Did you know: Singapore is actually not the only “island” in its territory. In fact, there are over 64 offshore islands, and some of them are actually accessible via boat! One group of islands which is serviced by several cruises is the Southern Islands, and on one early weekend morning, we decided to visit the well-linked cluster of St John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island!
With our usual camera gear, we headed out from the Marina South Pier (where the ferries usually depart) to the relative unknown and unexplored parts of the Southern Islands, hoping to find a different perspective from the bustling mainland. In the end, we found fun in the sun, a touch of natural and geopolitical history, and a place to shoot to our hearts’ content! Speaking of which, we decided to give this camera a try: the modified Polaroid 800, able to shoot Instax Wide film and Fujifilm packfilm!
First Stop: St John’s Island
The Southern Islands comprise several islets, of varying geographic and historical context. St John’s Island is one of the largest islets, but its history began as a quarantine centre in the late 19th century, particularly for cholera. Later on, it became a place to house political detainees and gangsters, and soon after a drug rehabilitation. Somehow in the 1970s it became a holiday home with chalets, so the island has clearly seen quite a bit of diverse crowds!
St John’s Island is also the first island stop by several cruises, so unsurprising we got off at the pier, to be greeted with a view of what must have been Singapore in the 1800s! Lush greenery, ample space, lack of humans (!), and not to mention the sea breeze and sandy shores… unfortunately we had to contend with mosquitoes and the blazing hot morning sun! Thus our photography adventure began:
Crossing the Bridge to Lazarus Island!
From St John’s Island, we crossed a man-made dyke/bridge to Lazarus Island, a lesser-known beach haven for party-goers and yacht owners/passengers. In particular, a beautiful C-shaped lagoon plays host to several yachts, with people of all ages enjoying water activities and/or sunbathing under the sun. When we had crossed the bridge, we could already see some boats anchored near the shoreline, beginning the day in style!
Final Stop: Kusu Island
At the jetty, we caught the ferry heading to Kusu Island. The origins behind the name of Kusu Island is mired in myth and legend. Supposedly, a giant tortoise turned into an island to saved shipwrecked people; as such, the people were grateful, and a Muslim kramat (tomb/cemetery) and a Taoist shrine were built to honour it.
Today, the said places can be found on top of a hill on the island, while a famous local temple hosts many visitors during auspicious times of the year. If you haven’t guessed yet, kusu means “tortoise” in the Chinese language, hence the name “Kusu Island”!
The great thing about these islands in general are the plentiful walking paths to follow. It has clearly been trodden on by many, many people before us, and makes it easy to walk around the island. We had brought some food and water to provide nutrition and to satisfy our thirsts when required; in fact, we even saw some people having a picnic!
All in all we certainly had a fun-filled day visiting St John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island. We had learnt so much in a few hours, and also explored a different side of Singapore; one that was less inhabited and more natural! If you know of any hidden or lesser-known secrets in Singapore, do not hesitate to drop a comment and let us know; we would love to explore them!
Till next time,