In early April 2022, I went for a guided tour to Raffles Lighthouse. Raffles Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse of Singapore and is still in operation. Built at 1855 at Pulau Satumu, it is located at the edge of Singapore. The island is the southernmost point of Singapore. The only way to get here is to join the tour organized by Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), who also operates the lighthouse.
The booking was done via EventBrite, and it was competitive! The are two guided tours organized every month, with slots released at 8 am on the 1st of the previous month. My batch of tour consist of 45 participants. Within 15 minutes of release, the tickets are all snatched up.
The tour consists of 4 parts:
- Tour of Singapore Maritime Gallery
- Ferry ride to Pulau Satumu
- Tour in Pulau Satumu (where Raffles Lighthouse is located)
- Ferry ride back to Marina South Pier
The 1-hour guided tour quickly covered all the exhibits in the gallery. The gallery itself was quite informative, covering history of Singapore ports, lighthouses, and other shipping matters. I felt that if I were to go here by myself, I would take 1-2 hours here to go through all the exhibits and read all the texts.
The ferry to Pulau Satumu took 1.5 hours. During the ride, I learned many interesting stuffs from the tour guide. The tour guide helped to spot many things along the journey: container ships (which ones were loaded, what is draft line, which ones are for transporting cars), oil tankers, which ones run on LNG, some buoys and what they meant, and some islands (St John, Lazarus, Semakau, Bukom, etc).
There was a small museum in the island, containing the different instruments and lamps that were used during the hundreds of years of operation. It was interesting that there were guns armory there, as in the past, if there were dangers in the island, the light-keepers need to defend themselves. In the present days, if there are dangers, they would just call the Singapore Coast Guard for help.
We were allowed some free and easy time around the island and I went to walk one round along the perimeter. The area was pretty well maintained and the waters around were really clear except for 1 or 2 trashes that were washed up. It was quite an interesting view here, as it is the southernmost island in Singapore. The other islands that were in clear view are Pulau Senang and Pulau Biola which situated next to this island. The islands at southern direction are islands of Indonesia.
We were allowed to climb up to the top of lighthouse, taking turn in groups of 7-8 people. There were 88 staircases but it wasn’t that tiring. My breath definitely become heavy but it was totally manageable. It felt like climbing up 4-5 floors. The view up there was nice. It showed that the sea is a huge place. From here, I couldn’t see the main island anymore, even though it’s not that far.
Ferry Ride Back
As we left the island, the light-keepers who lived on the island on a 10-day rotation basis waved us goodbye. The journey back was quiet as we’re all tired from the exploration.
It was an interesting experience because this island is the southernmost point of Singapore and is very secluded from the main island. This tour is not just about visiting the lighthouse, but also learning about the maritime matters which is a huge part of Singapore business in the past and in the present.