Sisters' Islands

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Coordinates: 1°12′54″N 103°50′00″E / 1.21500°N 103.83333°E / 1.21500; 103.83333

Sisters' Islands
Name transcription(s)
 • Chinese姐妹岛
 • PinyinJiěmèidǎo
 • MalayPulau Subar Laut, Pulau Subar Darat
 • TamilSakotharigal Theevu
As seen from Saint John's Island
As seen from Saint John's Island

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 m2 (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 in Malay, faces the mainland. The two islands are separated by a narrow channel. Currents through this channel can be very dangerous to swimmers and divers.



Legend 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.

Another version of the legend stated that the sisters were being blown away by the storm and each landed on one of the island, and hence the name Sisters' Islands.

A third version of the legend said that there were two sisters who drowned at sea. The elder sister tried to save the younger sister but both drowned. The gods were touched by their love for one another and transformed both into two little islands so they could be together forever.


The beaches and warm blue waters make snorkeling a favourite activity at the islands. The islands are also popular with picnickers and campers and are also home to some of Singapore's richest reefs. A wide variety of corals can be found in the waters surrounding the islands. Common sea life that can be found includes hard corals, nudibranchs and octopus. Big Sister's Island is home to some long-tailed macaques.[1]

Sisters’ Islands Marine Park[edit]

In July 2014, National Parks Board announced plans for a marine park on the islands. The park, known as the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, is 160,000 m2 (40 acres) which encompasses the land and waters surrounding the islands, and also covers the western coasts of both St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor.[2]

The park, which is managed by National Parks Board, allows visitors to appreciate and understand Singapore’s marine habitats, through guided walks [3] and the dive trails where divers can register with an approved dive operator. [4]A 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.


  1. ^ "Sisters Islands, Southern Islands of Singapore". Wild Singapore. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "Singapore to have its first marine park on Sisters' Islands". Eco-Business. July 14, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "Singapore to have its first Marine Park on Sisters' Islands". Channel News Asia. July 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "5 things about the Sisters' Islands, Singapore's first marine park". The Straits Times. July 15, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.

External links[edit]