Get away from it all on a walking tour of the beautiful Southern Islands with sun, sea, sand and much more.
The ferries to the Southern Islands leave from Marina South Pier and take 20-30 minutes to reach St Johns and Lazarus Island. There’s an MRT stop right at the marina, on the red North-South Line.
Tips for Southern Islands Walking Tour
- Take a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, swimming costume and towel.
- Bring plenty of food and water, there is only one small drinks stand on Kusu Island and nothing else.
- Book a ferry in advance* to guarantee a spot at the weekend, or just turn up and book a ticket on the day of travel.
- The entire route is paved, so choose the right shoes.
- Offline maps app Maps.me works well for this hike.
- Check out other great hikes on our Singapore Hiking Page
Southern Islands Itinerary and Overview
The Southern Islands include Lazarus, St John’s, and Kusu Island. These three islands are served by two ferry companies and can be easily combined in a day trip. Lazarus and St John’s Island are actually connected by a bridge so you can easily walk between them.
Because of the way the ferries work, the best itinerary is to head first to St John’s Island, discover this and the connected Lazarus Island, and then take the ferry across to Kusu Island. From there return back to mainland Singapore.
Getting the Ferry to the Southern Islands
Ferries set off from Marina South Pier and head directly to St John’s Island. The ferries then go from St John’s to Kusu Island, before heading directly back to Marina South Pier. That’s why the best itinerary to visit the Southern Islands is to head for St John’s Island first and later take the short trip to Kusu Island.
The ferry ride between Marina South Pier and St John’s Island takes about 20 minutes. The trip between St John’s and Kusu Island is roughly 10 minutes and the trip back from Kusu Island takes 20 minutes. At the weekend and on public holidays there can be long queues for the ferries, but you will never get left behind overnight. The ferry companies lay on more ferries when it is busy so that everybody gets a ride.
There are two ferry companies and they are both very similar:
- Both $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and children under 12. Children 0-2 years are free.
- Tickets include Island Hopping from St Johns & Lazarus, to Kusu Island and back to mainland Singapore.
- First ferries leave around 8:30am, last ferries back around 6pm.
- Arrive ~20 minutes before boarding time.
- Book in advance to guarantee a spot at the weekend, or just turn up and book a ticket on the day of travel.
If you don’t want to worry about timings and ferry bookings, you can join a guided island hopping tour*. Or if you just want to sit back and really relax, laze on a yacht tour around the Southern Islands*.
Southern Islands Walking Tour Route
From the pier where the ferry arrives on St John’s Island, we immediately headed for the famous circular bay and sandy beach on Lazarus Island to get a good spot in the shade.
After you get off the ferry and leave the pier, head left along the water, then turn left again to cross the bridge to Lazarus Island. Continue around to the left on the large tarmac path. In a little while you’ll come to a junction with small concrete paths. You can see the ocean to your left, while the circular sandy beach is along the path to your right.
After walking through the trees, you’ll suddenly come out on the beach and see the sand to each side of you, with the lovely bay straight ahead. Early morning there are only a few boats here, but the bay gradually fills up with yachts visiting from mainland Singapore. On the edge of the beach, there are some lovely spots in the shade under large, overhanging trees. You have to get there early to grab them before other visitors looking to escape the sun.
The water is deliciously warm, and some of the cleanest water in Singapore so it’s the perfect time for a swim. Do check the water for jellyfish before you go in, though bear in mind they can be hard to spot. Stings do happen but are rare.
If you walk to the right-hand end of the beach it becomes quieter. You can take a small path through the jungle for views over Kusu Island and a section of natural coastline. Return along the path and you’ll reach the junction where you left to reach the beach.
Continue walking onwards to explore the far end of the island which includes an inland lagoon and great views over Singapore. This area is also known as Seringat Island, though it’s fully connected to Lazarus Island.
Take the first left to stay on the edge of the water and walk past the pier and the toilet block. Continue around the buildings and then left out onto a very flat and grassy promontory. At the far end of this sticking out bit you get the best views over Sentosa Island and the tall skyscrapers of central Singapore.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Brahminy Kites that can be seen soaring in the sky above. These birds of prey are chestnut brown with a white chest and head. From underneath, their body looks half white and half brown, with fully brown wings.
See Birds up Close with Binoculars
To see all the nice birds on this hike up close, get a decent pair of binoculars. I have had a pair of Bresser binoculars* for over 20 years now and they are pretty indestructible and work well. Another well-reviewed pair on Amazon are these Celestrons:
Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
Return from the promontory and head left to walk around the inland lagoon. Monitor lizards can be seen lurking in the bushes here. It’s an out-and-back trail as it ends at a waterway linking the lagoon to the ocean. There’s a nice viewpoint here both towards the ocean and Singapore on one side, and the jungle-surrounded inland lagoon on the other side.
Return back the way you came, and this time head around the other side of the lagoon. It’s also a dead-end, so return back when you like. Head towards the crescent-beach and over the bridge to St John’s Island.
St John’s Island
There are some historic buildings on this island and the National Marine Laboratory, so it feels less wild than Lazarus Island. In the late 1800s and early 1900s a quarantine station for cholera cases existed here. After large-scale immigration stopped around 1950, it became a centre to help drug addicts. You can still see several confinement sheds and sports facilities from the past.
At the mangroves just the other side of the bridge, we saw many little monkeys playing in the water, I didn’t know they were such good swimmers! Where the concrete path splits, head left to walk by the old buildings. Take a sharp left by a nice house and continue inland, through the grassy open spaces and jungle trees to the National Marine Laboratory.
Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery
This is a free gallery within the National Marine Laboratory. It’s open 10am-3:30pm and has exhibits about Singapore’s first marine park around Sisters’ Island (two small islands to the west of St Johns). It’s quite small and there are just information boards and a few corals to see, so it’s not a highlight but slightly interesting.
Return the way you came and this time keep left to reach St John’s Island Beach, just to the west of the boat pier. This is quite a nice beach and there are lots of trees just behind to provide shade. It’s a relaxing place to sit while waiting for the ferry across to Kusu Island.
St John’s Island to Kusu Island
Ferries leave every couple of hours from St John’s Island Pier. The trip takes about 10 minutes and you get good views of the ocean and all of the islands while onboard. You may have to queue for the ferry at busy times, but they lay on extra boats when there are many people so you will never have to wait for too long.
This is the most culturally interesting and smallest of the Southern Islands, so it doesn’t take long to walk around and tour the sites. There is a temple and a shrine here, one near the pier and one hidden in the jungle at the top of a hill. There are two large beaches here, each within lovely sheltered lagoons.
When you disembark from the ferry, you’ll see Kusu Island Chinese Temple on your right. You can visit inside and there is a small canteen selling ice-cold drinks.
Once you’ve visited this temple, head towards the hill in the centre of the island and climb to the top. After many steps, you’ll soon see the bright yellow buildings of Kusu Keramat. Like the Chinese temple below, this Chinese-Malay Shrine honours turtles, according to a legend that some local fishermen were saved from drowning by a turtle.
After visiting the cultural sites of Kusu Island, head around the hill to the Tortoise Sanctuary (these tortoises look quite sad) and beyond to the beach at the northern end of the island, not far from the ferry pier. This beach is similar to the southern beach but with views of downtown Singapore instead of views back across to Lazarus Island.
Enjoy your remaining time on the island before strolling over to the ferry pier to catch the boat back to mainland Singapore. This is the end of the Southern Islands Walking Tour.
Things to bring to the Southern Islands
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
FAQs for Southern Islands Walking Tour
To get to Lazarus Island and the Southern Islands, it’s a 30-minute ferry ride from Marina South Pier. There’s an MRT stop right at the marina, on the red North-South Line. There are two ferry companies (Marina South Ferries) and (Singapore Island Cruise), both with similar timetables and ticket prices. Book in advance to guarantee a spot at the weekend, or just turn up and book a ticket on the day of travel.
You can swim at Lazarus Island, St Johns Island and Kusu Island. There are nice beaches on all three islands, with Lazarus Island Beach perhaps the best and most picturesque. If you enter the water, do watch out for rare but sometimes present jellyfish.
Yes, you can camp on Lazarus Island by the large crescent beach. You must book in advance. If you want to stay overnight on the islands but don’t want to camp, you can book a bungalow on St Johns Island.
The Southern Islands are about 2 km south of Sentosa Island and 4 km off the south coast of Mainland Singapore. It’s a 30-minute ferry ride to get there from Marina South Pier.
You can book a bungalow on St Johns Island, but if you want to camp, you can only do so on the adjoining Lazarus Island.
Yes, dogs are allowed on the ferry across and on the island itself.
Lazarus Island is mainly natural, but land reclamation has increased its size and connected it to Pulau Seringat, which used to be a separate island but now is just known as part of Lazarus Island.
Lazarus Island is about 1km long and 400 metres wide, but you can’t visit the southern half. To walk along all the paths is roughly 6 km.
There are no F&B establishments of the Southern Islands apart from a cold drinks stand in the temple on Kusu Island. Bring all your own water and food for the day.
There are occasionally venomous jellyfish in the water around the Southern Islands. If you do get stung, wash the area with vinegar (or pee), but don’t try and remove the tentacles yourself.