A hop, skip and a ferry away from Singapore, heading to Pulau Ubin is like taking a step back in time.
Dotted with little villages, an abundance of rich marine life, and cycling tracks, residents on the little island of Pulau Ubin have resisted urban development for as long as possible. The great thing about Pulau Ubin for families however (besides the opportunity to show the kids what Singapore was like back in the ’60s) is it makes for a fantastic day trip with the little ‘uns! Ready? Let’s go!
Getting to Pulau Ubin is as simple as catching a ‘bumboat’ from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. This little fishing type boat carries a maximum 12 people per trip and is super wallet-friendly at only $2.50 per passenger per trip. Bumboats operate from 6am to 8pm and are open air — expect the breeze in your hair mama!
When you get to Pulau Ubin you’ll wander up a little gangplank and onto the island. There are places to hire bikes from right near the ferry terminal and all are very helpful. We bagged a bike with a kids seat on the back for $20 for the whole day, although it’s possible to bring your own bikes (we saw a family with their bikes on the ferry). Don’t forget to ask for a map of the whole island whilst you’re there — it’ll show you where all the cycling routes are — and remember to pick up a bike lock too for when you are reading to jump off the bikes and explore!
We followed the first road from the bike shop for a nice little ride, before heading off the beaten track onto a gravel road that took us through the forest towards the visitors centre. From here we parked our bikes (lock your bikes mama!) and ambled through the forest to the boardwalk where we pulled up sticks and ate our snacks overlooking the water. There was a nice breeze here as well as a view back to Singapore too (camera moment!).
After a quick pit stop we wandered towards the jetty for a walk through the mangrove area and a chance to get up close with the local wildlife. We saw a bunch of crabs rustling back into their holes, as well as a big monitor lizard and even a snake (we know!) teetering on the edge of the boardwalk. Once we got back to where we’d parked our bikes we ran into a wild boar and 5 piglets — just beware the daddy boar who knocked over a bunch of parked bikes to get to the chocolate that was in another cyclist’s backpack!
From here it was a sedate cycle past some little camping spots before cycling to a local restaurant for lunch (Chili Crab!). Packed with local seafood in fish tanks (our almost 3 year old had a ball watcing the fish!) we watched the chef clean and dice up a crab in about 2 minutes — amazing! After lunch we headed back towards the ferry terminal to return our bikes and head home.
Other things to keep you busy
Besides cycling around the island there is also plenty of other things to do to keep you busy on Pulau Ubin. Bring your mountain bike and drop past the bike park to let older daredevils take to the jumps and bumps on the track — gnarly dude! There’s also a little statue of a German girl that is worth visiting, as well as canoeing and exploring the camping sites. Many of these spots are where the Singapore Army have their outings and camps. Celestial Beach Resort is also worth popping on the radar for their bike hire, fish pedicure and canoe trip packages.
Sassy Mama Tips
We left our non-walker at home on the day we went. Whilst you can bring babies with you, it’s probably best to wait until they are older as the best way to explore the island is by bike. It’s possible to use a pram but is so much easier without! You’ll also want to pack the usual supplies for when you visit — hats, sunscreen, plenty of water, and mozzie repellant is a good start!
Expect to get around the island in a day (we left the house at 8 and got home around 3) but again, this depends on how many kids you’ve got with you, how old they are and your general level of fitness. We’d say that the cycling is suitable for all fitness levels as much of the island is fairly flat, but you can do as much or as little as you like!