With playgrounds, historic sites, nature trails and more, Labrador Nature Reserve – aka Labrador Park – offers lots of things to do with kids
Shortly before the Circuit Breaker kicked in, my family and I spent a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Labrador Nature Reserve (informally known as Labrador Park). Nestled between the sea and a lush hillside crisscrossed with walking trails and old British military battlements, Labrador Park offers beautiful views, an array of terrains, and even two playgrounds to keep kiddos happy.
Here’s what to know about Labrador Park if you’re planning to visit with kids:
Labrador Park MRT makes it super easy to access the 22-hectare Nature Reserve with public transport. Exit the MRT, and follow the signs down Labrador Villa Road on foot until you come to the park (it should take you about 10-15 minutes to walk). Note that there is some construction in the area, but there’s only one road heading toward the water/forest so you shouldn’t get lost. You can also approach the Park on the other side from Labrador MRT by taking the Berlayer Creek Boardwalk (more info on this below), although this will take longer.
If you’re coming by car or taxi, follow driving instructions down Labrador Villa Road (off West Coast Highway). You will first come to Carpark A, which is near Tamarind Hill Restaurant (one of the prettiest alfresco restaurants in Singapore, in our estimation!); these lead to some of the trails that go up the back of the Nature Reserve’s hill. If you continue down Port Road, you will terminate at Carpark B, which will put you right next to the water and closer to amenities like the playground and restrooms.
Just be sure to leave your Labrador at home if you visit Labrador Park, as dogs are not allowed.
What isn’t there to do in Labrador Park?! We started by strolling along the water. If you head off to the left from Carpark B, you’ll first come to a large sandy play area that includes a see-saw, swings, and merry-go-round.
Set back behind the sandy area is an obelisk built by the British in the 19th century that marked the original Western Harbour limit. There is also a replica of Dragon’s Tooth Gate (also known as Long Ya Men and Batu Berlayer), a rocky outcrop that was used as a navigational marker for seafarers from the 1500s. The original rock was blown up by the British in 1848 to widen the Keppel Straits.
If you continue walking along the water, you’ll find yourself on the Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk, which connects to Alexandra Road through the Keppel Harbour area. The 2.1km pathway starts with the Berlayer Creek Mangrove Trail within Labrador Park, then connects to the breezy Bukit Chermin elevated boardwalk, which leads to the promenade at Reflections at Keppel Bay (terminating near the Cable Car entrance). It continues on as the Alexandra Garden Trail, running along Alexandra Road from Depot Road to Telok Blangah.
If you head off to the right along the water from Carpark B, you’ll be walking along the only rocky sea cliff on the main island of Singapore, with lovely views and the occasional soundtrack of pounding ocean waves. Just be mindful if you have little climbers – while the walkway is fenced in, it would not be difficult to climb up and topple over to the water below.
Labrador Park is a particular favorite for birdwatchers, with more than 70 different bird species known to populate the area. In addition, more than 30 species of butterflies have also been recorded at the park! Fishing is also permitted along the water.
If you backtrack from the water to the little traffic circle near the entrance and the restrooms, you’ll see the main walking trail that heads up the hill. This is shady and paved, so totally stroller-friendly, and passes by a number of former British military battlements. My kids were enthralled by the former machine gun post (which also features a few lifelike statues), and liked exploring the ancient-looking fort. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your kiddos, as there are lots of precarious ledges that it would be easy to fall off of.
Like many other World War II-era spots in Singapore, legend has it that military ghosts haunt the hill. It’s apparently also known for pontianaks (carnivorous female vampiric ghosts). Fortunately we didn’t encounter any spirits during our visit, but there is a network of underground tunnels further up the hill that were legitimately eerie.
Originally constructed in 1886, the tunnels were abandoned after the war, then forgotten and overgrown with vegetation until NParks officials stumbled upon them in 2001. In 2005 two tunnels were opened to the public, although we only came across one tunnel entrance (which my son hilariously refused to approach).
At the top of the hill is a pretty grassy clearing with benches, and paths that lead to Tamarind Hill and the other carpark. There is also a restroom near the top that includes a handicap-accessible toilet and changing facilities.
As mentioned above, there is a nice play area near the Dragon’s Tooth Gate with plenty of sand for digging along with swings, a see-saw, and a merry-go-round.
On the other side of Labrador Park if you continue to follow the path along the water (past the restrooms and vending machines) you’ll come to a newer playground with slides, a fireman’s pole, and fun tunnels to crawl through. While it was cloudy during our visit, there’s very little shade and I imagine this structure would get extremely hot in the sun during the day.
With its extensive ocean frontage and plenty of grassy vistas, Labrador Park is a fabulous place for picnics. The park also offers barbeque pits near the beach, however these remain closed during Phase 2. (Here’s what else is open and closed at NParks in Phase 2.)
Tamarind Hill is set within a historic bungalow in Labrador Nature Reserve. Perched atop a hill at the top of steep steps, it offers lovely views of both the water and the surrounding forest, making for one of the most romantic outdoor dining spots in Singapore. The menu features primarily Thai and Burmese dishes, along with an extensive array of cocktails, house-infused gins, and wines. In short, it’s not exactly kid-friendly, although there is a Sunday Brunch (and free-flow Saturdays!).
Three Peacocks @ Labrador Park is an open-air live seafood and barbeque buffet located along Port Road. It’s currently closed, but according to their Facebook page it will re-open at the end of August 2020.
My family spent about two hours at Labrador Park, but between the playgrounds, dining options, historic sites and waterfront boardwalk, you could easily spend a full afternoon or even close to a full day there. If you’re looking for some socially distanced fresh air, mamas, it’s well worth checking out with your kids.
Labrador Park is open daily from 7am to 7pm daily.