9 March 2021, by Gideon Loh
Wondering what you should do with your family over the school holidays?
Fret not! Here is an idea! In this blog, I will focus on what you can do, how to prepare and go for this simple trip to Singapore’s very own ‘Granite Island’! Check out the useful infographic at the end of this blog!
Before the trip
If you are planning to go with another family (like I did with fellow blogger, Joel Chng and family), I would recommend that you meet at Changi Village Hawker Centre. Satisfy your cravings with some local hawker delights before you start on your adventure! Nasi Lemak, Carrot Cake & Chicken Cutlet Hor Fun are beckoning!
The trip begins
You can begin by finding your way to Changi Point Ferry Terminal and take a bumboat from there. There are bumboats going to Penggerang, Johor at the same terminal, so do join the queue for Pulau Ubin!
The bumboat trip should take around 15-minutes. Once you arrived at Pulau Ubin Jetty, head straight to the visitor centre to pick up your map if you need one, else use an online map! So, what can you do at Pulau Ubin? Walk, of course! Or you can rent bikes and explore the island on wheels too. My wife and I needed the exercise and my children do not know how to cycle yet, so the choice was clear for us. If this is your first time visiting this island, I would recommend a walk to just two locations:
Location 1: Butterfly Hill
Butterfly Hill is just 500m from the jetty and it is known to have 50 butterfly-attracting plant species that draws at least 140 species of butterflies to the area. Just below Butterfly Hill is the Pekan Quarry Viewpoint.
Be sure to get a family picture here! This is an insta-mandatory photo to tell the world you have been to Pulau Ubin! Spend a few minutes to bask in the serenity and beauty of this place and enjoy the sights of the mirror-like waters, being occasionally rippled by graceful herons that have gathered at the nearby floating wetlands and nesting site.
Location 2: Puaka Hill
Puaka Hill on the other hand is the highest point of this island. All in all, this route should take you about 30 to 45-minutes one way. While the terrain is mostly flat, do prepare yourself for a gradual ascent to the 74-meter high Puaka Hill. My 5-year-old boy did not seem to mind the challenge! If you are wondering if you should make this climb, I’d say you can expect an unblocked, breath-taking scenic view of Singapore and Malaysia from this peak. Just pray for clear skies!
Keep a lookout for the vibrant island wildlife during your walk! We saw a wild boar, a female Golden Orb Web spider, red junglefowl, hornbills and horseshoe crabs just to name a few.
At Ah Ma Drinks Stall, head towards the little mangrove bank by the side and you may find some (male) Porcelain Fiddler Crabs scrambling around as they wave their ‘larger than life’ pincer at you.
Stray dogs and Long-tailed Macaques were seen near the foot of Puaka Hill. I have not personally encountered any danger with these animals. The thing to do if you do encounter these animals is to move away from them very slowly and not to make any sudden movements. NParks has advised against provoking or feeding them.
Is this trip for your family?
The total distance for this walk is approximately 4km two-way. I took this trip with my 5- and 8-year-olds and they managed to cover the distance on their own, with some encouragements. I reckon this walking trip should be good for children 5-years-old and above. Families with older children can do more with biking and exploration on the island!
Pulau Ubin is a lot bigger than what I’ve shared here. For those who wish to do more, take a van or cycle to Chek Jawa Wetlands after lunch and take a picturesque walk across the boardwalk to check out the wetlands, spot more unique wildlife.
And be sure to climb up the most popular 20-meter high Jejawi Viewing Tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the area.
There you go! This trip is most suited for families who want an introductory experience to trekking and have a little outdoor adventure or to relive the old kampung days. If you have been thinking of ways to introduce values like perseverance, resilience, fighting spirit and discipline to your children, you should go for this walk.
I asked my children on the return boat ride, “So what was your favourite part of the trip?”
Children: “Ermm… the boat ride!!!”
Here are the infographics I promised (click on the graphics to increase image size):