Sailing During Phase 2 in Singapore: 5 Beautiful Islands To Visit
Although international departures are only permitted for essential travel, avid explorers based in Singapore are still encouraged to travel like a local, and perhaps replace their extensive international beach vacation plans with home-bound island getaways instead.
For the uninitiated, Singapore is actually made up of 62 offshore islands (bringing the total to 63, if you include the mainland). As we remain in phase two of Singapore's safe re-opening, those with a penchant for sailing will now be able to island-hop around the city and explore the beautiful beaches that surround us.
We have consolidated a list of islands just for you (and your accompanying group of four) to cure your wanderlust by going sailing:
1/5 Kusu Island
Besides the beautiful lagoons and pristine coastline, Kusu Island is steeped in folklore and interspersed with sacred sites that pay tribute to a tortoise. Legend has it that it once transformed into this island to save a Malay and Chinese man who were both shipwrecked. Today, the island is home to the Da Bo Gong Temple that was erected in 1923, and the shrines of three kramats (or holy shrines of Malay saints) located atop a hill and accessible only after a 152-step climb.
The island is also particularly busy during the October to November period as thousands of pilgrims join in on the Kusu Pilgrimage to pray for peace and prosperity. Prior to the pandemic, tourists were allowed to camp on the island. But due to additional measures in place, camping and staying overnight have been temporarily suspended until further notice.
2/5 St John's Island
Geographically known as the largest of the Southern Islands in Singapore, St John's Island is home to a local marine research facility and an abundance of nature with its mangroves, sandy shores and coral reefs. The island was once a designated holding ground for immigrants who suffered from leprosy, beri-beri and cholera, before housing some of Singapore's political prisoners, underground secret society leaders and drug offenders. Today, a visit to the island would not be complete without visiting some of its nature trails, secret beach and a dip in the crystal clear waters.
(Related: 7 Watches For The Sailing Enthusiast)
3/5 Lazarus Island
Not far away from St John's Island is Lazarus Island—a scenic gem that is accessible via a quick 15-minute walk from St John's or speedy 20-minute ride from Marina South Pier. Sunseekers will be thrilled to explore Lazarus as its pristine beaches are surrounded by turquoise waters, rendering it Singapore's best-kept secret for an island getaway and a must-visit spot on your sailing adventure. To beat the crowds, we recommend visiting the island on your private vessel and bringing your water toys onboard. It is also important not to skimp on the sunscreen, as well as add snorkelling fins and proper diving gear on your packing list.
(Related: The Best Private Islands and Resorts in Asia To Book For Your Next Getaway)
4/5 Sisters' Islands
Separated by a narrow channel, the Sisters' Islands is home to more than 250 species of hard corals, of which 32 per cent are found worldwide. It is also the site of approximately 200 species of sponges, more than 100 species of beautiful reef fish and 12 seagrass species, boasting a vast marine biodiversity that makes up Singapore's first marine park. Should visitors decide to head to the islands, they can do so via a 40-minute ferry ride from the Marina South Pier or charter a private yacht to take them and their inner circle around the Southern islands.
(Related: 3 Remote Hotels That Are Perfect For Social Distancing)
5/5 Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa
Perhaps the most familiar offshore destination in Singapore besides Sentosa, Pulau Ubin is a convenient getaway for those looking to immerse themselves in the unspoiled beauty and get away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland city. For avid explorers who wish to experience a slice of Singapore's past, the granite island is where Singapore's last kampong is located. Further east, the Chek Jawa Wetlands comprises six major ecosystems that are each brimming with wildlife.
To get a bird's-eye view of the wetlands from the tree canopy level, visitors can scale the seven-storey high Jejawi Tower to observe the birdlife in the area, or choose to explore it through two routes: either a 600m coastal loop or 500m mangrove boardwalk dispersed with lookout platforms along the way.
(Related: What to Expect in Phase 3 of Singapore’s Safe Re-Opening)