St John's Island
This 39-hectare island has holiday bungalows and is a haven for flora,the Tropical Marine Science Institute and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore's Marine Aquaculture Centre.
Tickets can be bought at Marina South Pier, Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services Pte Ltd or online at http://www.islandcruise.com.sg/
I spent an afternoon walking around the long stretch of beach, and it was extremely calming and peaceful. There were many groups of friends there playing ball games, having barbeques or just chilling underthe shady palm trees.
Other than the pristine sandy beaches and lush greenery, I noticed that there were holiday bungalows located further in, and found out that these bungalows are available to visitors for overnight stays. Am going to try and book one of the bungalows the next time I visit St John's island with my friends.
Catch the ferry from the Marina Bay Terminal. Weekdays, it leaves at 10 and returns at 3, via Pulau Kusu, where (on the return journey) the ferry stops for an hour to allow you to wander round that fascinating turtle temple island. St John’s Island itself, the old quarantine and detention camp, suffers from Singapore's fascination with fences to keep people out, but it is still a wonderful place. What are they fencing in? A Marine research facility, the old quarantine blocks, an old guest house on top of one of the hills and a few other historical derelictions that normal people are no longer allowed to enjoy.
Moving on form the churlish, the beach where you land is great for a quiet swim. The picnic areas are a delight. With luck you can even get through the perimeter fence (the gate is usually open) and wander through the old camps. You can even book them for a group stay! That would be fun, as long as you take your own supplies: there are no shops or canteens or anything here.
So bring everything you need. Then spend the day swimming or wander around the three islands, all of which are connected by causeways or joined by landfill: St. John, Lazarus and Seringal.
Numerous paths and tracks wander all over the islands, and they are a pleasant change for those who like a tree covered, tree lined walk, though Seringal suffers from less tree cover than the other two islands... Then sit and wait for the ferry by the lovely beach and look back at Singapore shimmering on the skyline.
Saint John's Island was formerly a quarantine station associated with the mass immigration into Singapore in the early days and for screening pilgrims returning from Mecca. It was also used as an isolation facility for those suffering from various diseases like cholera and beri-beri, and as a drug rehabilitation centre and penal settlement. So it has quite a history.
The swimming is great. There are even some reefs but I can’t comment on how abundant they are. Maybe the fact that there is a marine research centre on the island (off limits) means that there is some life! What it does offer is a tranquil traffic free paradise with swimming lagoons, beaches, picnic grounds, walking tracks and sports grounds. Just rest on the beach and relax. But watch your mobile phone! It tends to switch to Indosat!
I plan to go back with a group and book the old commandant's residence for a quiet weekend. The ferries on weekends and public holidays are more frequent, so for a side trip that is different, this island is well worth the visit for a step out and a step back in time...