More than just offshore factories and landfills.

[Updated April 2016] Forget Thailand—Singapore has lots of islands (other than Sentosa!) to explore, too. Here are our top seven picks:

Pulau Ubin

By far the most popular island (it receives thousands of visitors on weekends!), Pulau Ubin offers intrepid adventurers lots of wild green spaces and biking trails, as well as the Chek Jawa Wetlands, which is one of Singapore's richest ecosystems. You might also catch glimpses of animals like hornbills, wild boars and more during your treks. In particular, the gorgeous blue of the abandoned quarries are a sight to behold (and are great for photo ops, we say).

How to get there: Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Each ride costs $2. 

Pulau Hantu

This southern island is especially popular with divers and snorkelling enthusiasts—it boasts sheltered beaches, lagoons that are safe for swimming in, as well as an attractive variety of corals and reefs. Plus, you'll be able to spot marine creatures like clownfish, damselfish, wrasses and the occasional seahorse. The island is also favored by campers and day-trippers for its pristine environment. Don't be scared off by its moniker—while Pulau Hantu literally means "ghost Island" in Malay, it probably refers to how the middle part of the island "disappears" during high tide. 

How to get there: You'll have to charter a boat from the private operators at West Coast Pier. Do note that you will have to apply for a permit from Sentosa Leisure Group if you you want to camp overnight. 

Pulau Semakau

Pulau Semakau, another island south of Singapore, is most well known for being the site of Semakau Landfill, which occupies the eastern part of the island. But don't let that scare you off! The landfill (filled with ash from incerated waste, not the garbage itself) is engineered so the island remains clean, unpolluted and odor-free. In recent years this island has turned into a real eco-getaway with flourishing mangrove habitats and a healthy coral population (there's even a coral nursery). One for nature and fishing enthusiasts.

How to get there: Book a tour on the NEA website.

St. John's Island

St. John's Island is situated around 6.5km south of Singapore, and it used to function as a quarantine station for Chinese immigrants with cholera. Today, however, it's frequented for its picturesque lagoons, beaches, picnic grounds, trekking routes and soccer fields. It's also home to lots of flora and fauna. It's easy to organize a getaway here—there are bungalow chalets that can accommodate up to 60 people. 

How to get there: Hop on a ferry from Marina South Pier. Prices for a two-way trip are fixed at $18 for adults. 

Lazarus Island & Pulau Seringat

There are paths from St. John's Island that take you to Lazarus Island and Pulau Seringat. The latter was formerly a standalone island, but the two are now linked to form an extended Lazarus Island via a 800m reclaimed beach made with sand imported from Indonesia. This beach overlooks a gorgeous lagoon that's great for swimming.

How to get there: Walk across the causeway from St. John's Island.

Kusu Island

Kusu Island is the easternmost of the southern islands, and is most strongly associated with local myth and folklore. Devotees flock here in droves during the ninth month of the lunar calendar to pay their respects at the Chinese temple, which is a shrine for the deity Tua Pek Kong. Besides its religious associations, the island is also known for its scenic lagoons, clean beaches and array of animal life. Do note, however, that camping isn't allowed.

How to get there: Again, hop on a ferry from Marina South Pier ($18 for a two-way trip).

Sisters' Islands 

So named for the legends surrounding them (story has it that two sisters were blown away by a storm and each landed on one of the islands), the two islands are home to plenty of scenic beaches. Snorkelling is also a favorite pastime here—the island boasts some of the richest reefs around, and you'll find both hard and soft corals here. 

How to get there: You can only get here via a ferry from Marina South Pier ($18 for a two-way trip). And again, a permit from Sentosa Leisure Group is required for overnight camping. 


For more about Singapore's islands, read our interview with Marcus Ng, curator of Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore’s Islands.