Lazarus Island

Last Updated on 18 August 2023

We were tickled to learn that Lazarus Island was once known as Pulau Sekijang Pelepah, which literally means “Island of One Barking Deer and Palms”. Barking deer we unfortunately did not see on Lazarus Island, but palms definitely were aplenty.

The island was later renamed Lazarus Island – a much easier name to remember – presumably because it was being used in the 19th century as a “lazaretto” or isolation hospital.

Lazarus Island is linked to St John’s Island via a paved causeway and is a short 10 to 15 minutes walk from the St John’s Island ferry terminal. Check out our St John’s Island blog to find out how to get to St John’s Island via ferry.

After exploring St John’s Island, we proceeded to hoof it across the causeway to check out Lazarus Island and hopefully meet some of the wildlife and birds that live there.

Casting our eyes to the sky, we spotted a lonesome Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) soaring above. This is one of several raptors that can often be seen commanding Singapore’s skies.

Looking back down on the ground, many species of colourful butterflies were flitting around and batting their attractive wings at us.

The sound of a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) calling out drew our attention, and after some searching we finally found him hiding deep in the forest foliage.

A small dock nestled in the lagoon caters to private yachts, which is an alternative way to get to the island. Amongst the group of yachts docked there that day, one happened to be in the midst of a lively party.

Leaving the lagoon and the merriment behind, we followed the winding deserted path that led us further into the island and deeper into the remote wilderness that we found ourselves drawn to.

All around us was quiet and still, save for the sound of birds and the occasional mysterious rustling noises coming from the forest bed.

We soon reached a shelter overlooking the sea and Singapore’s cityscape. It seemed like a good place to stop for a picnic lunch. Having been fore-warned that there are no food stalls on the island, we came prepared with our own picnic basket.

Under the shade of the picnic shelter, we were joined by a resident cat who seemed very well-informed about the best places to wait around for food. There we sat and ate in the company of kitty the cat.

Lazarus Island is joined to Seringat Island, which is in turn connected to Kias Island via a narrow causeway.

Lazarus Island and Seringat Island, previously separate islands, became joined as one through land reclamation. Truck loads of sand were imported to create the sand bank between the two islands and form the 800-metre stretch of famed pristine beach that has been touted as one of Singapore’s last unspoilt beaches. If we had a camping permit, we could easily set up tent on the beach and bury ourselves in the sand all day.

Kias Island, previously just a shoal that was barely visible at high tide, has also been transformed via land reclamation into a little island that houses an electricity generator to supply power to the other Southern Islands. We can now easily walk across the causeway from Seringat Island to get to Kias Island.

Along the way, we stopped to admire Sisters’ Islands from afar and dream about visiting these two mirror image islands one day.

As we approached Kias Island, a pair of friendly Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) were standing at attention to welcome us.

We were delighted to walk in on a gathering of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus) in the midst of a bee-eating buffet party.

In a typical bee-eater buffet party, one can expect a fresh selection of local delicacies like dragonflies, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, and of course, bees.

The Blue-tailed Bee-eaters are migratory birds that visit Singapore during the winter season from September to April, and we were lucky to have caught them during the early window of their migration.

It was nice to see that our resident Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis) were also invited to the bee-eating party on Kias Island.

The expansive grass fields covered in wildflowers means that we can expect to see some Paddyfield Pipits (Anthus rufulus) running around the grass on Kias Island.

These are common grass birds frequently found in open grasslands, where they feed on small insects and worms buried in the grass.

We had a wild and merry time chasing the pipits all over Kias Island on the wide open field. Some of them were friendly enough to allow us to approach within a few metres away.

Another bird we had fun chasing around the island is the Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis), who was just trying to catch a few winks. Even in a drowsed state, the nightjar had a heightened sense of awareness, and would take off whenever he sensed us approaching from afar. We chased him from bush to bush, until he decided to settle down on the tiled floor of the electrical shed, far away from our reach.

Exhausted after running around the grass field chasing the birds, we decided to plonk our butts on the breakwater and enjoy a peaceful moment.

Resting there on the rocks with us was the Little Tern (Sternula albifrons), soaking in the sun and the scenery.

Before long, his hungry chick started calling…

…which gradually became louder and more incessant…

…and it was time for the Little Tern to do his parental duty…

…and make sure his chicks are well-fed.

On the northern side of Seringat Island is a large enclosed lagoon with clear and calm waters.

We attempted to walk along the perimeter of the lagoon, but we were dismayed to find that the path was disconnected midway. We could swim across to get to the other side, but we decided to save that for another day.

As we doubled back along the completely deserted path, our spirits lifted when we walked in on an Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) enjoying his breakfast.

We decided to stop and join him, and at the same time enjoy the beautiful sea view.

After the long long walk, we made it back to St John’s Island jetty just in time to catch the afternoon ferry back to Marina South Pier.