Kusu Island

My family suddenly wanted to go Kusu island. It was such a random idea and I had just got back to Singapore hours before this excursion so I wasn’t exactly jumping at the thought. However, it was family day so I decided to go with them bright and early to the South Pier to catch the ferry to the island.

The last time I remember going to Kusu Island was when I was in lower primary school and the last time I stepped foot on St John’s Island was in Secondary school where there was a bonding camp with my entire class.

The ferry that goes to Kusu Island has to make a compulsory stop at St John’s island before proceeding so we all got out to do a quick tour of St John’s as well.

The first thing that struck me was how clear and clean the waters are! Staying in a city island country like Singapore, I’m so used to seeing the greenish (sometimes brownish) opaque waters of the beaches in the main island. I never expected that just mere minutes away, Singapore has islands with crystal clear waters!

Saint John’s Island turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I’m even considering going back in the future for picnics or BBQ stay-overs with friends to enjoy their swimming lagoons and do some trekking around the island even thoughI know that the island is reputed to be haunted. Looking at the beautiful floral, fauna, clean beaches and lack of crowds, it’s the sort of place I would love.

Next we were headed to our original destination, Kusu Island. It’s a tiny island that is made famous by it’s mysterious legend. The lore of the island goes like this. A magical giant turtle turned itself into Kusu island to save two shipwrecked sailors – a Malay and a Chinese. It is said the grateful sailors returned to the island to give thanks by building two separate shrines each basing on their own belief system. Others continued the tradition over the years to give thanks on the ninth month of the lunar calendar.

I was told that the number of pilgrims is about 100,000 during the season but we went on an off season and the island was actually pretty empty! I believe the island resembled a ridged back turtle before the government reclaimed the island to beautify it.

There are 2 main temples on the island. The first one you would see when you walk into the island from the jetty is the Da Bo Gong 大伯公 temple. It’s a Chinese temple that houses the deities Da Bo Gong 大伯公 and Guan Yin 观.  Devotees come here to pray for prosperity, cure diseases, calm the sea and avert danger.

We had fun trying our hand throwing coins in the wishing well and watching the turtles in the sanctuary. I distinctively remembered there being hundreds and hundreds of turtles there when I went as a kid but I somehow feel there are less when I was there this time. The waters at Kusu Island are also gorgeous with beautiful corals but unlike Saint John Island, you are not allowed to stay overnight on Kusu Island.

Our last stop was the kramats on top of a hill. It’s a 152 step climb to the top and people usually go all the way to the top to ask for good marriage, health and harmony. The holy shrines were built up there to o commemorate a pious man and his family in the 19th century. There is also a wishing tree where you make a wish and tie the stone to the tree. If your wish comes true, you have to go back, untie your stone and give thanks.

Below is a video of my trip to Kusu Island. You may also view it on youtube at http://youtu.be/hjKR5ZC0Fz4



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