Part of the southern islands, Kusu Island is a pristine island just 5.6 km to the south of the main island of Singapore. The pristine island is famous for its clear blue waters and breathtaking view from the beaches. It also has a very rich history from which it also derives its name as Kusu means turtle or tortoise in Chinese. As this island is just a short distance from the mainland, it is extremely famous amongst the locals and is a place visited by many who wish to spend the day in complete relaxation that is attained by the calm atmosphere of the island. It can also be entirely covered by walking from end to end in 20 minutes.
The spectacular island is never very crowded except for the ninth month of the lunar calendar during which hoards of devotees from everywhere visit the temple on this island and pay their respects to the deities. The island is also famous for its marine life as it is surrounded by soft and hard corals that form a reef. The lagoons at this island area are also a popular spot just as picnics are famous on the beaches of Kusu Island.
Legend of Kusu Island
Kusu or Turtle Island has a rich history that may sound like a myth but is believed by all. The island is very famous among the Malay and Chinese people as it is believed that a giant tortoise turned into an island to save the life of two shipwreck sailors, one of which was Malay whereas the other was Chinese. The thankful sailors then returned to the island, and it is believed that a Muslim Keramat and a Taoist Shrine were then built here. Hence, every year during the ninth month of the lunar calendar several devotees flood this island to offer their thanks.
Attractions at Kusu Island
Aside from the beaches, picnic spots with breathtaking views and mesmerising lagoons and hidden coves, Kusu Island are famous for three other things that largely piques the interest of tourists.
The temple at Kusu Island is a thing of legends and is devoted solely to two deities - Da Bo Gong or Tua Pek Kong and the Guan Yin. Da Bo Gong, which translates to the great uncle, was a deity that was said to cure diseases, attain prosperity and to avert danger and dangerous outcomes. Guan Yin, on the other hand, is said to be the God of Mercy. This temple was built in 1923 by a businessman and is still as celebrated and precious as ever.
Keramats are holy shrines dedicated to Malay saints. Kusu Island is home to three such Keramats that celebrate a 19th-century pious man called Syed Abdul Rahman, as well as his sister Puteri Fatimah, and mother Nenek Ghalib. The keramats are situated on top of a small hill at this island and have a total of 152 steps leading to this holy place. The shrine sees a lot of foot traffic as it is famous among devotees who wish for good health, prosperity as well as children and harmony.
The tortoise sanctuary is one of the main reasons that this place attracts flocks of tourists. The sanctuary at Kusu Island contains thousands of turtles that consider it their home. The turtles are allowed to be in their natural habitat and are extremely friendly unless you get too close to them. The tortoise sanctuary has been inhabiting and thriving on this island for quite some time and is a favourite among children.
How To Reach Kusu Island
Address for the pier- No 31, Marina Coastal Drive, #01- 04, Marina South Pier, Singapore, 018988
Buy the ferry tickets for the ferry Marina South Pier which is right next to the Marina South Pier MRT Station. Once at the pier, buy tickets from the Singapore Island Cruise booth at the main entrance.
Tickets The booth closes at 3:00 PM. Tickets are given out at a first come first serve basis. Adult- 18 SGD Child (1- 12 years)- 12 SGD
Ferry departure timings Monday to Friday- 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Saturday- 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM. Sunday and Public Holidays- 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM
Staying overnight or camping is strictly prohibited on this island.
There are no shops, so it’s advisable to carry your own water, food and picnic baskets.