I finally went back to Pulau Ubin! It has been years and years (nearly ten) since I returned so when Jonathan had heard of a “festival” on the newspaper and decided straight away to go. To be honest, it was on our bucket list a long time so we didn’t need much of an excuse.
So I’m going ahead with the long-winded details of our 6-hour whole day trip, but if you want, just skip to the last part with my tips for planning a trip to Pulau Ubin with you and your children.
It was our 3rd or 4th visit and Grace’s first, she was naturally excited at the prospect of taking a boat to the kampung island. Other than a lack of passport, it felt like we were leaving Singapore as we know it and travelling to paradise.
Excitement mounts as we walked down the long pier and approach the village itself! Our plan was to go to Chek Jawa, it would be our first time visiting Singapore’s only marine sanctuary. To get there, you can either travel in comfort and hire a van/taxi or travel in “style” and rent a bicycle. We obviously opted for the bike because if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing the hard way.
The path to Chek Jawa took us over an hour and a half; initially over paved roads, and later, dirt roads. The dirt roads were mostly a gentle uphill climb but it was strenuous enough for two city folk who rarely exercises. A couple of times we had to get down and push the bike.
Finally we arrived at Chek Jawa totally shattered. Well almost, we were certainly worse for wear. It wasn’t just the strenuous cycling , it was also the relentless attack from platoons of mosquitoes. Note to self: Mosquito patches DO NOT WORK!
We still had enough energy to explore Chek Jawa though and could not wait to get started. Very considerately, NParks had built a nice rest stop with wash area and toilets and some vending machines just before the boardwalks. We took the opportunity to cool off and refresh ourselves before moving on to the coastal boardwalk.
As you can see, we arrived at high tide. Huh, who would have thought! Not something we thought of, obviously. We were naturally disappointed but soon realized it was actually a relaxing walk. The strong sea breeze was cooling and kept the mozzies away and we were very pleased with that. We stopped at a pavilion which was perfect for lunch: A couple of packets of Kacang Putih at Uncle Lim’s stall (one was literally robbed from me in broad daylight and right in front of my eyes, by a macaque which was embarrassing and yet funny at the same time), and had brought some steam sweet potato and couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Feeling rejuvenated, we reluctantly left the land of relaxation to the land of humidity and mosquitoes, walking the coastal boardwalk to the mangrove boardwalk.
We walked a while before arriving at a tall lookout tower, which is worth the five storey climb because you are rewarded with a million-dollar view.
After our walk, it was time to start making our way back to the Ubin village before it gets too late.
Finally at 6pm, feeling hungry and tired, we reluctantly left Pulau Ubin and returned to Singapore for dinner.
It was a fantastic trip and we totally enjoyed our trip to Pulau Ubin, even my daughter loved it and she said she wanted to live there (haha). We will be back very soon, this time a little earlier so we can see Chek Jawa at low tide.
So for our next trip, we will learn from our first trip together and make it more comfortable by:
- Most important! Bringing proper mosquito repellent. Natural patches, although less hazardous to our health, is totally ineffective against the commando mosquitoes. Bring a tried and tested effective mosquito repellent!
- Clothing and accessories: Wear light but long sleeved clothes to shade yourself from the sun. Wear comfortable and also waterproof shoes if you are exploring Chek Jawa. Hats and umbrellas are also recommended as Singapore’s weather can turn very quickly.
- Bring and drink lots of water. You will dehydrate very quickly in the humidity and heat.
- Be SURE to prepare a picnic or get ready to starve. We were so glad we brought some food along with us as cycling/walking saps the calories and “restaurants” are hard to find in the middle of the island. Besides, a picnic break in Ubin is very nice and gives you more energy explore further into the island.
- Finally, since this is the technological age, the best type of camera to bring along for this kind of trip is a GoPro or action camera. Needless to say, it is extremely hard to cycle and take photos at the same time. We saw some wildlife like hornbills, macaques and even boars but we weren’t quick enough to stop and take photos.
If you have been to Ubin, please drop a message or comment with your Favourite spot so we can visit on our next trip!