Located in the string of islands just off the southern coast of Singapore’s main island, St. John’s Island gained worldwide notoriety long before it became a vacation destination. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the island housed a quarantine facility for Chinese cholera patients and became a major disease screening center by the 1930s. By mid-century, the island had been converted into a penal center for members of the Chinese mafia and later, a drug rehabilitation center treating opium addicts.
While that might not sound like an idyllic island getaway, St. John’s has come a long way since then. Today, you’ll find peaceful lagoons filled with colorful coral reefs, quiet sandy beaches, several hiking trails and camping facilities for guests who want to escape the big city for the night.
If you have a full or half day to spare in your Singapore itinerary, pack a picnic lunch and catch the ferry from the Marina South Pier directly to the island.