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11 Lesser-Known Islands Near Singapore Which Don’t Require A Plane To Get To

Lesser-known islands near Singapore

Singapore has its fair share of offshore islands, if you’re looking for an “overseas” trip without the need to bring your passport. But these places won’t cut it if you’re looking to really get away from the city.

Luckily for us, Singapore is slap bang in the middle of some of the most beautiful beach paradises in the world – many of which you don’t even need to step on a plane to reach. Here are some lesser-known islands near Singapore that don’t require a trip to the airport.

What should I prepare when going to an island for a short getaway?

Before you have some fun under the sun, there’s going to be some things that you need to prepare. In terms of outfits, we’d recommend something that’s suitable for outdoor activities and tropical weather. If you’re concerned about being sunburnt, we’d recommend getting sun protection sleeves that are breathable, allowing you to stay cool and protected.

When planning your trip, make sure to avoid the monsoon season and before heading out, it’s good practice to check the weather beforehand. If you are thinking of engaging in sea sports like surfing or snorkelling, be sure to check the tide levels on the day of your trip.

Most importantly, book your ferry in advance and check that you have your tickets and passport with you before you leave your house.

Psst. Make sure that all the particulars on your ticket are correct too. We don’t want a case of arriving at the ferry terminal on a Sunday when you should be there on a Saturday.

If you have no idea what to pack, we’ve curated a small checklist that might be useful to bring along:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water Bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip flops
  • Plastic bags (to store soiled clothes or litter)
  • Snacks
  • Mini fan
  • Wet and dry tissues
  • Umbrella
  • Beach towel or mat

– Indonesia –

For a quick trip to Indonesia, Bintan, and Batam are popular beach spots which you can easily access with a 2-hour boat ride. But these 2 resort isles aren’t the only places to experience island living, especially since 17,500 islands make up the archipelago. We’ve shortlisted the ones that are more easily accessible from Singapore.

1. Cempedak Island

Adults-only villas, each with a private pool

islands near singapore cempedak island
Image credit: @cempedakisland via Instagram

Cempedak Island may be named after a fruit, but you won’t find jackfruits scattered everywhere. Instead, the island boasts preserved rainforests where you can encounter native and endangered animals such as hornbills, eagles, and pangolins.

islands near singapore cempedak island view
Imagine waking up to this view every morning. Such goals.
Image credit: @cempedakisland via Instagram

This private island is a dream come true for those who really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, since access to the island is only available through booking 1 of the villas here.

All you’ll have to contend with is your bamboo villa that is furnished with modern comforts such as plush beds and ensuite bathrooms. You won’t even have to interact with fellow vacationers if you don’t want to, since the villas come with their own pool and direct beach access.

islands near singapore cempedak island greenery
Image credit: @cempedakisland via Instagram

When you’re on such a luxe vacation, the last thing you’d want are kids interrupting your serenity. Fret not, as children aren’t allowed on this island. Although, if you’ve left your youngins behind for couple’s time, the villas all have steady Wi-Fi so you can video call home.

iPads are also provided in each villa, which you’ll also use to communicate with the resort’s host whenever assistance is needed.

Cempedak Island
Google Reviews
Air Gelubi, Bintan Pesisir, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Book your own ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani. A host will take you from the pier to Cempedak Island via speedboat.

Travel time: 2.5 hours

2. Karimun Island

Bintan alternative with affordable fresh seafood

When it comes to quick vacays for long weekends, the resorts at Bintan are usually a top choice that come to mind. But here’s an alternative to the popular island getaway if you want a little more breathing room from the crowds: Karimun Island.

islands near singapore karimun island
Palawan Beach is known locally as Pantai Pelawan Karimun.
Image credit: @nurulhmidh via Instagram

Like Bintan and most other islands in the area, you’ll get a healthy dose of sun, sand, and sea at any of Karimun Island’s 3 beaches. Go further inland, however, and you’ll be met with nature spots such as Pongkar Waterfall, which runs into a man-made swimming pool you can take a refreshing dip in.

islands near singapore mount jantan
Peak of Mount Jantan.
Image credit: @afrzl_l via Instagram

There’s also Mount Jantan, near the north of the island that you can hike up. It’s a fairly effortless climb, taking about 90 minutes to reach the peak for panoramic views of the beach and nearby islands.

islands near singapore hotel maximillian
Hotel Maximillian.
Image credit: Hotel Maximillian

Staying overnight is possible on Karimun Island, although you shouldn’t expect 5-star resorts. Accommodation is comfy at the very least at Hotel Maximillian. If you don’t feel like stepping out of the hotel at all, this place has an indoor swimming pool, karaoke room, spa, and salon for you to nua at.

Hotel Maximilian
Google Reviews
Jl. Nusantara No.53, Tj. Balai Karimun, Kec. Karimun, Kabupaten Karimun, Kepulauan Riau 29661, Indonesia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Ferries are available on even dates from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Balai Ferry Terminal.

Travel Time: 2 hours

Book a round-trip ferry ticket to Tanjung Balai terminal (S$98).

3. Sugi Island

An aircon-less experience on stilts  

Sugi Island is a little further south than Batam, but with white sand beaches as far as the eye can see, you’ll think you’re in the middle of your own little paradise.

islands near singapore sugi island

For such a large Island, there’s only one main accommodation site – Telunas Resorts. On their main resort you can either go for the cheaper Overwater Rooms, or the more luxurious Bungalows. These are larger and some include a private balcony, starting from $129.78/night.

islands near singapore master bedroom overwater villas
Master Bedroom Overwater Villas on Teluna private island.

Image credit: Teluna Resorts

Where every building in Singapore is air-conditioned, it almost seems bonkers to pay to stay in a resort without what is pretty much a basic necessity. But don’t knock it till you try it – each room has large windows and powerful ceiling fans to circulate air, so you’re kept nice and cool. “Still hot leh,” you say? Maybe the freshwater infinity pool might change your mind.

islands near singapore telunas resorts
Image credit: @telunas_resorts via Instagram

In case you fancy exploring the paradise that you’re in, you can either take a boat ride or kayak through the nearby mangrove swamps, embrace the Indiana Jones within and explore the island past the beach and pool.

These activities are free for guests staying on the private island. For those staying at the beach resort, kayaks are from Rp180,000/hour (~S$15.41) and paddle boards are Rp250,00/hour (~S$21.41).

Telunas Resorts
Google Reviews
Jl. Sudirman No.36, Kabil, Kecamatan Nongsa, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings

Getting there: Catch a ferry from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal to Sekupang in Batam. A host from Telunas will pick you up via fishing boat to the resort.

Travel Time: Under 3 hours

4. Nikoi Island

A deserted paradise with water & adventure sports 

islands near singapore Nikoi Island overview
Image credit: @nikoiisland via Instagram

Nikoi Island is one of those where you feel as if you’re on your very own film set. It’s a tiny private island with only 1 hotel, and the beaches look as if Leo DiCaprio would stroll down at any moment, The Beach style.

islands near singapore nikoi island villa
Image credit: @nikoiisland via Instagram

The 15-hectare island has 18 2-storey villas so the whole family has space to sprawl out wherever they want. You’ll need to book a minimum stay of 2 nights but that just means more time to try out the many activities here.

islands near singapore nikoi island
Image credit: @nikoiisland via Instagram

Go swimming in the 2 pools or take a guided walk around the island to get to know some of the native flora and fauna that can be found here. There are even activities for little ones you can book via the kids club. The staff will keep them busy hunting for treasure, exploring tree huts, and swinging on Tarzan ropes.

Nikoi Island
Google Reviews
Nikoi Island, Teluk Bakau, Gunung Kijang, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia

Getting there: Take a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bintan Ferry Terminal. A Nikoi staff member will then take you the rest of the way.

Travel Time: 2.5 hours

5. Ranoh Island

Dry & wet activities

islands near singapore ranoh island
Image adapted from: @ranohisland via Instagram

Whether you’re looking for some fun under the sun or a place to just relax and unwind, Ranoh Island offers the best of both worlds. Here’s where you can enjoy an extensive range of activities from beachside games such as frisbee and volleyball to water activities such as ocean rafting and canoeing.

islands near singapore ranoh island activities
Image adapted from: @ranohisland via Instagram

Marine life enthusiasts will be happy to know that they’ll get the chance to see some of the best-preserved coral reefs in the South China Sea when snorkelling at Ranoh Island. There isn’t any internet connection here, which really forces you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with Mother Nature – a great way to rejuvenate, if you ask us.

Getting to Ranoh Island starts with a 40-minute ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Batam Centre Ferry Terminal. Upon arrival, you’ll need to take a taxi to Galang Terminal – which would take approximately an hour – before boarding a 15-minute speedboat to get to Ranoh Island.

Book a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Batam Centre Ferry Terminal.

Ranoh Island Resort
Google Reviews
H64J+QP4 Near Abang-besar Island, Pulau Abang, Galang, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

6. Pulau Joyo

Bonfire gatherings on an empty beach   

Another secret paradise found south of Bintan and Batam is Pulau Joyo, a private island home to Joyo Resort.

islands near singapore joyo resort
Image credit: Joyo Resort

Joyo focuses on staying true to Indonesian tradition and architecture, which means lots of bamboo and natural wood furnishings. Don’t think this means you’ll be living in simple, thatched huts though. Joyo calls their villas “palaces”, and rightfully so, when each one can easily accommodate 4 adults each.

islands near singapore joyo resort outdoors
Image credit: Joyo Resort

As tempting as it is to stay in your palace all day, it’s worth checking out the activities the resort offers. There are the usual water sports such as kayaking and snorkelling available for free to all guests.

islands near singapore bonfire
Image credit: Joyo Resort

But for a unique experience you can gloat about to your friends back home, you can book a private bonfire dinner on the beach for you to enjoy the crashing waves at night. Then, stay up for a while longer and look up. Since the resort is far from cities, there’s almost no light pollution, which means viewing galaxies of stars is possible on this island.

Joyo Resort
Google Reviews
Pulau Suka, Pulau Bintan, Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Take a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pinang. The resort will arrange for speedboat transfer to the island.

Travel Time: 3 hours

7. Pulau Pangkil Kecil

An entire tropical island at your disposal

Pulau Pangkil Kecil is where you’ll want to head to if you and your friends have ever daydreamed about a Crazy Rich Asians-esque island vacation.

islands near singapore pangkil island resort
Image credit: Pangkil Island Resort via Facebook

Picture this: you have a team of staff members at your beck and call. Plus, all the facilities and island activities such as the kayaks, indoor movie theatre, pool, and bar are yours for the taking – well, at least until you check out.

islands near singapore Pangkil Island Resort room
Image credit: Pangkil Island Resort via Facebook

Paradise does come with a price tag, but its S$370/night fee includes your roundtrip ticket from Bintan Ferry Terminal to the island, as well as 3 meals a day, full use of the island’s resources, and nightly bonfires on the beach. It’s a relatively small price to pay to have your own island playground.

Pulau Pangkil Private Island Resort
Google Reviews
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings

Getting there: Take a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pinang. The resort will arrange for bus transport to Pama Jetty, then speedboat to Pangkil.

Travel Time: 3 hours

– Malaysia –

Think beaches in Malaysia and maybe Tioman or Langkawi will come to mind. But you’d be surprised that there are a number of lesser-known beaches here that don’t see a lot of tourists. For your next long weekend, skip the 5-hour queue into JB and relish in a lush island getaway instead.

8. Pulau Babi Besar

Fewer than 200 tourists a year

islands near singapore Pulau Babi Besar
Image credit: @danisyahany via Instagram

Regular divers might already know about Pulau Babi Besar, an island just off the coast of Mersing. It’s a diving hidden gem, thanks to the abundant variety of sea creatures that live in the waters off the island. But apart from divers, the island has managed to stay relatively unknown with fewer than 200 tourists visiting each year.

islands near singapore aseania beach resort
Aseania Beach Resort.
Image credit: @footprinttravels.malaysia via Instagram

Water activities such as diving and snorkelling are practically a must here. But those who just want to chill by the beach with a cocktail in hand can do so by all means at the resorts around. Aseania Beach Resort is one such hotel on the island that offers direct access to the beach.

If you’re itching to explore the place, they can also arrange activities such as jungle trekking and island hopping in the vicinity.

Aseania Beach Resort Pulau Besar
Google Reviews
Lot 33, 34 & 35, Pulau Besar (Johor) - Jeti Mersing (Johor), Pulau Babi Besar, 86800 Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Get to Tanjung Leman or Mersing on the east coast of Malaysia, then either independently charter a boat or book one through the hotel that will take you to the island itself.

Travel Time: 4 hours

9. Pulau Lang Tengah

A marine sanctuary waiting to be discovered  

islands near singapore Pulau Lang Tengah
Image credit: @flaviamoriconi via Instagram

If you fancy staying somewhere that’s also home to some of the most beautiful wildlife in the world, Lang Tengah is definitely worth a thought. Not only will you be staying on an island with an untouched tropical jungle, but the nearby coral reefs are full of tropical fish and rays.

Plus, if you need any more convincing, from April to October, the island is full of nesting sea turtles that return to lay their eggs.

islands near singapore Pulau Lang Tengah corals
Image credit: @nicksonleow via Instagram

There are only 3 resorts on the island, each with their own slice of beach, meaning that the beaches will never be packed with too many tourists. One of the biggest is Summer Bay Resort, which has all-inclusive packages starting from RM1,080/room (~S$307.06) for a 3D2N stay.

All meals are provided, including roundtrip land and boat transfers from Kuala Terengganu and the Merang Jetty. The stay also comes with snorkelling gear that you can use on your included turtle snorkelling trips, as well as a trek into Lang Tengah Jungle with a guide.

Summer Bay Lang Tengah Island Resort
Google Reviews
Lot 52, Lang Tengah Island, 21300, Terengganu, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Drive or take a bus to Kuala Terengganu. The resorts will provide transport the rest of the way.

Travel Time: 8 hours

10. Rawa Island

White sands & turquoise waters at your front door

islands near singapore Rawa Island
Image credit: @erwan56 via Instagram

No Photoshopping or filters needed when you visit Rawa Island; what you see is really what you get. It’s a tiny island with just 1 hotel – Rawa Island Resort.

islands near singapore Rawa Island slides
There is a swirly slide at the resort. Remember to catch a glimpse of the view from above before you take the ride down.
Image credit: @rawaislandresort via Instagram

This isn’t the most modern or activity-filled spot, but there’s a massive jetty with slides to jump off from, a volleyball net on the beach, and if you’re adventurous enough then you can jump off the rocky cliff side.

Rawa Island Resort
Google Reviews
Rawa Island, 86800 Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Saturday 08:30 AM - 05:00 PM Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Drive up to Mersing by car or bus. The resort will arrange for a speedboat to bring you to the island itself.

Travel Time: 4 hours

11. Pulau Dayang

Scuba haven with whale sharks & shipwrecks

islands near singapore Pulau Dayang
Image credit: Dayang Island via Facebook

Pulau Dayang is different from the other destinations on this list for one main reason. While many people go on holiday to relax, drink cocktails on the beach, and eat a little too much, Dayang is a place mainly known as a prime scuba diving destination. Divers often spot whale sharks, plus there are shipwrecks that are great for exploring.

islands near singapore Pulau Dayang underwater
Image credit: Dayang Island via Facebook

The only downside is that it takes about 8 hours to get here, but seeing the underwater photos from divers will make you realise that it’s worth the long travel time.

You’ll need to book directly from AC Dayang Island Resort to go on this vacay. From RM900 (~S$263.95) per pax, a 3D2N trip will include ferry transfers to and from Mersing jetty, your meals, accommodation, and the activities on the island.

You get to choose between a 3D2N stay from RM1,200 (~S$341.17) or a 4D3N stay from RM1,500 (~S$426.47) on their website. Both packages offer 2-way transfers, meals, accommodation, and activities. However, you’re encouraged to contact them for more details on their packages, prices, and what they have to offer.

Ac Dayang Island Resort
112, Jalan Pinang 23, Taman Daya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings

Getting there: Make your way to Mersing jetty by car, before catching the ferry to the island arranged by the resort.

Travel Time: 6-8 hours

Bonus: Pangkor Laut Island

Luxurious resort experience filled with activities that’d cater to all personalities

islands near singapore Pangkor Laut Island
Image adapted from: @pangkorlautresort via Instagram

Crystal-clear waters, golden sand, and palm trees swaying in the breeze – these are some of the things that pop into our head when we think of the perfect beach island. If that has been what you’ve been manifesting, we’re glad to let you know that Pulau Pangkor Laut – a private island in Malacca – is waiting for you.

If you’re planning a visit, we recommend checking out Pangkor Laut Resort which takes up 1.2sqkm of the island itself.

islands near singapore Pangkor Laut Island activities and food
Image adapted from: @pangkorlautresort via Instagram

The resort allows you to participate in a variety of activities – whether it’s yoga, jungle trekking, or kayaking. When it comes to food, you have plenty of options too, as they offer 6 different cuisines for you to choose from.

Getting to Pangkor Laut Island might be a little trickier, as you’d need to fly to Ipoh first. However, driving to Ipoh is an option as well if you’d like to skip the whole flying part of your mini getaway. Upon arriving at Ipoh, you’ll need to take a 1.5-hour drive to Marina Island Pangkor before hopping on a quick 15-minute ferry to Pangkor Laut Resort.

Google Reviews
Pangkor Laut Island Pangkor Laut, 32200 Lumut, Perak, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Saturday Open 24 Hours Show More Timings
Contact Information

How many islands are there in Singapore?

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore is known as a “sunny, tropical island.” Little did you know that Singapore actually comprises 63 other islands.

The ones that you’ll most probably be the most familiar with are Sentosa, Pulau Ubin, Lazarus Island, and Pulau Tekong. So, if you haven’t even explored these islands, then you can start here too before scooting off to neighbouring countries.

Lesser-known islands near Singapore

Sure you may have been to Bintan before and you know that Phuket is always a safe option, but what fun is it when we have all these amazing destinations nearby, so close you don’t even need a plane? Most of them are also relatively undiscovered, so be that person who went there first and has the long weekend of a lifetime to prove it.

Whether it’s with your friend, partner, or a treat for your parents, the choice is huge and the prices are cheap. With golden sandy beaches waiting for you, there’s never been a better time to go and discover your favourite local island.

Explore more places that are within reach without a plane ride:

Cover image adapted from: @cempedakisland & @danisyahany via Instagram
Originally published by Lydia Hunter on 15th March 2016. Last updated by Gracelyn Lim on 15th March 2023.