6 family-friendly islands to check out with junior [Photo Gallery]

Load up on fun and feeling good with the fam when you make tracks for these isles in the sun!

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You won’t need to travel far or splurge on expensive plane tickets if you yearn to chill out on breezy island.

 

A visit to a nearby island just off the coast of Singapore should give your family a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

What’s more, every island comes with fascinating legends that’ll surely spark your kiddos’ curiosity. Several even double as eco-destinations, letting junior learn more about Mother Nature as well.

 

At these untouched spots, you’ll come up close to wildlife including wild boars and monkeys. To avoid getting attacked, remind your mini-me that they shouldn’t feed the wild animals or make sudden movements.

 

As most of these islands don’t have eateries or shops, do bring your own snacks, drinks and picnic mats. Do remember to clean up after yourselves, so as not to pollute these places.

 

Also, apart from basic necessities like a couple of functioning toilets and shelters, you’ll be exposed to the elements. So, be sure to apply lots of sunscreen to avoid getting burnt!

 

Scroll through our gallery to check out which off-the-beaten-track destinations to check out with your mini-dynamos…

 St John’s Island

ISLAND TRIVIA Don’t be fooled by its pristine waters and untouched appearance of this island fool you into thinking its history is just as ordinary. Back in 1930s, St John’s Island even became the world’s biggest quarantine centre for cholera and by the 1950s, it was a holding place for political detainees.
HOW TO GET THERE Board the Singapore Island ferry from the Marina South Pier, ticket prices for a two-way trip are fixed at $18 per adult and $12 per child aged 1 to 12. The ferry departs at 10am and 2pm on Mondays to Fridays; 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Saturday; 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm on Sundays and Public holidays.
WHAT TO DO The island is home to a large stray cat population ― it even has a Facebook page dedicated to these friendly felines. You may get the chance to pat them if you come bearing food, too. Do check out the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre ― a 10-minute walk from the jetty ― where your kiddo can try a 3D diving experience to uncover marine life in the waters around the island. Keen to let your brood get a taste of rustic kampong living? Then book a stay — a minimum of three days is required — at the Holiday Bungalow. It has a kitchen and sleeps up to 10 people.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery is open daily from 10am to 2.30pm on weekdays; 10am to 3.30pm on Saturdays and 10am to 5.30pm on Sundays and Public Holidays. Entry is free. The holiday bungalow costs $53.50 for three nights (Tuesday to Friday) and $107 in all from Friday to Monday. Charges may differ during school holidays. (Photos: Singapore Land Authority & Facebook/St John Island’s cats)

Lazarus Island

HOW TO GET THERE A footpath connects this island to St John’s Island.
WHAT TO DO Take a short stroll to Lazarus Island from the bridge at St John’s Island. After changing into swimwear, bring out beach toys, so that your mini-me can make full use of the 800m-long beach bordering the swimming lagoon. Psst, do keep an eye on your belongings, lest pesky monkeys make off with your valuables. Otherwise, if you prefer trekking to an even more isolated spot to get even more out of your island visit, follow the instructions in this NPark e-booklet. (Photos: Singapore Land Authority)

Sisters’ Island

ISLAND TRIVIA Legend has it that these twin islands were named for two sisters who were forced to marry pirates and drowned while trying to escape. These two islands emerged from the spot where they were last seen. Today, only the Big Sister’s Island — or Pulau Subar Laut — is open to the public, while the Small Sisters’ Island is strictly for conservation and research purposes.
HOW TO GET THERE If you take part in the Intertidal Guided Walks, your free ticket includes the round-trip boat ride. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire a boat to the island from Marina South Pier.
WHAT TO DO Your young ’un will be amazed that the lagoon between the two islands disappears at low tide to showcase the wildlife teeming in the waters. See if you can spot more than 100 different species of marine life, ranging from giant clams and seahorses to starfishes. Sign up for NPark’s free Intertidal Guided Walks and nature guides will bring you on a tour of the lagoon. The coast of Big Sister’s Island is also home to Singapore’s first and only Dive Trail. But it’s out of bounds, unless you and junior both have valid diving experience, since you’ll need to dive to  depth of at least 15m.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The free Intertidal Guided Walks, organised twice a month at various timings, include the boat ride tickets. Online bookings open a month before the walks. (Photos: NParks)

Kusu Island

ISLAND TRIVIA A giant tortoise is said to have rescued two fishermen — a Chinese and a Malay — from drowning after the men were shipwrecked. Subsequently, the pair built the Kusu Temple and holy shrines on the island as a show of gratitude. Even till today, devotees flock to the island to pay their respects during the annual pilgrimage season from September to November.
HOW TO GET THERE Board the Singapore Island ferry ― return tickets cost $18 per adult and $12 per child aged 1 to 12 ― from Marina South Pier. The ferry, which makes a stop at St John’s Island before arriving at Kusu, departs at 10am and 2pm on weekdays; 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Saturday; and 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm on Sundays and public holidays.
WHAT TO DO Pay a visit to the Chinese Temple, dedicated to the Chinese God of Prosperity and Mercy, and you’ll spot many yellow cloths tied to trees. Each symbolises a wish made by followers hoping for good health, wealth, stellar exam results, fruitful marriages and even for children. Near the temple, let your little one toss coins into a wishing well to sound the bell at the centre. Your mini-explorer will also dig a visit to the impressive Tortoise Sanctuary on the island, which boasts well over 100 of these reptiles. (Photos: Singapore Tourism Board)

Coney Island

ISLAND TRIVIA Previously known as Serangoon Island, this isle was once owned by the Haw Par brothers, the same ones behind the well-known Tiger Balm products. In the 1950s, an Indian businessman Ghulman Mahmood bought the island with plans to transform it into an amusement park, modelled after New York’s Coney Island. Needless to say, these plans fell through and the island was sold back to the government in the 1970s.
HOW TO GET THERE Walk or cycle along Punggol Promenade Nature Walk, where you will see a bridge that connects the mainland to the West entrance of the island. Before it’s makeover in 2015, which included the opening of two bridges on either end of the island, Coney Island used to be only accessible by boat.
WHAT TO DO Stop at the iconic Coney Island gates to snap a wefie with the fam and score points with your Instagram-crazed teen. Then, hike around the island with your tween on different dirt paths and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a group of otters who call Coney Island their home. The beach is the best place to catch the sunset before you head back to the mainland to feast on scrummy nosh at Punggol Settlement, which is located seaside (the Straits of Johor).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW There’s only one toilet on the eastern end of the island, which is about 2.4km away from the bridge, so make sure you visit the loos along the nature walk before heading to Coney Island. (Photo: NParks, cheekiemonkie.net)

Pulau Ubin

ISLAND TRIVIA Meaning “Granite Island” in Malay, Pulau Ubin is a tribute to the granite quarries that used to operate on the island. Another fascinating fable is that three animals — a frog, a pig and an elephant — once challenged to race each other to Johor. The losers would be turned to stone ― none of the animals made it. The elephant and pig became Pulau Ubin and the frog became Pulau Sekudu, which means Frog Island in Malay. It’s an islet located just off Chek Jawa.
HOW TO GET THERE Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. The ride costs $3 per person per trip.
WHAT TO DO Rent bikes for everyone as it’s is the best way to explore as the island is peppered with biking trails. Remember to ask for a bicycle lock, in case you make any stops along the way. Head to the Chek Jawa Wetlands and take a leisurely walk on the 1km-long boardwalk. Here, keep an eye out for interesting marine life such as octopuses, starfishes and even the occasional cuttlefish. Birds like the Collared Kingfisher and Straw-headed Bulbul are also known to gather here as well. Finally, scale the 21m-high tower for a bird’s eye view of Pulau Ubin. For a unique way to see the island, try a Mangrove Kayaking experience for adventure seekers as young as 7 years old. During the four-hour long expedition, you’ll able to see wildlife in their natural habitat. The kayak activity includes training, so no prior experience is required. If you’re keen to spend the night on the island, pitch your tent at the Jelutong, Endut Senin and Mamam Beach campsites. These even have campfire pits where you can toast marshmallows.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The Chek Jawa Wetlands ― free entry ― is open daily from 8.30am to 6pm. Mangrove Kayaking costs $79.50 per adult and $59 per child aged 7 to 12. Camping permits are not required but you are advised to inform the officers at the Pulau Ubin Police Post. (Photo: Singapore Tourism Board, NParks)