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The Ultimate Guide To Southern Island Hopping in Singapore: How To Get There & Things To Do

profileXue Miao
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It has been some time since we last stepped foot into a foreign land.

Our long weekends have since been mostly spent on this tiny island, exploring new places with our free vouchers.

Which is why when we first heard of the possibility of travel once again, our hearts burst into first-world-privilege flames.

Source: SGAG | Instagram

But from now till then, we might still be looking to scratch that wanderlust itch.

Besides being able to take cruises to nowhere, another way to hop out of our island is by visiting our neighbouring islands.

So if you’re looking for a weekend activity, island hopping might be your next best alternative in curbing that travel bug in you!

TL;DR: The Ultimate Guide To Southern Island Hopping in Singapore: How To Get There & Things To Do

Guide to Southern Islands
Popular Islands To Visit- St. John's Island
- Lazarus Island
- Kusu Island
- Sisters' Island
Where To Take the FerryFrom Marina South Pier, which is accessible by:
- MRT
- Direct Bus Services
How To Get To the Southern IslandsFerry packages via:
- Directly from ferry companies
- Third Party Merchants including Klook

Private Yachts
Things to do on the Southern Islands:
Kusu Island- Visit popular Chinese temple
- Tortoise Sanctuary
- Climb 152 steps at the shrines
- Picnic tables and BBQ pits
Lazarus Island- Lounge at the white sandy shores and clear waters
- Water activities
Sisters' Island- Snorkelling
- Intertidal walk
- Diving
St John's Island- St John's Island's Trail
- DIY Nature walk
- National Marine Lab gallery
- Fishing
- Camping (NA due to COVID-19)
- Cycle to connecting islands (Lazarus Island and Seringat Island)

Popular Southern Islands To Visit

According to Visit Singapore, Singapore is surrounded by 64 offshore islands.

However, not all of them are accessible to the public.

For the purpose of this article, we will be zooming into the Southern islands which are popular to the public, which are namely:

  • St. John’s Island
  • Lazarus Island
  • Kusu Island
  • Sisters’ Island

Where Can I Take the Ferry To The Southern Islands?

To get to the Southern Islands, you have to take a ferry from Marina South Pier.

And here are two methods to get to Marina South Pier:

Via MRT

Lucky for us, Marina South Pier has become very accessible since 2014, when the Marina South Pier station was built.

It is now the last station on the North-South line.

So just take the red line all the way till the end and you’ll find yourself at the ferry terminal!

Via Direct Bus Service

Another method to get to Marina South Pier is using direct bus services.

These bus services have pick-up and drop-off points situated within the heartlands for convenient access.

So for individuals who prefer a bus ride straight to Marina South Pier, this is an affordable option to consider as well!

Here are some services that are offered by KKKL, one of the bus companies that offer direct bus services to Marina South Pier:

DayPick-up PointsDeparture TimeTicket Price
Weekdays
(Mon - Fri)
Tampines
8amS$5 (Fri: $7)
Kovan Hub8:30am
Choa Chu Kang8amS$5 (Fri: $7)
Jurong East8:30am
Weekends
(Sat - Sun)
Tampines7am, 9am$7
Kovan Hub7:30am, 9:30am
Choa Chu Kang7am, 9am$7
Jurong East7:30am, 9:30am

Tickets can be purchased directly from their website or via Klook as well!

How To Get To the Southern Islands

As we can tell by now, you have to take a ferry to get to the Southern Islands.

Most of these islands are not interlinked, which is why ferry packages are usually sold, and there are fixed ferry timings for passengers to board to travel between the islands.

Ferry Packages

Ferry packages can be purchased directly via ferry companies, or through third-party merchants like Klook.

Via Ferry Companies

There are namely two ferry companies that offer services to these islands – Singapore Island Cruise and Marina South Ferries.

The main difference between these two is that Island Cruise does not provide transportation to Sisters’ Island on weekdays, while Marina South Ferries does provide this service on weekdays, weekends and Public Holidays.

CompanyRouteAvailable on FareNote:
Island CruiseMarina South Pier > St John's Island > Kusu Island > Marina South PierWeekdays, Weekends and PH

Ferry schedule available online
Adult S$15

Child S$12 (Age 1 to 12)
Not advised to go after 3pm on weekends
Marina South Pier > St John's Island > Sisters' Island > St John's IslandWeekends and PH

Ferry schedule available online
Adult S$17

Child S$12 (Age 1 to 12)
Marina South FerriesMarina South Pier > St John's Island > Kusu > Marina South PierWeekdays, Weekends and PH

Ferry schedule available online
Adult S$15

Child S$12 (Age 1 to 12)
-
Inter-Island Shuttle available:
St John's Island > Sisters' Island > Kusu Island
Weekdays

Ferry schedule available online
Inter-Island Shuttle available:
St John's Island > Kusu Island > St John's Island

St John's Island > Sisters' Island > Kusu Island
Weekends and PH

Ferry schedule available online

Via Klook

Another way to book your ferry tickets is via third-party merchants like Klook.

The packages that Klook offers are also operated by the same ferry companies – Singapore Island Cruise and Marina South Ferries.

At the time of writing, booking through Klook could be cheaper with discounted prices.

It also allows you to add on things like snacks which can be redeemed at the ferry terminal.

This is a good option, especially if you’re a frequent Klook (or even ShopBack) user since you can get additional cashback and get more savings!

Private Yachts

Private yachts are also available for booking a trip to the Southern Islands.

Chartering a private yacht is definitely more expensive as compared to public ferry packages, but they tend to offer a more comprehensive package, such as having more stops to different islands.

They may also include licensed tourist guides, refreshments and insurance coverage as well.

This is suitable for those who prefer a more personalised experience and have some extra cash to spare!

Things To Do on the Southern Islands

Now, if you’re wondering what are some things you can do at the islands, fret not!

Different islands have different offerings when it comes to the activities you can do.

Kusu Island

Source: Singapore Land Authority

Kusu Island means Tortoise Island in Chinese, and this island has various sacred sites for worship.

In fact, this island is the liveliest every ninth lunar month during the annual Kusu Pilgrimage season, which usually happens between September and November.

Visitors can check out the popular Chinese templeTua Pek Kong, where most people would come to pray for prosperity and good health.

There are also tortoises to visit at the tortoise sanctuary right at the back of the temple.

Some devotees would also visit the island for the shrines (keramat in Malay), where you can climb 152 steps to the top of the hill to pray for a good marriage, fertility, health and wealth.

There are also picnic tables and barbeque pits available, amenities that are perfect for an afternoon day out!

Lazarus Island

Source: Expat Living Singapore

Lazarus Island is known for its white sandy shores and clear waters.

So if you’re a beachgoer who is tired of lounging at Sentosa, here’s an alternative location for you to chill by the waters.

With slightly fewer amenities on this island, you can expect lesser crowds on this island as well.

(No need to worry about issues with safe distancing.)

For those who are interested in chartering a yacht, this will also be a perfect pitstop to dock your yacht for some water activities.

With its insta-worthy views, you can even consider having your wedding photoshoot here…

Do note that there are no convenience stores available on this island, so do pack your own food if you’re planning to stay for a period of time!

Sisters’ Island

Source: NParks

There are two Sisters’ Islands – Big Sister and Small Sister.

Only the Big Sister’s Island is available for public access.

Given that Sisters’ Island is Singapore’s first Marine Park, it is commonly used as a platform for outreach, conservation and research activities related to marine biodiversity.

This also makes it the perfect spot for snorkeling, where snorkelers can witness beautiful coral reefs and seagrass.

Note: The current is said to get pretty strong, and jellyfish have been sighted as well. So do take note and be careful!

Visitors could also get a chance to experience an intertidal walk at the intertidal zone during low tide, where interesting marine biodiversity can be spotted.

Another popular activity at Sisters’ Island is diving, where NParks have developed Singapore’s first Dive Trail.

There are two separate dive trails, namely the Shallow and Deep trail.

However, to protect marine diversity, only divers with relevant dive experience from reputable international training organisations are allowed to sign up for the dive trails.

Shallow trail
(maximum 6m depth)
Deep trail
(maximum 15m depth)
Certification required Beyond entry-level from reputable international training organisations. This excludes junior divers and non-independent certification.
Required diving skills Experienced divers with good buoyancy control
Dive Experience At least 20 dives with one local dive within the past two years
Visibility 1-5 m depending on weather conditions
Marine Ecosystem Coral reefs and

Sandy habitat

Coral rubble,

Rocky and silty habitat

Source: NParks

St John’s Island

Source: Viator

St John’s Island is one of the most visited and popular islands, mainly due to the number of activities that can be done at this place.

For instance, visitors can check out a 2.8km St John’s Island’s Trail which consists of 15 stations.

This trail is perfect for nature lovers, where it highlights the biodiversity of the flora and fauna, as well as the history of St John’s Island and Sisters’ Island Marine Park.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even DIY your own nature trail, where NParks has also curated one for reference.

It also has a National Marine Laboratory, Singapore’s only offshore marine research facility.

Which has a gallery (accessible to public) that showcases the conservation efforts that have been ongoing on St John’s Island.

For those who are into fishing, St John’s Island is also a popular spot for fishing, and it is known to have a variety of fish, ranging from snappers to groupers.

Unlike the rest of the islands, St John Island allows onsite camping as long as a permit is applied.

However, all camping activities are currently suspended due to COVID-19.

Travelling Between Connecting Islands

Source: Google

For the uninitiated, St John’s Island and Lazarus Island are connected by a bridge.

There is also another small island that is directly connected to Lazarus Island – Seringat Island.

This means that visitors can visit these three islands on foot.

But if you’re not someone who wishes to clock 10,000 steps within 2 hours, there are now rental bikes available to tour these islands!

Source: Tenor

Given that there is so much to explore within a day, cycling would help to minimise the time spent travelling around and allow you to maximise your time discovering different spots of the islands.

For those who are not the best at cycling, you’re not forgotten.

Individuals can also rent 2 wheels pedal (single rider device) for them to speed up their steps while exploring the island.

Southern Island Hopping in Singapore: Explore Our Neighbouring Islands at an Affordable Price

Given that the borders are still closed, island hopping sounds like a good alternative to break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Looking at how affordable the ferry tickets are, taking a breather from the crowd and enjoying some peace and fresh air from these islands does seem like a tempting idea to me.

Is this something you’ll try over the weekend? Let us know at Seedly!

 

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About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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