Singapore might be a small island, but do you know we are surrounded by 64 smaller offshore islands?
While not all of them are open to the public for recreational purposes, regular ferries from Marina South Pier connect a cluster of Southern Islands with mainland Singapore, offering us a wholesome island-hopping adventure without the hassle of international travel.
St John’s Island
Looking at the tranquillity of St John’s Island, it is hard to imagine the sordid history of the place. Besides being a quarantine centre for infectious diseases in the 1800s, it was also used as a detention facility for illegal immigrants and a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts.
By the 1980s, the island finally had its Cinderella transformation into what we know today. A tropical island within an island where you can swim, laze on the beach, explore the island trail or camp overnight at one of the lodges.
Connected to St John’s Island by a 20-minute walk across a causeway, Lazarus Island was Singapore’s secret getaway before everybody “discovered” it.
Home to a pristine white sandy beach and lagoon with 50 shades of blue, there are a few months left to enjoy the Robinson Crusoe vibes because plans are already in motion to turn the island into a destination for eco-tourism.
If you must know, there are turtles (both real and fake) on the aptly named “Turtle” Island.
For a cultural experience, visit the island on the 9th lunar month to watch the pilgrims jostle to pay their respect at the Chinese Temple.
A calm and peaceful island for much of the year, Kusu Island is also home to several Malay shrines, a wishing well and a wishing tree. Regardless of your beliefs, a little extra help to make a dream come true is always welcomed.
Established in 2014 as the first marine park in Singapore, the crystal-clear water surrounding Sisters’ Islands offers snorkellers and divers amazing views of our reefs and native wildlife.
For non-divers, visit during low tides to see all sorts of intertidal organisms, such as hermit crabs, starfishes and sea anemones in their natural habitat.
Do note that the Sisters’ Islands are closed for enhancement works until March 2024. But remember, good things come to those who wait.
Conserving our blue spaces
There is often a lot of chatter about protecting our green spaces.
However, our blue spaces are equally important, as MPs Mr Louis Ng and Ms Nadia Samdin highlighted when they spoke up about the need to conserve our marine environment in Parliament earlier this week (Mar 20).
In his reply, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee acknowledged that despite being a small city-state, Singapore will always balance nature conservation with our developmental needs.
The Marine Conservation Action Plan, said Minister Lee, is one such action that maps out a comprehensive, science-based approach to protect our marine ecosystem.
In addition, the Government will step up funding for marine research, ramp up outreach and education efforts, and restore 80 hectares of coastal and marine habitats by 2030, up from 30 hectares previously.
These plans, which form part of Singapore’s Long-Term Plan Review, will guide us in the planning and management of our blue spaces and ensure our marine biodiversity is conserved for future generations.
Photo Sources: SLD/NParks/Sister Islands Marine Park FB Page/Desmond Lee via Facebook