One can’t simply leave Singapore without checking the famous Sentosa, which is a popular island resort in Singapore, visited by some five million people a year. Attractions include a 2 km (1.2 mi) long sheltered beach, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, two five-star hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singapore.
The island has gone through several name changes. Up to 1830, it was called Pulau Panjang (“long island”). In an 1828 sketch of Singapore Island, the island is referred to as Po. Panjang. According to Bennett (1834), the name Blakang Mati was only given to the hill on the island by the Malay villagers on the island. The Malay name for this island is literally translated as “dead back” or “behind the dead”; blakang means “at the back” or “behind”; mati means “dead”. It is also called the dead island or the island of the dead. Different versions of how the island came to acquire such an unpropitious name abound. One account attributed the ominous name to murder and piracy in the island’s past. A second claimed that the island is the material paradise of warrior spirits buried at Pulau Brani.
A third account claims that an outbreak of disease on the island in the late 1840s almost wiped out the original Bugis settlers on the island. Dr Robert Little, a British coroner investigating the deaths, stumbled upon what was called Blakang Mati Fever, purportedly a type of fever caused by miasmasticfumes arising from decaying leaves and swampy water on the island. This event led to a controversy in medical circles at that time as to the causes of what was later recognized in 1898 as malaria spread by the Anopheles mosquito. The government’s malaria research station was originally located here.
The island has an area of close to 5 km2 (1.9 sq mi). It lies just half a kilometer away from the southern coast of the main island of Singapore. It is Singapore’s fourth largest island (excluding the main island). 70% of the island is covered by secondary rainforest, the habitat of monitor lizards, monkeys, peacocks, parrots as well as other native fauna and flora. The island also has 3.2 km stretch of white sand beach. Significantly large portions of land are currently being added to Sentosa due to land reclamation.
Sentosa can be reached from the Singapore mainland via a short causeway or Cable Car, which originates from Mount Faber and passes through HarbourFront en route to its final destination. The island is also accessible by the SGD$140 million Sentosa Express monorail, which replaced the old Sentosa Monorail which ran from 1982 to 2005 in 2006. It has three stations on Sentosa and one on mainland Singapore. Opened on 15 January 2007, the northern terminus of the line is at theVivoCity shopping mall on the mainland and the southern one is Beach Station on Sentosa Island. In Vivocity, the mainland MRT is in turn served by the HarbourFront of the North East Line and the Circle Line. The journey takes four minutes. Within Sentosa there are three bus services, identified as Blue, Yellow and Red lines, and a tram service called the Beach Train. Since 1998, passenger cars have been allowed to enter the island. Visitors can also enter the island via walking over the S$70 million Sentosa Boardwalk which is parallel to the causeway which opened on 29 January 2011. The first two days of its opening were marked with free entry into Sentosa for visitors who walk, and subsequently a S$1 admission fee into Sentosa is charged.
Major Attractions of the Islands include the Tiger Sky Tower, which is a free-standing observation tower, offering visitors a panoramic view of Sentosa, Singapore, and the Southern Islands. On a clear day, the view extends to parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. At ground level, visitors enter a large disc-shaped air-conditioned cabin fitted with glass windows all round. The cabin then revolves slowly as it ascends the column of the tower. The cabin has a capacity of 72 visitors. The tower now sits at the very spot of what was formerly known as the Dragon Court. It has a dragon statue in the centerpiece with water spouting out from its mouth. In one of its claws, it holds a previous logo of Sentosa which was used in the 1970’s. Its tail ends at the dragon trail at the northern part of Imbiah Lookout.
One of the trademarks of Singapore is the Merlion Statue. It is a gigantic replica of the Merlion and houses two viewing galleries and a souvenir shop. The Merlion Statue played several parts in several performances at the famous Sentosa Musical Fountain, which included the Spirits Of Sentosa show, and the Magical Sentosa show.
Another captivating attraction is the Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, an oceanarium located on the western part of Sentosa. The living museum has more than 2,500 marine and fresh-water animals of 250 species from different regions of the world. The oceanarium is underground and has an 83 meter long travelator that moves visitors along a submerged glass-windowed tunnel from which they can look at an array of marine life including a coral reef, stringrays, moray eels, turtles, sharks, and other fishes. In the ‘Dive-with-the-Sharks’ program, visitors can scuba dive in the large oceanarium, even if they are not scuba certified. Qualified scuba divers can also “Dive-with-the-Dugong”. The Underwater World also includes a Dolphin Lagoon which is home to some Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as the pink dolphins. Several “Meet-the-Dolphins” sessions are held daily to allow visitors to enter the waist-deep pool and interact with the dolphins at close proximity. A more involved “Swim-with-the-Dolphins” program, where visitors can interact extensively with the dolphins, is also available.
If there is one show not to mbe missed when in Singapore, it is the Songs of the Sea, designed by Yves Pepin, it is 390 ft long while the rest of the equipment of water jets, water screens, lasers and projectors is hidden at the back of the kelong. It features pyrotechnics displays, water jets, laser show and flame bursts a live cast and an open-air viewing gallery which can comfortably accommodate 2,500 visitors. The show runs twice nightly every evening.
One may have heard this name a dozen times when planning to visit Singapore, Fort Siloso is located in the west of the island. The guns of this preserved fort still stand. It was built in 1880’s by British to guard the narrow western entrance to Keppel Harbour. The fort guarded the western approaches to Singapore during World War II. By 1939 it was armed with two 6-inch Mark2 guns and two rapid firing 12-pounder guns. Fort Siloso is now the only surviving coastal gun battery from the twelve such batteries that made up Fortress Singapore at the start of the war. One of the greatest historical landmarks found in Singapore. The ammunition bunkers, barracks, tunnels, and gun emplacements of the fort are now open to visitors, as a military-themed attraction. Also on display is a collection of artillery guns dating from the 17th century to World War II. Life-sized replicas of British soldiers and other people were on display to depict lives at the fort in the past. There is also an exhibition with a large collection of photographs, documents and film clips.
For those who wants an adventure filled visit, MegaZip Adventure Park, which is located at the top of Mount Imbiah, is Singapore’s first adventure park with one of the longest and steepest zip wires in Asia, a 12m high ropes course, a free-fall parachute simulator and a challenging climbing wall. The Amazing Race 16th season visited this spot.
For dining and hydro facility, the Azzura Beach Club is home to a 2-level entertainment joint. Some of the Wave House Sentosa is located at Siloso Beach, with the 70,000-square-foot Wave House consisting of the Double FlowRider and the 10-foot FlowBarrel is Singapore’s first artificial barreling wave.
If you want some adrenalin rush, the Sentosa Luge & Skyride features a self-steering, gravity-driven three-wheel cart. Originally from New Zealand, the non-motorized cart allows rider to speed down a hill over a course of 650 m ending at the Siloso Beach. At the end of the luge, there is the Skyride that can allow rider to see from a high view.