August 25, 2020

SG's Hidden Private Island Experience

Can't make it to Bali or Phuket? Have a beach vacay in Singapore waters on these green islands

SG's Hidden Private Island Experience

Since the global lockdown, I have been exploring Singapore a lot more trying to recreate the magic of travel. I wrote about my recent staycation, on whether it's safe or not and you can check it out here.

It’s common to think that, “Aiya, Singapore so small nothing to do one lah.”

Turns out I was so wrong.

Our country really has a lot more hidden gems than I originally thought, All you need to do is find them! Recently, me and my friends randomly found this tour where you could travel to a few islands in southern Singapore, and as it turns out our Little Red Dot has been hiding it's fair share of private beaches.

So if you’re looking to escape the crowds of East Coast Park but love the beach, then this article is definitely for you! (Or if you just want to explore more of Singapore, then keep reading as well la 😅)

Discovering this Secret Getaway

It all started with a search for interesting things to do in Singapore. We wanted to do something outdoor-ish instead of our usual food and cafe hopping trips.

One of my friends found this deal on Klook and decided to read up more about it. The deal was basically a ferry transfer to explore St.John's, Lazarus Island and the Kusu Islands.

If you’re wondering where those islands are, here’s how they look on Google maps:

Is it just me or does it kind of look like a duck?

And a close zoom-up of the place:

I spent Circuit Breaker learning how to walk on water lol jk. 

Before we headed off on our adventure, we did some basic research on the islands. A few things that you need to know are the ferry timings and when to catch them, and what you can do on the island.

The most important thing you need to know is that there are no food or drinks sold on the islands, not even vending machines. So if you’re planning a trip, remember to pack extra food and drinks for breakfast and lunch at least!

So here’s the ticket that we gotten after redeeming it (along a $3 Gong Cha voucher for you bubble tea fanatics!)

Maybe one day they'll have a Gong Cha outlet there too 🤔

We also picked up the maps for the islands.

Now the island looks more like a fish from this map.

Setting Off For The Island!

With that, we set off for the ferry. Funny thing is that I feel weird not having to chop my passport before taking the ferry 😂

Feels like I’m going to Batam already. So close yet so far.

I expected it to be pretty empty because it was a weekday and everything going on with COVID but apparently NOT.

Me and my friends had to split up just to get seats on the ferry. But I guess we’re also a bit late as we were supposed to catch the 10am ferry, but we only reached at 9.50am 🙃

It took about 30 minutes before we reached the first island at St John’s & Lazarus island which was pretty smooth.

The best connection in Singapore and some say St.John's Island leh

Fun fact was that my Circles.Life connection was still super strong throughout this entire journey so I was able to surf the net and even watch Youtube!

St.John’s Island

The first thing we did when we reached the island was our favourite new activity: SafeEntry 😂

After that, me and my friends explored a bit before we settled down for our breakfast. Here are some shots of the island:

Greeted with these Palm Trees when we arrived
Private beaches anyone?
No good angle to take a picture of the logo! Maybe I need a Drone 🤔
Suddenly in a forest! 🌲
Apparently you can rent this to stay in the past. Not sure if that’s still valid now (or even if anyone would want to)
Also there’s a laboratory here as well!

One thing’s for sure is that there was literally almost no one around while we were exploring the island. After our initial exploring, we settled down for lunch.

In case you’re wondering what to pack, we found that bread was the easiest thing as that’s what we all brought.

After that, we decided to head towards Lazarus Island as it was the larger island that is together with St.John’s island.

Heading To Lazarus Island

Spotted a friend along the way 🦎

To get to Lazarus island we needed to cross the Causeway (and no, not the one to JB)

I never found the toilet 100m on the left after trying to find it.
Start of the Causeway. Really doesn’t look like Singapore.
Me trying to be an #instamodel. Not doing too well 😂 
Pretty clean and clear water!

There were quite a few people fishing in the waters here. Of course, there’s so much space that social distancing wasn’t a problem at all and everyone has their own private spot.

A solo fisherman fishing

So after another short walk we reached the other end of the bridge and started walking around Lazarus island. Turns out it’s about the same picture perfect and quiet scenery 😌

Here are a few more pictures:

So peaceful and quiet

One mystery that we solved is that most people headed over to this island after disembarking the ferry, which is why St.John island was pretty quiet 😂

All in all, it’s pretty much a bigger St.John Island, with more beaches and more space to set up your own campsite or picnic spot. I saw a few people that pitched tents as well.

The island was very big, but one of my friends was pretty tired so we decided to walk back to St John Island as there didn't seem to be any picnic tables on this island at all.

Once we reached back, we found a spot to take a rest and napped quite a bit while waiting for the ferry to return about 1.5 hours later.

Stole a snap while my friend was napping 🙈

Eventually, the ferry arrived and we headed over to board the ferry.

Also I only remembered to check out after boarding the ferry as well, lol.

Next stop: Kusu Island

Kusu Island

First thing stepping off the boat and walking towards the island: SafeEntry again!

Kusu island is also known as the ‘Tortoise Island’ according to the signs which includes a brief history of the place. Here's the Wikipedia entry if you wanna know more.

I just love that they included a tortoise 

After that we started crossing the bridge and there was this mini feature here that was pretty cool.

Attempting to do a pose again 😂
Wishing well in the middle where you can throw coins. I didn’t do it.
Da Bogong Temple at the other side.

The temple was located over at the other end of the bridge and you can actually visit it to do your prayers if you want. If not, you can explore the inside of the temple as well. It's small but super neat!

I would make a joke about it being a ghost town but now seventh month don't play play 👻

Also there is an abandoned food center which doesn’t seem to be operating at all but the infrastructure is still there. According to the Wiki article I posted earlier, it is open during certain times and festivals but I don’t think that’s the case now.

There was another temple at the top of this place and required us to climb a few flight of stairs that were pretty steep and uneven. We eventually made it to the top but it was pretty dark. However there were candles lit meaning that someone still tends the place.

All the different notes and coins of SG (and one american dollar)
Mass scribbling of wishes on the rocks nearby this temple. It’s literally EVERYWHERE.‌‌

With another temple tour down, we made our way down and caught the view of more private beaches.

You can make out the CBD in the distance. 
Singapore looks amazing in from a distance 😍

Our last stop was the main attraction of this island - the Tortoises 🐢!

Small Tortoise in a Big Pond
This shelter has a lot of turtles and tortoises

Having covered almost half the island and we headed back towards the ferry to take us back to the mainland. We only had around 45 minutes to finish exploring but it’s a small island so we covered everything pretty quickly.

I took one quick snap before boarding the ferry that shows that even if you’re away from the buzz of the city, it remains in sight to remind you that you’re still close to home.

You can actually see MBS in the background somewhat

Heading Back To Singapore

At the end, we caught the last ferry back to the mainland back at 4PM and reached back about 4.30PM.

As it was a weekday, there weren't much time slots allocated so you either have to catch the first one or the second one. The ferry that we took was operated by Island Cruise, and you can take a look at the schedule here. There’s way more time slots for weekends if you’re visiting the islands!

This trip really reminded me on how Singapore have such hidden gems that is actually not very hidden if you take some time to actually explore.

Hopefully this guide helps you introduce a few new things you can do around Singapore while we’re still stuck on the island. I’m actually thankful that because I am unable to travel overseas that I am able to find out about these islands.

So have you visited any islands in Singapore besides Sentosa? Let me know your experience as well in the comments!