||This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (August 2011)|
Kusu Island is one of the Southern Islands in Singapore, located about 5.6 kilometres to the south of the main island of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. The name means "Tortoise Island" or "Turtle Island" in Chinese; the island is also known as Peak Island or Pulau Tembakul in Malay. The word kusu also means flatulence in Tamil, one of Singapore's national languages—however, this is not related in any way to the name of the island, and is a misconception. From two tiny outcrops on a reef, the island was enlarged and transformed into an island holiday resort of 85,000 square metres.
Story passed down by both Malays and Chinese in Singapore says a magical tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors - a Malay and a Chinese.
At the top of the rugged hillock on Kusu Island stands three kramats (or holy shrines of Malay saints) to commemorate a pious man (Syed Abdul Rahman), his mother (Nenek Ghalib) and sister (Puteri Fatimah) who lived in the 19th century. Many devotees will climb the 152 steps leading to the kramats to pray for wealth, good marriage, good health and harmony. The shrines are also popular with childless couples who would pray for children. Despite misconceptions, they do not pray to the kramats.
Also located on Kusu island is the popular Chinese temple - Da Bo Gong 大伯公 or Tua Pek Kong (Grand Uncle). Built in 1923 by a wealthy businessman, the temple houses two main deities - the Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin 观音 (Goddess of Mercy). The former is highly regarded as having the power to confer prosperity, cure diseases, calm the sea and avert danger, while Guan Yin is known as the 'giver of sons'.
It is popular for its lagoons, pristine beaches and tranquil settings. Visits are often made by ferry from the nearby Marina South Pier to see the wishing well and Tortoise Sanctuary. Afternoon picnics are also very popular. Overnight stay is not permitted on the island. However, most ferries to Kusu Island also take in Saint John's Island which does have overnight lodging.
- Chia, Jack Meng-Tat. "Managing The Tortoise Island: Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, and Social Change in Pulau Kusu, 1965-2007." New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 11, 2 (December 2009): 72-95.
- Lu, Caixia. "The Kusu Pilgrimage: an enduring myth." International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter 59 (Spring 2012): 50-51.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kusu Island|
- Satellite image of Peak Island - Google Maps
- Info for visitors on wildsingapore
- Kusu Island Coral Reef Survey Data on Coral Reefs of Singapore