One of the most popular pastimes for visitors to Singapore, combining sightseeing with traveling, is to ‘island-hop'. Singapore itself is surrounded by dozens of idyllic island retreats, each one having its own unique characteristics.
An ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis is to head for one of the more tranquil locations, Kusu. Also known colloquially as ‘Tortoise Island', this family-friendly destination is highly recommended for those with an interest in nature, wildlife or history. The island is also the location of the annual Kusu Pilgrimage, between September and November, when thousands of people arrive to pay homage for good luck health and happiness. There is a beautiful lagoon, sandy beaches and a variety of animal life. While the island itself is open to visitors on a daily basis, overnight stays are not allowed.
In contrast to the quiet retreat that is Kusu Island, the much larger Sentosa is known as Singapore's playground. Here there are activities to keep you occupied, no matter what your tastes are. You can find out all about insect life at the colourful Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, as well as learning out all about flora and fauna on guided tours of Sentosa Nature Discovery. Lovers of white-knuckle rollercoaster entertainment can take a ride on Skyline Luge Sentosa – a go-kart / toboggan ride that sends you careering downhill on a 650-metre jungle trail.
For those of a sportier disposition, you can play volleyball on Siloso Beach. When the sun sinks over the horizon, you can be transfixed by ‘Songs of the Sea', a multisensory experience.
During your visit to Sentosa you can check into a five-star hotel, relax in a spa, and if you fancy a break from thrill rides there are heritage sites to explore.
Sister's Islands lie south of the main island of Singapore. This region is extremely popular with campers and snorkelers, the latter gravitating towards the rich marine life off-shore. A narrow channel separates the islands, and the area is popular for picnics due to the shady palm trees and shelters on the golden beaches. The reefs are home to myriad species of fantastically-colourful tropical fish. Access is gained by chartering a boat from the Marine South Pier - one thing to note is that you require a permit to camp out here.
St. John's Island
St John's Island is a beautiful retreat, close to the thriving streets of Singapore, yet a world away. In days long gone by, this island was a quarantine area for unfortunate leprosy cases as well as a penal colony! Today, thankfully, you are far more likely to be able to observe dolphins frolicking in the surf while you picnic, rather than anything more sinister!