When it comes to choosing escapes from the city, Singaporeans have long favoured Pulau Ubin in their weekend to-do plans. And now is the best time to put that shortlist into action!
For five weeks ending June 12, the island is going to be abuzz with “green” activities – ranging from bird-watching to beach clean-ups to painting coconut husks! It’s all a part of Pesta Ubin – or Festival Ubin – a community-led initiative that celebrates the island’s ecology and all it has to offer. The idea is to connect people to nature, inculcate a respect for wildlife, give a glimpse of Kampung culture, … to share the Ubin way of life with visitors.
Here are my personal picks from this 5-week festival:
If all you’ve seen of Singapore wildlife so far are Mynahs, Sunbirds, and Clarke Quay partygoers, it is seriously time to expand your education! Join a 3-hour walk with expert bird-watchers as they show and tell Ubin’s specialities. Top on the list are Red Junglefowl, Oriental Pied Hornbill and (engangered) Straw-headed Bulbul.
When: 7:30 to 10:30 am. 29 May (Sunday)
Where: Coastal/mangrove and countryside habitats in Ubin
How: No registration required. Look out for Willie Foo of the Nature Society at Changi Point Ferry Terminal at 7.30am
Cost: Free. Just pay for your bumboat ticket to Pulau Ubin ($3 per person one-way).
More information: Nature Society (Singapore)
A rare chance to get really up close and personal with Pulau Ubin. Paddle down a mangrove river while you learn about local flora and fauna in this guided tour. There are no guidelines on fitness levels, but the sights are guaranteed to be distract you from any muscle aches!
When: 1.5 hour trips between 9am and 3pm. 5 Jun (sun)
Where: Sungei Jelutong
How: Registration opens around May 29. Minimum age 8 years.
Cost: $20 per person
More information: Kayak at Pesta Ubin
Look through the world with the trained eyes of field naturalists in this 3-hour walk through the island. Led by nature guide Subaraj Rajathurai, you will discover plants and animals, learn the history and heritage of Pulau Ubin, and (hopefully) develop the skill of discovering the hidden when you next go walking down National Parks!
When: 8 to 11 am, 1 Jun (Wed) and 8 Jun (Wed)
Where: Begins at the assembly area opposite HSBC Volunteer Hub.
How: Reach by 7:40am at the meeting point. Limited to 40 participants, first come first served.
Cost: $15 per person
More information: Special walks at Pesta Ubin
Okay, so this is not a leisurely walk on the beach. You’ll be in the sun, bending to pick trash, and it won’t be a pretty sight when you begin. But this is a great activity to undertake as a family, especially if you have older kids and want to initiate them into eco-friendly living. Expect hands-on experience, an informative session and some weird finds on the beach!
Children are allowed to join in, but parents must supervise. From my experience, not a good idea to participate with very young kids (say, less that 8 years old).
When: 2:30 to 5 pm. 21 May (Sat) and 4 Jun (Sat)
Where: Jelutong beach
How: Register over email with firstname.lastname@example.org
More information: Connect with Sea Shepherd
Let the NUS Toddycats guide you through the awesome sights, sounds – and fragrances – of Pulau Ubin. That’s right, I could practically smell the earth as they described “old plantations, old kampongs, forest, quarries and mangroves” that the route passes through!