When Coney island was officially open to the public a couple of months back, I couldn’t wait to visit this island. Yes, we are tiny but interestingly, there are so many places to explore on this island. It seems that our tiny country is expanding day by day. It isn’t just about air-conditioned malls and cafe hopping any more.
Coney island is located at Punggol. It is very out of the way if you are like me, who dwells in the west side of Singapore. But I guess it’s worth travelling once to check this place out. With Singapore’s efficient transportation system, it’s very convenient actually except that the ride is pretty long. Just alight at Punggol MRT station, then walk to Punggol Bus Interchange and take Bus 84 to Punggol settlement. Easy.
There’s a couple of seafood restaurants and cafes at Punggol settlement as well as a bike rental shop that rents out beautiful new dainty bicycles with a basket attached to it. In fact, most of them rent bikes to explore the island. But since I have not learnt how to balance on two wheels yet, I depended
But to get to Coney island, you have to take another 15 minutes walk before you reach the west entrance of Coney island. There are actually 2 entrances – the west and the east. The east entrance leads to Pasir Ris, the east side of Singapore.
It can be really sunny right there because it’s a coastal place.
Before heading there, there are a few things you might need to take note of. There are sandflies there so do bring insect repellent and if possible, wear long pants to prevent yourself from getting bitten! Apply loads of sunblock too! My skin got a little tan even though I applied sunblock all over.
We didn’t quite know what to expect over there but the forest seems pretty uniform throughout. The trees are particularly tall and skinny like the ones shown in the photograph below. It’s also very sandy since it is probably near the coast.
There are several nice photo spots in Coney island especially the ones at the beach. You will get to see some monkeys playing near the shores, somewhere in the middle of the island.
The whole place is left untouched and undisturbed. In fact, the habitat itself is left in its most natural state, even the paths are not quite paved. This isn’t like your usual Hort park or Botanical Gardens kind of terrain so to speak. This is the only place where you can find more plants than humans, really. It’s super under-populated, quiet and peaceful.
Like what Samuel says, this place reminded him of his army days where they would trek through such rustic terrains.
We walked past a couple of bird-watching hides but we didn’t notice any birds flying around. I wouldn’t think there are many birds flying around that day as it was really hot and arid.
These casuarina trees are so tall!
There’s also a boardwalk area that leads to the mangrove. It isn’t very extensive like the ones in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve but it’s nice to see a different habitat in a sandy forest for a change.
Remember to wear covered shoes and long pants! But we spotted a few people who went there in shorts.
I had no idea how these monkeys would survive because there isn’t seem to be any fruits around. I mean the plants over there hardly bear any flowers or fruits. They are pretty tame and as long as you don’t provoke them, they wouldn’t come to you. These monkeys are different from the ones you at MacRitchie Reservoir.
Besides monkeys, you will get to see animals like Wild Boar and the Brahman bull. We actually saw a wild boar dashing right before us, across our path and we got a shock because we didn’t see it coming. It was running through the bushes and I was only afraid that we might knock into them.
It gets very windy at the beach. I saw several people having picnics by the beach and I hope they didn’t leave any litter behind them though! The shore has some trash like drink cans and plastic bags, which could also be washed up to the shore by the sea waves.
That’s only one inhabitant you will ever find at Coney Island and that’s the Brahman bull. If you spot it, remember to buy lottery.
I am actually not sure if it would be a good idea to leave the bull roaming around the island as it probably can’t mate. But it is amazing that it has survived on this island for a long time! It would be interesting to know its story!
It took us about an hour plus to walk from the west to the east entrance but if you explore the coastal areas it will probably take you about an hour half to two hours to cover the ground. Unlike the enticing videos and pictures of Coney island I saw on Facebook, Coney island isn’t quite like dense forest which I thought it would be. It’s somehow very dry out there and it’s probably just the perfect place for us city dwellers to take a breather. But it is refreshing to explore such places which differ from the typical tropical forest habitat that we have at our main island.
Cycling would probably be more suitable at Coney Island where you can cycle around the island and then head back to Punggol settlement for brunch.
If I were come back again, I would probably join their guided tour by NParks where they would take you to visit the Haw Par Beach villa. There would be a greater appreciation for this well-preserved island if we knew more about the history of this place.