Do you know how Pulau Hantu (literally Ghost Island) got its name?
The legend goes that two great warriors fought at sea. The battle cost the lives of many, turning the water red. Angered by the fight, sea spirits created a whirlpool to drown the warriors.
In the ensuing chaos, one of the warriors was temporarily blinded, giving his opponent a chance to thrust his blade into the former’s abdomen. The wounded warrior lunged and fatally slashed his opponent.
Both men were transformed into islets — a smaller one called Pulau Hantu Kecil, and a bigger one called Pulau Hantu Besar.
There is a more plausible story — albeit less mysterious: Much of the islands used to be submerged during high tides, vanishing like a ghost.
This nifty piece of trivia is just one of many you’ll find out about Singapore’s southern islands on the yacht tour by YachtCruiseSG.
For just S$100, you’ll get a 2.5-hour joyride on a private yacht, launching from Sentosa Cove and bringing you to see the sights of Pulau Hantu, Semakau Island, Raffles Lighthouse, Sisters Islands, St Johns Island, Lazarus Island, Kusu Island, Marina Bay, and Sentosa Island.
I, for one, had never stepped aboard a yacht so setting off from Sentosa Cove on Le Tara was quite a memorable experience.
City dwellers might appreciate the excitement of being on the water, smelling the salty sea breeze, and bobbing up and down as the yacht reaches speeds of up to 24 knots (about 44km/hour).
On a side note, I wouldn’t advise you to hold your phone while the yacht is speeding because that might be the last time you see your precious gadget. Besides, you should be enjoying the maritime sights, like the interesting vessels that dot the southern waters of Singapore.
Like this bunkering vessel replenishing supplies and fuel for a long haul ship. Singapore is one of the major stops on long haul shipping routes and many vessels stop here to restock for the journey ahead, said my guide.
But perhaps, the best thing about the tour is that you pick up a lot of interesting trivia about the southern islands and the waters off Singapore thanks to the licensed guide who accompanies you on the joyride.
I had the privilege of being hosted by the very affable owner of YachtCruiseSG, Kogu Segaran, on my trip.
Kogu, I learned, also owns a seafood wholesale business. He started offering chartered yacht trips to Lazurus Island in 2016 after purchasing Le Tara, his first yacht.
Over time, he realised that so many of Singapore’s Southern Islands were unexplored and so he purchased two more yachts and now shares the islands’ rich stories through this unique joyride experience to those who are looking for something beyond the usual hiking trail or Instagrammable cafe.
Throughout the ride, Kogu was a fount of knowledge, dispensing factoids about the small group of Singaporeans who live on Pulau Bukom, Singapore’s oil refinery, the barges that ferry our incinerated wastes to Pulau Semakau, as well as the oil tankers that were anchored off the southern waters — just to name a few.
The yacht will also bring you to St John's Island, Lazarus Island, and Kusu Island. You will be able to spot the NParks Turtle Hatchery and the famous Tua Peh Kong temple on the latter two islands.
Towards the end of my joyride, I was treated to the sight of the Marina Bay skyline where the humongous Quantum of the Seas was docked (there’s something about seeing a cruise liner up close that takes your breath away) as well as the Sentosa coastline.
By the time we returned to Sentosa Cove, the sun was already low on the horizon and we smelled like the sea. It’s a novel experience for those looking to try something unique — how often can one say they spent their weekend on a yacht, amirite?
While some of my colleagues baulked at the S$100 price tag, it is relatively cheap considering that you’ll be surfing the waves on a luxury yacht (and yes, you can use your SingapoRediscover vouchers for this). To sweeten the deal, YachtCruiseSG is throwing in a free Sentosa cable car round-trip ticket.
Those who want a more bespoke experience can charter Kogu’s yachts for S$640 (two persons), S$660 (four persons), and S$680 (six persons).
Simple snacks, a free flow of soft drinks, and complimentary printed snapshots are included in the price tag.
For those wondering about the facilities onboard the yacht, there is an indoor cabin that is completely air-conditioned while the top deck is covered. You can also situate yourself near the bow to get a front-row seat to the wide-open sea. And yes, there is a toilet onboard.
Just a word of advice for the ladies: Avoid wearing skirts because those will fly a la Marilyn Monroe in the sea breeze. Also, tie up your hair so it won’t get in the way of you enjoying this luxury yacht experience.
For those interested in this yacht cruise:
Cruise days: Thursdays to Sundays
Cruise timings: 9am
Price: S$100 per pax
Each yacht tour can take a maximum of 16 passengers. There must be a minimum of eight passengers for the yacht to set sail.
What about Covid-19 restrictions that currently limit group sizes to five? Not to worry. The yacht is big enough to accommodate multiple groups of five without them intermingling.
Top images by Joshua Lee. Thanks to this sponsored piece by YachtCruiseSG, this writer had a chance to take a luxury yacht to sea.