Exploring Singapore’s hidden pearl 

If you are the type of person who longs for serenity and solitude (like me), then a trip to the Southern Islands can satisfy that piece of heaven you are seeking.

Beyond what most people already know, Singapore has few undiscovered islands that offer a lighter part of life aside from its famous tourist destinations, high rise buildings and massive shopping malls.

Collectively known as Singapore’s Southern Islands, the 50-year old country has eight islets namely Sentosa, St. John’s Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Tekukor and the two Sisters’ Islands.

I took the MRT to Marina South Pier and had a ferry ride thru Singapore Island Cruise and Services to visit three of the Fine City’s virgin islands, St. John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island.

I and my friend, who is a tech geek (you know, the one who always think about new technology advancement, nas server test, product reviews of newly released gadgets and all) joined me in my trip to the Southern Islands. We boarded the Singapore Island Cruise for only 18 SGD.

There is no need to bring any VISA or enter an immigration when visiting the Southern Islands. Just your packed lunch and swimming attire.

Refreshing breeze, translucent turquoise water and awesome city view as the ferry departed from the pier made the 20-minute ride to St. John’s Island very unwinding and worthwhile.

Upon arriving St. John’s Island, we were welcomed by a long line of tourists waiting for their time to board and visit their next destination – the Kusu Island.

Despite overwhelmed by excitement to experience the sun and seawater, I was first waylaid by the interesting history of St. John’s Island.

Before the country opened the island for nature lovers, beach-goers and day-trippers, St. John’s Island was first known as the world’s largest quarantine center for cholera-stricken immigrants traveling from Mecca to Singapore in the late 19th century. It even became a penal settlement for political detainees and ringleaders of secret societies, then a rehabilitation of opium addicts.

Now, tourists get to enjoy the tranquil landscapes fit for picnics and photo shoots as well as frolicked along the powdery sands and saltwater in this lost paradise.

Enjoy St. John’s Island beach while having a pleasant view of the Merlion city.

Picnic tables, barbecue grills and cottages were everywhere for a place to stay and relax.

Anglers hooking up for a fresh catch as well as private cruise ships, yachts and speed boats were some of the sight to see along the causeway that linked St. John’s Island to Lazarus Island. Filled by the lush greenery, a short walk from Lazarus beach towards north led me to Pulau Seringat.

Causeway towards Lazarus Island

Currently, the islands are being developed to become an irresistible tourist spot by enhancing natural foliage and promote a resort-like experience. Due to its still and unspoiled seawater, travelers visit the place for a quick escape from the city life.

I had to return to the main jetty before four in the afternoon to catch my next ride to Kusu Island which is famous for its Chinese Temple and Malay Shrine.

I was glad to bring with me some mandarin orange and a bottled water as there were no food stalls or even souvenir shops available in the area. The cute tortoises, still waters and soft fine sands greatly killed my lazy afternoon.

Kusu Island means Tortoise Island in Mandarin. Tortoises are known to live long age, so there is a belief that touching them would bring longevity.

There is an old legend that a tortoise long before turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors.

The appeal of the islands may look undeveloped compared to the popular Sentosa Island but it was a pleasant experience to have that peaceful moment along the coastline and get lost on the few deserted spots left in Singapore.

Travelers enjoy the Merlion City for the variety of entertainment and world-class service it offers. But other than the usual, the Southern Islands breathed space on my clouded head and granted me that much wanted solitude while people-watching and embracing that sun-kissed skin.