Cute beaches, sanctuaries, temples and lots of tortoises. Pulau Kusu is one of the Southern Islands of Singapore that you must visit during your stay. Kusu Island is easily reachable using MRT and a ferry and is one of the off the beaten path attractions in Singapore. For general travel info, check out our Singapore Travel Guide as well!
Table of Contents
- How to get there
- How much time to spend there
- Map and getting around
- What to do on Kusu Island
- Family friendly
- Do I need a passport to Kusu Island?
How to get there
You can get to Kusu Island by the combination of MRT and ferry. First, take MRT to Marina South Pier and then approach the ferry terminal.
MRT and Ferry to Kusu Island
Kusu Island is the smallest southern island in 30-45 minutes (about 5 km) off by ferry from the main island of Singapore. The ferries are operated by Singapore Island Cruise depart from the Marina South Pier every weekday at 10 am and 2 pm bound for Kusu Island. On weekends, the ferries are scheduled every two hours. The first ferry departs at 9 am, while the last one leaves the South Pier at 3 pm (Saturdays) and 5 pm (on Sundays). (Last update: 2019)
During the yearly pilgrimage (in the eleventh month of the lunar calendar, around October,), you will find ferries every two hours even on weekdays.
You can buy the tickets at the port, before your departure. The Kusu island ferry price is $18 for a roundtrip and $12 for children aged 1 to 12 years old.
How much time to spend there
Most of the year you don’t have much choice about the time you want to spend there as there are only two ferries each day. We visited Kusu during October, and due to the high number of pilgrims, the ferries departed every hour, and we spent about 3 hours on the island.
Map and getting around
Kusu is indeed tiny, you can walk around in 10 minutes easily.
What to do on Kusu Island
Despite the small size of the island, it offers a variety of attractions to the visitors. We spent there 3 hours, beaching, watching tortoise, checking the Buddhist sanctuary and sipping from a fresh coconut bought in the tiny food court.
The legend of Kusu Island and the Tortoise
Kusu means ‘Tortoise’ or ‘Turtle’ in Chinese, but the island is also known as Peak Island or Pulau Tembakul in Malay.
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. Nowadays you will see a lot of tortoise resting in a designed sanctuary near the beach.
Chinese temple and Malay keramats
Da Bo Gong
After you debark the ferry, you will encounter a Taoist Shrine first. It was built in the 20th century by a wealthy businessman.
The temple houses two main deities: one of them highly regarded as having the power to confer prosperity, cure diseases, calm the sea and avert danger, while the other is known as the ‘giver of sons’. In the eleventh month of the lunar calendar, pilgrims are visiting the Island.
After climbing 152 steps, you will reach the highest point of the island. At the top of the hillock on Kusu Island stands three holy shrines of Malay saints (keramats) to commemorate a pious man and his family who lived in the 19th century. You can pray for wealth, a good marriage, good health, and harmony.
Beaches and lagoons on Kusu
On weekdays it’s peaceful and calm. We only met with pilgrims visiting the relics, and we were the only ones who went swimming to the crystal clear water of the lagoons. The two beaches are sandy and you can see a lot of fish too. The beach on the northern shore offers a view to the CBD.
Food and drink
You will find a small food court in the middle of the island to buy refreshments or your lunch. The fresh coconut was our favorite. If you prefer consuming your own food, you’ll find numerous benches and several shaded picnic tables as well.
Kusu is family-friendly, the beaches are sandy, and you can use a stroller to get around the island, only the, but the temples and shrines have stairs. We visited it with our 1.5-year-old son and had a fab time.
Check out our other suggestions for families in Singapore!
The pilgrimage takes place in the ninth month of the lunar calendar. It will affect the ferry timetable and so will the number of people visiting the island. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, plan your day trip during the weekdays.
Do I need a passport to Kusu Island?
We didn’t need to show our passports when buying ferry tickets, but it is always good to keep it with yourself when taking a ferry.