Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

St John's Island


St. John’s Island (SJI), or Pulau Sakijang Bendera, is located approximately 15 minutes by boat from the mainland. Two research facilities are situated on the island, the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) and the Marine Aquaculture Centre (MAC), run by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) respectively. SJI also has several holiday bungalows, owned by the Sentosa Leisure Group, which the public can rent. Other public facilities include swimming lagoons and picnic areas. Visitors may also visit the adjacent Lazarus Island (Pulau Sakijang Pelepah) which is linked to SJI via a rock bund.

SJI was first used as a quarantine centre for cholera-stricken Chinese immigrants. By the 1930s, the attap house turned quarantine station had become the world's largest, screening those en route to Singapore, such as Asian immigrants and Malay pilgrims returning from Mecca. As large scale immigration ceased in the 1950s, SJI was converted to a detention centre to house political prisoners and ringleaders of secret societies.  Thereafter, the island was used as a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts. Since 1975, redevelopment of SJI has transformed it into what it is today.

Two natural rocky shores occur on SJI: the northern Tanjong Hakim, and Tanjong Lokos towards the south. Both are framed by coastal landforms such as cliffs and caves. A variety of animals inhabit the shore, such as Black Sea Cucumbers (Holothuria leucospilota), Spider Conches (Lambis lambis), and Soldier Crabs (Dotilla sp.). A rather extensive coral reef fringes the shores. Mangrove Cannonball Trees (Xylocarpus granatum) and the native Pong Pong (Cerbera manghas) are two distinctive plants of the mangrove and coastal forests, respectively.

Getting there

A regular ferry service by Singapore Island Cruise departs daily from Marina South Pier, which makes its way to SJI and Kusu Island ($15 for adults; $12 for children 12 and below). Charter services may also be booked.

Other Resources

Tan, R. St. John's Island. http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/sji.htm. (Accessed August 2011).

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