When UN released the17 Sustainable Development Goals recently, the Internet was quick to respond with countless parodies mocking the UN’s infamously idealistic visions. To achieve such lofty global standards by 2030 is undeniably a challenge…but it’s entirely impossible with genuine and joint effort.
Coney Island has just opened its doors in October this year and I wasn’t exactly dying to visit so soon because a few reasons –
- It’s a 2 hours journey by public transport from where I live
- I thought it would be the same as the other local hiking trails
- The haze
- So many people seem to be flocking to the place, I thought I could wait for a bit
Nevertheless, I was itching for an adventure so I applied for leave and made my way, accompanied by my partner in crime. Thankfully, the haze situation was not at its peak on the day of our mini adventure.
I wasn’t quite anticipating this, but Coney Island captures the essence of sustainable development. This revelation heightened my enthusiasm upon reaching the location. I would say its less of a revelation and more of an underrated value of the newly opened island. The island literally operates on little to no electricity – no path lights or vending machines or anything of that sort (hence, the closure time at 7pm. There are solar powered lights at the entrances though.) There are few amenities on the island, and they are almost completely made of recycled materials. There also is a full obstacle course area made of tree trunks (pictured in the banner image), the boardwalks and signboards are made of recycled wood, even the Instagram famous bird watch arch is made of recycles pipes!
The mystery cow does actually exist. I’ve not seen it myself, but I can tell you with full conviction that it does exist because I saw a pile of fresh looking cow dung near one of the rest areas.
Most plants are labelled which really shows the thought that the National Park Board put into this island.
There are a few beach stations around the island which allows you free access to the open sea – super cool because it really does make you feel like you’re on an authentic island, Survivor style. Coney Island is a real island in the sense that it is an island on its own, but it also its connected by a really short bridge so yeah. The fact that National Park Boards have deliberately ensured that there are no modern amenities on the island (there is 1 self-sustaining toilet, which I unfortunately did not chance upon) – really gives the island a unique vibe that I’ve not experienced any where else in Singapore.
I overheard quite a number of people on the island saying “Eh, I read online that there are sandflies here leh! Let’s not sit here!” I mean, guys, we are on an island, don’t be a wuss. Sandflies are nothing. We should be excited if we find a few grass snakes too. It’s all part of the #islandlife. In case you were wondering – no, I did not encounter any sandflies.
Random tree logs intentionally placed at the rest areas to serve as seats for tired adventurers.
Outside of the island, you will find a place that rents really cute bicycles. I can’t ride so I just had a good time feasting my eyes on these pretty bikes.
The paths are mostly dirt trails, but due to the lack of uneven surfaces, the island is really a good location for family brisk walks.
The increasingly popular Instagram landmark – Bird Watch Arch.These beautiful arches can be found at the various bird watch stations all around the island. It’s meant to be a resting place for resident birds – sadly, I didn’t really see any birds around. I’m quite sure that after some time the birds will discover these arches though!
These tall and thin trees are all over the island. The middle of the island is basically completely covered with these trees – so densely populated that you definitely cant see the other side of the island from where you would be standing. It really is a breathtaking sight.
The true #islandlife concept that Coney Island represents is something that is new to Singapore and a promising sign in response to the world’s clamour for a more sustainable way of living. Is it worth the trip to Punggol? Most definitely, yes. It was such a refreshing experience and I would encourage anyone to visit. There is no hurry though, and if you would prefer avoiding a crowded island, I would suggest going on a weekday morning, like I did.
It is beautiful thing when we realize that we don’t really need fancy shiny buildings, full blast air-conditioning or mindless consumerism to build an ideal recreational spot.
Before I end this post, just a word of caution for visitors who don’t intend to drive there. If you enter from the West Entrance, do not exit from the East Entrance because from the East Entrance, its a long long walk that will lead you directly to the highway (i.e. no buses or taxis there). If you’re taking public transport, start your adventure from the West Entrance, walk the entire loop of the island and then exit from the West Entrance too. For more information on how to get there, please visit NParks website.