While traveling is fun and exciting, it can sometimes be quite difficult to find a decent place to run due to heavy traffic, rough terrain, or other factors specific to certain locations.
If you want to travel and run, but don’t exactly have the funds to do so, exploring these nearby islands won’t leave you totally broke. Some of these islands are part of Singapore and others are part of our neighbouring country, Malaysia. By visiting the various islands located near Singapore, you can embark on an adventure filled with unique running routes and beautiful sights. Whether you are pushing the threshold with speed intervals or cruising along for a long run, these 10 islands are perfect for some memorable destination running.
Located 15 minutes away from Singapore if you take the ferry from the Changi Point jetty, Pulau Ubin is a beautiful island located off the northeastern corner of Singapore. With Singapore’s last kampongs (villages), you will find that a trip to Pulau Ubin is just as much a cultural experience as it is an adventurous one. Most of the island is suitable for runners with a mixture of paved roads and trails. In a single loop, routes can be about 17 to 20km in length. For longer routes, you can choose to double-back in certain sections to create more distance.
Transportation costs of the public bumboat for a trip to Pulau Ubin: S$2.50 per person. Maximum 12 passengers. Additional $2 per bicycle. If you are in a hurry, you can pay S$30 and go straight away.
The Sisters’ Islands are located 40 minutes away from Clifford Pier of the West Coast Ferry Terminal and 30 minutes away from the Marina South Pier. If you are a runner in search of a destination with some tropical vibes and lots of wildlife, these islands to the south of Singapore are the place to go. Trails on Sisters’ Islands are quite rough at certain points; hence, these trails are ideal only if you are an experienced trail runner or are seeking a challenge. In addition, because of the rough terrain, easy and steady-paced runs are recommended, as opposed to tempo or speed interval workouts. While these trails may make for tough, long runs if you are inexperienced with difficult surfaces, the trails on Sisters’ Islands are long enough for runs up to 15km.
You need to charter a boat from the private operators when traveling to the Sisters’ Islands. It usually costs at least S$150 for a return trip and this is good for up to 12 persons. Price may vary depending on private operator. Toilets and showers are available on the islands.
You can also join the introductory guided walks organised by NParks, for a more fulfilling trip. Boats will be chartered for participants of NParks’ guided walks.
Kusu Island is located about 30 minutes away from the Marina South Pier. While many of the islands near Singapore are known for their beauty, you will truly enjoy Kusu because of its calm lagoons, clean beaches, and abundant wildlife. You definitely feel a sense of peace and relaxation when running on Kusu Island because of its atmosphere. This one of the most frequently visited Singapore islands, so trails have been well maintained, and rough terrain is minimal. This setting allows for a large variety of running, ranging from easy-paced long runs to fartlek workouts. Trails run along most of the island’s shoreline and well into its interior, so there is never a shortage of distance for runners on Kusu. By combining paved trails, backpacking trails, and biking trails, runners can create routes that measure out beyond 20km. You can also climb the 152 steps leading to the top of the rugged hillock on Kusu Island where stands three shrines to Malay sites. The Tua Peh Kong Temple is a beautiful place to visit after a good run, so be sure to keep your camera handy. Do note that overnight stays are not permitted on Kusu Island.
Ferry rides to Kusu Island cost S$18.00 for adults and S$12.00 for children aged from 1 – 12 years old.
St. John’s Island
St John’s Island (previously known as Pulau Sekijang Bendara) can be found about 6.5km to the south of Singapore. When traveling from the Marina South Pier, the trip will take you about 45 minutes. If you are interested in staying overnight, the Holiday Bungalow and Camps definitely allow you to experience the island-living experience. St. John’s Island is best known for its rich and diverse community of flora and fauna; this is the place to visit if you are a runner who truly enjoys nature. The total island measures about 39 square km, and approximately 10 to 15km of path is suitable for running.
The ferry ride costs S$18.00 for adults and S$12.00 for children aged from 1 – 12 years old.
Pulau Hantu is consisted of two islets separated by a shallow lagoon. It is located about 30 minutes to the south of Singapore from the West Coast Ferry Pier. Since the lagoon divides Pulau Hantu, running trails are limited to about 5 to 8km unless you are the type who does not mind getting wet to cross over to the opposite side of the island (the lagoon can only be crossed during low tide). This island is best for short runs at any pace. Pulau Hantu is best known for local Malay legends and its unique layout.
To Travel to Pulau Hantu, you must charter your own boat by contacting the boat operators from West Coast Pier or Singapore Island Cruise located at the Marina South Pier, rates will have to be negotiated with the operator.
Pulau Pinang is a Malaysian island that is located about 7 hours from Singapore. This island is one of the most developed areas in all of Malaysia and offers nearly every aspect of the modern Asian cultural experience. Key attractions include unique street vendors, first class hotels, Penang National Park, huge shopping centers, and of white sandy beaches. Since Pulau Pinang covers such a huge area, you can select running routes of 40km or more.
Pulau Langkawi is an archipelago of more than 100 islands to the north of Malaysia. From Singapore, the quickest method of travel is by plane; however, a combination of ferry and automobile travel can also be used to reach Pulau Langkawi. Langkawi is commonly described as a tropical paradise, so you can expect to see crystal-clear waters, clean beaches, and lush forests when running on the main island. You can enjoy all that Pulau Langkawi has to offer while running on trails beyond 20km. Prices vary, depending on travel options.
At Pulau Pangkor, travelers can enjoy a quiet island life, as well as some picturesque running adventures. You can travel by car until Lumut and then take a ferry to the island. This trip can take half a day, but flying is also an option if you do not enjoy long road trips. On the southern side of the island, there is a small fishing village that offers excellent seafood and incredible views. By combining both paved roads and trails, you can run on routes from 15 to 20km before enjoying local culture or the first-class resort on the northern end of Pulau Pangkor.
Pulau Sembilan features a popular diving site and one of the most beautiful beaches on the Malaysian islands. Most travelers reach Sembilan through a combination of car and ferry travel. It is important to note that ferries do not connect to Sembilan during monsoon season due to rough weather. You can enjoy runs of any distance due to a large stretch of well-maintained roads and trails.
Pulau Tioman does not retain the quiet island vibes of other locations; still, it is great for travelers who enjoy resorts and exciting waterfronts. Tioman is full of hotels and resorts, ranging from large, first-class condominiums to privately owned bungalows. In the less developed parts of the island, you can enjoy wildlife and the sights of flowering plants and waterfalls. Runners can take advantage of bike trails, hiking trails, and paved roads to set out on brief easy runs or long runs.
Running Break from Mainland Singapore
The islands near Singapore offer excellent opportunities for runners seeking to add an adventurous twist to their training routines. Whether you are pounding out some serious distance through long runs or building speed through threshold workouts, Singapore’s and Malaysia’s islands are the perfect venues to experience all that budget traveling and running has to offer.