Part of eight islands that make up Singapore’s Southern Islands, Lazarus Island is one of the country’s best kept secrets. Singapore is often known for its urban life and crowds, and a day trip away from the main island is a nice escape. With its tranquil atmosphere, pristine white sands and turquoise waters, you might even forget that you’re still in Singapore.
How to Get to Lazurus Island
The ferry to Lazarus Island
There are no direct ferries to Lazarus Island, so visitors have to take the ferry to St John’s Island and walk to Lazarus Island via a link bridge. The ferry ride to St John’s Island takes about 20 minutes and tickets can be purchased at Marina South Pier. To get to the pier terminal, take the train and alight at Marina South Pier station. Take Exit B and the pier is right outside the exit.
You’ll have to be there in person to purchase the tickets, as there are no reservations or advanced bookings allowed. The bright orange counter belonging to Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services is hard to miss. A two-way trip would cost S$18 for adults and S$12 for children aged one to twelve.
There are only two ferries serving the route on weekdays so it might be best to visit on weekends when there are more ferries scheduled (though that might mean more people). Refer here for detailed departure timings.
St John’s Island
The paved bridge from St John’s Island to Lazarus Island
After stepping off the ferry at St John’s Island, turn left at the jetty to get to Lazarus Island. The walk from the jetty to Lazarus Island will take about 15 minutes. Turning right will bring you to the saltwater lagoons of St John’s Island instead. If you have the time, feel free to explore St John’s Island and read about its history on the informative signboards. The island was once used in the late 19th century to quarantine patients with infectious diseases before it was turned into a jail and drug rehab centre. Today, it provides locals with an escape from the urbanity of Singapore, and foreign visitors with a spot that’s off the beaten track to explore.
Things to Do
Make friends with local cats
Are you a cat lover or self-proclaimed crazy cat lady? You’ll be thrilled to know that a bunch of stray cats inhabit the island. Come prepared with cat food and you’ll make fast friends out of the felines. These little critters are hard to miss and can usually be found lazing on the grass patch, before the bridge that links St John’s to Lazarus Island. The Pirate Cat – an one-eyed cat that’s garnered much talk on Singapore’s webosphere – also lives on the island. If you’re lucky you just might meet him!
Take a stroll on the empty beach
Although we weren’t exactly alone while we were there (there were also some other beachgoers and several private yachts out at sea), the gentle crashing of the waves and clear blue waters made our time on the beach very therapeutic and enjoyable. The white sand, having been imported from Indonesia, was unbelievably soft and powdery. Go ahead and kick off your sandals!
Picnic in the shade of trees
There are many trees that line the beach, providing shade and shelter for beachgoers. The grass patches are also perfect for laying down a mat and you’ll be able to find a prime spot in no time. No trip to the beach is complete without some tasty picnic essentials, but make sure to dispose of your trash in a responsible manner! As Lazarus Island is underdeveloped with a lack of amenities, trash bins are hard to come by. You might have to hold onto your trash for a while, but the environment will thank you for it.
Soak up the sun
Soft crashing waves? Check. Powdery soft sand? Check. The sun? Check. Crowds and prying eyes? Nowhere to be found. Work on your tan in comfort, away from the beach-going crowds that populate the beaches of Sentosa Island and East Coast. You’ll have the beach (or on weekdays, the entire island) to yourselves. Even though Singapore is known for it’s hot weather, the sea breeze blows particularly strong here. Even if you get a bit too sweaty for your own liking, the ocean is mere footsteps away!
Take a dip in the turquoise waters
The sea in Singapore is flat due to its location, making Lazarus Island a great place for a relaxing swim. Snorkelers will be disappointed due to the lack of marine life, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the water. On some weekends you might also spot a rare stand-up paddler. If you have one of those big, fancy floats, put it to good use here. Since the beach is so deserted, you’ll have plenty of space to float around without any worry of crashing into someone else.
Snap some Instaworthy shots
Picture-perfect opportunities can be found throughout the island, so don’t hesitate to venture away from the beach and explore the rest of Lazarus Island. With many picturesque backdrops and the tropical holiday vibes, it’s easy to fool your friends and loved ones that you’re away on an exotic summer trip. Even local Singaporeans might doubt that you’re still in Singapore!
Rent a private yacht
Planning a birthday or bachelor/bachelorette party? Why not rent a private yacht for the day and throw a yacht party? Anchor your yacht at Lazarus Island, have a barbecue onboard, enjoy some water sports and sing your lungs out over the karaoke system. Many local cruise companies offer private yachts with add-on activities such as jet ski, banana boats and kayaks.
Getting Out/Kusu Island
Unfortunately, camping is not allowed on Lazarus Island. If you get in via the ferry from Marina South Pier, take note of the departure timings or you’ll be stranded on the island if you miss the last ferry! The ferry travels from the terminal to St John’s Island, and then onward to Kusu Island before returning to the ferry terminal. So if you do not wish to visit Kusu Island, simply stay put on the ferry and don’t get off.
If you want to know more about Kusu Island, the name “Kusu” means tortoise or turtle in Chinese. Stories passed down over generations have it that a giant tortoise turned itself into an island in order to save two Chinese and Malay sailors that were shipwrecked. A popular Taoist temple was established here and three Malay shrines (known as kramats) were built to commemorate a pious Islamic man (Syed Abdul Rahman) as well as his mother and sister. Since then, many people have visited the island, regardless of their beliefs, to continue the tradition of giving thanks and making prayers here.
On the island also sits the Tortoise Sanctuary, which houses hundreds of tortoises, along with a wishing well. A visit to Kusu Island should not take more than an hour or two.