Pulau Ubin is the second most well-known island in Singapore after Sentosa; famous for its winding bicycle paths, practically non-existent vehicular traffic and the last vestiges of traditional kampong life. To get there, take a bumboat from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal in the northeastern corner of the mainland. The boats leave once they are full and cost $3 per person. Once you’re on Pulau Ubin, turn left at the end of the pier, where you’ll find a row of shops renting bikes. Head west (back towards the ferry dock) to reach the Chek Jawa wetlands, home to a diverse array of fauna and flora.
Another group of islands that is easily accessible is the group including Kusu, Saint John’s and Lazarus, and the Sisters’ (Pulau Subar Laut and Pulau Subar Darat). To reach them, take the red North South MRT Line to its southern terminus at the Marina South Pier. There you can purchase return tickets for $18. These ferries run on a timetable which you can find here. Saint John’s and Lazarus Islands are connected by a bridge and are popular with locals looking for a quick escape from the city. Saint John’s has a holiday bungalow that can accommodate groups of ten. Lazarus Island is home to Singapore’s most beautiful beach, a crescent-shaped sandbar with clear waters perfect for snorkeling. The islands don’t have any shops, so make sure to pack all the provisions you’ll need for your trip. There are, however, washroom facilities very close to the beach on Lazarus Island.
Kusu and the Sisters’ Islands are popular with locals because of their presence in local folklore. On Kusu, you’ll find a temple dedicated to a Chinese deity important to the island. The Sisters’ Islands are named after the legend behind their creation: that long ago two sisters drowned and became the islands so they could remain together even after death. Much like Lazarus Island, the Sisters’ Islands also have scenic beaches, some of the best offshore snorkeling in the area, featuring different types of coral, and their own Marine Park.
For those who are feeling a bit more adventurous (or fancy), a trip to Pulau Hantu may be in order. This island, a diving paradise to rival those in Thailand, is only accessible through chartering a private boat or booking a diving tour. The island itself has sheltered beaches, making it very safe for swimming and an excellent place to learn how to snorkel. Overnight camping is allowed on Pulau Hantu and the Sisters’ Islands with a permit from the Sentosa Leisure Group.