Kusu Island Guide: the Tortoise Island in Singapore

Shrine on Kusu Island, Singapore

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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!

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.

Marina South Pier 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.

The ferry and the port of Kusu Island

Ticket price

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 Island Map

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.

Turtle statue on Kusu

The tortoise sanctuary on Kusu Island

Turtles on Pulau Kusu

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.

Taoist temple - Da Bo Gong

Shrine on Kusu

Chinese temple in Singapore

The entrance of the temple

The temple

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.

Datok Kong

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.

152 stairs leads to the highest point of Kusu


Keramat on Kusu Island - Datok Kong

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.

Swimming in the lagoon on Kusu Island

The serenity of beaches on Kusu - the best place to swim in Singapore

Palm and the best view of Singapore 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.

Family friendly

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.

Other Interesting Islands in Singapore:

Kusu Island - Turtle Island Guide Singapore

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