St. John’s Island – the largest of Singapore’s southern islands – is a fun-filled destination with nature, beaches, hiking trails and more.
Have you seen the dozens of Singaporeans and visitors flocking to the southern islands, and in particular, St. John’s Island? Well, the hearsays are true. Straits Times reported that average monthly visitors to the St John’s, Lazarus and Seringat islands – which are connected to each other – was up by 60-percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
If you’re thinking of riding the waves to St. John’s Island, here’s a list of things you can do to make your trip even more meaningful!
1. Have a picnic by the beach
One highlight of the island which draws a steady stream of visitors has got to be St. John’s Island Beach. The white sandy shores and calm waters makes this beach a wonderful place to sit back, stretch your legs, and have a picnic. Just make sure to avoid the high tides that usually appear in the afternoon or evening (see more tidal information here).
If you want a bigger beach with even more pristine shores, take a short walk over to Lazarus Island Beach – a larger coastline with turquoise waters. This mushroom-shaped beach is picturesque from all directions, and offers beachgoers unparalleled views of Kusu Island (another island to explore!) and the sea.
2. Rent a bicycle for a leisurely ride
Cyclists rejoice! There is now a pop-up bike rental store on St. John’s island for you to explore the beauty that is the Southern Islands. Gogreen, which also operates on Sentosa Island, has launched a temporary booth on St. John’s. You can choose to reserve a bike ahead of your visit through Klook (along with a beach tent), or try your luck after you disembark from the ferry.
Follow the smooth coastal roads or the demarcated trials to explore the island and fully immerse yourself in the nature. We highly encourage renting a bike if you want to visit every part of the Southern Islands in one day! Definitely beats walking around all day.
3. Explore the intertidal zones
When the tides subside… the marine life materialise. Starfish, horseshoe crabs, sea cucumbers, crabs, corals – you name it. All that’s left to do is try to spot them. The coastline of the island is lined with rocky shores, rubbly edges, sparse reef and sparse seagrasses. During low tide, the accessible shores become a treasure trove of rocks and marine life. Just watch your footing and do not disturb the wildlife when you’re exploring the coastline.
4. Join a guided nature walk
The first curated trail on St. John’s Island was developed to encourage appreciation for the rich biodiversity and history of St. John’s Island and Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The 2.8-kilometre St. John’s Island Trail comprises 15 stations marked with signboards that serve as both station markers and educational resources, highlighting the diversity of flora and fauna as well as the island’s colourful history.
A free 90-minute guided tour will be held on the first Sunday of every month. NParks Singapore volunteers will introduce the key features along the St John’s Island Trail. The 1.5 hour walking tour is capped at 10 participants, and participants are required to purchase their own ferry tickets at Marina South Pier and take the 9 a.m., ferry to St. John’s Island. The guides will meet you directly at St John’s Island.
5. Go further
St. John’s Island is conveniently connected to Lazarus Island and yet another naturesque island, Pulau Seringat. If you’re running low on items on your St. John’s itinerary, just hop over to the other two islands (all within walkable distance) to explore even more of the Southern Islands. Nearby, but not connected, also lies Kusu Island, also known as “Tortoise Island”.
If you head up north to the shores of Pulau Seringat, you can see mainland Singapore and the Central Business District (try spotting Marina Bay Sands!), as well as the expansive Keppel Port. Also in view is Sentosa Island with its own amazing beaches and fun things to do.
6. Stay a night over on the island
Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about 5-star hotels with a sea view and amazing service. Fortunately, though, we are talking about rustic staycations and camping adventures. Visitors who plan to stay overnight within the exquisite nature can book St. John’s Island Lodge (former St. John’s Island Campsite and Holiday Bungalow) and the overnight accommodation facilities. See more details here.
Also, with your own tent, supplies, and the spirit of adventure, why not try camping overnight on the island? You will need to apply for a permit to camp at St. John’s Island. However, due to the current Covid-19 situation, all camping and events have temporarily been suspended. However, when they are allowed to resume, why not try it out?
7. Learn new things at the National Marine Laboratory
The St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory (SJINML), Singapore’s only offshore marine research facility, is now open to all marine science researchers. The marine laboratory first opened on 3 October 2002 as a research facility of the Tropical Marine Science Institute, NUS.
Head into the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre and take a look at the conservation efforts happening at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery. You’ll also get to check out some of the live marine creatures like clownfish and corals in its displays.
8. Book a private yacht
Not that you needed any more excuse to visit this gem of an island, but you can even charter a private luxury yacht that’ll take you on a cruise around the beautiful Singapore waters before taking you to St. John’s Island to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Perfect party idea? We think so! Check out this website for more.
How to Get There
There are 2 ferry companies that shuttle between the Southern Islands. You can island hop between St. John Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island and Sisters’ Island with Marina South Ferry or visit St. John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island with Singapore Island Cruise.
To get to St John’s Island, hop onto a ferry from Marina South Pier. The ferry ride is around 30 minutes long and you can even choose to sit on the top deck if it’s available.
Take note! There are no shops or convenience stores on the island. Ensure that you pack enough food, water (important!) and supplies before your day out on St. John’s Island. We wish you a happy trip!
By Derrick Tan / Some information courtesy of Klook