It's officially adventure time! Here are five exciting things to do in Pulau Ubin to make the most of your day.
Need a day trip with a difference? It’s worth making the trip to Pulau Ubin, a rustic island located just off the East Coast of Singapore. It’s home to Singapore’s last authentic kampung (village) and one of the most unique cultural experiences you can enjoy beyond the city. The bum-boat ride is fun, the cycling is a good laugh, and there’s plenty of nature to see on the little island – plus, the whole shebang is affordable! Here’s what to do on your adventurous day out.
Before you arrive, here’s what to bring
Two things you need in your arsenal of island necessities: sunscreen and insect repellent. The sun’s rays at the non-forested areas can be seriously intense, so don’t skimp on the layers of sun protection for your face. As for insect repellent – on our visit to the island, we were bitten through our clothes, so spritz that repellent all over your clothes even. To relieve those bites, a tube of Mopiko or SuuBalm will come in handy.
The fun begins at Changi Village Ferry Terminal. Arrive early in the morning to avoid spending the bulk of your day under the scorching afternoon sun. A one way trip to the island will cost you $3, and will only depart only when 12 passengers are in line. There is an additional cost of $2 if you bring a bicycle along. Want to skip the waiting? The ferryman will take your group with a fee of $36.
Things to do in Ubin
For a unique way to experience Ubin’s rugged terrains, hit the waters of the island on a kayak. Choose from three expeditions organised by Adventures by Asian Detours – the beginner-friendly Mangrove Kayaking is perfect for wildlife-seeking (we spotted a water monitor lizard and mudskippers) adventure junkies, while Ubin Bisect Kayaking takes you on a challenging 8.27km trail from one end of the island to the other. But for a real workout, hit the open seas with Round Ketam Kayaking: an adrenaline-pumping journey that’ll take you around Ketam Island, while learning better paddling techniques. We kayaked through the mangrove forests and survived to tell the tale.
Unlike the biking trails of Singapore’s well-manicured paths, cycling in Ubin is a real adventure. Rent from one of the bike rental shops in the village and follow the signs to Ubin’s main attraction: Chek Jawa. Be sure your phone and your portable charger are fully juiced up – there are plenty of scenic ponds, paths, quarries and kampung houses for you to photograph along the way.
But if it’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure you seek, go on the physically challenging Ubin Bike Trail Adventure. You’ll be pushing your legs and glutes to the limit thanks to steep uphill paths, but the speedy downhill slopes, wildlife spotting, quarry views and hidden scenic spots are worth the week-long ache.
Prefer to explore the island on foot? Lace up those hiking shoes ’cause there’s plenty to see here. Take a 40-minute walk to Chek Jawa Wetlands, where you’ll be greeted by gorgeous sea views, a natural rocky shore and a mangrove swamp at the end of a boardwalk. Something else hikers should strike off their list is Puaka Hill: the highest peak of Pulau Ubin. Be careful, as the trail is steep (especially when you’re going downhill), but the peak will grant you breathtaking quarry views and even distant CBD views of Singapore.
If detaching yourself from the urban life is the goal, a night on Ubin’s shores should do the trick. While you don’t need a permit, be sure to inform Pulau Ubin Police Post so they’ll look out for you. Note that camping is only permitted on Jelutong, Mamam Beach or Ubin Living Lab campsite. Strict guidelines apply as Ubin’s untouched environment is precious – these may include no campfires, littering, tying ropes/tent lines to the trees or cutting of branches.
Surround yourself with nature
Prefer immersing yourself in the island’s impressive natural landscapes? Learn about Ubin’s native plants, fruit trees and herbs at the Sensory Trail, see rare species of butterflies at Butterfly Hill, or go birdwatching at Pekan Quarry which is home to a variety of feathered creatures, including hornbills, herons, egrets and sunbirds.