5 Singapore islands to explore this year-end holiday
This article was produced in partnership with Tripzilla.
One is sure to miss travelling overseas these days. The thought of spending your year-end holidays in your own country may seem uninspiring, especially when you think you know it inside out. How you dream about those missed beach days, sun-bathing sessions and nature walks!
What if we say you can do all these and more in your very own country? Don’t fret, we guarantee that you won’t miss out on heritage discovery, photography or fun new activities! With these great islands for you to explore, you are sure to get back those vacation vibes!
Looking for an island-hopping experience? Get on board a ferry that will take you to St John’s Island, Sisters’ Island and Kusu Island. Experience the beauty of these islands and enjoy various activities all at once! Book through KKday and apply the DBS promo codes to get great deals and discounts!
1. Pulau Ubin
Located off Singapore north-eastern coast, nature and history intertwine on Pulau Ubin. It is one of Singapore’s last two surviving kampongs. Home to abundant greenery and wildlife, this is the perfect place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The island is a mix of both flat and rough terrains, hence a bike adventure is a must on your list!
Tip: You can rent a bike on this island for the whole day for just $7-10, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own bikes!
You are sure to come across the gorgeous coastline, and breathe in lots of fresh air as you bike through the island. But this is just the beginning of your adventure here at Pulau Ubin. If you’re not in the mood to bike through the island, you could whip out those binoculars and try your hand at bird-watching. You may even spot some unique birds at the Pekan Quarry! You can also walk through beautiful nature trails or even hike up the Puaka Hill for a scenic view of the island.
Image credit: William Cho
All this and you haven’t even heard about the main attraction yet - the Chek Jawa wetlands! Known for its rich ecosystem, it is best seen during the low tide. You will have to travel by foot to access Chek Jawa. The wetlands mostly consist of mangroves, and a sandy shore, but a keen eye is sure to spot colourful sea creatures such as the peacock anemone. For a deeper and more informational understanding of the Chek Jawa wetlands, you can also choose to join a guided tour.
Image credit: Pulau Ubin
If you prefer exploring nature from the blue waters and are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush, why not try your hand at kayaking! Enjoy being captain of your own “ship” and navigate the kayak through deep mangroves like a true explorer. What’s more? You might just be able to have a close encounter with jellyfish, kingfishers or otters as you paddle through these mangroves.
With daily life getting more and more digitised every day, a refreshing day at Pulau Ubin would be a great break. Be sure to speak to the locals living on the island and find out more about Singapore’s history! Who knows, you may even discover something exciting and unique!
2. Sisters’ Islands
Located off the south coast of Singapore, the Sisters’ Islands are one of the most secluded parts of Singapore. There are two islands - the Big Sister Island and the Small Sister Island. The latter is not open to the public. A designated marine park, the islands are filled with plenty of biodiversity. As one of the least visited islands of Singapore, this is the place to be if you are really looking at getting away from the city crowds!
By its very nature, this island is home to a variety of corals, fish and other underwater creatures. This makes it a great spot for snorkelling and spotting marine life. Be sure to bring your own snorkelling gear as they do not have rentals on the island. If you are not up for snorkelling, you may just be able to spot these sea creatures during a low tide!
There are also two beautiful lagoons for you to swim around and cool off. Swimming amidst nature will definitely be a good break from the closed swimming pools in private condominiums and public pools. Do watch out for jellyfish though! It is important for you to remember to not swim outside the lagoons as the currents are pretty strong. There are also showering areas on the island for you to use after you dip in the lagoon.
A hearty lunch has to follow that refreshing swim. What better place to lay out the spread then on the numerous sheltered benches for you to choose from! Hide away from the sun while sitting in the outdoors and relish an enjoyable lunch with family and friends.
Do watch out for furry little monkeys though! There are several monkeys on the island and while they might be cute to look at, they are quite mischievous. Remember to take good care of your belongings and not feed the monkeys! We don’t want them depending on humans, do we?
From exploring a wide range of marine life to taking long walks around the coast, this island is the perfect place to explore and completely immerse yourselves in biodiversity! It is perfect for those looking for some isolation and calmness, away from the mainland!
3. Kusu Island
Located only 5.6km off the main island of Singapore, Kusu Island is a great place for day-trippers looking for serenity and calmness. Kusu Island, which translates to Tortoise Island, is steeped in local myth and folklore. It is also popular amongst devotees who visit the island to pay homage at the temples located on the island.
Image credit: Schristia
The perfect place for a true cultural exploration and visiting heritage sites, the main highlights of this island include three Malay shrines and a Chinese temple. The Da Bo Gong temple is located near the shores and is devoted to the Chinese God of Prosperity and Goddess of Mercy.
The shrines, on the other hand, are located on top of a hill and are dedicated to Malay saints. Be prepared to climb 152 steps to visit these shrines! Whilst these spiritual places are open all throughout the year, devotees generally pay their respect during the yearly Kusu Island Pilgrimage season between September and November.
Image credit: Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services Pte Ltd
The shrines are also known for the very eye-catching pieces of yellow cloth tied to the trees and branches. They symbolise the wishes made by the devotees. The shrines and temples are said to grant wealth, successful marriage, children and health. Furthermore, there is also a wishing well near the temple where visitors can toss coins to hit the bell. So you can go and wish for something you truly desire and maybe it will come true! Just like in the movies, right?
What’s more? Several spots in the Island are great for a delightful picnic. Enjoy a home-brought picnic on this island, and be surrounded by glistening blue waters and tranquillity. Be sure to pack your own food and drinks, as this island is truly unfamiliar to the restaurants and mini-marts of the city. It really is the place to detach from the hustle and bustle of city life!
Image credit: Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services Pte Ltd
Before you pack your picnic, remember to use your POSB Everyday Card for your purchases to enjoy up to 8% cash rebates on daily essentials!
Venture along the shores when you picnic on this island and you will probably notice corals, crabs, fishes, shrimps and clams. But you'll have to look harder to catch a glimpse of marine life. If you’re lucky, you’ll surely be able to capture some great photographs of coral reefs and sea turtles! One surely needs to cool off after all this walking right? Be sure to bring along your bathing suits and take a refreshing dip in this island's lagoons and beaches! A great break from the usual beaches on the mainland.
The highlight of this island are definitely the hundreds of tortoises! For the Chinese, the tortoise is considered a sacred animal. The tortoise sanctuary located on the island is home to hundreds of tortoises. You will also see dozens of them at the Chinese temple. What better way to experience complete peace and undisturbed tranquillity than walking amidst nature's creatures? These adorable tortoises will surely make you forget your cancelled travel plans when you head out to this island for a day-trip!
4. St John’s Island
A beautiful beach with clear water and white sands is one of the many things in store for your next day-trip to St John’s Island. The island was a former quarantine zone for immigrants coming into Singapore (a word that is a little too familiar during these times)! It was then used to house political prisoners and drug rehabilitators. With tons of things to do there, the island is a great place to escape from city life.
The island is filled with pretty picnic tables and coconut trees. So bring along a spread of food, drinks and snacks to enjoy a wonderful picnic whilst soaking in the view of the beautiful beach before your eyes. If you look closely, you may be able to catch a distant view of the Singapore skyline! Make it a perfect beach day with a volleyball, frisbee, bathing suits and some sand-play toys for the kids! Be sure to get plenty of food and drinks as these are not sold on the island.
Looking for more? Join a guided nature walk on the island and learn more about the biodiversity. St John’s Island is home to mangroves, coastal plains and coral reefs! The St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory, a local marine research facility on the island also organizes visits as a part of its public education programme to create awareness in the marine sciences.
Are you an animal lover tired of spending your time in pet cafes? St John's Island in the place for you! A lovable little feline is sure to greet you the moment you step out of your boats! With dozens of cats lazing around throughout the Island premises, you are sure to find yourselves in cat paradise! From petting these cats to lazing around with them, this feline overload is definitely not to miss!
Part of what truly makes a vacation is staying in a hotel away from home. Well, a holiday bungalow on this island will surely make up for that! The bungalow is furnished with cooking facilities and can hold up to 10 people. The island also has dormitory style holiday camps for larger groups of up to 60. These accommodations have to be reserved in advance as they are the only way you can stay overnight on the island.
Image credit: St John’s Island
Tip: Be sure to check if they take bookings in advance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Be cautious and limit yourselves to five people!
Does the island really need to entice you any further? Even when you find out that you can hire a private luxury yacht?
Be prepared to enjoy aboard a luxurious yacht that will take you on cruise around the beautiful Singapore waters! Immerse yourself in the breath-taking views as you cruise around and be sure to carry a camera to click pictures! A holiday and a mini-cruise, from tranquil locations to a perfect yacht party, this island really does have it all!
5. Lazarus Island
Tired of the thronging East Coast Park and fashionably maintained Sentosa beaches? Pack your day bags and head to Lazarus Island for a relaxing beach adventure. As you step on the island, you’ll be greeted with a broad strip of white sand and dazzling, turquoise waters. Whether it’s a beach day or a walk amidst greenery, this island is a perfect place for it all!
Singapore’s hot and humid weather often dampens our kite-flying plans! But the cool sea breeze of the Lazarus Island will not fail you (or your kite)! Not only is it the perfect weather to beat the heat, kids are sure to have guaranteed fun watching their kites soar high on this island!
What’s next on the itinerary? How about a therapeutic walk along the bright blue waters! Did I mention that you might not bump into a single soul along your walk? The peace and calm of this beach are definitely incomparable to the crowds of the beaches on the mainland. All you need is soft music, a camera and sunscreen! Be sure to carry a picnic basket with lots of food and beverages, and spread out your mats to enjoy a blissful afternoon by the beach. A perfect spot to work on that tan!
As if a picnic on the shore isn’t alluring enough, the water at the beach here is one of the cleanest you will find in Singapore. Perfect for a dip to cool off from all the sun! The water is also popular for scuba diving and snorkelling. Be sure to bring your own equipment though!
Tip: Bring along your snorkelling masks and see schools of fish believed to be the Tropical Silversides!
Lazarus Island is not just about the beach life. This island is surrounded with abundant greenery and is a great opportunity to immerse yourselves into nature. There are many wooden benches along the path for you to laze around with family and friends. A picturesque location for workaholics and children alike to fully appreciate nature. The island is also a great place to click aesthetic pictures for your social media accounts, with various spots around the beach and greenery.
Image credit: Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services Pte Ltd
Lazarus Island is indeed beautiful in all its essence. It takes you back to a time before intensive city development and land reclamation. This island is ideal for leisure walks, sunny beach adventures and forest-bathings. Can’t pick between nature and the beach? Visit Lazarus Island and experience both!
As we slowly work towards taking to the skies again, hopefully in the not so distant future, leaving our shores for a spot of island-hopping provides both an outlet for releasing our pent-up wanderlust, as well as an opportunity to rediscover another side of Singapore that’s brimming with natural heritage.
Prefer to do a staycation? Go to DBS Travel Marketplace to check out exclusive deals!