Sisters' Islands are two of the Southern Islands in Singapore and are located to the south of the main island of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. Big Sister's Island, about 39,000 square metres (9.6 acres) in area and also known as Pulau Subar Laut in Malay, faces the open sea, while Little Sister's Island, about 17,000 m2 (4.2 acres) in area and also known as Pulau Subar Darat, faces the mainland. The two islands are separated by a narrow channel. Currents through this channel can be very dangerous to swimmers and divers.
Legends tells of a poor widow who had two pretty daughters, Minah and Linah, who were very close to each other. After their mother died, the sisters left the village to live with a distant uncle.
One unfortunate day, Linah met a group of pirates while she was fetching water from a well near the sea. Frightened, she ran home while the pirate chief gave chase. At the uncle's home, the pirate brandished a dagger and made known his wish to marry Linah. That night, the two sisters wept bitterly in each other's arms. When dawn broke, the pirate chief and 16 of his men came to take Linah away. Clinging to each other, they were torn apart by the pirates and Linah was forced to leave with the pirates. Just then, the sky turned dark and a storm broke out. Desperate, Minah swam after the boat but drowned. On seeing this, Linah freed herself from her captors and jumped into the sea to join Minah.
The storm subsided but nowhere could the sisters be found. The next day, the villagers were shocked to see two islands at the spot where the two sisters had drowned.
The two tranquil islands, called Pulau Subar Laut and Pulau Subar Darat, was henceforth known as the Sisters' Islands. It was said that every year on that very day when the sisters turned into islands, there will always be storm and rain.
Today, Sisters' Island has become a Marine Park managed by the National Parks Board of Singapore. It has become a platform for outreach, educational, conservation and research activities related to our native marine biodiversity. The location was chosen due to its variety of habitats including coral reefs, sandy shores and seagrass areas.
This new initiative aims to give Singaporeans a first-hand experience of our rich biodiversity which are submerged most of the time. The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park will protect Singapore’s coral reefs, which support an ecosystem inhabited by rare and endangered species of seahorses, clams, sponges and other marine life. More than 250 species of hard corals can be found in Singapore’s waters out of over 500 species within the region. Being located in close proximity to one of the world’s busiest ports, the Marine Park will provide a safe refuge for the teeming biodiversity around the Southern Islands and its surrounding waters, as well as safeguard our natural heritage.
Did you know?
A Sister Island Marine Park Public Gallery is set up at St. John’s Island, to showcase the biodiversity in Singapore waters - an alternative site for visitors to learn more about the marine life of Singapore.
What to do on the island?
Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the island and have a picnic with friends and family. Be wary of monkeys that could steal your food though!
Swim on the beach during high tide and you can bring your own snorkeling equipment as well.
During low tide, all sorts of marine life will be visible on the beach and learn a thing or two about them on this island.