In the urban jungle of Singapore, it is sometimes challenging to find some calm that is essential for self-care. While you may be dreaming of the pristine beaches of Maldives and Bora Bora for your next holiday, here are some of the best beach weekend getaways or day trips from Singapore, many of which you don’t even need to catch a flight for – they are just a short ferry ride away!
Here are some of the most underrated island paradise destinations surrounding Singapore. Take your pick from adventure-seeking waterfall hikes to a quiet tropical retreat on a private island – we’ve got you covered. These stunning islands are not just the perfect backdrop for your Instagram pictures, but also for relaxing getaways.
1. Desaru Coast: eco-tourism on the eastern fringe of Johor for some family fun
Located just a stone’s throw away from Singapore, Desaru Coast is one of Malaysia’s premium integrated destinations on the eastern coast of Johor. Desaru Coast welcomed its first visitors in late 2019, with family and eco-friendly attractions and accommodation options, such as Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and The Westin Desaru Coast Resort.
Both hotels provide guests with direct access to Adventure Waterpark, home to one of the largest wave pools in the world. The Tidal Wave Beach allows guests to float lazily in the water or get carried away further into the tidal waves. Those seeking some exhilaration can try the Kraken’s Revenge, a roller coaster flume ride that sends you through a 360-degree loop before plunging you down 30 metres into a splashing finish. You can also check out the Swinging Ship – a Viking ship replica that swings beside three 13-metre high Penawar Falls, to an incline of 180 degrees.
Those who prefer to be closer to nature may choose to visit the local Desaru Fruit Farm instead. It has been in operation for over 10 years, and has been recognised for its efforts relating to agricultural practices and conservation.
The sprawling 180 acres of land contains more than 100 species of fruit trees and plants, along with a small petting zoo, a paintball activity space and a go-kart track. You will also get to learn about beekeeping and taste raw unprocessed fresh honey. The mini petting zoo features a range of animals from goats to rabbits, where visitors are welcome to feed them with fresh vegetables.
If you are looking for a nearby weekend getaway for the whole family, Desaru Beach is a great option.
How to get there:
Catch a coach (S$35 one-way) from Singapore Flyer or catch a ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal (S$42 for two-way), before transferring to another shuttle bus to Desaru Coast.
Opening hours: Open daily; 10:00am to 6:00pm
Ticket prices: S$33
Desaru Fruit Farm
Opening hours: Open daily; 8.30am to 6:00pm
Child (3-11 years old): S$7
2. Batam: Enjoy the beach villa life with your young ones along the Riau Archipelago
Whether you’re planning a nearby beach holiday with your family or group of friends, Batam, Indonesia is probably one of the most convenient destinations to consider. Located just an hour away from Singapore by ferry, it is easily accessible and has a variety of recreational activities available, from a game at the golf course to catching your own seafood from the sea.
Another great option for families with children is the Montigo Resorts Nongsa. Each villa accommodates up to four persons and comes equipped with a private swimming pool and a rooftop terrace overlooking the South China Sea. On a good day, you may even catch a glimpse of the Singapore city skyline on the horizon.
Children up to three years old can explore the Tilo Kids Club where they will engage in fun and educational activities, with a range of board games or game consoles. Families with youths in tow can experience the thrill of shooting an airsoft gun around the beach resort or test their aim with a game of darts. If you prefer to immerse yourself in local culture, you can sign up for the batik painting class to try your hand at dyeing fabric in the traditional Indonesian way that dates back 1,600 years ago.
For a more back-to-basics rustic living experience, try staying at Moonbay Kelong, a wooden villa built on stilts above the water that provides a peaceful and tranquil stay in the middle of the sea. What’s more, you’ll get to experience life on a kelong, dig into delicious fresh catch every day and can even try your hand at catching your own meals from the sea!
Last but not least, Batam is also known as a golfer’s paradise, so don’t forget to check out the seven different ranges around the area, such as Batam Hills Golf Resort, Palm Springs Golf and Beach Resort or the most famous Padang Golf Sukajadi for the best golf courses.
How to get there:
Catch a ferry from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal or Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore to Batam Centre, Harbour Bay, Sekupang or Nongasapura Ferry Terminal in Batam. Ticket prices are S$25 for a one-way ticket and S$50 for a two-way ticket.
Tiko Kids Club
Fees: S$9/pax per activity or S$50/pax for full day (9:00am – 6:00pm)
Fees: S$8/pax for 30 pellets
3. Bintan: Frolick with friends in Southeast Asia’s first man-made seawater lagoon
Treasure Bay is a waterfront resort city located on the Indonesian island of Bintan, with numerous zones integrated by lagoons, waterways and promenades. Treasure Bay Bintan’s Crystal Lagoon is Southeast Asia’s first man-made seawater lagoon. One of the unique accommodation options available around the lagoon is a new desert-themed glamping resort, ANMON. It features Instagram-worthy teepee-style glamp tents with private bathrooms and enclosed patios, ideal for lounging in the privacy of the tents or al fresco in the outdoor areas.
You will find an extensive range of sporting and recreational activities suitable for all ages around Treasure Bay. From mangrove kayaking, to off the road ATV trails and a giant slip and slide, there is something for every guest to participate in on their holiday. For water sports junkies, head over to Treasure Bay’s very own Chill Cove Wake Park to try out its range of water activities including cable skiing!
If you prefer to stay by the coast, you may consider one of the eight exclusive pool villas at Nirwana Gardens instead. The Indra Maya Pool Villa faces the South China Sea, giving you a sweeping view of the coastline from the luxury of the courtyard. An interesting activity at Nirwana Gardens is its turtle hatchery programme where the staff work together with the local community to conserve and protect native Green and Hawksbill turtles. Guests are welcome to be a part of this unique and free experience of watching 3-day-old hatchlings being released from their sheltered hatchery onto the pristine beach.
How to get there:
Catch a ferry (S$58 for two-way) from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan. Hail a local cab to complete the final leg of the transfer to Treasure Bay or Nirwana Gardens.
Fees: S$25 for 30mins
4. Pulau Pangkil: Rally your friends or loved ones and lock yourself away from the world on this exotic private island
If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind exotic island getaway, look no further – you can book this entire island for some private time with your partner or close friends. Situated further off Bintan, Pulau Pangkil is a private island that can be accessed from the private Pama Jetty located an hour and a half off Bintan. Choose to visit Pulau Pangkil directly, or make a pitstop after your stay in Bintan for a unique day trip.
Here, guests stay in driftwood villas constructed using logs salvaged at sea and the surrounding islands. These open villas stand by the edge of the beach, and are elevated from the ground to take advantage of the tropical sea breeze, overlooking the crystal clear waters and lush greenery beneath. They are naturally ventilated with roof-mounted fans and no air-conditioning, but decked out in rich fabric, intricate hand carved furniture and fittings that exude simple luxury.
The island is also void of other man-made elements, with minimal concrete or light pollution – making it the perfect destination to recharge your soul with your other half on a hammock, with the sunset glowing behind tiki torches and a blanket of stars.
As you explore this idyllic island, you will be surprised by how incredibly rich the ecosystem is. There are over 40 species of plants, and the surrounding seas are strictly no-fishing zones. If you are observant and lucky enough, you can spot herons, mudskippers, monitor lizards, and butterflies within the area. All three meals are provided during your stay according to your own schedule, with a mix of Indonesian and Western dishes, from grilled seafood and barbecued meats, to pastas, vegetables and fresh fruits. To top it off, you can book a massage (minimum six sessions) during your stay to fully indulge in this rustic paradise.
The cost for hiring the entire island starts from S$3,450 per night per group, for a minimum of 10 adults for a two-night stay. All costs include three meals a day, full use of facilities, and land and boat transfers between Bintan and Pulau Pangkil. If you have a smaller group, individual bookings are available for a minimum of two nights’ stay with at least 4 adults, priced at S$330++ per adult and S$120++ per child (4-13 years old) per night. Do note that individual bookings will be limited to Mondays to Thursdays only.
How to get there: Catch a ferry (S$58 for two-way) from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan. Catch a cab to the private Pama Jetty (1h 30mins) and the resort will whisk you to Pulau Pangkil in their private boat in 15 – 30mins.
Fees: S$30 for 60mins
You may travel to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 or 4 to catch a shuttle bus (S$3 for one-way) to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. From there you can continue on to Batam, Bintan or Pulau Pangkil.*
5. Telunas: Take a tropical retreat and reconnect with untouched flora and fauna
Another destination to consider amongst the Riau Islands if you’re travelling as a couple would be Telunas Resort, a tranquil beach resort with no huge crowds. This beautiful resort, just 50km and 3h away from Singapore, is accessible via a speed boat from Batam, and offers over-the-water villas entirely built out of wooden planks. There is no air-conditioning, but there is a net on the roof to prevent birds from flying into your room. This sprawling property above the water also has a high deck where you can jump off during the high tide, perfect for thrill seekers.
If you prefer something more exclusive, you can book the private beach villa which comes with a living room and a loft bedroom, as well as another huge bedroom facing the sea, with a balcony and sunbed for a perfect escape from urban life. What’s more, there is no WiFi to distract you from relaxing, so you can really disconnect and go offline.
While you are there, let your stress melt away as you become one with the sea while kayaking or paddle boarding through the clear waters. This is also a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the island’s surroundings. Another way you can fully immerse yourself on the island is through a guided island tour. On the tour, you can learn more about the island’s culture while visiting the local village and speaking to the natives! Do remember to make a reservation for this one day in advance, before 2pm.
How to get there:
Catch a ferry from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal to Sekupang or Sekupang in Batam. Ticket prices are S$25 for a one-way ticket and S$50 for a two-way ticket. Upon arrival at Sekupang, a Telunas Resorts team member will meet you and guide you to the Telunas boat for a ride to Telunas Resorts. This domestic round trip ticket (S$82/adult and S$53/child) is purchased during the resort booking process.
Single Kayak: S$16 per hour
Double Kayak: S$22 per hour
Stand Up Paddleboard
Fees: S$22 per hour
Fees: S$22 per person
Unwind and recharge with an unforgettable weekend getaway
It’s time to add these islands to your travel checklist if you are looking to catch a breather from life and get a taste of paradise. With holiday activities and accommodation options suited for all ages, there’s bound to be something for everyone. We can’t wait for you to return refreshed and rejuvenated!.
*Do note that not all islands listed in this article are directly accessible from Singapore’s ferry terminals.
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