A comprehensive guide to St John’s and Lazarus Islands, Singapore

View of one of St John's and Lazarus Islands. There is turquoise water and dense vegetation on the island. The sky is blue and streaked with clouds

About St John’s and Lazarus Islands

The causeway between St John's and Lazarus Island from the sea. Dusk is falling so the water is a deep turquoise and the sky is darkening and cloudy. There are three boats between us and the causeway.

The stunning beaches of St John’s and Lazarus Islands are around a 35-45 minute ferry ride from the main island of Singapore. Formerly a Singaporean quarantine station, a causeway now joins the two islands. They are home to beautiful beaches, old buildings, mangrove forests, and easy, well-maintained trails for biking or walking around.

Part of the Southern Islands (along with Kusu Island and Sisters Island), this pair of islands is well-known to locals and expat residents who use them as a good way to escape Singapore for the day. They aren’t as well-visited by tourists but they should be!.

Whether you’re visiting Singapore on a stopover, here for a holiday, a new resident or you’ve lived here you’re whole life, this post will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the islands of St John’s and Lazarus.

Fun Facts: St John’s is also known as Pulau Sekijang Besar and Pulau Sekijang Bendera, while Lazarus is also known as Pulau Sekijang Kechil and Pulau Sakijang Pelepah.

What to do on St John’s and Lazarus Islands

View of Singapore from St John's and Lazarus Islands. There is a long expanse of water between the photographer and the next part of the islands behind which the skyline can be seen. In the foreground is a plain wooden jetty on stilts and behind that another one with an orange roof. A boat is pulling up to it

Bike the islands

You can bike on St John’s and Lazarus pretty easily. It won’t take you long to get around the whole island this way! There’s only a seasonal pop-up bike rental place (called Gogreen Southern Island Bicycle Rental). Check before you go if it’s open and, if not, bring a bike with you on the ferry.

Go for a walk around the islands

A brown sign with white writing directing visitors to toilets (800m), Lazarus Island Beach, Pulau Seringat Jetty and Kias Island (to the left) and St John's Island Jetty (800m), toilets and showers (500m) and St John's Island Lodge (all to the right). Behind the sign is some grass and a path curving from bottom right to middle left. Behind that are some tall shrubs.

St John’s and Lazarus bth have really well-maintained flat paths and trails all over both islands. This makes them super easy to explore on foot. To get around St John’s alone is just 2.8km. It should take you an hour to an hour and a half assuming you don’t stop for a swim or a snooze on the beach. There are maps clearly making the trails around the islands as well as regular sign posts. Both islands are super small so it’s hard to get lost!

Learn

A map of St John's Island (photo of actual map sign) with some shrubbery and white clouds/blue sky behind it

St John’s and Lazarus have a long and varied history. They were once inhabited by Orang Lauts (sea people) and, in the 1800’s, were used as a quarantine station. Other uses for the islands have included an opium treatment centre, and a holiday resort. You can learn more about their histories and about the wildlife on the islands from useful signs that are posted around the trails.

Look for wildlife

A large grassy area with a monkey in the foreground crossing it. In the background is a family picnicking. the beach with some more people, the lagoon with three boats and the open sea with some container ships.

All the islands in Singapore have an abundance of wildlife and St John’s and Lazarus islands are no exception. Birders can find birds such as herons, kites and nightjars. For those more interested in wildlife under the sea than in the air, there are lots of fish, turtles, corals, crustaceans, molluscs, and clams just off the coastline. On land keep your eyes open for amphibians, reptiles, and monkeys.

Practice your photography

The lovely beaches, diverse wildlife, mangrove and heritage trees, old buildings, and views of neighbouring islands make St John’s and Lazarus a lovely place to take photos. It’s a nice way to give your walk some structure and you can have fun looking for all the wildlife.

Relax at the beach

St John’s and Lazarus have some of the best beaches out of all the Singaporean islands. With powder white sand, clear blue waters, and views that lack quite so many of the container ships that wait outside Singapore, it’s easy to think you’re on a more remote island! The water is warm enough for a fun swim but cool enough to provide some relief on a hot day. Head to the horseshoe-shaped bay on Lazarus for sheltered swimming and the prettiest views.

Lazarus Island Beach - the sand curves from the bottom of the image to the left and back round to the right in a horseshoe fashion. There are some people under a green and white umbrella on teh sand and several people and two boats in teh sea. Beyond the beach is some green vegetations

Where to eat on St John’s and Lazarus Islands

There are no food or drink outlets on St John’s or Lazarus.

Come prepared with a picnic and plenty of water – bring extra if it’s an especially hot day.

Where to stay on St John’s and Lazarus Islands

There is no accommodation on Lazarus Island. There is some basic accommodation on St John’s (in St John’s Island Lodge) that is very affordable. You would need to bring all your own dining and drinking options. Unfortunately, St John’s Island Lodge is currently closed.

Most tourists to Singapore stay around Orchard Road, downtown, or on Sentosa. There’s a wide variety of styles available to suit all budgets, ranging from 1- and 2-star hotels, self-catering apartment and 5-star resorts.

Getting around St John’s and Lazarus Islands

There are no motorised vehicles on either St John’s or Lazarus. Most people get around the island on foot but a few bring bikes or scooters. Gogreen Southern Island Bicycle Rental is a pop-up that is open seasonally.

How to get to St John’s and Lazarus Islands

By ferry

A Marina South Ferries boat at the Marina South Pier jetty. The boat is painted white on top and has a blue underbelly. There are some people already on the top deck. On teh right of the image is the grey gangway.

The only way to access St John’s and Lazarus is by boat. Some boat rental companies offer day and sunset sailing options which include a stop near or at the islands. This is great for a special occasion but they can be pricey so it’s not an every weekend kind of thing.

The easier (and cheaper) option is to take a ferry operated by one of two ferry companies from Marina South Pier. Island Cruise has four crossings on weekdays and seven on weekends. Marina South Ferries operate five crossings a day to St John’s and three to Lazarus.

Note that many of the return legs also include a stop at Kusu Island (there are no direct ferries to or from Kusu). This is great if you want to go to Kusu as well but a bit time consuming if you don’t.

Tickets cost $1% SGD for adults and $12 SGD for kids. You can book online in advance or in person on the day at Marina South Pier

How to plan your trip to St John’s and Lazarus Islands

More Singapore skyline at dusk. Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore flyer can be seen at teh far right of the image. On the far left are teh dockyards. The foreground (half of the image) is dark turquoise sea.

St Johns and Lazarus aren’t the sorts of places to go for a super energetic outing but if you’re in the mood for a short, leisurely stroll, a picnic on the beach and a splash in the sea (that aren’t Sentosa or East Coast Park), then this is the place for you!

NParks has a free 90-minute guided tour is held on the first Sunday of every month but tickets are incredibly hard to come by. They are released on the NParks website on the first Sunday of every month at 10am. The site also has a downloadable e-guide for self guided tours.

As there are no food or beverage outlets, go prepared with snacks and plenty of water. There are some nice shady areas but some of the paths and the beaches are quite exposed. Take lots of suncream, water and hats as your trip will, most likely, involve being there during the middle of the day.

The islands can get busy on weekends (particularly on public holidays) but not so busy you feel overwhelmed. get busy on weekday evenings, at weekends and on public holidays.

Other places to visit in Singapore

As part of my Comprehensive Guide series, I have written about several other cool places in Singapore to visit – be sure to check them out!

I’d love to know if you have been to St John’s and Lazarus Islands, Wanderlusters! Feel free to leave me a comment below (I love reading them!) or drop me an email at [email protected]

Emma Morrell
Emma Morrell

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