged, the Jinn sprayed water on one of them, one of the warrior seen his opponent blinded and thrust his sword into his abdomen. At the same time, the wounded warrior forced his sword to his rival. Both warriors died.
The Jinn felt guilty on interfering in human affairs and thus transformed the two warriors into islets so that their spirits can continue to live on them.
At present, the Pulau Hantu is one of the most frequented islands in Singapore. This island is famous for fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. It provides a great outdoor experience to day trippers and campers. Despite its chronic visibility, the island is known for diving and open sea training due to its proximity and abundance of coral reefs and amazing marine life.
Getting to the islands:
Kusu, St. John and Sisters Island are accessible by ferry. Ferries are available from Marina South Pier daily. Tickets can be purchased at the Marina South Pier. For the ferry charge and schedule visit the www.islandcruise.com.sg. Another way to reach the islands is by charter. Charters can be hired along the Marina South Pier and the rates are usually negotiable. Charter boat is the fastest way to reach the islands.
Since there are no regular ferries to Pulau Hantu it is advisable to go by charter. Charter boats are available at the West Coast Ferry Terminal. You can negotiate with the operators the rate of the charter boats which depend on their availability and diesel prices.
Note: If you are planning to have an overnight camping at Sisters Island or Pulau Hantu it is necessary to get a permit from Sentosa Leisure Group (SLG), for more details visit www.sentosa.com.sg.