Oct 10, 2015

8 Activities for Families to Enjoy on Coney Island (& Important Things to Take Note!)

Coney Island Park, Singapore's newest nature playground for young and old and located off Punggol, is now open and judging from the monkies' time there, I think we will make a trip there again sooner rather than later!

I remember visiting Coney Island once during my JC days, thanks to a canoeing expedition. But that remained the only time I set afoot on the island as there were no other means to reach it other than by sea transportation.

Now, anyone and everyone can access the island via two link bridges that connect its two eastern and western ends. Visitors can enter the island through the East Entrance by Pasir Ris Coast Industrial Park 6, off Lorong Halus or through the West Entrance at Punggol Promenade.

The more convenient and accessible option is to enter through the West Entrance.

We started off at Punggol Settlement (the place with loads of seafood restaurants) and made a leisurely walk along the Promenade to the entrance.

500m later, we arrived at the link bridge.

If you are intending to walk/jog/scoot/cycle/skate from one entrance to the other, the entire route is 2.4km long - pretty doable especially since there is ample shade provided by the towering trees along the way.

Of course, do NOT expect to find any kids' playgrounds or any other artificial structures here. Everything is deliberately kept rustic on the island, with many of the natural elements being retained so that it is ecologically sustainable. One example is the use of the timber from uprooted Casuarina trees, which were collected and recycled into park signage, seats, benches, boardwalk, and exhibits.

Okay, so what activities are there exactly for families with kids? As the monkies found out, it is a nature wonderland on Coney Island!

1. West and East Promenade

Whether you enter through the West or East entrance, head to the nearby promenade which offers a splendid unblocked view of the sea.

Here, visitors can chill and rest their legs on the huge steps facing the open sea.

And take delight in the occasional huge splashes of waves too!

But knowing kids, they can never sit still for long. So what better way to keep them entertained than to allow them to hunt for some slimy creatures.

Sea snails, to be exact.

For some strange reason, all of my 3 monkies are not squeamish when it comes to creatures and insects!

2. Obstacle Course

Located near the West Entrance, we stumbled onto an Obstacle Course at the Casuarina Exploratory area.

Actually, I do not know if this area is intended to be an Obstacle Course in the first place but looking at the entire area layout, it was tough for the monkies not to give it a go!

The course is constructed using recycled wood from uprooted Casuarina trees and the monkies enjoyed it so much that they even asked me to start the stopwatch to time how long it took for them to complete the entire course.

Personally, this all-natural playground was a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual plasticky playground equipment that the monkies are used to. And the best part? They had loads of fun all the same!

3. Bird Watching

Coney Island Park is the perfect place for bird watching as it is a popular stopover for migratory birds. Try spotting one of 80 species of birds on Coney Island Park, including the resident male Baya Weavers weaving their large and intricate nests from flowering Acacia trees.

The different habitats in the park allow for a high diversity in bird species, so either wait patiently from the forested trails or camouflage in the one of three bird hides located on the island. You may just spot some nationally threatened species such as the spotted wood owl and rusty-breasted cuckoo!

4. Diversity of Plants

Coney Island Park is home to a wide variety of habitats, including coastal forests, grasslands and mangroves. and casuarina woodlands. Some of plants found on the island are critically endangered, with some even presumed nationally extinct in the wild.

I love how some of the critically endangered plants are labelled, complete with useful information enough to keep the kids' interest piqued.

For younger kids, like Ale, there are always mushrooms to spot!

5. Cow Spotting

Yes, there is a solitary cow living on the island.

Photo from NParks
We did not spot the cow - it's a Brahman bull actually - roaming freely while we were there but it comes under the care of NParks and undergoes regular veterinary check-ups every six months. Its origin is still a mystery. And even though it is said that it is generally shy and gentle, remember to avoid approaching, disturbing or trying to take close-up photographs of the cow if you do spot it. Read more about the cow HERE.

6. Hang Out at the Beach (Sandflies alert!)

There are five beaches, located along the northern coastline of the island.

The beaches have been intentionally left uncleared to keep it rustic, and greenery allowed to grow in its natural environment.

So do not expect a clean, clear and pristine beach. But the water is pretty clear (and cooling) though. Only drawback? Be wary of sandflies!

7. Cycling

The main path that traverses the spine of the island is perfect for cyclists to experience nature whilst riding. So bring along your own bicycle (or skate scooter) or you can rent one from the nearest bicycle rental shop at Punggol Settlement.

8. Nature Walks

Being rich in history, the 50-ha Coney Island Park is home to a wide variety of habitats, with many interesting and diverse flora and fauna. Veer from the main path and step onto the many earth tracks for a chance to explore what the natural environment has to offer.

There is even a newly-built Boardwalk located in the middle of the island (near Beach Area C) where visitors can explore the forest and mangrove habitats.

To learn about more interesting facts about the wildlife on the island, sign up for the Guided Walks happening in November and December 2015! Conducted by NParks volunteers, participants will learn about the biodiversity at the park, as well get a chance to visit the Haw Par Beach Villa. The villa has historical links to the Haw Par brothers and Tiger Balm. No entry to the villa though, as the building is structurally unsound. NParks advises that members of the public should not to attempt to visit the villa on their own, as it is situated within a mangrove area that is subject to rising of tides. So it certainly makes sense to sign up for the walk!

So if you are intending to make your way down to the island, here are a few other imprtant things to take note:

- East and West entrances are located 2.4km apart.

- Toilets are only located at the East Entrance. If you are entering from the West Entrance, the nearest toilets will be at Punggol Settlement (500m away).

- Bring along water as no food or drinks are sold on the island. Nearest F&B outlets are located at Punggol Settlement.

- IMPORTANT: Bring plenty of insect repellant since the island is covered with lush vegetation. We did not have a problem with mosquitoes but were bitten by sandflies while at the beach. And believe me when I say the itch from a sandfly bite is worse than that of a mosquito's! Here are a few tips to avoid being bitten:

1. The best defense is to keep yourself covered – Long sleeve, full length trousers or pants, ankles and feet covered, hats or caps.
2. Cover yourself with plenty of repellent.
3. Wear light-colored clothes as sandflies are attracted towards dark shades.
4. Sandflies travel in swarms, and are mostly active in dusk and dawn periods. They become inactive in case of strong breezes, wind, and drop in temperature or rain.

- The island is open from 7am to 7pm. The gate closes at 7pm, so remember to leave the island in time!

- Expect a fair number of cyclists on the island so for families with kids, remind the little ones to always keep left of the path.

- No camping or fishing is allowed in the island.

- To get to the East Entrance, drive down the Tampines Expressway to Pasir Ris Industrial Drive 6, past Lorong Halus.

- The West Entrance is a more accessible option. Park at Punggol Settlement and walk about 500m east along the Punggol Promenade Nature Walk to get to the entrance. If you are travelling by bus, take bus 84 from Punggol interchange to Punggol Point Park/Punggol Settlement.

We certainly enjoyed out time on Coney Island. There are not many places on mainland Singapore that offer the unspoilt and tranquil scenery that the island possesses... so especially for families with kids, this is the perfect place to enjoy the rustic nature and let the young ones see that Singapore has indeed wildlife.

Useful Information

Coney Island Park
Beside Punggol Promenade Nature Walk
Opening Hours: 7am to 7pm
Getting there:  From Punggol interchange, take bus 84 to Punggol Point Park/Punggol Settlement. Walk about 500m east along the Punggol Promenade Nature Walk to get to Coney Island West Entrance.
Parking: At Punggol Settlement
Admission; FREE
Guided Walks Schedule: Pre-registration is compulsory. Visit HERE to register for the respective guided walk. *Update: Seems like all of the guided walk slots have all been taken up.
21 Nov 2015: 10.00am - 11.00am
28 Nov 2015: 10.00am - 11.00am
5 Dec 2015: 10.00am - 11.00am
12 Dec 2015: 10.00am - 11.00am
19 Dec 2015: 10.00am - 11.00am

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Redzstarkiss said...

Thank you for sharing! This is such a cool spot in Singapore!
We'll definitely visit it soon :)

Loves from,
The Everlasting Project Singapore

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Hazwani,

Thanks for dropping by! Enjoy your time on Coney Island! :)

Unknown said...

Hi, I do not think the place is open from 7am to 7pm only. I was just there 4.45 in the morning and the gate was open.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Bryan,

Wow, you are there early! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment, and let me know! Another reader had also mentioned on Facebook that the gates were still open after pm.

The opening times of 7am-7pm are as per stated on NParks' website, so I thought it would be better to follow that instead of other timings.


Shanmugam said...

We were there on Sunday and got bitten by Sandflies very badly. My advice to all KEEP AWAY from the beaches.

The itch from Sandfly is unbearable and lasts very long. The intensity of the itch is several times that of Mosquito. Can cause you lot of trouble.

I have more than 40 bites and can tell, this is NO joke.

Remedy: Pour HOT water over the bites for few minutes and put Calamine lotion. Initially, you have to do that every hour and over time you know when.

Its 4th day and now I do every 3 to 4 hours. Still bad.

DONT scratch, it will make it worse and leave bad scar.

Spread the word so we can avoid others from this horrible experience.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Shanmugam,

Thanks for taking time to leave your thoughts.

You are right, the sandflies are a killer. I was also bitten more than 20 times on my legs. BUT surprisingly, my kids were not bitten much. My daughter only had 1 bite while the boys had less than 5. My guess is probably because they were shin-deep in the sea while I was walking around the beach taking photos.

But I agree that should families wish to prevent getting bitten from sandflies, they should avoid the beach areas altogether. Else, it is important to spray insect repellant and perhaps wear long track pants too.

IndraPr said...

Hi Kelvin and Shanmugam,

How do you know if you are getting bitten by sandflies? I went there with my 3-yo son yesterday and hang around at the beach (Area A, the nearest to the West Entrance) for a while before continuing cycling. A bit afraid since we didn't wear long pants and didn't put insect repellant (my bad!).

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi IndraPr,

The thing about sandflies is you can't really tell if you are getting bitten! Unlike mosquito bites, the bites only start to appear after one or two days, and itch terribly after a few days.

Anonymous said...

can bring dogs there?

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Anonymous,

The island is like any other park, so dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed.

Anonymous said...

Hello. May I know if you guys left Coney Island via the East Entrance at Pasir Ris, or did you guys walked back to the West Entrance?

Because I want to explore the whole of Coney Island but I saw that the East Entrance is really inaccessible. And if we wanted to go from the West Entrance to East Entrance to exit there, the East Entrance doesnt have any public transport nearby.

So did you travel allll the way back? To the West Entrance?

Cheekiemonkies said...


We entered and left by the West Entrance as we parked our car at Punggol Settlement.

Anonymous said...

Are there stray dogs there?

Reeeeeeeen said...

Can i just check if there's any shelter available? Probably small huts or anything of that sort? Hehe looking forward to hear from all of you! :)

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Anon,

We did not see any stray dogs while we were there.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Reeeeeeeen,

If you see the Coney Island map I had posted in the beginning of the post, there are shelters marked out in the map. Hope it helps!

tesyasblog said...

Visited it with my husband and do the cycling only passing Coney Island as it was cloudly. We love this place, and also the Punggol waterway. A new place to explore in Singapore.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great write-up. I wished I read it before heading there.

If walking and not cycling, I think it's better to enter via West Entrance then explore half the island and leave by the same gate. The East Gate is far and there's a long walk out of Lorong Halus Wetlands to public transport. Together with the zigzagging to explore the island and exiting via East Gate to the bus stop, I walked 12km...

It was still great fun and I had to make a short clip.


Next time, going back to find the bull and otters.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Bertram,

Thanks for sharing, and for dropping by my blog! :)

Tan Mui Liang said...

Planning to visit this coming Sunday morning.
So it is better to park at Punggol Settlement and walk along Punggol Promenade to the West Entrance?

Tan Mui Liang said...

Plan to visit this coming Sunday morning

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Mui Liang,

Yes, I feel it is better to access Coney Island from the West Entrance.

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