The name means "Tortoise Island" or "TurtleChinese; the island is also known as Peak Island or Pulau Tembakul in Malay. From two tiny outcrops on a reef, the island was enlarged and transformed into an island holiday resort of 85,000 square metres.
Kusu, however, has since been reclaimed into an 8.5ha holiday resort. There are now three Malay shrines or "keramats" and a Chinese temple on Kusu Island. Nearby, the Tortoise Sanctuary houses hundreds of tortoises.