Clear blue sea and tropical sandy beach of St John Island, Singapore; Shutterstock ID 127867628; Your name (First / Last): Josh Vogel; Project no. or GL code: 56530; Network activity no. or Cost Centre: Online-Design; Product or Project: 65050/7529/Josh Vogel/ Destination Galleries

Shutterstock / Jordan Tan

St John's Island


Spooky St John's has a chequered past: it was a quarantine station for immigrants in the 1930s before becoming a political prison and later a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts. A prison-like feel still lingers with high barbed-wire fences and watchtowers dotting the landscape. Most visitors come for a quiet spot of fishing or to head across the paved walkway to the tranquil, sandy beaches on neighbouring Lazarus Island.

If you plan to travel here during the Kusu pilgrimage (during the ninth lunar month sometime between September and November), check the ferry has not cancelled its stop at St John's – as it sometimes does.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Singapore attractions

1. Lazarus Island

0.48 MILES

Almost entirely undeveloped, with little more than a bit of jungle and a sweeping beach, Lazarus Island is connected to nearby St John's Island via a…

2. Kusu Island

0.82 MILES

By far the smallest of the three Southern Islands, Kusu is also the most pleasant. Step off the boat and into an area of picnic-friendly landscaped…

3. Kusu Kramats

0.83 MILES

Atop a forest-covered rock on Kusu Island are three bright keramats (Malay shrines) built to commemorate a pious family who lived here in the 19th century…

4. Tua Pek Kong Temple

0.85 MILES

Built in 1923 by a wealthy businessman, this Temple comes to life during the ninth lunar month (sometime between September and November) for the Kusu…

6. Palawan Beach

2.82 MILES

The most kid-friendly of Sentosa's three beaches, perfect for a family day out with calm ocean waters, playgrounds and a suspension bridge to an off-shore…

7. Universal Studios

3.27 MILES

Universal Studios is the top draw at Resorts World. Shops, shows, restaurants, rides and roller coasters are all neatly packaged into fantasy-world themes…

8. Images of Singapore Live

3.32 MILES

Using actors, immersive exhibitions and dramatic light-and-sound effects, Images of Singapore Live resuscitates the nation's history, from humble Malay…