Sisters' Islands

Singapore Infopedia

by Cornelius, Vernon


Sisters’ Islands is located south of Singapore and is made up of two islands that are separated by narrow but deep channels. The islands are individually known as Pulau Subar Darat (Little Sister’s Island) and Pulau Subar Laut (Big Sister’s Island) and each covers an area of 1.7 hectares and 3.9 hectares respectively.1

According to legend, there was a poor widow who had two pretty daughters, Minah and Linah. The sisters were so close that they vowed to marry two brothers so they could always live together. When the news spread, many suitors came but none were brothers. A year later, the widow died and the sisters left the village to live with a distant uncle. One day, Linah met a group of pirates while fetching water from a well near the sea. The pirate chief was surprised to see such a beautiful girl and approached her immediately. Frightened, she ran home. He pursued her and at her uncle's home, brandished a dagger as he 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. The sisters clung to each other but were forced apart by the pirates. Minah was pushed to the ground and Linah was hoisted over the pirate chief's shoulders. Minah swam after the boat but was swept under by a wave. Linah broke free from the pirate and threw herself overboard. Just then a storm broke and raged until the next day. When it stopped, two islands stood at the spot where the sisters had drowned. Villagers named the landmark Sisters' Islands.2

Sisters’ Islands Marine Park
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is Singapore’s first marine park and was opened by Minister of State Desmond Lee on 17 July 2014. The park spans about 40 hectares around Sisters' Islands and along the western reefs of both St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor. It aims to be a platform for outreach, education, conservation and research activities related to Singapore’s native marine biodiversity. The area is home to a variety of habitats including coral reefs, sandy shores and seagrass areas. Visitors can hire private boat services at West Coast Pier or Marina South Pier to visit Big Sister’s Island.3

Variant Names

The original names for the Sisters’ Islands are Pulau Subar Darat (Little Sister’s Island) and Pulau Subar Laut (Big Sister’s Island).4


Vernon Cornelius

1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of typonomics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 309. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Koh, F. (2015, July 16). 5 things about Sisters’ Islands, Singapore’s first marine park. Retrieved from The Straits Times website:
2. Legend of the sisters. (2002, June 21) The Straits Times, p. 10; Jin, Y. (1996, October 9). How Sisters’ Island got its name. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of typonomics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 351. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. National Parks Board. (2014, July 12). Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, at the launch of Festival of Biodiversity on 12 July 2014. Retrieved from National Parks Board website: National Parks Board. Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. Retrieved from National Parks Board website:
4. 5 things about Sisters’ Islands, Singapore’s first marine park. Retrieved from The Straits Times website:

The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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