Need a short beach break? These islands near Singapore have the best beaches, resorts and rustic village life
Living in Singapore, it’s too easy to get caught up in the fast-paced rat race. For those times when city living gets too tough, we’re giving you permission to check out of daily life…and check into a gorgeous resort instead. You don’t even need a ton of vacation days; research has proven that short breaks are better for you to recharge (but do you really need an excuse?). If you need some ideas, we’ve got 16 islands near Singapore (including luxurious private islands) for you to choose from, with some as near as 45 minutes away.
Made up of three tiny islands (Trawangan, Meno and Air) the Gili Islands beckons for you to unleash your inner hippie. Leave your fancy beachside frocks at home and bung on a sarong for your entire trip. Stay in a traditional Indonesian beach hut and prepare to spend your days just hitting the quiet beach in Meno, exploring the coral reefs at Gili Air with affordable dive packages, partying in Trawangan and stuffing your face with seafood barbeques. One word for your time in Gili? Chill.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Bali via a two hour 45 minutes flight. Then, take a two-hour fast boat ride from Benoa Harbour to the Gilis.
Set in a playground of five gorgeous gorgeous islands is Bawah: the epitome of eco-luxury. Only accessible via seaplane, Bawah is surrounded by three crystal clear lagoons, powdery white beaches and a lush jungle canopy teeming with exotic wildlife. Sustainability is key here; the wooden resorts are made from eco-friendly bamboo, conservation efforts are plenty and meals are only sourced from fresh local environments. The island houses a maximum of 70 people across 35 villas.
Travel time: 3.5 hours, after a car ride to the ferry terminal, fast track through immigration and a 70 minute seaplane ride to directly outside your suite.
Less than an hour away by ferry, Bintan is the quick weekend getaway we always have on rotation. The island’s luxe factor has increased tenfold, thanks to the opening of resorts like The Residence Bintan and The Sanchaya, and we’ll always love Banyan Tree. Despite its popularity with the Singapore crowd for its buzzy beach life, the island also holds many treasures, including a mountain, hidden waterfalls and sea gypsy villages.
Travel time: 45 minutes via ferry ride
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Bali is always a good idea” time and time again. And as Bali regulars, we’re inclined to agree. For starters, the island has something for everyone, from azure seas in in Uluwatu, awe-inspiring active volcanoes to trek, buzzy beach bars and cool home decor stores. You have a varied choice of stay too, as the resort is packed to the brim with all sorts of all-inclusive swanky resorts, private pool villas and cool boutiques. Check out our shopping guide to Canggu – and of course, or sister site Honeycombers Bali if you need any more reasons to book a flight stat.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Bali via a two hour and 45 minutes by direct flight
We don’t use the term ‘slice of paradise’ very often, but that’s exactly what Rawa is. Popular with families, the coral island boasts powdery white shores and turquoise waters. Only two resorts are found here for maximum privacy – with both properties made up of rustic wooden chalets on stilts, and boasting unobstructed sea views. The only thing on your to-do list should be beach and water sports: think everything from seaside volleyball to stand up paddle boarding.
Travel time: Drive, or take a coach or private limo from Singapore to Mersing. The ride will take you three hours. Rawa Island is then an hour’s ferry ride from Mersing.
Put Telunas on your vacay radar immediately. The tiny tropical gem just 50km south of Singapore is the plush getaway you need without the fuss of airplane travel. Take your pick from the private island or beach resort. The former is made for romance, with spacious over-water sea villas as the accommodation, wide-angle views of the azure sea and an infinity pool and bar for you to wind down in. The latter, on the other hand, is best recommended for those with a soft spot for slow island life, with rustic chalets created in the style of traditional Riau architecture and a personal porch area with hammocks. Bonus: this is where you can enjoy a digital detox and really unwind. No wifi here!
Travel time: Get on a one-hour ferry ride from Singapore’s Harbourfront Terminal to Sekupang Port in Batam. Next, board a wooden longboat which will you take to Telunas in an hour and 40 minutes.
Known as the party island of Thailand, Phuket is far more than its reputation. Avoid Patong – a beach town is home to raucous nightlife, restaurants and hordes of tourists – if it’s serenity you seek. The island is home to 30 unspoiled white beaches with clear blue waters, with one for everyone, ranging from lively (yet not overbearingly crowded) like Kata and Karon beach, to hidden beauties like Freedom beach. The island is also the main spot from where you island hop to unspoilt islands like Racha and Coral Island.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Phuket via a one hour 45 minute direct flight
Is ‘been there, done that’ the first thought you had when thinking of Bintan? You’ll love Nikoi Island instead: a private island just off the coast of the popular Indonesian island. Ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs, the island also boasts a lush rainforest with ancient, native trees like the Banyan. Barefoot luxury best describes the beach houses. Alang alang and driftwood roofs shelter these modern-designed beach houses, with a sublime pool which overlooks the South China Sea from a height. On your itinerary is whatever you want: think snorkelling and diving, island hopping or just pure relaxation.
Travel time: Two and a half hours from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
An idyllic and serene archipelago sequestered 30 kilometers away from Malaysia’s mainland coast, Langkawi is a triple threat with a charm that’ll appeal to beach lovers, foodies, and adventure seekers alike. All around you is emerald waters, with paddy fields and jungly hills as the main backdrop. With so many choices, choosing a district for your stay can be a mind-boggling process but if you’ve got the dime, we’d urge you to splash your cash on one of the many upscale resorts on the island.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Langkawi via a one hour 25 minute direct flight
Pulau Pangkil, Indonesia
Located off the Southeastern corner of Bintan Island, Pulau Pangkil is only accessible via ferry. When hiring Pangkil, you’ll receive the whole package: accommodation, snorkelling equipment, the bar, sound system, speedboats and a staff of over 20 to cater to assorted whims and fancies. Nine Driftwood Palaces are available for guests; situated close to the beach, each of them is made from logs salvaged from the sea and features large four-poster beds and adjacent bathrooms. And while there’s plenty to keep you active outdoors (sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddling or movie screenings), we suggest refuelling by spending your days sun-lounging and napping in hammocks.
Travel time: Board an hour ferry ride from Singapore to Bandar Bintan Telani in Northern Bintan. Next, take the land transfer to Pama jetty. This will take you an hour and a half. And finally, get on a 15 to 30 minute ride to Pangkil.
Tioman Island, Malaysia
This tiny pear-shaped island off the coast of Malaysia is is a haven for both aquatic lovers and budget travellers. Itss waters aren’t the bluest or clearest in the region, but it does have a vibrant coral reef and waters that are easy to navigate for training beginner divers. The volcanic island is covered in rainforest, and still has a rustic, laidback way of life.
Travel time: Take a coach from Singapore to Tanjong Gemok Jetty. This typically takes three to three and a half hours. You’ll then take a one and a half hour ferry ride to Tioman Island.
Finding a serene beach in the Philippines is easy as pie, as it’s got over 7000 islands to its name. As an introduction to Filipino island life, head to Cebu, home of white sandy beaches and exciting dive spots over in its Northern coast. To couple your beach holiday with a bit of culture, Cebuis home to temples, forts and shrines for you to explore.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Cebu via a three hour and 45 minutes direct flight
Pulau Tengah, Malaysia
Crowded beaches are unheard of at Batu Batu: a private island resort located in Malaysia’s uninhabited Pulau Tengah. Set amongst coconut groves and rocky outcrops, the resort is the only property in the island, giving its guests unparalleled privacy to frolic on the eight pristine beaches, dive and snorkel around with marine life, or kayak around its perimeter. The resort on its own is a pure gem, as it organises active conservation missions like Turtle Watch Camp, and practices sustainable policies.
Travel time: Drive, or take a coach or private limo from Singapore to Mersing. The ride will take you three hours. Mersing to Pulau Tengah is accessible via a 20 to 30 minute speedboat ride.
From by the same folks behind Nikoi Island, Cemepdak is a dramatically designed private island resort. You’re not likely to see anything like it near Singapore, as the eco-friendly resort boasts crescent shaped roofs (made of local grass) atop its bamboo made villas. Within these, you’ll find private plunge pools, decks and spacious living spaces. Cempedak as an island is yet another stunning natural wonder, with a shoreline of white sandy beaches, white granite boulders and a rainforest inhabited by local birds. Other residents of the island – besides humans of course – are pangolins and otters.
Travel time: 2.5 hours away from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Bali’s quieter cousin may look a lot like the Island of the Gods; but make no mistake, they are as different as chalk and cheese. For starters, Lombok lacks millennial and healthy cafe scene, as well as the spectrum of buzzing beach clubs, and world-renowned restos. What it does have in spades is raw charm. Like Bali of decades ago, the island is still authentic, with untouched landscapes and traditional markets.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Lombok via a two hour 40 minute flight
There’s a lot to love about Koh Samui, and no we’re not just talking about its beautiful palm-fringed beaches. Hit up Ang Thong National Marine Park to explore hidden waterfalls, coves and mangroves. Or head to Bophut to enter a haven of tranquility; there you’ll find a majestic 12-metre high golden Buddah statue and market shopping at the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, where old Chinese shops and houses still remain. Alternatively, book a stay at Koh Tao (also known as ‘Turtle Island’), which boasts the clearest waters teeming with marine life.
Travel time: Fly from Singapore to Koh Samui via a one hour and 45 minute direct flight
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