Singapore’s Southern Islands comprise of 8 islands, most notably the Sentosa Island. There are 3 other accessible but less well-known islands – St John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island and they were the focus of our weekend getaway. There are plans to develop these islands into getaways for the wealthy, similar to Dubai’s The Palm Islands, which is sad I think. You can’t artificially add extra entertainment facilities to the nature, destroying it in the process, and charge a hefty fee for it. It is a fact that Singapore’s beaches are nowhere close to the standards of our neighbouring Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia or Malaysia so I don’t think developing it will draw in the extra tourists. In this case, isn’t it better to allow the Southern Islands to be a weekend getaway for the locals and the expats? Anyhow, “development” will probably take quite a while to happen, for now, the 3 Southern Islands are still rather rugged and beautiful.
One Sunday, Suen Li and I went to the Marina South Pier and hopped onto a ferry. It’s best to explore the islands on Sundays or Public Holidays as there are more ferries. Even so, the frequency is quite bad (2-hour interval) so the consequence of being late and missing the ferry is quite dire. It is also fairly expensive at $18, I sort of expected it to be cheaper. Our aim was the Lazarus Island because we have read so many great things about it on the Internet. Some people said that it has the “Best Beach in Singapore”. Funnily, we thought that no one knows about the beach and little did we know that many people on the ferry were also planning to get to the beach. To get to the Lazarus Island, you have to get off at St John’s Island and walk across a causeway. St John’s Island itself surprises me somewhat because of its clear waters! I also quite like the environment – people fishing, people lazing on the hammocks and people playing catching. St John Island has a rather creepy past because it used to house a quarantine station for cholera cases detected among immigrants in the late 19th century. I am surprised I didn’t learn anything about it in my history classes.
We made our way across the causeway and got to Lazarus Island. The entry point to the Lazarus Island is quite clear with proper signposts but the entry point to arguably “The Best Beach in Singapore” is not clear at all. After passing the first beach with white sand, we came across a random pavilion in the middle of unmended grass on our right and the beach we were looking for was on the other side of the pavilion. It was quite a wow feeling to see the beach this way because I felt like an explorer for a moment or two. Similar to the 1st beach on the island, the sand was white and it was quite gorgeous. We spent a good part of the afternoon lazing on the beach, reading books and people-watching. What a great way to recharge the tired soul. 🙂 The downside is that with increasing number of visitors to the beach, the beach is rather dirty. It is not as bad as the beaches at East Coast Park but still dirty. When we left at about 3 pm, the beach was packed with families and the bay packed with yachts. I guess this beach is not as “hidden” and “remote” as we thought it to be.
The ferry to the Southern Islands does a Marina South Pier-St John’s Island-Kusu Island loop so our final stop was Kusu Island. We didn’t see too much of the island though because we didn’t want to miss the ferry. Apparently, in the 9th month of the Chinese calender, many pilgrims come to the island to pray in the temple. My mother said it’s like a mini-carnival with many booths selling different food and the whole island packed with people. But for now, it is peaceful and quiet. I actually would really love to visit the island in the 9th month to see how it is like. Interestingly, right across Kusu Island is the beautiful beach at Lazarus Island. I wonder if they would reclaim land and link these 2 islands. I hope not.