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Things to do on St. John’s Island, Singapore

Things to do on St. John’s Island, Singapore

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In the distant past, St. John’s Island used to be the quarantine island for infectious disease and drug rehabilitation center. Today, it is a respite for Singapore residents who need a quick day trip to escape the city life.

St. John’s island is bigger than its neighbors, Kusu Island and Sisters’ Islands. However, a large portion of the island is used for research and another large portion is reserved for a holiday lodge, so only about 35% of the island is accessible by the public.

St John Island Singapore - seen from ferry
St. John’s Island as seen from our ferry

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St John Island Singapore - seen from ferry
St. John’s Island as seen from our ferry

But, don’t fret about the lack of spaces to explore, because St. John is connected to Lazarus via a causeway, and Lazarus is connected to Seringat island and Kias Island via reclaimed land.

In fact, I think you need an entire day to explore all 4 islands on foot. When I say entire day, I mean from 9am to 6pm, because that’s the schedule of the first and last ferry on weekends and Public Holidays.

However, if you’re ambitious and want to embark on a day full of island-hopping between St. John, Kusu and Sisters islands, it’s definitely possible. But, you’ll probably not able to see every places on each island.

Please bring your own food and drinks because you can’t buy any on the islands, no matter how much money you have!

How to go to St. John’s Island?

St John Island Singapore - pier

The most popular way to go to St, John’s Island is by taking a ferry from Marina South Pier. There are 2 companies that provide ferry services on fixed schedules to St John’s Island, namely Marina South Ferries and Island Cruise.

The ticket costs SGD 15 and it includes stop at Kusu Island without additional costs.

Before you go to the St. John’s Island, I recommend that you read my detailed guide for how to visit Southern Islands. It has a comparison between Marina South Ferries and Island Cruise; how to book a private boat or tour; a packing list; and recommended itineraries to help you to plan your visit to multiple islands effectively.

St John Island Singapore - pier welcome gate

How to get around St. John’s Island?

There is no public transport or taxi service on St. John’s Island. To get around St. John’s Island, here are your options:

a. By walking

It is possible to walk the entire St. John’s Island, Lazarus, Seringat and Kias Island, there are designated footpaths. Do bring an umbrella or wear a sunscreen because there is very little shade along the way.

Here are the walking distances for reference:

  • St. John’s Island Pier – Marine Laboratory = 750m
  • St. John’s Island – Lazarus Island Beach = 1.3km
  • St. John’s Island Pier – Kias Island = 2.3km
  • St. John’s Island – Seringat Island = 2.5km

b. By bicycle

From 14 October 2022, you can rent a bicycle or scooter to explore St. John’s island and its surroundings! The shop is operated by GoGreen and they’re open only from Friday to Monday, and closed from Tuesday to Thursday.

What to do on St. John’s Island?

1. St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory

The National Marine Laboratory houses the Public Gallery that showcases marina biodiversity and conservation in Singapore’s waters.

The Gallery provides an overview of the Marine Park, including a 3D miniature model of its dive trails, a timeline of conservation effort in Singapore, a viewing pool and aquariums.

Admission to the Public Gallery is free. There is toilet facility at the gallery. The walk from the jetty to the gallery takes about 15 to 20 mins. The path is uphill and there are not much shade; it might be challenging for the physically unfit people.

The opening hours of the Public Gallery (as of 2022) are:
Daily: 10am to 4pm

St John Island Singapore - things to do - National Marine Laboratory
St John Island Singapore - things to do - National Marine Laboratory
Miniature of marine biodiversity in the Marine Park
St John Island Singapore - things to do - National Marine Laboratory
Miniature of the dive trail at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park

2. St John’s Island Beach

There is only 1 beach at St. John island, so it’s the go-to beach for people who want to swim, sunbathe or just relax on the beach. The beach is a safe lagoon protected with sea barrier rocks.

It’s possible to see Singapore’s skyline on this beach. And there’s a toilet near the beach with basic shower facilities.

However, if you want to enjoy a real beach, I’d recommend that you go to Lazarus beach instead because it’s much more spacious there.

St John Island Singapore - things to do - beach
St John’ Island Beach

3. Picnic

There are so many shelters with benches and open-air picnic tables with benches for you to enjoy your picnic. Alternatively, you can bring your picnic mat for a picnic on the lawn.

The picnic tables are only available near St John’s jetty. If you go further to Lazarus, Seringat or Kias, there are no more picnic tables, but there are shelters with benches.

St John Island Singapore - things to do - picnic
Plenty of picnic tables near the lagoon

4. Intertidal Zone

The lagoon at the beach is also the intertidal zone. It means that during low tide, there is very minimal water in the lagoon, hence you can walk on the lagoon and see sea animals and plants, such as seagrasses, sea stars, fiddler crabs, sea cucumbers and hermit crabs. Do wear covered shoes to protect your feet.

Since it’s quite difficult to know the tide timing at St. John Island, you can use this forecast tide schedule on NEA website as your rough guide to predict low tide timings. But, do note that this is a general forecast of the tide in Singapore, not specific to St. John Island.

St John Island Singapore - things to do - swimming lagoon
How the lagoon looks like during low tide (but it’s not low enough for intertidal walk yet)

5. NParks Guided Walking Tour

If you’re the type of person who loves to learn about a place directly from a guide, then I recommend that you join NParks’ free guided walking tour.

There’s only 1 tour a month and the slots are limited, so it’s quite hard to get in. Registration is on a first come first served basis, so you need to act fast when registration opens.

This 90-min tour is free of charge, but you need to purchase your own ferry ticket.

St John Island Singapore - things to do - take a stroll
A stroll at St. John’s Island looks like this

6. Overnight Stay at St. John’s Island Lodge

Unlike Sisters’ Islands and Kusu Island which don’t allow overnight stays, St. John Island has a lodge that you can book if you want to stay overnight on the island. You don’t need to bring your own camping tent, you can actually sleep on a bed!

A bungalow (max 10 pax) costs SGD 21.4/night on weekdays and SGD 42.8/night on weekends. Meanwhile the rate for a campsite (max 50 pax) starts from SGD 74.90 onwards.

It is really cheap considering that it comes with a kitchen where you can cook your own food. There are also BBQ pits if you prefer grill. But don’t expect the quality is similar to a hotel. You can see the pictures of the lodge and book on SLA’s website.

St John Island Singapore - direction signs

7. Camping

At the time of writing (2022), camping is now allowed at Lazarus Beach. You can set up camping tents only at designated areas.

And it is compulsory to apply TOL via SLA website to get a camping permit. There is no fee involves. You need to login with SingPass to submit the application.

Designated camping site at Lazarus Island Beach
Designated camping site at Lazarus Island Beach

8. Pet the cats

There are a few cats roaming around St. John and its surrounding islands. If you’re lucky, you may meet them and even pet them!

I had the luck of meeting two of them. One even interacted with me. It really made my day.

Cat at Lazarus Island
Someone gave kibbles to this cat but the cat seemed uninterested

9. Bring your pet out

The Southern islands are pet-friendly. You can bring your pets out with or without leash. But you do need to check with ferry operator whether they are able to accommodate your pet. Some operators only allow pets on certain days.

10. Walk to Lazarus Island, Seringat Island and Kias Island

Lazarus island is just 10-min walk from St. John’s pier. Meanwhile, Seringat island is 20-min walk and Kias Island is 25-min walk from St. John’s pier. There is little to no shade along the way, so an umbrella or a hat is definitely useful.

St John Island Singapore - views
Lazarus island as seen from St. John’s island
Causeway between St John Island and Lazarus Island

Things to do on Lazarus Island

The Lazarus Beach is about 17-min walk from St. John Island pier, which explains the lack of crowd and clear waters on this beach. During peak season, private boats/yachts do bring people to this lagoon, so be prepared to share this hidden gem with others.

There is no toilet on Lazarus island. If you need to go to to toilet, there is one at Seringat island’s pier, which is about 5-min walk away.

There are very few trash bin on Lazarus island. Do pack your trash and throw them at the designated bins to keep the island pristine.

There are no fancy things to do on Lazarus island. Most people come here to just enjoy the serenity and connect with nature.

Lazarus Beach is also the only place where visitors can camp. There are 6 designated camping sites at the beach. As mentioned in earlier, camping permit is required.

Lazarus Island Beach
Lazarus Island Beach during a Public Holiday
Lazarus Island Beach
Lazarus Island Beach during a Public Holiday
Lazarus Island Beach
Lazarus Island Beach during a Public Holiday
Lazarus Island Beach
Lazarus Island Beach during a Public Holiday

Things to do on Seringat Island

Seringat island used to be separated from Lazarus island. Reclamation works was done to connect these two islands to what they are today.

To be honest, there are not many things to do on Seringat Island except fishing, visiting the lake and strolling around the perimeter of the island while soaking up the sights and relaxing.

Seringat Island has its own pier, so people who hire private boats can reach Seringat directly without having to walk from St. John Island. There is a toilet near Seringat’s pier.

Seringat Island Singapore - pier
The pier at Seringat Island
Seringat Island Singapore - toilet near pier
Seringat island as seen from our ferry
Seringat Island
Northern coastline of Seringat Island
Seringat Island
Lookout point (or fishing point?) at northern part of Seringat Island
Seringat Island
I hope they’ll build a bridge across this channel
Seringat Island
There’s a small lake in the middle of Seringat Island
Toilet at Seringat Island
Toilet at Seringat Island near Seringat jetty

Things to do on Kias Island

Kias Island is a small island which is connected to Seringat Island via a causeway. Kias Island is basically an (almost) empty grass land with a substation building in the middle.

I think Kias island is a perfect place to fly kite and to watch Sentosa Cove’s skylines, as well as to take Instagram shots.

There is practically no shade at Kias island, so sunscreen or umbrella is a must!

Kias Island Causeway
Causeway connecting Seringat Island and Kias Island. Don’t be fooled by this picture, Kias there’s no apartment in Kias Island. Those apartments are located at Sentosa Cove.
Kias Island
There’s only 1 building at Kias Island, and that is the substation
Kias Island
Interesting cluster of trees at Kias Island
Kias Island
The coastline of Kias Island
Kias Island

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Benjamin Wong

Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

Can I fly my small drone ?


Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

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