From Singapore Hotels & Singapore Lifestyle
Sentosa is the city's favourite resort getaway is five hundred metres off the southern coast of Singapore. Like its beaches of imported sand, Sentosa is almost entirely a synthetic attraction, but who's complaining? Thanks in part to its energetic policy of non-stop renovation and upgrading, Sentosa sets new visitor records for itself every year, drawing locals and tourists alike. Children in particular will love it, and adults won't be disappointed by the decent museums, fine aquarium and outdoor activities including cycling and golf. There's easily enough to do to fill a day and night, and if that's not enough time, you could stop over at one of Sentosa's four resorts.
Entry to Sentosa is cheap, but bear in mind that most of the attractions cost extra and the charges can really add up if you want to see them all. If that's your plan, it's a good idea to invest in one of the ticket packages, starting at S$19.90/13.90 per adult/child. There's also quite a bit that's free including transport around Sentosa and the entertaining nightly musical fountain and laser show.
Sentosa, like most of Singapore, is in constant flux and is in the middle of a particularly massive makeover that will see four new resorts, new and upgraded attractions, a new marina and huge housing development built on Sentosa's eastern side, so expect to encounter a few construction sites along the way.
Sentosa was once called Pulau Blakang Mati, which means "island at the back of which lies death" in Malay, so-called because the frequent outbreaks of disease had claimed the lives of many of its islanders. Sentosa was also a refuge for pirates in the 19th century before it was turned into a military fortress by the British who placed guns facing the sea thinking this would best protect their colony of Singapore. But, history proved them wrong and during World War II, Singapore succumbed to the Japanese who came not by sea but overland through the peninsula of Malaysia.
When the British withdrew their military presence in Singapore in 1968, a government decision was taken to transform the former garrison island of 395 hectares (976 acres) into a leisure resort for tourists and locals alike. But first, a more appealing name had to be found. A contest was held and the winning name, Sentosa ("Isle of Peace and Tranquillity" in Malay), was picked and in 1972, Sentosa welcomed its first visitors in its new role as a tropical island retreat.
Sentosa's other great appeal is recreation, especially watersports and golf. Golden sand stretches 3km (2 miles) along the southern shore, framed by salt-water lagoons and coconut groves. Along Sentosa's southern coast are three beaches with its own character: Siloso Beach at the western end, Palawan Beach in the middle and Tanjong Beach at the eastern end.
Aquabikes, canoes, kayaks and sailboards are available for hire. As a beach paradise, the imported sand and planted coconut palms of Sentosa do lend it a tropical ambience even if the muddy Singapore Strait and the towering industrial chimneys of Jurong Island in the distance might make you think twice about swimming. The Beaches of Sentosa are also the best place to eat and a number of decent Restaurants and Beach Bars have sprung up in recent years. Throughout the year, events like sand-sculpting competitions, concerts, bazaars and beach soccer tournaments keep Sentosa's beaches a hotbed of activity.
Sentosa's beach parties are probably the only place in Singapore where you are encouraged to drink and make merry in the great outdoors.
- Phone: (+65) 1800 736 8672
- Admission: S$2 (basic)
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
All the transport on the island is covered in the admission price. Once you're on the island, getting around is not a problem. The monorail that once took vistors on a slow loop around the island's attractions has been shut down, but it's easy to get around using the four colour-coded bus routes linking the island's attractions. There is also the Siloso Line, which links with the HarbourFront MRT Station shuttle bus to the Merlion, Palawan Beach and Siloso Beach. A Beach Train (which is not a train, but an electric float) runs from 9am to 7pm between Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach.
The Sentosa Island Guide, a free pamphlet available all over the island, has good maps and transport guides.
The more energetic can walk, or go by bicycles or roller blades. You can hire bicycles and roller blades for between S$5 and S$10 per hour at Siloso Beach and Palawan Beach or at the Ferry Terminal, which on weekends in particular is a tempting way to avoid the long queues at some of the bus stops.
The cost of visiting Sentosa depends on how you get to the island and how much you want to see. The cheapest way of course is to walk or bike across to the island. A basic admission fee of S$2 includes access to the park areas and beaches, plus unlimited monorail rides, but not any of the major attractions which have separate admission fees. However, package tickets with entrance to multiple attractions, including transportation to and from the island are available (for information on the latest packages as well as bus pick-up points in the city, call (+65) 1800 736 8672).