While we often spend a (significant) amount of time daydreaming about our next exotic vacay with the family, reality brings us back to earth pretty sharp when it comes to our wallet. But, seeing as we live in the tropics anyway and are pretty blessed when it comes to gorgeous parks and not-too-shabby beaches we have on our doorstep here in Singapore, we’re pretty happy with our lot. And here’s something you might not have known (hold onto your hats for this one, folks): turns out we ALL live on an exotic sounding island anyway…. the main island of Singapore, i.e. where most of us live, is officially called Pulau Ujong. Oh yes it is! Honest! How do we know this? We’ve been researching islands near to Singapore for day trips we can take without needing our passport, so now we know exactly where to go when we want a little escape from Pulau Ujong and go for a spot of island-hopping nearby…
If escape is what you’re after, visit Lazarus Island (pictured top) via a short causeway from St John’s Island. It might be close to home, but it still has the rustic, tropical vibes of a deserted island: perfect for when you crave a bit of peace and quiet (best leave the kids at home…) Bring along a kite as the breeze on Lazarus makes for perfect conditions, and don’t forget to pack your beach kit: the glorious stretch of sand rivals any tropical island destination you would usually board a plane to get to.
How to get there: Take a round-trip ferry ride from Marina South Pier ($18 for adults and $12 for kids age one to 12 years) to St John’s and then pop across the causeway on foot.
Tried and tested is sometimes the easy-peasy pick when it comes to a fun day out with the kids. Check out our guide to all things Sentosa before packing the family up and heading out on an adventure.
How to get there: Sentosa is super accessible: head over on a cable car from Mount Faber, the Sentosa Express from VivoCity, by car or taxi through the gantry, or on foot via the Sentosa Boardwalk from VivoCity.
St. John’s Island
Once home to unfortunate souls suffering from cholera and leprosy, St. John’s was once a quarantine station for sick immigrants heading to Singapore. Don’t let its horrible history put you off: these days it has crystal-clean swimming lagoons, bountiful marine life and corals, and is also the gateway to several other gorgeous island finds in the area. Perfect for a day of snorkelling and sandcastle building.
How to get there: Take a round-trip ferry ride from Marina South Pier ($18 for adults and $12 for kids age one to 12 years)
Discover a little local folklore at Kusu (tortoise) Island, where legend has it a turtle turned itself into an island in order to rescue two sailors, one Chinese and one Malay. The Chinese consider the turtle a sacred animal, and today the island has a sanctuary that is home to hundreds of the cute critters. Make sure to visit the famous Da Bo Gong Chinese temple and three Malay shrines, all of which you can explore against a scenic backdrop of sand, sea and lush tropical greenery.
How to get there: Take a round-trip ferry ride from Marina South Pier ($18 for adults and $12 for kids age one to 12 years) to St John’s and then a 15-minute onward ferry ride from there
Located to the south of Singapore’s main island, Sisters’ Island consists of two small islands, Pulau Subar Laut (Big Sister’s Island) and Pulau Subar Darat (Small Sister’s Island), which are connected by a narrow channel (the currents can be strong so do be very careful). Check out the Sisters’ Island Marine Park, home to over 250 species of hard corals, tons of reef fish and at least 12 types of seagrass. Keep an eye out for Spongebob Squarepants: there are around 200 types of natural sponges to be found in the area!
How to get there: Visitors can charter their own boat from West Coast Pier or Marina South Pier to visit Big Sister’s Island. Prices will be quoted according to party size/time, etc.
We love nothing better on a weekend when the sun comes out and we can head over to Pulau Ubin for a charming day of back-to-nature fun with the kiddos. Have a look at our guide to this beautifully rustic little patch of green before catching a bum boat over for an exploration adventure of your own.
How to get there: Board a bumboat at Changi Point Ferry Terminal for the 15 minute ride. $3 each way per person, and an extra $2 if you bring along your bike. Boats will depart once they have 12 people on board.
Escape with the (or from the) family to the wonderfully rustic Coney Island – also known as Pulau Serangoon – for a cracking day out the whole gang will love. Read our guide on the top things to do on the island and its Punggol surrounds to make the most of your adventures.
How to get there: Cross the Punggol Promenade Nature Walk which will take you to Coney Island West Entrance.