Forget cat cafés. St John’s Island is the go-to for friendly felines, with one sleuthing around almost all the landmarks that dot the island. Step off the boat and you’ll be greeted by a cat. Head to the picnic area, there’s another. Stroll around the cluster of trees and you’ll find even more. But the holy grail of kitties on the island is the quiet mosque, with dozens of them lazing around, stretching and doing other strange cat things.
St John’s Island wasn’t always a cat paradise. In the '30s, it was the world’s largest quarantine centre. Before Singapore’s independence, it was a holding centre for political detainees. Later on, it became a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts. Only in 1975 was it redeveloped as a staycation spot away from the mainland.
Other than cat-watching (not that you need to do anything else), you can take a dip in the ocean, grill up a barbecue in the picnic area or visit the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery to check out Singapore’s efforts in preserving our marine biodiversity. Don’t want to leave the island just yet? The only way to stay overnight on St John’s is to book one of the holiday dormitories or the lone bungalow – camping is strictly not allowed.
To get the island, just board a boat ($18/person for a round trip to St John’s and Kusu) at Marina South Pier. The boats depart at various timings but ticket booths closes at 3pm daily. And take note: during the ninth lunar month, ferry services to the island will halt for the Kusu pilgrimage.