The moment I read the news about this new, 50 ha park opening to the public, I knew I had to go there. Teeming with wildlife and towered by Casuarina trees, this island is the perfect place a day out with family and friends. (Read till the end of the post for our extremely exciting encounter and details on how to get to the island)
With our bags packed and excited selves, my family and I left home last Saturday morning to travel to the island by train. I was overjoyed when we reached the Punggol Promenade walk which would lead us to Coney Island..
We entered Coney Island through the West Entrance:
A lovely day flying moth greeted us at the entrance. I love the contrast of the colors of their wings with the white daisy flower.
We followed the park’s rustic-styled wood signs further ahead into the island.
The tall and beautiful grassland with the tall trees that made up most of the island was visually stunning and made the environment so tranquil as we hiked.
Did you know that Coney Island is home to a free-roaming Brahman cow? Unfortunately, we were not able to spot the cow.. it’s hard to in a 50 hectare island filled with tall grass and trees!The cow is very shy and gentle so there is nothing to worry about during your visit.(You can read more about the cow here).
Tall Casuarina trees also known as Rhu trees (Casuarina equisetifolia), native to Singapore dominate the island. These trees look extremely similar to pine or conifer trees so make you feel like you are in Christmas wonderland 🙂 They are actually flowering plants and are often planted as wind breaks and to stabilize coastal sand dunes.
Coney Island is home to more than 80 species of resident and migratory birds. I was able to hear many familiar birds like kingfishers, parakeets, sunbirds, tailorbirds, and saw glimpses of eagles high up in the sky. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to spot many except the resident birds common to the island, including these lovely Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) whose songs are so melodious and sweet.
There were many bird hides near the trails made by NParks to view the birds in a way where they wouldn’t be able to see human presence.
I also got a glimpse of this beautiful Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus) foraging on the ground as it is known to do. Its upper wings are mainly olive green.. The one I saw was presumably a female as males have a red cap.
We also spotted many Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) nests at two points in the trail. One of the nests was on lower ground so I could easily photograph it.. one of the parents came to feed but perhaps, sensing our presence went behind the nest to feed the chicks which we could hear chirping away!
Fortunately, the less elusive creatures like the butterflies, dragonflies and lizards were easy to spot and photograph! The island was filled with these fluttering Tawny Costers (Acraea violae).
I also saw a Malayan Eggfly (Hypolimnas anomala anomala) female with its wings open for the first time, revealing the luminous blue color on the upper side of its fore-wings.
There is only one toilet in the whole island, and since there are no basic facilities such as electricity on the island, it is 100% sustainable as it runs on rainwater and solar energy. Near the entrance to the toilet we saw many Common Tigers (Danaus genutia genutia):
How adorable are these Changeable Lizards (Calotes versicolor)?
There were many places between the trails to see the beach and an ideal resting point for cyclists. They were named Beach A-E. At one of these beaches my family and I put out a mat and enjoyed a scrumptious picnic lunch that refreshed and energized us for the rest of our walk. One of the cleaners told us he was so happy to see us as a family enjoying “Makkan” (food in Malay) together as he rarely sees families at the island coming and eating together.
Our visit would not have been complete without spotting this sly creature.. The Malayan Water Monitor lizard (Varanus salvator). I love the way they walk and frequently stick out their forked tongues to survey their surroundings.
Near the beach, I saw some dragonflies buzzing around, including this one which looks to me like a Mangrove Dwarf (Raphismia bispina) but I’m not entirely sure.
On one of the beaches we also saw that someone had hung this cute little charm on a Casuarina tree. How lovely!
As if the grasslands and stunning nature trails were not enough.. there was a mangrove boardwalk!!
Sweaty and tired yet satisfied by our visit.. we walked towards the Lorong Halus exit. We inquired as to where the exit would lead and found out it would eventually lead to Pasir Ris, so we decided to walk back to the Punggol Promenade (where we entered).
My father had walked ahead and suddenly started shouting “Otters! Otters!”. My heart started racing, and even though I was in so much fatigue, I ran as fast as I could to see a FAMILY OF OTTERS near the PUB waterway!
I’ve been wanting to see these creatures forever. Forget the zoo, I wanted to see them in the wild. My sister has seen two of them at Botanical Gardens.. but we saw about 10 of the otters including some otter pups!
We noticed this sign which suggests otters are sighted here frequently! If you see otters, do adhere by these rules set out by NParks (National Parks Board).
Even though our encounter with them lasted for a few minutes, we were able to hear the cute noises of the otters as they scrambled down to the water to eventually swim away, perhaps after seeing us there. These are Smooth Coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)that are frequently sighted at Sungei Buloh wetland reserve, Pasir Ris and Pulau Ubin. There is even a resident family at Gardens by the Bay!
How adorable are they?? My family and I felt so incredibly lucky.. if we were not there at that moment, we probably wouldn’t have been able to see the otters that day.. and my wish wouldn’t have come true! Our encounter with the otters gave a perfect end to an exciting day.
I would recommend everyone to go to Coney Island.. even if you are not a nature lover, cycling here seems so fun and enjoyable through the trails. You can cover more of the island and you are likely to get less tired!
MORE DETAILS ON CONEY ISLAND
– The park opens at 7am and closes at 7pm
-Wear full sleeved clothes as there are sandflies on the beach. Carry sufficient water and snacks as there is none available on the island.
-As you exit the island, you can go to the cafes or restaurants along the Punggol Promenade for a refreshing drink or meal.
HOW TO GET THERE
Taxi: Tell the taxi driver to Punggol Promenade walk which is located in Punggol Settlement at the end of Punggol road. You will see a bus stop “Punggol Rd End” and the Punggol Ranch resort on the way.
MRT: Go to Punggol MRT which is located on the North East line (purple line). Take exit C to the bus interchange and take Bus 84 to the “Punggol Rd End” bus stop. Follow the signs to Coney Island.