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 10 lesser-known islands near Singapore that don’t require a trip to the airport.


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 6 of the ones that are more easily accessible from Singapore.


1. Cempedak Island – Adults-only villas, each with 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 villa
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 resort
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
ADDRESS
Air Gelubi, Bintan Pesisir, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.9
(180)
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 - Karimun Island 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 - Karimun Island 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
ADDRESS
Jl. Nusantara No.53, Tj. Balai Karimun, Kec. Karimun, Kabupaten Karimun, Kepulauan Riau 29661, Indonesia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4
(644)
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   


Telunas: Secret Maldives 2.5 Hours From Singapore
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Telunas: Secret Maldives 2.5 Hours From Singapore

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 $164/night.

islands near singapore - sugi island telunas resortsMaster 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 - sugi island telunas resorts paddle boardingImage 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$16.28) and paddle boards are Rp250,00/hour (~S$22.62).

Telunas Resorts
ADDRESS
Jl. Sudirman No.36, Kabil, Kecamatan Nongsa, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
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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
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 (from S$890) but that just means more time to try out the many activities here.

islands near singapore - nikoi island beachImage 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
ADDRESS
Nikoi Island, Teluk Bakau, Gunung Kijang, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Opening Hours:   Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.8
(48)

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. 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 - Pulau Joyo
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 - Pulau Joyo resort
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 - Pulau Joyo 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
ADDRESS
Pulau Suka, Pulau Bintan, Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.7
(54)
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


6. 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 - Pulau Pangkil Kecil

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 - Pulau Pangkil Kecil resort
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
ADDRESS
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.7
(64)

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.


7. 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 - Pulau Babi Besar 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
ADDRESS
Lot 33, 34 & 35, Pulau Besar (Johor) - Jeti Mersing (Johor), Pulau Babi Besar, 86800 Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 09:30-17:30  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.1
(228)
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


8. 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 coral reef
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 RM1,448/room (~S$421.78) 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
ADDRESS
Lot 52, Lang Tengah Island, 21300, Terengganu, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.3
(435)
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


9. 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 resort 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
ADDRESS
Rawa Island, 86800 Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 08:30-17:00  Show More Timings 
GOOGLE REVIEWS
4.7
(900)
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


10. 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 snorkelling
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.

Ac Dayang Island Resort
ADDRESS
112, Jalan Pinang 23, Taman Daya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Tuesday 00:00-00:00  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


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 have 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’s 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 Pat Yuan Teng on 11th June 2023.

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