It was a wondrous sight.
Surreal even, as all of us first set our eyes upon this.
You see, if someone had shown us the photo above 45 minutes before that and told us that this stretch of beach paradise can be found in Singapore, I would have laughed my head (and rear) off.
Well, it turns out that it is really in Singapore. Although technically, the beach is not on the main island but part of the Southern Islands.
Say hello to Lazarus Island, a little-known island tucked quietly between St John's and Kusu islands. Also known as Pulau Sakijang Pelepah, which means 'Island of One Barking Deer and Palms', there are no direct ferries to the island. But the good news is that it is linked to St. John’s Island by a paved bridge, so that was where we headed during one of the weekends.
The Southern Islands are managed by Sentosa Corporation, and they can only be reached via Singapore Island Cruise which is the one and only company in Singapore that provides daily ferry transport services to Kusu Island as well as St John’s Island.
Board the ferry from Marina South Pier, where you can purchase the tickets before departure. A two-way ticket costs $18 for adults and $12 for children aged between 1 and 12 years old. (The ferry schedule can be found at HERE.)
The journey from Marina South Pier to St John's island took about 30 minutes and once we set foot on the island, we were all ready to begin our little adventure!
But first, we were waylaid the history of St John's Island which fascinated the boys pretty much. The island has served as a quarantine station for infectious diseases such as cholera and leprosy in the late 19th century, as well as housing Prisoners of War (POWs) during the Japanese Occupation, with gruesome tales of a human chessboard where prisoners were used in place of chess pawns. It then became a penal settlement housing political prisoners and ring leaders of secret societies, before turning into a rehabilitation centre for many of the nation’s opium addicts. Definitely one chequered history for a small island.
Of course, there was still the small matter of another island to be conquered and the boys soon got Lazarus Island back in their minds. From St John’s Island’s jetty, we turned left to head towards Lazarus Island.
As you can probably see from the map above, access to Lazarus Island is via a paved bridge.
|Paved Bridge in the distance|
|Lazarus Island on the opposite side|
Well, for sure we were not going to let a little sign deter us from stepping onto the island. LOL!
Even before reaching the beach, there was something completely different about the entire place. It could be due to the lack of buildings and vehicles that added a much needed tranquility to the surroundings, with the monkies pausing momentarily along the way to pick tiny casuarina fruits or poke at the leaves of the mimosa plant.
As we came to the end of the paved bridge, we caught sight of a stretch of beautiful rocky shore along Lazarus Island.
Amazing sight, no? We were rather awestruck by the turquoise waters, something that I have never imagined I would see in Singapore waters.
A stretch of beach (Beach 1 in the map above) then came into our view soon after we crossed the bridge. It is rather small, and not exactly the pristine white sand that I had envisioned it to be.
Ahh, but that was because the real gem lay further inwards. We continued on the pavement, and soon rows of palm trees greeted us.
We walked through that, and this was it.
An 800-metre stretch of beach paradise!
Yes, this natural sandy beach (Beach 2 in the map) is the most remarkable feature of Lazarus Island. Or I should say, it is the only feature of the island.
But no matter to the monkies, who were bent on testing out the waters the moment we laid down our bags.
If you are looking for crystal clear seawater to rival that of the Maldives or even Pulau Redang, then you can look away now. Granted that the water is not exactly what overseas beach resorts can offer but compared to the likes of East Coast Beach, Pasir Ris Beach or Sentosa Beaches, I have to say the seawater at Lazarus Island is as good as it gets.
Not that the monkies minded anyway, as the beach became their large playground for the next few hours.
Yes, for the next few hours.
I had originally thought that they would get bored with the beach after the 1-hour mark but guess how long we ended up staying on the beach? A good 2.5 hours!
And as you see from the photos, the beach was rather deserted. And this was on a Sunday. Except for a few private yachts and mainly foreign beach-goers, we practically had the entire beach to ourselves.
If you ask us, this beach is definitely attractive haven of peace. Besides being home to a beautiful sandy beache and inviting waters, Lazarus Island is a great spot for a laid-back escapade from the city hustle.
But hang on, we were not done with the island just yet.
A short walk further north will bring us to yet another island - Seringat Island. The southern end of this island merges with Lazarus Island and is mostly undeveloped. For now, that is. The island has been zoned for residential use under the Ministry of National Development's Land Use Plan so it may just be a matter of time before the rustic nature of the place is destroyed.
For now though, Seringat remains relatively isolated and tranquil... which made us plonk down our stuff and had an impromptu picnic right on the ground!
For a day's worth of off-the beaten-track kind of fun, Lazarus Island is truly one gem that offers a peaceful day getaway from the mainland. After all, how many such serene places can we still find in today's modern Singapore? The island boasts a pristine beach and scenic views, so I highly recommend a visit before the place loses itself to the effects of modernization.
Here are a few tips if you are planning a trip to Lazarus Island:
- There are no shops on St John, Lazarus and Seringat Islands. So do stock up on food and water before you depart Marina South Pier, where there is a small eatery and shop.
- Save for one pavilion, the beach at Lazarus island is not sheltered at all. So bring along plenty of sunblock and caps for a day out at the beach.
- There are no toilet or shower facilities at the beach. The nearest toilet facility is housed in a building next to the private jetty on Lazarus Island, which is a 5-minute walk away. There are toilets on St John's Island though.
- From the St John's Island jetty, it is approximately a 20-30 minute walk to the beach on Lazarus Island. So do buffer enough time when you are making your way back, or you might just miss your ferry!
How to get to Lazarus Island by FerrySingapore Island Cruise operates ferries from Marina South Pier to St John's and Kusu islands. Visit www.islandcruise.com.sg/ferry-schedule.html for the detailed ferry schedule. Prices for a two way trip are fixed at $18 for adults and $12 for children aged 1 to 12 years old. No advanced or prior bookings needed.
The ferry will head to St John's island first before going to Kusu Island. Journey from Marina South Pier to St John's island takes 30 minutes and 15 minutes from St John's to Kusu.
Singapore Island Cruise
#01-04 Marina South Pier
31 Marina Coastal Drive
Opening Hours: 8am - 4.45pm (Ticketing booth closes at 3pm daily)
Tel: 6534 9339