Exploring the nearby islands and beaches from Singapore

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Singapore is a small city-state, but it has a long history. Singapore was founded as a British trading colony in 1819. It was a part of the Straits Settlements, together with Malacca and Penang. During World War II, Singapore was invaded by the Japanese. After the war, it was once again a British colony. In 1959, Singapore gained independence. It joined Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963. However, racial differences between the Chinese majority and the Malay and Indian minorities led to tension, and in 1965, Singapore left Malaysia to become an independent and separate nation. Today, Singapore is a small, crowded and highly developed country. It is the 14th largest global financial centre and the 18th most liveable city in the world. Its infrastructure, education system and strong rule of law are highly commended. It is known for its cleanliness and greenery and has been called a “Garden City”. There are also 2 integrated resorts in Singapore, namely Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Last year, the tourism industry in Singapore achieved a historical high, with 17.4 million visitors, and this number is expected to rise still. With Singapore’s strategic location at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, it has long been an important port. Ships from all over the world gather in Singapore. Singapore is also known for its busy shipping lanes and diverse range of marine life. The nearby islands, including the Southern Islands, and the many beaches on the main island, are currently critical to the industry. However, today, they are also cherished recreational spaces which offer city dwellers and visitors alike a range of activities, from swimming and sunbathing to sailing and nature-walks.

Overview of Singapore’s location

Singapore, located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, is a city-state in Southeast Asia, covering an area of about 710 square kilometers. It is only 137 kilometers north of the Equator. One main island, Pulau Ujong, and over 60 surrounding smaller islands combine to form Singapore, which contains the only natural waterfall in the whole of Singapore. This 63-hectare island is a haven for all nature lovers. It is also known as the Republic of Singapore, and its nearest neighbors are Malaysia and Indonesia. The capital of the state is the city of Singapore. The ideal geographic location of Singapore, especially during the period of the East Indies trade, gave it local and international significance. The natural deep waters of the state make it an excellent natural port and the perfect spot for a trading post. Both these factors have helped in making the state a successful and vibrant place. Every day, the proof of its popularity and attraction is seen as more and more people come to visit and some even to stay for good. It has one of the busiest ports in the world due to the traffic on the trade routes that converge here and some of the biggest shipbuilding facilities. Singapore’s location has also helped in making it an effective air and sea transport hub in the region. The strategic and busy shipping lanes of the surrounding areas attract many seafarers and maritime experts to the island as well. The state is joined to the Malaysia Flag by a causeway, which is a man-made link. The Taxi River Ferry is also available at a lower cost for the motor vehicle and passengers that crosses the Straits of Johor. There are over 10 rivers of various stages of development that can meet the industrial and recreational needs of different areas in this small island. Due to the speed of modern-day construction and land reclamation, new river development is also taking place at a quick pace. The Singapore River is the most important as it has been the main water course of the island. It has been the trade route, main entertainment area, and financial hub of the state.

Importance of nearby islands and beaches

Singapore is known to many people as a bustling metropolis with a skyline full of towering buildings and a city that is always on the move. But more recently, authorities have started to think about the need to slow the pace of life in the city and to provide recreational spaces for the city’s inhabitants. The importance of nearby islands and beaches to Singapore’s development strategy has never been fully appreciated because it is such a small country. Indeed, to see the country on a world map, you would need to zoom in many times as Singapore is only 716 square kilometers – around 3.5 times smaller than London! However, Singapore is located right in the middle of an area of the world that has some of the highest marine biodiversity and has many important shipping lanes nearby. This excellent location means there is a huge potential for the tiny island nation to develop eco-tourism and environmental education programs to continue to grow and diversify Singapore’s economy. In order to protect the different marine ecosystems – such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows that can be found all around the main island of Singapore – most of the southern islands and their beaches have been designated as nature reserves. This means that research can be conducted on these islands and the impact of human activity can be carefully managed and monitored so that the rich biodiversity can be conserved. Also, there is a strategic importance to maintaining these islands. For example, the beach on Pulau Bukom, which is southwest of the main island and close to Jurong Island, is a breeding ground for sea turtles. By protecting and preserving these islands and beaches, Singapore can enhance its attractiveness for locals and tourists alike. There are many different recreational activities that Singaporeans can take part in when visiting the nearby islands and beaches: such as cycling, picnicking, swimming and nature walks. However, some of these islands also have interesting histories or have been involved in nation building. For example, Sentosa has a rich heritage. After it was occupied by the British in the 19th century, it was developed into a military base to protect the western entrance to Keppel Harbour, and subsequently it became a prisoner-of-war camp. The name ‘Sentosa’ itself – which means ‘peace and tranquility’ in Malay – was chosen during a nationwide contest to christen the island once the British pulled out in 1957.

Islands to explore

Pulau Ubin is home to the Chek Jawa Wetlands, which contains a unique natural environment including six major habitats, an extensive mangrove forest and a coastal boardwalk, offering excellent scenic views of the area. If visitors are lucky, they may even catch a sight of wildlife such as monkeys, wild boars and kingfishers around the island. All in all, with its wide variety of flora and fauna, rustic scenery and traditional lifestyle, Pulau Ubin is a favourite spot for day-trippers and tourists who want to have a day of relaxation in an island that boasts tranquility and natural beauty.

The third island that is worth exploring is Pulau Ubin, the last ‘kampung’ (village) in Singapore. It is preserved in such a way that it looks like time has stood still. To get to Pulau Ubin, take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. When you arrive at the island, rent a bike and start exploring the island with its lush greenery and abundant wildlife. This island is perfect for nature lovers who want to experience the rustic side of Singapore that is vastly different from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Another top destination that promises a distinctive island experience is Lazarus Island. To get there, take a ferry from Marina South Pier to St. John’s Island and then walk across the bridge from St. John’s Island. Visitors to Lazarus Island can enjoy a tranquil environment, immersing in the beautiful landscape and the abundance of nature that includes a diverse range of flora and fauna. Not to mention that Lazarus Island has the only beach in Singapore that has been awarded the ‘Blue Water’ status by the Tropical Marine Science Institute, Singapore. This itself speaks to the cleanliness of the water and the quality of the environment in and around Lazarus Island.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is located to the south of Singapore and is the third largest island in Singapore. It is a well-known island with great tourist attraction sites. The island is easily accessible via a bridge from the main island of Singapore. One can also use the cable car, the monorail or even board a ferry. Sentosa Island opens daily and it costs $4 to enter by road. However, you can also enter for free via the boardwalk and the Sentosa Express. There are various places and attractions that one can visit in Sentosa Island. For instance, there are at least three museums and four 3D experience theaters. The Island is also known for having beautiful beaches that are ideal for picnics and swimming such as the Palawan Beach and the Siloso Beach. As for nature lovers, they can visit the Butterfly Park and the Insect Kingdom, the Insect and the Reptile Museum, the Underwater World and many other nature related attractions. Should anyone feel hungry, there is an Indonesian Restaurant for one to have their meals. But a wide range of mouth watering delicacies at the food outlets in the famous Festive Village are also available. However, the food prices in Sentosa are usually higher. There are also many entertainment options in Sentosa Island including Segway rides, the Luge and the Skyride, the Beach Life dance show and free animal encounter shows. Every night, visitors can also enjoy a musical fountain show that is at the heart of the world’s only Resorts World Sentosa. Known as the Sentosa Crane dance, it is Southeast Asia’s first and only permanent night show and the dancing animatronic cranes come alive in a rich audio-visual experience right there in the waterfront. Last but not least, visitors can also engage in numerous recreational activities such as playing beach volleyball or Frisbee, water sports and mountain biking on the island.

Lazarus Island

Geographically, Lazarus Island is located in the southern part of Singapore and it is part of the bigger Southern Islands. Lazarus Island is also known as Pulau Sakijang Pelepah and it is one of the few well-preserved natural islands in Singapore. Lazarus Island is famous for its beautiful, clean, and unpolluted sandy beach. A swim in the sea or a simple relaxation on the beach will display the panoramic view of the South China Sea. Although Lazarus Island is open to the public, there are no shops, food and drinks outlets, and even dustbins on the island. The visitors have to bring their own drinks and food and also remember to clear all the litter to keep the island clean. There is no hotel on Lazarus Island and camping is not allowed too. This is to retain the original and natural environment of the island and also to prevent the island from being polluted. An interesting fact about Lazarus Island is that there were residents living on this island before the 1970s. After the residents were resettled on the mainland, the Government declared that Lazarus Island is to be used for recreation purpose. Now, Lazarus Island is under the management of Singapore Land Authority, which has planted many pine trees on the island. These trees have further enhanced the beauty of the island. The tranquility and the natural beauty of Lazarus Island draw many locals and tourists to visit the island. Most visitors will take a stroll along the beach from Lazarus Island to St. John’s Island during the low tides as there is a natural walkway being exposed when the water level subsides. There are regular boat services to Sister’s Island and visitors can charter boat services from Marina South Pier to visit Lazarus Island.

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin is a small island located in the northeast of Singapore. To get there, visitors have to take a 10-minute boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Unlike Singapore, Pulau Ubin has very limited tarmac roads and only a few dozen cars. Cycling is popular there. With relatively light traffic and an laid-back kampong atmosphere, cycling is a great way to explore the island. There are also many bike rental shops on the island offering a variety of bicycles, from single to multi-geared. Cycling on Pulau Ubin is fun and not too tiring, even for children. Many of the interesting sites on Pulau Ubin are easy to reach by bicycle. For example, the Chek Jawa Wetlands is located on the southeastern tip of Pulau Ubin. It is a mangrove forest, one of the few swathes of this type of habitat that is left in Singapore. It is a rich ecosystem with many species of flora and fauna flourishing there. Thanks to a carefully controlled boardwalk, visitors can take a guided walk and experience close encounters with wildlife. At the end of the 1.1km boardwalk is a 21m tall Jejamine Tower providing a panoramic view. There is also a visitor centre and public access viewing points for bird watching at ground level. The unique natural experience is highlighted by frequent guided tours provided by the National Parks Board. Pulau Ubin also has some well-preserved historical sites, such as old granite quarries and even a German girl shrine. The larger quarries were used in the past when granite was routinely extracted and used for building materials in Singapore. One of the quarries has now become a wetland habitat known as Pekan Quarry, after the character Pekan. This site was marked for restoration as a wetland after several rare plants and dragonflies were found on the granite surface due to weathering. It is now a stop-pond and wetland habitat for moorhens and other aquatic creatures. The German Girl Shrine is located at Jelutong Pond. It is believed to have been constructed to mark the spot where a 6-year-old German girl named Anna fell to her death from a nearby house in 1914. It is a memorial site and people still leave flowers and fruit juice as offerings there. The shrine was mentioned in the Journals of Motoring Quin, the first Straits-Chinese doctor in Singapore. He was a world-famous opium addict and he was treated for his opium addiction by an Indian doctor named Charles. The shrine and its offerings have been there for the past 100 years or so and today, it remains an interesting spot for tourists. Pulau Ubin is also home to some well-preserved fishing kelong and historical villages, which reflect the more traditional way of life that existed in the 1960s. For example, Wei Tuo Fa Gong is a Chinese temple located in the middle of the island. It was built by fishermen to venerate the Goddess of the Sea. The temple is richly adorned with brightly coloured mosaic tiles and has a five-tiered pagoda towering at its front courtyard. The annual Tua Pek Kong celebration is held there every May. As one of the last kampong villages in Singapore, a visit to Pulau Ubin offers a rare glimpse into Singapore’s rural past. The main king road winds through a landscape which changes from rural village views to mangrove and coastal areas in a pleasantly variegated manner that is seldom seen in such a small island. Tourist maps offer directions to yet another temple, the Malayawata Temple or the ‘Tortoise King’. A volunteer policeman could once be found lounging on a bench near the temple, shooing away the stray tortoises from wandering onto the road.

Beaches to visit

East Coast Park is the largest park in Singapore and is well known for its sea sports activities, such as sailing and skiing, that are available there. East Coast Park is normally frequented by the locals but it is also a frequent stop for travelers who would like to experience the Singapore beach lifestyle. The visitors may engage in activities ranging from cable skiing to just lazing around in a secluded place to enjoy the sea breeze. Tanjong Beach is the perfect spot for a quick getaway. It is not too far from the city and can be accessed by foot from the famous Sentosa beaches. It is more quiet and secluded as compared to the Siloso Beach and Palawan Beach on Sentosa. Beach clubs, bars and restaurants can be found along the beach stretch to provide visitors with comprehensive dining and partying experiences throughout the day and night. On Siloso Beach, visitors will be spoiled for choices by the numerous attractions and activities that are available on the beach. Water sports like kayaking and skim-boarding can keep the active visitors engaged while the less active visitors may take a slow walk along the picturesque coastal line and feel the wet sand at their feet. Pub-crawlers in Singapore regard Siloso Beach as their playground for the night. Music, booze, fun, laughter and even dance are some common activities at night that intoxicate the visitors with Siloso’s unique lively atmosphere. Palawan Beach is unique in its own way. As for adventure seekers, they may want to explore the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia, which is an islet that can be reached by a suspension bridge. The beautiful and rustic ambience of Palawan Beach that blends with rich history provides an idyllic environment for visitors. The blue waters, golden beaches fringed with shady palm trees, complete a picturesque postcard view that we all admire.

East Coast Park

As one of the most popular and well-loved parks in Singapore, East Coast Park offers the best of sun, sand and sea. This 185-hectare recreational park is where the city dwellers come to relax and enjoy themselves. Families, friends, and cyclists, all are in love with the lively beach park. You can either laze under the coconut palms or take part in the many recreational activities such as volleyball, cycling, or cable skiing. Seafood lovers will enjoy the waterfront living and dining experience at the park, including the largest food centre in Singapore, the East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Also, the park is known for its historical and rustic charm as well as it being a significant place in Singapore’s early history. There is a Cyclist Park located close to car park F2 where visitors can rent a bike or engage a bicycle rental service. Stationed nearby is a 6.3m high viewing tower where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the sea and the surroundings. Currently, the National Parks Board is enhancing East Coast Park through the East Coast Park Service Plan. With continuous improvements taking place in the park, East Coast Park will bring about more greenery and recreational activities for everyone to enjoy.

Tanjong Beach

Tanjong Beach is one of the best beaches in Sentosa Island. Made of soft white sand, the beach looks out to the vast expanse of the South China Sea. Tall palm trees and beach clubs line the beach, giving it a peaceful and exotic tropical holiday feel. One of the interesting things about Tanjong Beach is how you get there. While other beaches are more accessible by buses or trains, the most convenient way to get to Tanjong Beach is by taking a tram from Beach Station, along with a short walk. As a result, you’ll find fewer crowds here, compared to other beaches on Sentosa Island. Not only can you swim and sunbathe on the beach, you can also enjoy various water sports, such as kayaking and skimboarding. If you are not a fan of getting yourself wet, you can also relax at the beach clubs that provide you with good food and great music. Also, you’ll get to enjoy a panoramic view of the sunset from the beach and it’s definitely the best place to catch the sunset on Sentosa Island. All in all, the experience at Tanjong Beach is completely different from other beaches – you can either choose to have a day filled with energy and fun with friends for some adrenaline-pumping activities, or simply enjoy some me-time swinging lazily on a hammock, with the sound of the waves and a cocktail in hand. I would highly recommend this place for travelers and tourists if they want a relaxing day of tranquility and fun in the sun! The beach makes a good escape if you’re getting tired of the usual busy city life in Singapore, and it’s a great place to slow down and take a chill break. It is no wonder that Tanjong Beach has clinched the 3rd place in the 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for 3 out of 25 best beaches in Asia!

Siloso Beach

Finally, for those who are into beach sports, Siloso Beach is the place to be. Here, visitors can try their hands at volleyball and canoeing while enjoying the white sandy beach and crystalline waters. There are a number of beach bars that line the beachfront, serving an assortment of tropical drinks and cold beer. Every evening, when the sun sets, Siloso Beach is turned into a beach party venue. The party atmosphere is infectious with lively music and people dancing on the beach or at the bars. On weekends, there will be movie screenings at the beach too. Siloso Beach is easily accessible by Sentosa Express, which is just 3 stops away from Beach Station of Sentosa. The nearest MRT Station to the Sentosa Express is HarbourFront MRT followed by a 15 minutes’ walk to Vivocity shopping mall. From Vivocity, visitors can either take the Sentosa Express using their EZ-link card or purchase a Sentosa pass for a train ride into Sentosa. The Beach Tram is another mode of transport from Beach Station to Siloso Beach. With the upcoming completion of the Sentosa Boardwalk, visitors can also take a stroll from VivoCity’s waterfront promenade to Sentosa. So why should one look further when there is such a perfect place for a short beach getaway? Many may find it amazing that in just a few steps away from the bustling main road where hotels, Universal Studios and the casino are located, Siloso Beach’s unruffled and carefree atmosphere embraces and relaxes the visitor infinitely. I suggest that everyone should find some time to visit Siloso Beach and immerse themselves in the jovial yet laid-back vibe that could hardly be found elsewhere in Singapore. Come on down to Siloso Beach today and let’s have some fun!

Palawan Beach

Palawan Beach is a very popular beach in Sentosa. It is a fantastic beach because of its clear blue water and beautiful sun-kissed sand. Apart from that, the beach also connects to the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia, which is known as the long suspension bridge in Singapore. I would definitely recommend this place to visitors who are seeking some relaxation and some fun under the sun. There are many things to do in Palawan Beach. For example, you can relax in a hammock, which is tied under the palm trees and get a tropical beach experience. This is also an ideal place for family as children will have a lot of fun in the Play Ship Themed-Playground, which is a stone’s throw away from the beach. There are also some restaurants around the beach, and you can have a nice meal while enjoying the sea view. If you are a thrill-seeker, you can challenge yourself to the Southernmost Point’s suspension bridge, and the view on the other end of the bridge is simply breathtaking. You will get a bird’s eye view of the whole Palawan Beach, and some take this opportunity to capture the perfect shot of the beautiful scenery. Last but not least, there are many beach activities that you can do in Palawan Beach. Singapore has a reputable water theme park known as the ‘Port of Lost Wonder’, and it is just located around the corner of Palawan Beach. ‘Port of Lost Wonder’ is the first kids’ club by the beach, which is managed by one of the best luxury hotel brands in the world, Shangri-La. Teenagers can engage in interactive plays, and at the same time, parents can relax with a peace of mind in this park. Not only that, there is also a new three-storey water slide which has just opened in ‘Port of Lost Wonder’. This enables the park to provide more fun and excitement to the visitors.