Singapore’s Best Kept Secret – Lazarus Island

March 30th, 2014

Date of Exploration : 9 Mar 2014

Translucent turquoise waters, inviting foamy surf and an unspoilt powdery beach… I’ve never dreamed of using those adjectives on Singapore’s beaches but a virgin trip to Lazarus Island had filled my vocabulary with praises for this little known piece of paradise!

Singapore is a nation of beach lovers starved of charming coast to chill. Not anymore. Lazarus Island has all the makings of a lost beach Eden that can rival some of the most popular beaches around Asia. The only thing missing is a so-spectacular-you-want-to-cry sunset view that would be the icing on this most handsome beach of our tiny red dot.

Exploring the beach of Lazarus Island for the first time and I liked what I saw.

While the seawater here is not crystal clear and the absence of marine life won’t delight snorkel fans, the island’s pristine coastline trumps that of East Coast Park, West Coast Park, Pasir Ris and the highly commercialised Sentosa beaches.

The appeal of Lazarus beach lies in its underdevelopment and anonymity. For now. So before the island gets turned into another money-maker with hordes of beach-goers jostling for space, hop over to this best kept secret of Singapore beaches and have your Blue Lagoon moment under the tropical sun!

Getting to Lazarus Island

Lazarus Island is part of a group of 8 islets collectively known as Singapore’s Southern Islands which include Sentosa, St. John’s Island, Kusu Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Tekukor and the two Sisters’ Islands.

Currently, there are no direct ferries to Lazarus Island and getting there involves either chartering a private yacht (costing quite a bit for half a day) or taking a ferry to St. John’s Island and walking over to Lazarus via a link bridge. The ferry serving St. John’s Island can be boarded at Marina South Pier. You can get to the pier either by taxi or public transport.

Here’s how to visit Lazarus on a budget…

1. Take the MRT to Marina Bay Station and use Exit B.

2. Go to the bus-stop (no. 03531) near the exit and take bus no. 402. The bus operates at a frequency of between 15 – 25 minutes depending on time of day. Check the bus’ schedule here. It’s 2 stops from Marina Bay MRT Station to Marina South Pier.

3. At Marina South Pier, look for the Singapore Island Cruise and Services counter (pictured below). A round-trip ferry ticket to St. John’s Island then to Kusu Island and back to mainland costs S$18 (adult) and S$12 (child). Check the ferry’s schedule here.

Marina South Pier… The orange stand is the Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services counter. No pre-booking or reservations of tickets allowed so you’ll have to purchase on the spot. We arrived at 10.30am to board the 11:00am ferry.

Pictured is the ferry that took us to St. John’s Island, Kusu Island, and back to mainland. There are toilets onboard and it takes 30 minutes from the pier to St. John’s Island.

Tips when visiting :

– It is best to visit the islands on Sundays and public holidays as the ferry service operates till later compared to other days.

– Stock up on drinks and food before going as there are no shops on St. John’s and Lazarus Island. There’s a provision shop and small eatery at Marina South Pier where you can purchase supplies and pack meals.


Singapore Maritime Gallery

If you arrive early at Marina South Pier and have time to spare, check out the cool Singapore Maritime Gallery on level 2. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00am to 5:30pm. Admission is FREE.

I love the creative conversion of ‘A’ in Singapore into a directional arrow. The gallery features some pretty cool exhibits although I felt rather overpowered by the amount of information to read.

The innovative staging that featured containers, crates, oceanic waves and textures added life to a subject matter that doesn’t have a natural audience. In addition to static ship model displays, there are also a couple of experiential exhibits where you can pretend to be a cargo controller at the maritime command center.

St. John’s Island

A former island used to quarantine population with infectious diseases such as cholera, beri-beri and leprosy in the late 19th century, Saint John’s Island was converted into a jail and drug rehab centre during the middle of the 20th century. Today, the island offers refuge from Singapore’s hyper urbanity with tranquil greens for picnic or a frolic in its saltwater lagoons.

The last time I stepped on St. John’s Island, I was listening to a cassette of Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue album in a walkman. That’s a loooog time ago! 

From St John’s Island’s jetty, turn left to Lazarus Island. If you turn right, you’ll head towards the lodges and lagoon of St John’s Island. As Lazarus Island is still not ready to receive visitors, there are no directional signs pointing the way at the moment.

Facing the end of the jetty were remnant fences and structures of St John’s sentinel past. Instead of heading straight to Lazarus, we couldn’t resist snapping the peculiars at our docking island. 

Thought the perspective would make for an ‘artful’ shot so got Siow Har to lie down on the ground for this pic…

… we were actually cam whoring at the ex-prison’s toilet! LOL.

On foot to Lazarus Island, we passed by this piece of heavy machinery and decided to pose as Tractor Trash.
Low tide at St. John’s Island exposes a mess network of sculptural mangrove roots that made for an interesting backdrop for narcissicsm. This photo brought 3 letters to mind… C. M. I.

Lots of cats lounging on St John’s. If you have food in hand, you’ll find fast feline friends. Okay, this cat was obviously not into pork coz it ignored me.

View of Lazarus Island from St John’s Island. The two islands are linked by a bridge (mid right of the photo behind the breakwater).

Toeing the breakwater for a shot…

… of Singapore’s commercial skyline.

Bridge to Lazarus Island from St John’s Island.

Lazarus Island

Sandwiched between St John’s Island and Kusu Island, Lazarus Island is also linked at one end to Pulau Seringat. Recreational developments are currently underway by Sentosa Leisure Group to possibly turn Lazarus into a resort.

Camping is not allowed on St John’s, Lazarus or Kusu islands and the islands are fast becoming favourite spots for anglers to hook up fresh catch such as selars, tambans, groupers, squids, etc.

Upon stepping on Lazarus Island, we saw this tiny stretch of beach. We weren’t impressed. And disappointed that we made the effort to see something this nondescript.

Dismayed that Lazarus Island had nothing more than a puny coast of sand, we decided to settle for a picnic in front of the beach, unglamorously next to a construction site.

After some food, we decided to explore more of Lazarus Island and were faced with devastations of the recent drought. For the first time in more than 150 years, rain hadn’t fall for over 2 months in our rainforest climate.

Our aimless wander brought us to the other side of Lazarus Island. The side that took our breath away. It was one of those eureka moments!

Compared to all the beaches in Singapore, Lazarus Island has the most gorgeous beach I’ve ever seen locally. I couldn’t believe I’m in Singapore!

The beach is unknown and undeveloped so visitors are few and it is devoid of amenities. Except for a few private yachts and beachgoers, the beach was practically empty. And surprisingly, most of the visitors seemed to be non-Singaporeans. Such an irony that foreigners know better than the locals to sniff out such a hidden gem.

Totally loving it here with the clean and green waters! Better come soon before it gets populated. My only grouse was that although human presence was minimal, flotsam and jetsam weren’t scarce. I cleared out a square of drift-wood with rusty nails, styrofoam meal boxes and an empty water bottle with cigarette butts in them from the sea and beach. 

I’m not trying to interview for a job with NEA (National Environment Agency) but I hate to see such a beautiful place marred by inconsiderate litter. If you visit, please keep the place clean as no one picks up after you since the island is kind of ulu.

Kusu Island

The last stop of our three-island excursion ended at Kusu Island. If you do not wish to visit Kusu, don’t get off the boat and take it back to mainland.

According to legend, a tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors – one Malay and a Chinese. That’s why this island is affectionately known as Tortoise / Turtle Island and there’s a Chinese temple (大伯公) as well as Muslim shrine on it.

Trees on Kusu Island were not spared the effects of the drought.

Religious harmony… a Catholic umbrella sheltering a Taoist altar at a Muslim Shrine. Only in Singapore!

Three Malay kramats (holy shrine) sit at the top of a jagged low hill at Kusu Island.

Glad for a wonderful exploration of Singapore’s little known Southern Islands! If the lobster red of Jeffrey, our friend visiting from Hawaii was any indication, sunblock is a must and love for adventure is a plus!

Maritime Sunset

Back at Marina South Pier, our haste to find comfort after a long day was postponed by the beautiful sun setting over PSA (Port of Singapore Authority). On your return from visiting the Southern Islands in the evening, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Head up to the rooftop of Marina South Pier and take in the sunset view.

The rooftop on level 3 of Marina South Pier offers a 360-degree lookout of the surrounding.

6:45pm… I’d seen many breathtaking sunsets over beaches but this unobstructed appreciation of an urban sunset over our port was an equal spectacle in wonder and grandeur!

I’ve read about Lazarus Island for quite some time and finally got to check out the place for myself. Personally, I think it was well worth the effort to visit and get lost in one of those last few deserted spots left in Singapore.

I truly enjoyed this hard-to-come-by pristine stretch of shoreline and urge you to contribute towards its conservation by keeping it clean when you visit. Happy splashing!

For more travel stories and adventures, please visit Explore Life Lah!

Posted in Get in2it with SAFRA! | 42 Comments | by

42 responses

  • 1 SengkangBabies // Mar 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Nice writeup, really a jem.
    But a pity the foliage is less green now.

    May I know whether there are any toilet/shower facilities on Lazarus Island?

    cheers, Andy
    SengkangBabies

  • 2 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 2:53 am

    hi andy… thanks for dropping by. there are currently no toilets/shower facilities on Lazarus Island. you have to walk over to St. John’s Island for sanitary amenities.

    regards
    darren

  • 3 Yappy // Mar 31, 2014 at 4:19 am

    It was mentioned that “Lazarus Island is also linked at one end to Pulau Seringat” – Just curious if there is anything worth exploring at P.Seringat? Thanks!

  • 4 Mr Lazarus // Mar 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Soon it will just be another overcrowded beach thanks to you.

  • 5 Ann // Mar 31, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hi there! Are we allowed to bring dogs on the ferry to the island?

  • 6 Sufiah Hamzah // Mar 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

    would love to take my family there! I would like to know if there is a wee bit of waves for my husband to surf?? If there is, we will bring our surfboards..

  • 7 YOLO // Mar 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Anyone wanna turn Lazarus Island into a nudist beach?

  • 8 Jyanzi // Mar 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for all the pics . Being there with my own boat from mid ’80s to 2000 now and then. Since then boat is being relocated to jb river due to urbanization. Glad to know one can actually go there by ferry. The bridge is entirely new for me. It definitely brought back fine memories as Lazarus was “our” secret private destination. The water looks cleaner due to less sea reclaimation?

  • 9 Lawrence // Mar 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Hi! Great sharing! Just one question…. Any sandflies over at Lazarus Island? They usually hide in the sand of beaches with few visitors….

  • 10 Mieun // Mar 31, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    WOW, Thanks!! Love the post!

  • 11 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    thanks Mieun! 🙂

  • 12 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    hi Lawrence… I was in the water most of the time and spent only a brief time on shore. didn’t get bothered by sand flies. then again. it could be me. sandflies don’t like junk food.

  • 13 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    hi jyanzi… sounds like u cruised down fond memories of lazarus. I think the seawater is clean and clear due to ocean currents.

  • 14 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    hi Yappy… I didn’t manage to explore Pulau Seringat so I have no idea. go and check it out! 🙂

  • 15 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    hi Ann… unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the ferry.

  • 16 Darren // Mar 31, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    hi Sufiah… I saw some people bringing surf boards so I guess you can probably not surf, but glide the waves.

  • 17 Darren // Apr 1, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Mr Lazarus… you are welcome. I believe in sharing good things.

  • 18 Rully // Apr 1, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Hi Darren, by any chance, are there any rental of bicycles like those at Ubin?

  • 19 Darren // Apr 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

    hi Rully… there are lots of bike rentals at Pulau Ubin but none on St. John’s or Lazarus Island. I’ve seen some people cycle on Lazarus but apparently, they are park rangers. I don’t think you can bring your own bike either as the ferry service doesn’t seem to allow it.

  • 20 Adam Akim // Apr 1, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I was born in the 1950 in st johns island. Live in st johns until 1970

  • 21 Skipper // Apr 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Great write-up! My family and friends have been there a couple of times for boat BBQ and swimming. I have captured many great memories of our trips there and these can be seen on my website at http://www.Tempest44.com. I hope that those who visit the place will help to keep it clean to protect the waters and environment there for all to appreciate and enjoy.

  • 22 Jonathan Lee // Apr 8, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Dude, you are fat. 🙂

  • 23 Pat // Apr 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Pls help to keep Lazarus Island as natural as possible for all to enjoy. I would love everyone not to leave rubbish laying around.

  • 24 wksoh // Apr 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Excellent write and great artistic photos…!!

  • 25 fordsterrr // Apr 28, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Awesome write-up! Didn’t know such a place still existed near our sunny island Singapore. Are we allowed to pitch tents there and stay overnight on these islands?

  • 26 Darren // Apr 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Fordsterrr… thanks for reading 🙂 Camping is currently not allowed on the islands. Staying overnight is possible only on St John’s Island as there are chalets available for rent.
    Regards
    Darren

  • 27 Darren // Apr 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you wksoh 🙂

  • 28 Darren // Apr 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I share your call to keep Lazarus Island litter-free Pat.

  • 29 Darren // Apr 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Jonathan… dude, call this number -> 6227 7255 🙂

  • 30 Kara // May 13, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Hi, I would just like to ask how you go to the other side of Lazarus island? You mentioned the first part you saw wasn’t good. From the ferry, just turn left and go straight?

  • 31 ky // May 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Hi, great post!
    May I ask how long is the walk from St. John’s Island to the lovely beach @ Lazarus Island, a rough estimate is good enough … kids need to know how long more to walk :>

  • 32 Darren // May 25, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    hi ky… thanks for reading. the walk from St John’s Island to the beach at Lazarus Island should take about 15 – 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. hope this helps and enjoy your visit!
    regards
    darren

  • 33 Darren // May 25, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    hi kara… there is basically just one road that leads from St John’s Island to Lazarus Island. Follow this road, pass the first beach on Lazarus Island that faces the pier, and you’ll pass a foresty area. Walk slightly further and you’ll see the other side of Lazarus Island where the nice beach is.

    Hope this helps and enjoy your visit!

    regards
    darren

  • 34 Reni // Jun 10, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Hi there!! Thank you for your informative post! I have a few qtsn to inquire you. Did you spend just 1 day to visit all the places u mentioned? I see that u took the sunset pic at 6.45 pm. But when I checked the ferry time, the last one is at 6.15. Please help to enlighten me a little hehehe as I wish to visit there very soon

  • 35 Miko // Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Is fishing allowed at both of the island?

  • 36 Anonymous // Jun 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    “The innovative staging that featured containers, crates, oceanic waves and textures added life to a subject matter that doesn’t have a natural audience. ”

    Fun fact for all. 90% of the goods in the world are transported by sea. Your food, your electronics, your daily necessities, your vehicles, your toys, etc.

  • 37 Jireh // Jun 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Hi, I’m planning a private birthday party event. May I know where do I charter a private yacht for around $400 to lazarus island? Thank you so much for your help

  • 38 cityflyer // Jun 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Hi,

    Can you recommend any private yacht charter companies that would take you to Lazarus island from Singapore?

    I cant find any for $400!

  • 39 Lloyd // Jun 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    This is really great information on St. John’s Island. Thank you. We are heading there soon and based on your advice, going on a Sunday and taking food! 🙂

  • 40 Amirah // Jun 28, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Hi Darren, great write up! i’m doing research on Lazarus island for my school project and this really helped me! thanks!

  • 41 @torontoviewer // Jul 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Always looking for new ‘walks’ during our annual holidays in SIngapore and we will definately try Lazarus now. Thanks for this great article.

  • 42 sabretoothedchickenstour // Aug 14, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Cool post. This is on our list for our next visit to Singapore. Too tired this time and head home tomorrow.

Leave a Comment