Pulau Ubin

If you only have time for one island on your visit, this is it. The island boasts a former granite quarry and is also home to the last authentic kampong (village) in Singapore, with its water fetched from wells and power supplied by diesel generators. A short trek to the northeast is Chek Jawa, an intertidal flat that features some of the widest varieties of marine flora and fauna here, from mangroves and carpet anemones to Oriental pied-hornbills and mudskippers. At the village centre, rent a bicycle to explore the rubber plantations or tuck into hearty home cooked-style seafood at one of the family-run eateries.

Getting there: From Changi Point Ferry Terminal, board a bumboat for the short 10-minute ride to the island. Each passenger pays $3; bicycles at $2 extra. The bumboat, which leaves when it fills its 12-passenger capacity, operates between 7am and 7pm, with after-hour services by arrangement.

St John’s Island, Lazarus Island and Pulau Seringat

These three islands are common stopover points for luxury yachts – and it’s not hard to see why. Connected by boardwalks, the trio offer the clearest waters and most powdery sands in Singapore, with amazing views of Singapore’s city skyline to boot. Laze on the beach under the shade of palm trees or take a dip in the sun-drenched lagoon. When the mercury soars, quench your thirst with a freshly cracked coconut. For an extended getaway, book the self-catering holiday bungalow that sleeps up to 10.

Getting there: From Marina South Pier, catch a ferry to St John’s Island, which departs twice a day on weekdays and up to five times a day on weekends and public holidays. Return fare costs $18. Note that the ferry does not run every October due to resources being diverted for the pilgrimage to Kusu Island.

Sisters’ Islands

Local legend has it that the two outcrops that make up Sisters’ Island were formed where inseparable siblings drowned while escaping from pirates. Today, the islands are part of Singapore’s first marine park, home to more than 250 species of hard corals (a third of all such species found worldwide), 100 species of reef fish and 200 species of sponges. Bring your snorkel for a dive trail located at the larger of the two islands, or take part in one of national agency NPark’s free bimonthly intertidal guided walks.

Getting there: There are no regular services, so charter your own boat from West Coast Pier or Marina South Pier. Rates are negotiated directly with the operator. Boat transfers are free for participants of NParks’ guided tour.

Coney Island

Originally slated to be a theme park (hence its moniker), the 50-hectare island was conserved as a nature reserve instead – ¬but the name stuck. It contains four distinct habitats – coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves and casuarina woodlands – all within walking distance. The park is a favourite among birdwatchers, with 80 bird species roosting there, such as the Baya Weaver, the Oriental magpie-robin and parakeets. Other animals that call this place home include otters and long-tailed macaques.

Getting there: From Punggol interchange, take bus 84 to Punggol Point Park. The west entrance to the island, connected to the mainland via bridges, is 500 metres east along the Punggol Promenade Nature Walk.