June School Holidays Adventure: Southern Island Hopping In Singapore Beyond Sentosa

guide to southern islands in singapore

Bored of Sentosa? There are other Southern Islands in Singapore you can visit! We’re talking about Lazarus Island, Kusu Island, and more. If you’ve been scratching your head on what to do with your kids these June holidays, why not go hopping around these islands in Singapore! Read on to find out more about the Southern Islands in Singapore. 

How many offshore islands does Singapore have?

number of southern islands in singapore
(Credit: Marina South Ferries / Facebook)

Singapore’s Southern Islands consist of eight different islands. These include the very popular Sentosa, St John’s Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island, Sisters’ Islands, Pulau Hantu, Pulau Tekukor and Pulau Seringat. But out of these eight, only five are accessible by the public. The five are namely Sentosa, St John’s Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island and Sisters’ Islands.

How to get to the Southern Islands?

getting to southern islands in singapore
(Credit: Marina South Ferries / Facebook)

Apart from Sentosa, getting to the other Southern Islands requires boarding a ferry from Marina South Pier or Harbourfront. You’ll have to book your tickets from Marina South Ferries and Southern Express, where each ticket allows you to go island hopping in Singapore and visit all the Southern Islands. 

There is a schedule to follow with the Southern Express Ferry Service (available on RaveGroup). It stops at each island for a determined duration, giving you some free time to explore them before ferrying you to the next island.

Meanwhile, the Marina South Ferries (available on RaveGroup) offers more flexibility as there isn’t a fixed schedule to follow. You can travel at your own pace and when you’re done exploring an island, simply present your ticket and the ferry will take you to the next island you want to go to! Do note that you won’t be able to reuse this ticket if you head back to Marina South Pier, so visit each island before returning.  

Let’s go Southern Island hopping in Singapore

1. Lazarus Island

lazarus island southern island singapore
(Credit: terence chung / Flickr)

Enjoy beautiful ocean views on Lazarus Island’s very own lagoon! Relax by the beach in your favourite swimsuit and of course, you have to slather some tanning oil to get that golden glow. Lazarus Island is the perfect spot in Singapore to escape from the hustle and bustle without having to whip out your passport. It’s usually less crowded than St. John’s island as there are fewer amenities – perfect for a quiet and relaxing time with your other half as the kids play in the sand. Want to explore more Southern Islands in Singapore? Take the causeway and walk over to St. John’s Island where the fun never stops! 

What to do on Lazarus Island

Previously known as Pulau Sakijang Pelepah, Lazarus Island is a popular destination in Singapore where families and couples can have a lot of quality time together. While camping and staying overnight at Lazarus Island isn’t allowed, there is plenty of other stuff to do. Prepare a sumptuous feast and have a picnic, or go snorkelling in the pristine, blue waters of Lazarus Island Singapore. Or sign up for a Beginners Angler Course (available on NPN Official Store) where you and your kids can learn how to fish on this Southern Island in Singapore! Don’t forget to slap on some sunscreen too — sunburns are no fun. The island is also home to many fluffy cats that roam about freely, so feel free to bring some cat treats and play with them – you can’t pawsibly go wrong with this activity! 

2. St. John’s Island

st johns island
(Credit: Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services / Facebook)

Staying in Singapore over the June holidays and can’t think about what to do with your kids? Go island hopping around the Southern Islands in Singapore and schedule a fun time at St. John’s Island! This popular getaway spot has a rustic vibe that’ll remind you of Singapore’s kampong days. There’s also a beach for seaside activities and tons of other activities that are enriching for your little ones! 

What to do on St John’s Island

There’s a proper camping site where you can stay overnight on St. John’s Island. Don’t forget to bring along your camping equipment for the trip! If you prefer cosying it up in somewhere more enclosed, book a holiday bungalow or chalet at St. John’s Island Lodge. The chalet can accommodate a family of up to 10 people and there’s also a kitchen. But since there aren’t any stores on the island, it’s best to bring your groceries over so you can enjoy dinner under the starlit sky. And if those groceries aren’t enough, stay up for some overnight fishing! Teach your kids how to fish and feed yourselves the next day with your catch. 

The St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory is where your kids will be immersed in knowledge about Singapore’s marine conservation efforts. Admission is free to Singapore’s only offshore marine research facility, so bring your kids on a learning journey there over the June holidays! 

Alternatively, come up with a walking trail for a different way to go about Southern Island hopping in Singapore. St. John’s Island is only 10 minutes away from Lazarus Island, so prepare some snacks, take a long walk and settle down wherever there are spectacular views for a family picnic! 

3. Kusu Island

kusu island southern island singapore
(Credit: Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services / Facebook)

The word “kusu” is actually the Hokkien word for “turtle”. This Southern Island in Singapore is named that way because of a legend that involves a turtle. The story shares that a giant turtle transformed into an island to save two shipwrecked fishermen. The two then returned to the same island to give thanks and that’s why many continue the same tradition by visiting Kusu Island for prayers. This Southern Island in Singapore is perfect for a day-trip with your kids as staying overnight isn’t allowed. Whether you’re visiting temples or heading to the Wishing Tree, we hope you remember to shell out some time for the turtle pond!

What to do on Kusu Island

Many visit the Chinese temple, Tua Pek Kong, or ascend 152 steps to three Malay shrines here at Kusu Island. We suggest booking a Kusu Island Ferry (available on RaveGroup) that offers high tea and kueh for a boost of energy before climbing those stairs! Although this Southern Island in Singapore is more renowned for its temple, families also visit because of the turtle pond and turtle statues. You don’t have to worry about food if you’re visiting during the pilgrimage season as there’s a hawker centre with plenty of delish food!

Want to also pray for your kid’s well-being? There’s a Wishing Well with three bells you’ll have to hit by throwing coins at them. It’s said that your wishes will come true if you manage to hit all three! You can also do this at the Wishing Tree. Write your wishes on a piece of paper, fold it up and tie a red string around it. Now, pray to the gods, toss this up and watch it land in the Wishing Tree. You’ve got to put in more elbow grease for this as the higher the paper lands in the tree, the likelier your wishes will come true!

Remember to bring your cameras along as you’ll be able to get beautiful views of the Marina skyline from Kusu Island, so a photoshoot could be a great idea if you’re thinking of what to do in Singapore! Underwater photography is also possible as swimming and snorkelling are allowed here. So don’t forget to pack your bikinis! Once done with the activities, end the day with a barbeque at the pits peppered across this Southern Island in Singapore. You can also pack a picnic basket of yummy goods to feast with your loved ones on Kusu Island! 

4. Sisters’ Island

sisters island southern island singapore
(Credit: Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services / Facebook)

Ever heard about how Sisters’ Island came to be? It revolves around a tragic tale between two sisters Linah and Minah. Linah had come face to face with a group of pirates, but she managed to escape from their hands. However, she was caught and taken away by the pirates the next day. Minah chased after her as storm clouds started rolling in, and as Linah and the pirates rowed away in a boat, Minah jumped into the sea but drowned. Linah then managed to free herself and jumped into the sea to join Minah. The sisters couldn’t be found, but villagers then noticed two islands at the spot where Linah and Minah drowned. 

Heartwrenching folklore aside, the Sisters’ Island is now a vibrant Marine Park. It aims to give Singaporeans a first-hand experience of the rich native biodiversity while striving to protect the coral reefs. With its untouched natural landscape and clear water, this Southern Island is the perfect spot to learn more about nature in Singapore.

What to do on Sisters’ Island

Only Big Sister Island is open to the public as Small Sister’s Island is housing a turtle hatchery and is thus off-limits. Despite that, there are tons of things to do on Big Sister’s Island! The coral reefs house a large variety of marine wildlife that can be spotted during low tide. Plan for an intertidal walk and catch this period where you and your kids can watch and learn about the vibrant marine wildlife in its natural habitat. 

Love water sports? This Southern Island is a great snorkelling spot in Singapore thanks to the coral reefs that house plenty of marine life. There are also two dive trails on Sisters’ Island, namely Shallow Trail and Deep Trail. The Shallow trail is about six-metres deep while the Deep Trail is 15-metres deep. This is the best way to discover the marine wildlife at Sisters’ Islands but do note that you’ll have to join an organised trip with approved dive operators. Otherwise, just take a swim to refresh yourself after a long day in the sun – it’s sure to revitalise you! 

*Do note that Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is closed till end-March 2024 for enhancement works.

What to do on the Southern Islands in Singapore

Activities on Southern Islands in Singapore Lazarus Island St. John’s Island Kusu Island Sisters’ Island
Water sports
  • Swimming allowed 
  • Swimming and snorkelling allowed 
  • Swimming and snorkelling allowed
  • Swimming, snorkelling and diving allowed
  • Picnic by the beach
  • Picnic allowed
  • Picnic at pavilions and tables
  • Barbecue pits open to public
  • Picnic allowed
Overnight stays
  • Not allowed
  • Overnight camping at designated areas
  • Overnight stays at St. John’s Island Lodge
  • Not allowed
  • Not allowed
  • Take a 10-minute walk to St. John’s Island via the land causeway
  • Take a 10-minute walk to Lazarus Island via the land causeway
  • Interact with cats that roam freely
  • Intertidal walks to view marine wildlife during low tide
  • Temple and shrine visits
  • Turtle pond located in the temple
  • Wishing Tree and Wishing Well 
  • Intertidal walks to view marine wildlife during low tide

Visit the Southern Islands in Singapore for a fun-filled day trip

Pack your bags and hop onto a ferry to go hopping around the Southern Islands if you’re thinking about what to do in Singapore. You’ll not be disappointed with the tons of activities you can get involved in during your time at Lazarus Island, Sisters’ Island and the other Southern Islands in Singapore! Want to go further? Visit these best Batam resorts and best Bintan resorts for a quick weekend getaway or plan a Malaysia road trip from Singapore to these spectacular destinations. Don’t forget to also check out these fun things to do in JB while you’re there!

This article was updated on 9 Jun 2022. Additional research done by Jamantha Lim.
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