Did you know that Coney Island was not always the picturesque place it is today? Originally known as Pulau Serangoon, Coney Island was once owned by the Aw Boon brothers, the same brothers who built Haw Par Villa, and have even built a house on the island.
The Aw Boon Brothers sold the island to a businessman in the 1950s, who dreamt of creating Singapore’s own Coney Island (hence its name today). However, as a result of lack of funding, this project was cut short and the government acquired the island in the mid-1970s. What was once only 13 hectares is now 133 hectares as a result of redevelopment and reclamation by the government.
Today, it stands as a beautiful area for Singaporeans to visit and relax.
What To Bring:
Since this is barely a day trip, you don’t need much, just the necessities!
Portable Charger and Phone
What To Wear:
I strongly suggest wearing light but covered. Between the beating rays of sun and the sandflies, you’re going to want to be covered. Track pants and a cotton top work fine for me, usually. Nothing, a little sunscreen and insect repellent can’t fight off!
How To Get There:
Unlike my previous adventures (check out my articles on St John’s Island and Pulau Ubin!), I like going to Coney Island in the evening, when the sun is not too warm. I start my journey in Punggol — lucky for me, a friend lives nearby. I grab a bicycle and push off. It takes about 20 minutes from Punggol MRT via bicycle. Bicycles are actually available for rent at Jomando Adventure and Recreations or GoCycling @ Punggol Jetty, for only $16 (for 3 hours). Alternatively, you can take Bus 84 to Punggol Point Park from Punggol MRT before taking a short walk to Coney Island.
Things To Do:
- For the Instagram Lovers: Instagram-Worthy Photos
There are plenty of beautiful spots to take photos on Coney Island. One of which is the Coney Island Gates! Once you arrive, snap a photo in front of the island’s big, green gates! Were you really there if you didn’t get a photo with it?
Alternatively, take a few shots at Coney Island’s gorgeous beaches and walking trails.
- For the Nature Lovers: Unique Flora and Fauna
The one thing I look forward to searching for whenever I visit Coney Island is the unique types of critters and vegetation that it houses. Home to habitats like coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves and even casuarina woodlands, Coney Island houses over 80 species of trees and about 160 species of animals including some nationally threatened species such as the smooth-coated otter. It is even home to the unique Sultan dragonfly, which is rarely seen!
Bird-watchers may particularly love the area, as Coney Island has three bird-watching hides for visitors to silently observe wildlife from close distances without alarming the animals. There are over 80 species of birds that can be spotted at Coney Island Park. These include the Collared Kingfisher, Common Tailorbird, and Long-tailed Parakeet.
- For the Stressed: Relax at Coney Island’s Beaches
Coney Island is home to five different beaches, beaches A to E. Purposefully untouched, Coney Island’s beaches allow you to feast your eyes on some beautiful seaside views. You might even spot Pulau Ubin or Johor from one of the beaches!
Each beach showcases different types of shrubbery and plantation. For instance, beach area A is home to beautiful Back Mangrove trees such as the Dungun Tree while Beach E is themed, featuring rare and extinct coastal trees. At Beach Area E, you can find the Buah Keras Laut, a tree which has leaves resembling those of a water lily.
Oh, but don’t forget your insect repellent! Coney Island’s beaches are famous for their sandflies.
- For the Adventurous: the Haw Par Villa house
While out of bounds to the public, the house still sits on Coney Island. Despite being a bungalow 600sqm in size, reports have come in saying that the house is actually pretty elusive and difficult to find. However, if you’re down for an adventure, trudge through Coney Island’s dense vegetation to find it! Who knows? You might spot it from afar.
However do be warned, an article by The Straits Times in 2015 advises visitors not to visit the villa on their own as the area sits on some mangroves that are subject to the tides.
- For the Active: Cycling Tracks & Obstacle Courses
While being built, some of the island’s trees were removed. Instead of being disposed of, these trees were made into fun mini obstacle courses for visitors to try out. Called the Casuarina Exploration Playground, this environmentally-friendly spot is definitely a must-try for visitors, especially those with kids!
Last but not least, you may wish to cycle down Coney Island’s cycling track. This beautiful, rustic terrain runs from the West Gate to the East Gate and is 2.5km long. From the track, you can catch glimpses of Serangoon Reservoir or make your way down to one of Coney Island’s beaches.
Now an eco-friendly and self-sustainable park, Coney Island is an up and coming destination for Singaporeans to cycle, take beautiful pictures and destress. A beautiful little island off of Singapore’s northeast coast, Coney Island’s fun-packed for any type of person. Just head on down, take in some fresh air and unwind.