Let’s check out one of the Singapore’s interesting park island which is not Ubin or Sentosa. Come Coney Island. The tiny island park is located on the northern side of Singapore in the Punggol district.

The front gate of Coney Island park entrance
The front gate of Coney Island park entrance.

The island was once owned by Haw Par

On bit of history in the 1930s and ’40s, the island was referred to as Haw Par Island. This is besides it’s Malay name as Pulau Serangoon, Pulau meaning island. The island was sold in 1950 to a businessman, who developed the island into “Singapore’s first island health resort” with seaside accommodation. Land reclamation took place in 1975 which increased its land mass from 13 to 62 hectares.

Island from mainland
West entrance
Connections to park connectors

The last of Coney island residences vacated in the 90s. Following another round of land reclamation brought the land mass to 100 hectares. The park is opened to the public on 2015 with 50-hectare park accessible and managed by the National Parks Board (N-parks). You might know N-parks as the ones who similarly run Hortpark and Gardens by the Bay.

The park entrance landing area, the only place where you can find dustbins and some amenities
The park entrance landing area, the only place where you can find dustbins and some amenities.

A place for nature

Furthermore, Coney Island Park is home to a wide variety of animal and plant habitats. This includes coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves, and casuarina woodlands. Also, it is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. You enter the park through one of the two entrances here. Paths within connects via trails running on the perimeter and through the foliage. Some of the plants here cared by Singapore N-parks here are critically endangered, with some plants at the park are presumed nationally extinct in the wild.

When you stop by and look, there are alot of hidden natural gems here on Coney island. Such as orchid plants
When you stop by and look, there are alot of hidden natural gems here on Coney island. Such as orchid plants.

And bird watching

Moreover, the different plant habitats in the park allow for a high diversity in bird species. Hence, making the park an ideal location for bird watching. Here, you can try spotting one of 80 species of birds here on the island. Species includes the resident male Baya Weavers or parakeets flocks flying through the forest. You can find them through their weaved intricate nests usually build from tall flowering Acacia trees or the besting sheltered planted by Nparks.

Many birds call Coney island their home on migratory periods. There are several boards like this covering info of the animals and plants here
Many birds call Coney island their home on migratory periods. There are several boards like this covering info of the animals and plants here.

Moreover, during your walk through the foliage areas on nesting seasons, you can hear the chirp of bird songs. It could be form nesting birds such as the Oriental Magpie-robin’s songs from the forest.

Nesting areas
Habitat enhancement sector
Signs are natural wood too

Coney island itself is a sustainability statement. The rustic Coney Island Park is an ecologically sustainable park with several environmental initiatives. For instance, its daily operations are focused on conserving energy and water, recycling and retaining of the natural elements in the park. Much is done to maintain the rustic character of the park.

Legend of the Coney Island cow

You might had heard of the story of the resident legendary cow on Coney island. The cow is not native to the island and called the island its home for a considerable period of time. Sadly, the story of its disappearance as told by an N-parks guide was apparently the cow failing to wake up after being sedated when it was taken in by the authority veterinarian for a health check-up.

Clearing areas
Activity areas
Well labeled signs

When it comes to wildlife, do keep to the designated trails watch animals and nesting birds from afar. Resident on the island too as long tailed Macaques, which could turn aggressive if you try to feed them. Do keep to good food hygiene here on the island. Also remember to take only what you have brought in, and leave no trash behind.

Casuarina trees are not native here

Notably, Casuarina trees found here are actually not native to Singapore. These trees are distinctive with their fir-like woodly leaves. They came hidden from the reclaimed-land sand which makes up almost half of the island and grew to great heights thereafter.

Contrary to popular belief, these Casuarina trees found here are actually not native to Singapore. You might had also seen them at the Marina south and Changi coast road reclaimed land areas too
Contrary to popular belief, these Casuarina trees found here are actually not native to Singapore. You might had also seen them at the Marina south and Changi coast road reclaimed land areas too.

Moreover, there are also mangrove habitats elements here on the island. There is a boardwalk area on the north of the island which runs near the beach line. Additionally, everything here at the park is self-sustainable.

Various benches and fixtures are all made from the vegetation here. Aiming for a more sustainable zero waste island
Various benches and fixtures are all made from the vegetation here. Aiming for a more sustainable zero waste island.

Here, wood and timber from uprooted trees are recycled into reusable items, such as park signages, seats and benches. Even the mangrove boardwalk and exhibits at Casuarina Exploration sector are made using these fallen recycled trees.

The island has a small Mangrove area
The island has a small Mangrove area.

The beach area is a nice popular chill sector. It sits north of the island just after a mangrove trail. The sand here is soft and nice and some parts are natural. One of the few rare spots where most of Singapore’s shoreline are reclaimed land.

The north sector of the island has a long sandy beach
The north sector of the island has a long sandy beach.

Tips for visiting Coney Island Park

Most of Coney island pathway area accessible via foot or bicycle. You are fine with comfortable regular trainer shoes when walking around here. Also, the park is also popular with trail joggers who frequent the route through the island. However, do expect some rugged terrain at some parts and may be unsuitable for younger children.

Some areas inland can get more rugged with gravel trails.
Some areas inland can get more rugged with gravel trails.

Furthermore, as there are no water and toilet, do bring ample bring water with you when visiting. Pathways in the foliage are nicely shaded. However, do expect some open areas on intersections and the reclaimed land area where it can get rather sunny. Shelters are pretty sparse around here too.

One of the few shelters on coney island, good to know where they are when you pass one so you can fall back to it if it suddenly rains.
One of the few shelters on the island, good to know where they are when you pass one so you can fall back to it if it suddenly rains.

Moreover, you may also bicycle ride through the island along the 2.5 km Coney Island Park Connector. Also, it offers beautiful promenade views of the Serangoon Reservoir. Part of the island also encases the Reservoir as part of Singapore’s fresh water catchment.

No utilities or lights here!

Also, there is no electricity or piped water on the island. Hence as there are limited lighting and facilities on the island, it gets pitch dark here at night. Do note the park is closed from 7pm to 7am, with the island entrance gates preventing any visitors from entering when it is closed.

Moreover, notable insects on the island includes mosquitoes and mostly sand flies. Hence, do wear long pants and covered shoes for protection. The openness of the park out of the Singapore mainland makes it open to northern storms. Hence, do avoid visiting the park during a thunderstorm. If do, there are a couple of small shelters on the island which you can use within the park. They are marked on the park map by the entrances.

All in all, with its rich biodiversity in a rustic setting seldom seen in Singapore, Coney Island Park offers much to explore for bird and nature enthusiasts.

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