Looking for a quick and fuss-free getaway with the kids? Go island-hopping at these destinations that offer something for the whole family.
1. St John’s Island
Situated just over 6km south of Singapore, St John’s Island is a pretty place to find peace and quiet, and some interesting history. The island is also well known for its flora and fauna.
Getting there: Take a 30-minute ferry ride from Marina South Pier. (You can buy your tickets on the spot at the pier.) The return ferry ride costs $18 for adults and $12 for children (one to 12 years). The afternoon ferry may stop off at Kusu Island on the return home.
What to do: Lay your picnic mats by the beach for a leisurely picnic while the kids build sandcastles. Walk off those calories by taking your little ones exploring in the mangroves; you’ll find an abundance of marine life, including hermit crabs and sea urchins. Don’t forget to take food, lots of water, books and toys – there are no kiosks or shops on the island. Book two months in advance (at the Sentosa Islander Counter. Level 3, VivoCity) to stay overnight in the bungalows or camps
2. Kusu Island
Kusu Island is located less than an hour away from mainland Singapore and is especially popular with devotees who travel to the island’s renowned temple for annual pilgrimages.
Getting there: Take a 45-minute ferry ride from Marina South Pier. You will stop off at St John’s Island before reaching Kusu.
What to do: Explore the small island’s surprisingly rich culture and heritage, and visit its sacred sites including the Da Bo Gong Temple and the three Malay kramats or shrines (you’ll need to climb 152 steps to reach them!). Pack a picnic basket or prepare a barbecue for a relaxing afternoon meal. Keep the kids occupied and take them to see turtles at the Turtle Sanctuary (kusu means “turtle” in the Hokkien dialect) or have a refreshing swim.
3. Sisters’ Islands
Boasting rich reefs and marine life, the Sisters’ Islands are part of Singapore’s first marine park. They’re also home to some long tailed macaques.
Getting there: Charter a private ferry through Singapore Island Cruise. Contact them for information and rates. Departing from Marina South Pier, you will reach the islands in around 15 minutes.
What to do: Go on a guided walk hosted by National Parks in the cool morning breeze and your kids will be able to see (and even touch some) sea creatures like starfishes, octopuses and clams. After a morning of learning, find a shady spot to enjoy your picnic lunch
4. Pulau Ubin
Popular with cyclists, this rustic island is home to some of Singapore’s last kampongs. It is located off the northeast coast, close to Changi Airport.
Getting there: Take a 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. It costs $2.50 per person, though you may have to wait some time for the boat to fill with enough people.
What to do: Rent bikes for the family and take off on a self guided tour of the island’s trails and kampongs. Take a rest at a quarry and enjoy the serenity. Fuel up by picking up some drinks and old school snacks at the many shops and cafes on the main drag. Before leaving, make a trip to Chek Jawa to explore its wetlands and learn about its rich marine life and biodiversity. There’s even a hardcore mountain bike course for keen cyclists.
5. Coney Island
Located off Punggol, Coney Island is one of Singapore’s newest and most popular nature destinations. The island boasts a variety of habitats, including lush forests and mangroves.
Getting there: Walk onto the island through connecting bridges at either the East entrance at Lorong Halus or the West entrance at Punggol Promenade Park Connector.
What to do: Burn off some energy at the Casuarina Exploratory where kids can hop and jump over uprooted trees and stumps. Sadly the island’s resident Brahman bull recently passed away, but you will at least have the chance to see a wide variety of bird species and plenty of interesting flora.
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