Besides the new year and a chance for a fresh start, there are other things to be excited about -- vaccines slowly rolling out, walking around with less fear of virus spreading, gathering with more friends, and local attractions slowly opening up.
And while travelling overseas is still prohibited by the government, you may find an increasing trend in rediscovering Singapore once more. If you don't already know, you can actually go to small islands out of Singapore without needing a passport!
Today, we’ll take a look at St John’s Island, the largest Southern Island in Singapore. It’s approximately 6.5 km from the main island and is accessible by a boat that’s taken from Marina South Pier.
If you’re keen to know about the kind of island adventure you’re about to embark on, read on as we rediscover our little red dot and one of its Southern islands.
St John’s Island and its history
St John’s Island’s indigenous Malay name is Pulau Sekijang Bendera. Amidst its pristine beaches and peaceful scenery, the island had a rather dark past.
In 1874, there had been a cholera outbreak in Singapore, and the island became a quarantine facility for those who were infected. The island was first used by passengers from a ship that came from Swatow, China. It was also used as a place for people who suffered from diseases such as leprosy and beri-beri. The quarantine facility officially closed in January 1976.
During World War II, the island was used as a POW (prisoner of war) camp, where stories are far too gruesome to be even remembered and retold. Then in 1948, it became a detention centre for political prisoners, including CV Devan Nair, who, in 1981, became the third president of Singapore.
Moreover, you’d be surprised to know that the island was even used as a drug rehabilitation centre!
Things to bring
- Picnic mats
- Extra Clothes
- Mosquito repellant
- Toilet paper
Do take note that the island does not have any shops (even vending machines) available for you to buy things you need like water and food. So it’s best to prepare a checklist for all the things you need to bring. We’ve written a previous article about ways to plan for a weekend island hopping in Singapore. You can check that out here!
Additionally, in any case that you forgot to pack anything, or you feel like eating something during the ferry ride, there are convenience stores just outside Marina South Pier before you get on board.
Things to do on St John’s Island
Go on a fishing adventure
The island has extremely clean waters, especially its breakwaters, making it the perfect spot for those who are into fishing. The catch may even be the family’s lunch for the day. (That is, if you’re planning to stay for the whole day on the island!)
Enjoy its relaxing beach
Like mentioned, St John’s Island has pristine, clean waters and beaches which you can take pleasure in. In the beaches, you can take your floaters and get carried away by its calm waves. You may also opt to just have a swim and do a few laps.
You may even want to simply lay on the sand and read your favourite book, or stream that binge-worthy show on Netflix! Another thing you’re able to do at the beaches is to play volleyball with friends, or even frisbee as it has a vast space for you to run around. You may also choose to just lay your picnic mats, and eat by the beach!
You may even choose to bring out your laptop to do a bit of work emails. (Although that’s something we wouldn’t recommend as this is your time to unwind and relax!)
Spend the night surrounded by nature
If you’re a little more on the adventurous side, the island has an overnight accommodation facility for people who wish to stay the night. The island has bungalows available for visitors called the St John’s Island Lodge. Their facilities are furnished with basic cooking facilities so you can cook your catch for the day, or the fresh meat that you’ve packed!
Depending on the size of the bungalows, the place can accommodate from 10 up to 132 people! You can check it here to see if they accept visitors during this time.
Take a tour in St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory
St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory is Singapore’s biggest marine research facility. In the facility are high quality seawater aquarium facilities used for marine science research, as well as live marine creatures like clownfish and corals.
So if you’re bringing your children with you, you can turn this trip into an educational one for them!
Walk across Lazarus Island
Lazarus Island is actually just a 15-20 minute walk across St John’s Island by a pavement, so you won’t need a ferry to get there. You may also enjoy Lazarus Island’s beach and do similar activities like swimming, flying a kite, going on a picnic, as well as playing and running around with your kids.
One thing to take note, though. There are no trash cans in the island so you will need to bring a trash bag and take it back with you to St John’s Island! There are also no toilets here as well, but if you really need to release it, there’s a toilet in the Seringat island pier which is just a 5-minute walk away.
A Cruise Tour Reimagined
If you’re ready to experience a cruise tour the Singaporean way, Marina South Ferries offers a daily trip to St John’s Island. Interisland shuttles are also available if you wish to include Kusu Island and Sister’s Island in your island hopping itinerary.
You can check out the ferry schedules available from Marina South Pier to see them for yourself. You may also visit https://marinasouthferries.com/ to book your tickets in advance!
Ready for your first trip out of town this year? Take a cruise around Singapore island today!