Last week, my work department went for some team bonding at St John’s Island. Many of us hadn’t been there in a long while, and for me, it was a sheer delight to be out of the office and in the wild on a workday afternoon.
The only way to the island is by ferry from Marina South Pier – $15 for adults, $12 for kids (which includes island admission). Click here for the schedule. If the group is large enough, it’s possible to charter a ferry. I didn’t realise this but there is even a holiday bungalow and campgrounds – read more here. If you do intend to go though, please note that there are no shops of any sort on the island, so you’ll need to bring your own food and water.
Here’s our boat approaching the island:
To the right of the pier was a stretch of beach with fine sand, clear water, and a spacious picnic area. I made a mental note to plan a visit for the Pilgrim family as soon as possible.
Walking further in, we saw mesh fencing and barbed wire, a hark back to the history and heritage of St John’s Island. I was surprised to learn that it had been used variously:
- to quarantine Chinese immigrants who had cholera (late 19th century)
- as a holding place for political detainees and secret society types awaiting deportation (1950s)
- A rehabilitation centre for opium addicts
We had a thoroughly enlightening tour of the Marine Aquaculture Centre, a government fish farm and R&D facility that aims to stabilise the supply of food fish in Singapore. Photography not allowed but you can read more about the centre here.
But walking to and from the Centre, our senses were treated to a wide array of absolutely gorgeous mature trees. St John’s Island is apparently the home of Singapore’s only tembusu forest! Here’s a sampling of pictures:
Several times I found myself thinking of Fangorn Forest and the Ents. As well as that wonderful last stanza of Hopkins’ Inversnaid. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, and well worth another visit, hopefully soon.