Check out the FIRST AND ONLY southern island cruise supported by the Singapore Tourism Board!
Priced at only $89/pax, this 2.5 hour cruise onboard the Le Tara yacht will let you explore the interesting areas in the southern part of Singapore that you never knew before.
As a comparison, the river cruise at Clarke Quay costs $25 for a 40 minute ride on a river boat.
Everyone on-board will be provided with a headset and given guided tours by a licensed tour guide throughout the journey.
Areas of interest that we are sailing to include:
From as early as the 13th century, the waterway in Keppel Bay had been used as a passage for ships sailing from the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea. The first English references to the waterway appeared in the 17th century although their small number suggests infrequent use of it.
In September 1819, William Farquhar, whom Sir Stamford Raffles appointed as the first Resident of Singapore, reported that he discovered a ‘new harbour’ to the west of the settlement.
In 1848, Captain Henry Keppel discovered the sheltered, deep water harbour onboard the vessel, Meander. Repairs on the Meander were the first carried out in the harbour, known as New Harbour, where the Tanjong Pagar wharves would later be built. That name remained until 1900, when Keppel, then the Admiral, visited Singapore again. To honour him, the acting Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham, renamed the harbour Keppel.
The development of the harbour in mid-19th century in Singapore led to the prosperity of the island.
Within Keppel Bay are some of Singapore’s oldest docks.
The island’s first graving dock, Dock No 1, as it was known, was built in 1859. Eight years later, Dock No 2 was constructed, which is today one of the water channels purposefully incorporated into the architecture of Caribbean at Keppel Bay.
Under the modernisation programme for the port in the early 1900s, the 40,000 dwt. King’s Dock, then the second largest in the world, was opened on 26 August 1913.
The 30,000 dwt Queen’s Dock was opened in 1956 and is today the water channel which lies between Caribbean at Keppel Bay and Reflections at Keppel Bay.
The story of Keppel parallels that of Singapore.
With independence in 1963, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) was formed. The Singapore Drydocks and Engineering Company was set up in 1968 to take over the Dockyard Department of the PSA. On 23 August 1968, the name of the company was changed to Keppel Shipyard (Private) Limited.
Keppel Shipyard’s first yard in Telok Blangah occupied what is now Caribbean at Keppel Bay, Reflections at Keppel Bay and the Keppel Island across the bridge. The shipyard operations have since relocated to Keppel’s facilities in Tuas, Jurong.
Keppel Shipyard is today part of Keppel Offshore & Marine, one of the world’s leading offshore and marine groups with a global network of 20 yards and offices.
Labrador Nature Reserve is the site where many historical relics and natural artifacts are located in Singapore, most of which date from the Second World War and earlier periods of time, much of which were left behind mainly by the former British colonial legacy on the island. This is due to the fact that the area has a long history dating way back to the 19th century and its playing of a significant role in the history of the city-state.
There was an old British military base (a fort), referred to as Fort Pasir Panjang, located on the top of the hill and above the cliff in front of the sea (the fort was first constructed as early as the 1890s). The cliff’s high vantage-point led the British government to identify it as a strategic defence site to protect the entrance to Keppel Harbour in the southern part of mainland Singapore as well as Singapore’s southwestern coastline (near Pulau Blakang Mati (present-day Sentosa)). It became one of nine major sites where the British military had set up their gun batteries and is a crucial part of the entire British defence system for Singapore.
The rocky beach below the cliff was still accessible to the public at that time till the 1930s. The area was a popular place for recreational sports and there was also a seaside resort for the residents living in villas located in the surrounding areas, as well as for the nearby villages. In fact, there were even private beach-houses, self-constructed seawalls and personal jetties built along the area’s shoreline.
The British government conducted a general review of the coastal defences in Singapore and showed that Pasir Panjang Beach would be an easy place for an enemy military force to land ashore. As a result, the surrounding land was taken over by the British colonial government and was redeveloped for an expansion of Pasir Panjang Fort. Machine-gun emplacements, artillery-gun casemates and barbed-wire entanglements were built and set up together with a fence running along the entire length of the beach.
During the Second World War there was not much combat action in the area of Pasir Panjang Beach. When Japanese military forces attacked their way into Singapore after taking over the whole of British Malaya by 1942, they invaded from the northern coast of mainland Singapore (along the Straits of Johor that marks the border between present-day Malaysia and Singapore) instead of the southern coast where the British military had initially expected. No Japanese naval vessels went past the southern coast of Singapore at all.
The Equipments built were hardly used. The fort was then tasked to provide much-needed shelter and serve as storage place for ammunition and military equipment for the defending British troops in Singapore at the time of the Battle of Singapore. When the British military eventually surrendered to the invading Japanese military forces in Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942, the military equipment and ancillary facilities at the fort was quickly dismantled and/or destroyed by the surrendered British troops stationed there and it was closed down shortly afterwards. After the Japanese occupation of Singapore was finally over in 1945, the fort remained abandoned.
However, the surrounding forest and the coastline were still occasionally visited by adventurous nature-seekers and nature-explorers. In 1973, Labrador Beach’s designation of a nature reserve was downgraded to that of a nature park. The future of the beach environment became uncertain as there were, at that time, no laws enacted which prevented the damage or destruction of nature parks. It was feared by many that the area would have to make way for a site for industrial development. There were consistent calls and appeals from the public to the government and the relevant authorities to preserve the rich history and the unique nature of the area, especially considering that the area was home to the last rocky shore and coral reef on mainland Singapore.
Finally, in November 2001, it was announced that Labrador Park (renamed from Labrador Beach) would be gazetted as a nature reserve once more. A labyrinth of underground tunnels, which were an integral part of the old fort built by the British government, were also discovered within the area of the park(located on the top of the cliff). These used to serve as a storage place for ammunition and other important military supplies, as well as being a base-camp for British troops guarding the fort. One of the tunnels goes under the waters of the entrance of Keppel Harbour and leads to Fort Siloso on Pulau Blakang Mati, present-day Sentosa. A small portion of the tunnels have since been opened to the public (but are recently declared to be structurally unsafe and have been sealed off until further notice).
Pulau Hantu is located to the south of the main island of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. Pulau Hantu is actually made up of two islets: Pulau Hantu Besar (Big Ghost Island) and Pulau Hantu Kechil (Little Ghost Island). At low tide, it is possible to wade across the shallow lagoon between the two islands, but not at high tide.
Pulau Hantu was where ancient Malay warriors once had duels to the death and their ghosts are said to wander the island.
In particular, once, there were two great warriors locked in a fierce battle at sea. Many people died from their fierce fighting and the blue seas surrounding the area slowly became polluted with human blood, upsetting the Jinns (spirits) at the bottom of the ocean. In anger, one powerful Jinn created a large whirlpool and sucked the two warriors into the deep sea to drown them. Not deterred, they continued on with their battle. Suddenly, the Jinn sprayed water on one of the men. The other warrior, seeing his opponent blinded by the water-spray and momentarily dazed, thrust his sword into his abdomen. At the same time, the blinded and wounded warrior managed to plunge his sword into the other man, with both collapsing and dying soon after.
The gods, however, felt that it was wrong for the sea-spirits to interfere in human affairs. Thus, the Jinn, being repentant, transformed the two warriors into islets so that their spirits can continue to live on them. As one of the warriors was smaller than the other, his islet was known as Pulau Hantu Kecil (Small Ghost Island), while the bigger one for the larger warrior was called Pulau Hantu Besar (Big Ghost Island).
Despite its forbidding name, Pulau Hantu is a favourite haunt for fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts because of its sheltered beaches, swimming lagoons and inviting waters. The islands are also popular with campers and day-trippers who prefer a unique outdoor experience.
You will be treated to wide variety of Corals, sea life and even a Small patch of Mangrove here.
Pulau Semakau was home to a small fishing village, as was the nearby island of Pulau Sakeng (Chinese: 锡京岛) which was also known as Pulau Seking. Houses built on both islands were perched on stilts as most of the villagers were subsistence fishermen, making a living off the nearby coral reefs. Located on the southern part of Singapore.
In 1987, the Singapore government, after having acquired the land on both islands from the islanders, set about relocating the islanders to the mainland where they were resettled in the Bukit Merah and Telok Blangah housing estate areas by HDB. One of the oldest residents continued to live on the Pulau Sakeng despite his family having been resettled but he eventually moved out as well in 1991, as the island’s jetty fell into a sorry state of disrepair. The Singapore SPCA was tasked to round up the few cats that were left behind after his departure.
Subsequently, Pulau Sakeng was subsumed by the land reclamation process of Pulau Semakau and the present day Semakau landfill receiving station was built directly on top of Pulau Sakeng after that process.
The Semakau Landfill is Singapore’s first and only landfill situated offshore among the southern islands of Singapore. It covers a total area of 3.5 square kilometres and has a capacity of 63 million m³. To create the required landfill space, a 7 km perimeter rock bund was built to enclose a part of the sea between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng. As of August 2011 it was estimated that the landfill, which began operations on 1 Apr 1999, will last until 2045.
Semakau Landfill is filled mainly with ash produced by Singapore’s four incineration plants, which incinerate the country’s waste, shipped there in a covered barge (to prevent the ash from getting blown into the air) every night. Contrary to popular belief that Semakau Landfill would be another dirty and smelly landfill, the care put into the design and operational work at the landfill has ensured that the site is clean, free of smell and scenic. During construction, silt screens were installed to ensure that the corals were not affected during the reclamation works. The landfill is lined with an impermeable membrane, and clay and any leachateproduced is processed at a leachate treatment plant. Regular water testing is carried out to ensure the integrity of the impermeable liners.
The Raffles Lighthouse
The lighthouse was erected on a rocky island called Pulau Satumu, the southernmost island off the main island of Singapore. Pulau Satumu means “one tree island” – sa refers to satu (“one”) and tumu is the Malay name for the large mangrove tree, Bruguiera confugata. The light source was a wick burner which was replaced in 1905 by a pressurised vapour kerosene mantle burner to increase the light intensity for a greater visible range. A 2nd Order optic was mounted on a roller carriage to allow for smooth rotation. This roller carriage was a weight-driven machine which had to be rewound manually to lift the weight whenever it reached the base. The rewinding was done hourly. A crew of seven men was required to man the lighthouse.
In 1968, the installation of a 4th Order electrically operated revolving optic replaced the original 2nd Order optic with a pressurised vapour kerosene “Hood” mantle burner. The light source was changed to a 100-volt/1,000-watt incandescent bulbproducing 350,000 candelas of light intensity with a visibility range of 22 nautical miles.
The power supply came from one of the three generators installed in a generator room built close to the keeper’s room. As the rotation was electrically driven by motors, the crew was reduced to four men.
In 1988 the 4th Order optic was replaced by a rotating beacon. This comprised an array of quartzhalogen lamps in aluminium parabolic reflectorsmounted on a gearless revolving pedestal. The lamps require only one-fifth of the energy required to produce the same intensity as incandescent lamps. These low-power lamps therefore allow solar powerto be used in place of generators. In addition, the operation of the light is controlled by a photocell. The manning of the lighthouse was further reduced to two men. The use of solar energy which is freely and readily available has resulted in a reduction of operating and maintenance cost.
Here there’s many Hard corals, Coral Reef fishes and good Sea life too.
The Raffles Lighthouse
Big Sister’s Island, about 9.6 acres in area and also known as Pulau Subar Laut in Malay, faces the open sea, while Little Sister’s Island, about 4.2 acres in area and also known as Pulau Subar Darat in Malay, faces the mainland. The two islands are separated by a narrow channel. Currents through this channel can be very dangerous to swimmers and divers.
Legend tells of a poor widow who had two pretty daughters, Minah and Linah, who were very close to each other. After their mother died, the sisters left the village to live with a distant uncle.
One unfortunate day, Linah met a group of pirates while she was fetching water from a well near the sea. Frightened, she ran home while the pirate chief gave chase. At the uncle’s home, the pirate brandished a dagger and made known his wish to marry Linah. That night, the two sisters wept bitterly in each other’s arms. When dawn broke, the pirate chief and 16 of his men came to take Linah away. Clinging to each other, they were torn apart by the pirates and Linah was forced to leave with the pirates. Just then, the sky turned dark and a storm broke out. Desperate, Minah swam after the boat but drowned. On seeing this, Linah freed herself from her captors and jumped into the sea to join Minah.
The storm subsided but nowhere could the sisters be found. The next day, the villagers were shocked to see two islands at the spot where the two sisters had drowned.
The two tranquil islands, called Pulau Subar Laut and Pulau Subar Darat, was henceforth known as the Sisters’ Islands. It was said that every year on that very day when the sisters turned into islands, there will always be storm and rain.
Another Version of the legend said that there were two sisters who drowned at sea. The elder sister tried to save the younger sister but both drowned. The gods were touched by their love for one another and transformed both into two little islands so they could be together forever.
Today, beaches and warm blue waters make snorkeling a favourite activity at the islands. The islands are also popular with picnickers and campers and are also home to some of Singapore’s richest reefs. A wide variety of corals can be found in the waters surrounding the islands. Common sea life that can be found includes hard corals, nudibranchs and octopus. Big Sister’s Island is home to some long-tailed macaques.
A Marine Park Public Gallery is set up at St. Johns Island, to showcase the biodiversity in Singapore waters – an alternative site for visitors to learn more about the marine life of Singapore.
St. Johns Island
St. Johns Island formerly housed a quarantine station for cholera cases detected among immigrants in the late 19th century, and starting from 1901, victims of beri-beri were also brought to the island.
The quarantine station was eventually also used to house victims of other diseases, such as leprosy. When mass immigration was closed in mid-20th century, the island was used to house a penal settlement and a drug rehabilitation centre.
In 1975 the island was transformed into a tranquil getaway with swimming lagoons, beaches, picnic grounds, trekking routes and football fields. The island is also a haven for a host of flora and fauna, and is popular for weekend visits. There is also a small jetty at the southern end of the island to transport visitors to and from the mainland.
The island, reputedly haunted according to some local traditions, was the site of Sir Stamford Raffles’s anchorage before meeting the Malay chief of Singapore in 1819.
Tropical Marine Science Institute, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority(AVA) of Singapore’s Marine Aquaculture Centre. A detention centre for illegal immigrants still remains is located here in the island.
Holiday-makers yearning for an island stay on St. Johns Island can book the Holiday Bungalow, which can accommodate up to 10 persons and comes furnished with a kitchen. Organised groups can stay over in the dormitories at the Holiday Camps which can take up to 60 persons. The dormitories are equipped with basic cooking facilities.
St. Johns Island
Lazarus Island is connected to St John island by a bridge. Here at Lazarus, many boat owner and their guest like to spend the day here away from the main land. They will either do water activities or take a stroll on the white sandy beach. The Beach is know as Eagles Bay as there are lots of Eagles flying above them. You can access to this island by Private yacht or a scheduled ferry from the Cruise center which will stop at St John’s island. You will love this Island and it’s surroundings for its unique experience.
The legend behind the island says that a magical tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors – a Malay and a Chinese.
At the top of the rugged hillock on Kusu Island stands three kramats (or holy shrines of Malay saints) to commemorate a pious man (Syed Abdul Rahman), his mother (Nenek Ghalib) and sister (Puteri Fatimah) who lived in the 19th century. Many devotees will climb the 152 steps leading to the kramats to pray for wealth, good marriage, good health and harmony. The shrines are also popular with childless couples who would pray for children. Despite misconceptions, they do not pray to the kramats.
Also located on Kusu island is the popular Chinese temple – Da Bo Gong 大伯公 or Tua Pek Kong (Grand Uncle) and Na Tuk Kong(Dato Keramat). Built in 1923 by a wealthy businessman, the temple houses two main deities – the Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin 观音 (Goddess of Mercy). The former is highly regarded as having the power to confer prosperity, cure diseases, calm the sea and avert danger, while Guan Yin is known as the ‘giver of sons’.
It is popular for its lagoons, pristine beaches and tranquil settings. Visits are often made to see the wishing well and Tortoise Sanctuary. Afternoon picnics are also very popular. Overnight stay is not permitted on the island.
In 1988, the draft plan for Marina Bay was presented to the public in a two-week exhibition where it set out the objectives for the development, among which are optimising the waterfront location and creating a distinctive image with international landmarks that could become a focal point for the city.
In 2008, Marina Barrage was built, converting the basin into a new downtown freshwater Marina Reservoir, providing water supply, flood control and a new lifestyle attraction.
The Formula One Singapore Grand Prix has taken place annually since 2008 on a street circuit adjacent to Marina Bay. Since its construction in 2007, The Float@Marina Bay has hosted events such as the National Day Parade, New Year’s Eve Countdown and Singapore Fireworks Celebrations, and also serves as a spectator stand for the Singapore Grand Prix. Furthermore, it also played host to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
The area also hosts the annual i Light Marina Bay, a sustainable light art festival.
The event space next to Marina Bay Sands, known as The Lawn, hosted the first overseas and Singapore edition of ArtBox Bangkok on two separate weekends.
The island was renamed Sentosa and turned into a tourist destination in 1972, and it is now home to a popular resort that receives some twenty million visitors per year. Attractions include a 2 km long sheltered beach, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, the Merlion, hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singaporeand one of Singapore’s two casinos and many more new attractions always finding its way there.
The name Sentosa translates as “peace and tranquility” in Malay, which was in turn derived from the Sanskrit term Santosha, meaning “contentment, satisfaction”. Sentosa was formerly known as Pulau Blakang Mati which in Malay means the “Island of Death Behind”.
The name Blakang Mati is old; an island was identified as Blacan Mati in Manuel Godinho de Erédia’s 1604 map of Singapore. Other early references to the island of Blakang Mati include Burne Beard Island in Wilde’s 1780 MS map, Pulau Niry, Nirifa from 1690 to 1700, and the nineteenth century reference as Pulau Panjang (J.H. Moor). However, early maps did not separate Blakang Mati from the adjacent island of Pulau Brani, so it is uncertain to which island the seventeenth century place names referred.
The island has changed name several times. Up to 1830, it was called Pulau Panjang. In an 1828 sketch of Singapore Island, the island is referred to as Po. Panjang.
The Malay name for this island is literally translated as “dead back” or “behind the dead”; blakang means “at the back” or “behind” or “after”; mati means “dead”. It is also called the “dead island” or the “island of the dead” or perhaps “island of after death”.
Different versions of how the island came to acquire such an unpropitious name abound:
One account attributed the ominous name to murder and piracy in the island’s past.
A second claimed that the island is the material paradise for the spirits of warriors said to have been buried at Pulau Brani.
A third interpretation is that “dead back island” was so-called because of the lack of fertile soil on the hills. However, since the island creates an area of dead water behind it with no wind (hence “still behind” – still or stopped being an alternative translation of mati) it may be as simple as this — less romantic perhaps, but believable from a nautical viewpoint.
Cruise days: Monday – Friday
Cruise time: 10.00am, 3.00pm, 5.30pm
Cost: $89/passenger (min 6 pax to go)
Booking fee includes
- Licensed tour guide with commentary in either English or Mandarin
- Snacks and refreshments
- Insurance coverage
- All taxes, fees and handling charges