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St John’s Island: Best Things To Do & Explore [2023]

St John’s Island

St John's Island
St John’s Island

St John’s Island, often well associated with Lazarus island is located south of Singapore. St John’s island has become a quick getaway place for many Singaporeans to visit amidst this pandemic where overseas travel is restricted.

Best known for its history as a penal settlement in the past, for infectious disease and drug rehabilitation centre, it has now transformed into a holiday resort. If you’re planning to explore St. John’s island, read below as we provide you with All You Need To Know Before Visiting Saint John Island:

Key Consideration Factors

Before getting into St. John’s Island, here are some consideration factors to remember:

  • Distance: St. John’s Island lies 10 km away from Singapore mainland, which is approximately a 20-25 minutes ferry ride.
  • Weather & Seasonal Factors: The weather in St. John’s island remains highly humid and warm throughout the year, hence it is best to visit during cooler months like Dec-Feb if you are looking for some relief from heat.
  • Safety: The Singapore government ensures the safety of visitors to St. John’s Island by providing regular security patrols, so you can expect a safe and secure environment during your stay in St. John’s Island.
  • Fees: One-way ferry tickets cost SGD 10 per person and a two-way ticket costs SGD 15, available from Singapore mainland.

St John’s Island

1. History Of St John’s Island

History - St John's Island
History – St John’s Island (Credit: Treval Log)

The island has a significant history tied to Singapore. Stamford Raffles, sailing on Indiana actually anchored off St John’s Island on 28 January 1819 before heading to mainland Singapore the next day. By February 1823, the island had the signal flagstaff moved there from Pulau Tambakul (Goa Island, then later renamed Peak Island).

When hordes of immigrants began making their way to Singapore bringing not only wealth but sicknesses, St John’s Island was the station for the “report boat” for the Marine Department (1823) to bring news of immigrants until the cholera epidemic of 1873 which saw 448 deaths.

When the mass immigration was closed, the island was used to house political detainees and ringleaders of secret societies. Later the holding areas were converted into a drug rehabilitation centre, and in 1975 it became a holiday campsite popular with schools and students.

A third of the island on the eastern end was acquired by the Prisons’ Department for the setting up of a prison detention centre for illegal immigrants and drug addicts. The western end, on the other hand, was given a facelift with the construction of the S$30-million Marine Aquaculture Centre whose marine research facilities would take another third of the island. The work on this, Southeast Asia’s first deep-sea fish farm, began in April 1997 and is expected to finish in April 2000.

Adapted From NLB’S St John’s Island

2. How To Get There

How To Get There - St John's Island
How To Get There – St John’s Island (Credit: 1Step 1Footprint)

Board the MRT to Marina South Pier Exit B and purchase your Marina South ferry tickets from Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services. The ferry ride to St John’s Island takes around 20 – 30 minutes. Tip: Buy your tickets online! Alternatively, the ticketing counter at south pier MRT station is open daily till 3 pm, so do arrive early to secure your tickets from the Singapore island cruise. Check the updated ferry schedule here and plan your departure so you have enough time to return to St. John’s Island before the last ferry sails off.

Check the updated ferry schedule to St. John’s Island here.

Round Trip Ferry ride
Children (Age 1-12)$12

Adapted from Ultimate Guide To Exploring Lazarus Island: How to Go & Things to Do

Activities and Attractions

3. St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory

St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory - St John's Island
St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory – St John’s Island (Credit: TMSI)

When you’re at St John Island, do keep a lookout for the John’s Island National Marine Laboratory which showcases marina biodiversity and conservation in Singapore’s waters.

Its high-quality seawater aquarium facilities present unique opportunities for high impact research in many aspects of marine science. The place showcases public galleries of the marine parks, history, background, and the overview timeline of the conservation efforts made.

Walk about 15-20 minutes from the jetty and you will find the place, Admission to the Public Gallery is free. There is a toilet facility at the gallery.

4. St John Island Beach

St John Island Beach - St John's Island
St John Island Beach – St John’s Island (Credit: StackPath)

St John Island Beach is a safe lagoon protected with sea barrier rocks. From personal experience, there are 2 beaches on the island, however, if you want beautiful soft white sand and blue water beaches, Lazarus Beach, would be a better choice. Lazarus Beach can be reached through small walking distance and the beach is popular amongst couples and family groups. Bring along with you a floatable, picnic mat and a kite and get to fly a kite or swim along the clean waters when you visit!

Similarly, Lazarus Island also offers other attractions such as St John – Lazarus Bridge and its open nature trails filled with a small forest of Rhu trees along with a small patch of mangrove.

5. Picnic Around The Island With Cats

Picnic Around The Island With Cats - St John's Island
Picnic Around The Island With Cats – St John’s Island (Credit: Must Share News)

Picnic tables and benches are everywhere within the island, similarly, you can also pack a mat and sunbathe at the beach while you feel the cool sea breeze against your skin. The Island is also filled with numerous cats chilling and wandering around, do bring along some cat food/snacks before you visit, St John’s Island is an amazing place for cat-lovers!

6. NParks Guided Walking Tour

NParks Guided Walking Tour - St John's Island
NParks Guided Walking Tour – St John’s Island (Credit: EVBUC)

The first curated trail on St John’s Island was developed to encourage appreciation for the rich biodiversity and history of St John’s Island and Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The 2.8 km St John’s Island Trail comprises 15 stations marked with signboards that serve as both station markers and educational resources, highlighting the diversity of flora and fauna as well as the island’s colourful history. Find out more about the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. 

Adapted from NParks St John’s Island Trail Guided Walk

7. Overnight Stay at St. John’s Island Lodge

St. John’s Island Lodge - St. John's Island
St. John’s Island Lodge – St. John’s Island (Credit: Channel News Asia)

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, why not stay overnight at the island? Visitors who plan to stay overnight within the exquisite nature can book St John’s Island Lodge (former St John’s Island Campsite and Holiday Bungalow) and the overnight accommodation facilities. 

A bungalow (max 10 pax) costs SGD 21.4/night on weekdays and SGD 42.8/night on weekends. Meanwhile the rate for a campsite (for 50 pax or more) starts from SGD 90.95 onwards.It is really cheap considering that it comes with a kitchen where you can cook your own food. There are also BBQ pits if you prefer to grill. But don’t expect the quality is similar to a hotel. You can see the pictures of the lodge and book on SLA’s website.

Adapted from SLA ST JOHN’S ISLAND and Trevallog Things to do on St. John’s Island, Singapore

8. St John – Lazarus Bridge

Lazarus Bridge - St John's Island
Lazarus Bridge – St John’s Island (Credit: Anglers Haunt)

A bridge connecting the 2 island is a popular attraction when people visit St John Island, an open bridge, you can expect yourself enjoying the cool and calm sea breeze while you travel between the 2 island. Get creative and find some different angles for your instagram and make the place look like you’re in Bali/Maldives!

9. Things To Take Note Before Visiting

Before Visiting, these are some of the key things to take note of to have yourself an enjoyable time there!
1. Bring Sunscreen and Insect repellent, from experience, some parts of the beach and nature trails hold mosquitoes, sand flies and other insects. Grab along a bottle of sunscreen that would help you shield your body from the hot scorching sun!

2. Bring your own food and water. There are no stalls or shops around the area and you need to bring your own meas and drinks to stay energized and hydrated during then.

3. There are very limited facilities available on the island, even toilets, so be sure to load up on hand sanitiser, wet tissues, and other survival essentials. The nearest restroom is located at St. John’s Island. You have to walk for approximately 15 minutes before reaching it via Lazarus Island.

4. Throw your garbage responsibly. You did not go to the island to litter, therefore, keep it clean. Carry your own stuff, such as towels, mats, insect repellent, sunscreen and everything you need when you go on a picnic or decide to swim.

5. Check the timings of the ferry so you don’t miss your return trip to Singapore.

Adapted From Lazarus Island: A Complete Guide to a Tranquil Beach Getaway in Singapore

St John’s Island

We hope that the information provided within the article would be helpful for your daycation to St John’s island Singapore! For more interesting articles, you can check it out here:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have any questions about things to do in St John’s Island, you can refer to the frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the best things to do in St John’s Island below:

What are the facilities available on the island?

The facilities available on the island include a kitchen, BBQ pits, and restrooms.

How do I get to St. John’s Island?

There are three ways to get to St John’s Island: by car, by bus, or by ferry. To get to the carpark, take Exit 8 from the East Coast Parkway and drive down there. The carpark is open from 7am to 7pm. By Bus: Take bus service 2 from Harbourfront Centre and alight at the final stop. The journey takes about 30 minutes. By Ferry: Marina south ferries depart from Marina South Pier (St John’s Pier) and Harbourfront Centre. The trip takes about 20 minutes.

What is the best time to visit St John’s Island?

The best time to visit St John’s island would the facilities available on St John’s Island?
The island has basic amenities such as toilets, outdoor showers, and a canteen that serves food. There are also camping sites with BBQ pits and kitchen facilities. Additionally, there is an information centre where you can get more information on the island and its attractions.

Are there any other some other interesting places to visit nearby St John’s Island?

The nearby area offers plenty of attractions such as Kusu Island, Sisters’ Islands, Pulau Seringat Island, and other of Singapore’s southern islands. You can also explore the various hiking trails around the island. There are also other islands with different activities that you can enjoy such as cycling, kayaking, and fishing.

Additional Useful Articles

If you are looking for other useful guides and articles about Things to do in St John’s Island, check them out below:

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