St John’s Island previously known as Pulau Sakijang Bendera, is one of the southern islands of Singapore. It is located approximately 6.5 km to the south of the mainland Singapore.
Sir Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore actually anchored off this island first before arriving in Singapore in 1819. From the late 19th century till War World Two, the island was used as a quarantine station for victims of infectious diseases such as cholera, beri-beri and leprosy. By 1930, the island gained world recognition as a quarantine centre screening Asian immigrants and pilgrims returning from Mecca. After the era of mass migration, the island was used to house detained political prisoners and ringleaders of secret societies. Later a drug rehabilitation centre was also set up in the island.
In the 1975, the island was transformed into a tranquil getaway with beaches, swimming lagoons, picnic grounds, BBQ pits and trekking routes. There are also chalets and dormitories available for public renting.
St John’s Island is a small island. There is only one jetty for visitors entering and leaving the island. We reached the island around 10 plus am. The queue on the left is for departing visitors. Look at their fishing rods and backpacks, they must have spend a night fishing or camping on the island.
The above photo shows the typical ferry that brings visitors to St John’s Island.
The island has very minimum tourist infrastructures. There is no bicycle or kayak rental booth, cafeteria (the map shows a cafeteria but don’t think anyone will tender for it ) not even vending machine. But there is 1 or 2 water coolers beside the toilets (there is only two toilets in the whole island). There are dormitories and bungalow (http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/nature/southern-islands/st-johns-island/) equipped with basic cooking facilities for those who wish to spend some nights in the island.
The swimming lagoon is quite nice and idyllic but the beach is quite narrow. But it quite sparsely occupied. I only saw a few Caucasian sun bathing on the beach. Is it better to have a small beach to yourself or squeeze with other beachgoers
The water currents around the islands are quite strong. There is a man-made lagoon near the jetty where you can swim safely. From the lagoon, you can see the skyline of mainland Central Business District.
There are many shelters with benches and BBQ pits around the island. I couldn’t find any online information on booking of BBQ pits in St John’s Island. We visited the island on a Sunday and most of the pits were not in use. I presume anyone can just use the pits without any booking. The island is a bit deserted for national park staffs to chase after you for BBQ pit permit.