7 Secret Islands Just Hours Away from Singapore

Looking for a short island getaway for your next long weekend which is unlikely to be swarmed with tourists? Here are seven islands to meet your fancy! The best part is that they are all mere hours away from Singapore and you don’t need to fly. And no, we are not talking about well-known islands like Tioman or Rawa Island.

1. Pulau Tengah

Best for a romantic getaway

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

For that secluded feel, head to Batu-Batu on Pulau Tengah, a privately-owned island in Malaysia. The island has eight white sand beaches and is a protected marine park because of the rich underwater life in the surrounding waters. Pacific bottlenose dolphins, black-tipped reef sharks and even a dugong have been spotted in this area.

Consisting of only 20 luxurious one- and two-bedroom villas, Batu Batu is ideal if you seek optimum privacy as you sit back, enjoy the first-class service, relax in the stunning spa and dine on top-notch food. If you want to have direct access to the powdery white sands, choose the Beach Villa. It also comes with a large bathroom with a stand-alone bathtub and a balcony with spectacular views.

Getting there: You can drive, take a coach or hire a private transport to Mersing Jetty. This would take you about 2.5-3 hrs. From there, representatives from Batu Batu will take you on a 20-minute transfer on the resort’s speedboat to the island.

2. Kapas Island

Best for a laid-back vibe

Image credit: Dave Anderson

Image credit: Dave Anderson

Kapas Island (Pulau Kapas) is easily one of Malaysia’s nicest islands. The shoreline of Kapas Island is dotted with beautiful white sandy strips of sand that surround the pristine clear water. I can confidently say that Kapas can rival any of the amazing beaches I have seen in Thailand. The island is often overlooked as tourists seek the more popular Redang, Langkawi and Perhentian islands. But to me, this only means that Kapas remains a less touristy island with a very laid-back vibe, ideal if you are seeking some quiet place to unwind.

Getting there: You can drive, take a coach or hire a private transport to Marang Jetty in Terengganu. It is a long drive so if you are going by coach, it would depart at night, arriving in Terengganu only the next morning. From the jetty, you get on a speedboat for a 15-minute ride to the island. There are several boat operators so do scout around to get the cheapest deal.

3. Pulau Karimun Besar

Best for a range of pristine beaches

Image credit: Zhao

Image credit: Zhao

Pulau Karimun Besar lies west of Batam and to the southwest of Singapore. Its proximity to Singapore makes the island quite an easy reach for a short weekend. Its main town, Tanjung Balai is a bustling port town. Part of the chain islands comprising of Riau Islands, Pulau Karimun Besar is famed for its pristine white, sandy beaches and its wide variety of fresh seafood dishes. The island also presents visitors an ample variety of watersports to choose from, such as snorkeling. On top of that, Pulau Karimun Besar has a range of smaller islands, such as Terkulai and Soreh surrounding it, which you can easily visit! Take an invigorating bath in the man-made pools created by the waterfalls near Pantai Palawan. If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, Pulau Karimun Besar is the ideal location to be at.

On top of that, Pulau Karimun Besar has a range of smaller islands, such as Terkulai and Soreh surrounding it, which you can easily visit! Take an invigorating bath in the man-made pools created by the waterfalls near Pantai Palawan. If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, Pulau Karimun Besar is the ideal location to be at.

Getting there: A 1.5 hr ferry ride to Tanjung Balai from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal where you will be picked up and transferred by car for another hour to Kawal Harbour. From there, a short boat ride will get you to the island.

4. Pulau Besar

Best for a cheap family getaway

Image credit: Bambi Corro III

Pulau Besar is easily the cheapest island getaway you could find to take your whole family to.  It is a laid-back island and a good destination for a simple, relaxing weekend. The island is relatively small and hosts a few simple lodgings. The waters are pristine and the beach beautiful but for some reason, most people know about Sibu or Rawa Island, but not about Pulau Besar. This makes it a perfect destination away from the tourist crowds.

Just to be clear, there are several Pulau Besar in Malaysia. Here we are talking about the one off Mersing in Johore. The island is sometimes called Pulau Babi Besar. The few accommodation on the island usually offers a full-board package that would include all your meals. The island is ideal for the whole family as besides its affordability, it is also kids- and baby-friendly. You can choose from the more basic chalet-types or the higher end Aseania Resort for your stay. On average, it would not cost you more than SG$150-200 per person for a 3D2N getaway, all-inclusive.

Getting there: You can drive, take a coach or hire a private transport to Mersing Jetty. This would take you about 2.5-3 hrs. From there, the accommodation you booked would have arranged for a transfer to the island. The boat ride should not take more than 20-30 minutes.

5. Pulau Aur

Best for diving and snorkelling

Image credit: Nicolas Lannuzel

Image credit: Paul

Pulau Aur is located in the east of Mersing and is part of the Johor Marine Park. Its abundant corals, lagoons and offshore pools make it a diver’s attraction. There are about twenty diving spots around the island as it is home to numerous unique sea creatures and coral reefs. This makes Pulau Aur excellent for scuba diving and snorkelling. It is set in a scenic landscape fringed with lush tropical rainforests. Do not expect luxury here. The island is rustic; there are no roads and it is typical of a traditional village. This is to retain the simplicity of the island and provide for an authentic island experience. So if you need creature comforts, this may not be the island for you.

Getting there: You can drive, take a coach or hire a private transport to Mersing Jetty. This would take you about 2.5-3 hrs. From there, take a 3-hr ferry ride to the island.

6. Sugi Island

Best for a romantic getaway

Sugi Island, Batam is home to a beautiful private beach getaway Telunas Private Island. Void of modern distractions, it is where you can take time off from your busy schedules and have a quiet time with your better half, girlfriends or family and kids. The easy accessibility of the island makes this resort a perfect choice for that short getaway.  There are only 15 luxurious over-water villas on the island which means the island is never crowded – and that is an attraction in itself.

Don’t let the simple, rustic exterior of the villas fool you. As soon as you step into the villa, it is nothing short of spectacular opulence. The huge king bed faces the glass-panelled verandah where you get an almost 180-degree view of the ocean. The exclusive vibe of the island can be felt right from the moment you step off the boat and walk along the wooden jetty towards the Grand Lodge where you will be led straight to your villas. No formal check-in necessary (they do not even have a check-in desk).

Opened in 2015, this new resort is located on a small island just a mere 2-minute boat ride across the older Telunas Beach Resort. While Telunas Beach Resort offers rustic accommodations with a community vibe, the private island offers the same authentic appeal but with more comfort, grandeur and exclusivity.

Getting there: A 1-hr ferry ride to Sekupang from Harbour Front & then a 1hr 30 mins transfer by the resort boat to the island.

7. Gem Island

Best for longer breaks

Image credit: HuiChieh

Image credit: HuiChieh

Located in a Marine Conservation Park, Gem Island or Pulau Gemia boasts crystal clear waters, spotless white sandy beaches and spectacular underwater seascape of marine life. It is a privately-owned island. Surrounded by lush greenery and facing the vast blue ocean, it is a superb getaway for a relaxed holiday. Like Pulau Kapas, the island is often overlooked as tourists seek the more popular Redang, Perhentian and Tengah islands.

Getting there: You can drive, take a coach or hire a private transport to Marang Jetty in Terengganu. It is a long drive so if you are going by coach, it would depart at night, arriving in Terengganu only the next morning. From the jetty, you get on a speedboat for a 15-minute ride to the island. There are several boat operators so do scout around to get the cheapest deal.

 

First published on TripZilla on Apr 3, 2017

7 Secret Islands Just Hours Away from Singapore

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