Friday, 28 November 2014

Beach Getaways from Singapore without flying

Despite the constant complaints of the immense heat we are suffering at home everyday, many Singaporeans are still beach lovers and could never get enough of them - sifting the powdery white sand through your toes as the blistering sun beats down on your back and the contours of your face - and are desperately in search of the best beach getaway.

As an advocate of ‘life is a journey, not destination’, I would sometimes prefer land and sea travels compared to the readily available and more convenient air travels. But to some, they just hate flying altogether. The islands and beaches featured on “10 weekend beach getaways from Singapore” would require some flying but this new list will only cover those don’t require the cumbersome 6,000 feet off the ground.

Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia
70 kilometres South of Singapore.
2 hours ferry ride from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal.


Batam island is a popular getaway destination from Singapore that is highly sought after by different demographics. Offering more than just its alluring beaches and unique boutique resorts, Batam island has good eats and shopping opportunities inland. It is no wonder that many Singaporeans flock here to pamper themselves during weekends in the charm of the tropical beauty.

Bintan, Riau Islands, Indonesia
45 kilometres Southeast of Singapore.
45 minutes to 1 hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.



Separated from Batam island by the Riau Straits, Bintan island remains as one of the top beach destinations for Singaporeans during holidays, threading behind Bali island. Its popularity among Singaporeans is so blatant that you can actually use SGD on this island.

Being the largest island in the Riau Archipelago, there are many activities you can take part in apart from lazing on the beach, gazing at the horizon aimlessly. Head inland for hiking, ATV rides or a stroll in the elephant park. There are also historical and cultural attractions such as Kota Piring palace.

Nikoi Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia
80 kilometres South of Singapore.
Approximately 2.5 hours ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. (Ferry to Bintan island first, then take a 1 hours taxi ride from Bintan Ferry Terminal to jetty. Finally, a 30 minutes boat ride from Bintan Jetty to Nikol Island.)


For those looking for exclusive tranquility, Nikol Island, a private beach off Bintan would make your perfect stress-free getaway. With only 15 beach houses, you can be the lead actor in your own ‘Lost’ parody. Read: secluded.

Though laid back and lesser activities available as compared to aforementioned, what else do you need if you are surrounded by white fine sand and inviting blue waters? That was rhetorical; just strip to your bare minimums and frolic in the blurred lines of the shore.

If you’re getting a little restless, snorkelling, fishing and wildlife spotting might go into your itinerary.

Sugi Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia
30 kilometres Southwest of Batam Island.
3 hours ferry ride from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal. (40 minutes boat ride from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal to Sekupang Terminal. Then, traditional boat ride from Sekupang Terminal to Sugi Island.)



The entire place is connected by the wooden walkway, set on stilts over the sea, giving it a rustic ambience. The planks are set slightly apart, so you can steal peeks at the glistening turquoise waters beneath.

Good and bad news though, there is no internet connection on this island. Definitely an ideal place, by choice or not, to be disconnected with the stressful hustling reality back home. It is a rare chance for city dwellers like us to fully immerse and indulge in the finest beauty of nature without having our fingers all over our social media accounts.

Pulau Sibu, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
130 kilometres North of Johor Bahru and 75 kilometres South of Mersing.
No public ferries to this island. Some resorts will offer shuttle buses straight from Singapore with a total transfer time of 3.5 hours.


Off the East Coast of Malaysia is Pulau Sibu, 7 kilometres long and 1 kilometres wide. Pulau Sibu has its own desalination plant that provides unlimited fresh and clean waters, keeping up with the international environmental standards.

Apart from its impressive environmentally-friendly standards, you’ll be assured of a sanctuary, having your mind and body rejuvenated. Unlike those private beaches with top notch resorts, there are 4 beach resorts catering to varying budgets and preferences. Romantic lovers, adventure seeks or even kids can be in sync with nature at reasonable rates!

Tioman Island, Pahang, Malaysia
165 kilometres Northeast of Singapore.
3 hours bus ride from Singapore to Mersing, and 2 hours ferry ride from Mersing to Tioman island. (Alternatively, hire a taxi from Johor Bahru to Mersing for around RM 200.)


An ecological paradise for nature lovers and sun seekers - warm beaches, rich marine life, and lush rainforests. Diving season starts in late January and lasts till mid-November. The closest dive site is only 10 minutes boat ride from the main island, and with the flourishing marine life, you can spot underwater pinnacles, coral bommies, small clown fishes, and even giant bump head parrot fishes, just to name a few.

Batu Batu @ Pulau Tengah, Mersing, Malaysia
15 minutes speed boat ride from Mersing.



A slice of paradise on this private island. Nestled amidst the swaying coconut trees, you will find yourself squinting against the tropical breezes and fine sand up your calves as you run towards the pristine waters.

Living an environmentalist dream, you can take a jungle walk to discover the more remote areas of the island, and if you’re lucky you can witness the migration of birds. Also, rent a kayak, go diving, snorkel in one of the reefs, or a day trip to the nearby islands!

More travel tips here.

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