If you are thinking of the Coney Island in New York, think again. This is its namesake in Singapore.
Surprisingly my girl agreed to join me on my walk this morning. (wonders never cease!!). I had been meaning to visit Coney Island after reading great reviews about it. I am part of this amazing “Singapore Walking Group” on facebook where I get to know about the various trails and they motivate me to get out and about to explore and get fitter.
As with any new trail, I love reading up about it’s history and Coney Island or Pulau Serangoon as it was originally known, did not disappoint. According to Singapore National Library Resources, this island was initially spread over 13 hectares but with the conservation efforts by the Government it is now a sprawling 100+ hectares. One of many things that I love about Singapore is their constant efforts to conserve the environment.
Owned by the Aw Boon brothers (famous for their Tiger Balm!) in 1930s and 1940s, it was also known as Haw Par Island. In 1950 it was sold to an Indian businessman who planned to builtdthe country’s first island health resort known as Singapore Coney Island and the name has stuck till now. After a few more ownership changes, the government finally acquired this island in 1972.
While we can now walk or cycle to the island, did you know that originally, we had to take a 30 minutes boat ride to reach this island! With reclamation efforts, the island was finally connected to the mainland and opened to the public exactly five years ago in Oct’2015, boasting of environmentally friendly initiatives such as solar-powered water pumps, rainwater for toilets and uprooted timber utilised to build the benches and boardwalks.
As with all islands, this island also had a legend that if you spotted the elusive and lone bull with no discernible owner, it would bring you luck. Sadly, the bull passed away so no luck for me on this island.
There are two entrance points – towards the west from Punggol or through Pasir Ris towards the East. Since I stay near East Coast, I decided to enter from the west as it would be easier to return home when we exit from the east. The park opens only at 7 am so we took a Grab cab (equivalent of Uber) around the same time to drop us at the west entrance. However, this entrance was closed for construction. (Tip – If you are booking a Grab ride, do not use the Grab location of the West entrance). Fortunately, we met a friendly construction worker who let us enter the park and saved us a long de-tour.
As soon as we reached the site, the first sight that greeted us were monkeys – dozens of them who were raiding the trash can! My monkey was steering far away from them. She had been scared by a few in Pulau Ubin😊 We had packed our breakfast to eat at the beach but looking at the monkeys, we quickly dropped the idea.
Maybe since it was the weekend, there were too many people on the island. Families, couples, serious joggers, cyclists – there were more people that I usually encounter on my walks. (Another tip – try visiting on a weekday if you are like me and prefer solitude)
I love the orchestra of birds, so it was an absolute delight. There were so many different bird calls that my head was swinging like a pendulum. Sadly, my eyesight and my camera are not so strong so could not click any pics. We explored various beach areas, the small mangrove boardwalk, forested pathways and came across various flora and fauna. We were done walking from the west to the east entrance in little over an hour and that was because I kept stopping to look at the butterflies, dragon flies and to listen to the cicadas, else we would have finished earlier.
Overall a pleasant walk but way too crowded for my liking so I will come back on a weekday when my work isn’t crazy and enjoy it all over again.
P.S. carry insect repellents and snacks if you are visiting with kids as it does not have any stores nearby the island or inside. My little human was cranky towards the end of the trip.