Being an island, Singapore gets a bad rep for its quality of beaches. While it’s nowhere close to the slices of paradise found in nearby Malaysia or Thailand, what it lacks in water quality and scenery, it makes up for in man-made distractions and amenities.
Facing the Straits of Johor overlooking Malaysia, Sembawang beach is one of the few natural beaches left in the country. This northside nature spot only spans 15 hectares, so it isn’t massive like the East Coast and Changi beaches. But its history, like how the Sembawang Shipyard was His Majesty’s Naval Base from 1938 to 1968, and neighbouring places of interest like Sembawang memorial and Kampong Wak Hassan, as well as the maritime-themed playground make it worth visiting.
EAT THIS Dine at the Beaulieu House, a seaside restaurant serving up western cuisine, Chinese seafood and local delights. Or wander into Andrews Ave where Woody Family Cafe is quietly nestled in – it’s renowned for its Peranakan food. If not, head a couple of bus stops down to 1036 Live Seafood Restaurant for a typical zi char feast. The shophouses around this area consist of several drinking holes too, including one of the oldest bars in Singapore, Nelson Bar.
DO THIS Popular pastimes at this beach include fishing and barbecuing, so bring along your own fishing rods or barbecue gear and join in these activities. Or run over to the battleship playground which has heaps of fun features for the young and young at heart to play with, including a huge round swing.
Pasir Ris Park is more than just a narrow beach – as implied from its name ‘Pasir Ris’ which means ‘beach bolt-rope’. This 70-hectare space has tons of activities to keep the whole fam occupied, such as a six-hectare mangrove forest which you could explore via the boardwalks and a gallop stable where the young ones can go on pony rides. It also has a three-storey tower for bird-watching, barbecue pits, cycling tracks, and one of the largest playgrounds in Singapore located on the western end of the park.
EAT THIS Get yourself an alfresco seat and indulge in American cuisine by the sea at beach bar and restaurant, Georges @ The Cove. Or enjoy Muslim cuisine like satay, ikan bakar (BBQ seafood), tom yam soup, hotpot and claypot dishes, as well as western cuisine like fish and chips at Rasa Istimewa Restaurant.
DO THIS Let loose at the massive playground which features play stations, slides, space-nets, rope climbing, cableways and basketball courts. If you’re feeling adventurous, go camping at the park’s designated camp areas, and take part in water sports like kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.
Siloso Beach is a hive of activity with numerous beach clubs – Ola Beach Club, Coastes and Sand Bar – and an array of watersports options. Choose from the superfast doughnut rides, stand up paddles or even a jet blade experience, all available at Ola Beach Club. For the best view of the beach, take the 450-metre long MegaZip (at the nearby Mega Adventure Park) that’ll zoom past the jungle canopy of Imbiah Hill to land directly on Siloso Beach.
EAT THIS If you’re tired of the usual beach bar menu – burgers, beers and pizzas – Ola Beach Club’s Hawaiian-themed menu of poke bowls and dishes like the Lomi Lomi Salmon with a crispy sesame waffle makes for a welcome change. Its Ola Tiki cocktails served in a tiki tumbler is a departure from the usual sunset cocktail. Order the Ola Huli Pau, a rum-based concoction decorated with lychee pearls, watermelon and sprigs of fresh mint.
DO THIS Revamped in October 2017, the Skyline Luge has added two new tracks and a new 4-seater chairlift Skyride. If you schedule your Skyride for around 8.40pm, you might catch a glimpse of the Wings of Time show from afar.
Located between Sentosa’s Siloso Beach and Tanjong Beach, this stretch of calm water and fine grain sand is considered the most family friendly of the three. From the shore, there’s a small island that’s easy to swim out to. Otherwise, landlubbers (and Instagrammers) can cross over to the Southernmost point of continental Asia (also the closest point to the equator) using the suspension rope bridge. Do exert the effort to climb up the tower for a bird’s eye view of Sentosa, if nothing else, do it for the ’gram.
EAT THIS Kick back at FOC Sentosa where Nandu Jubany’s hearty paellas and Spanish bites need little introduction. Combined with FOC’s oversized balloon glass gin and tonics (there are over 15 gins to choose from) and the oceanfront plunge pool, you’ve got one of the best chill out spots in Singapore.
DO THIS Other than kicking back on the beach and building sandcastles, catch daily animal shows at the Palawan Amphitheatre where you'll get to watch antics put up by parrots and mischievous macaques.
Stretching from Changi Point to Changi Ferry Terminal, this idyllic slip of a beach dotted with lush casuarina trees makes for a popular swimming spot – be warned though, there have been sightings of Estuarine crocodiles in the water. For a safer bet, perhaps stick to land-based fun like fishing, cycling and rollerblading along the 3.5-kilometre stretch.
EAT THIS Changi Village Hawker Centre may be famous for its nasi lemak – look for International Muslim Food Stall Nasi Lemak (#01-03) – but to forgo the chendol (#01-2046), $1 goreng pisang (#01-51) and Charlie’s Corner’s (#01-08) fish and chips would be a grave mistake.
DO THIS While you’re there, take the opportunity to visit Pulau Ubin. Catch a public bumboat ($3 per person) at Changi Jetty – it runs from sunrise to sunset – and within ten minutes be transported back to Singapore during the kampong days.
However hot and humid Singapore gets, there's always a light breeze blowing at East Coast Beach. Popular with literally everyone, this 15-kilometre stretch is perfect for early morning tai chi classes, evening jogs, or even for a moment of quiet contemplation at Bedok Jetty. Also popular with cyclists and rollerbladers, there’s no shortage of rental shops, and the numerous for rent picnic tables and barbecue pits sees many weekend parties.
EAT THIS Being Singapore, it’s no surprise there’s a hawker centre nearby. The East Coast Lagoon Food Village pavilion-like structure is best enjoyed at dusk. The stalls to hunt down are Ah Hwee BBQ Chicken Wings (be prepared to queue for 20-30 minutes), Hwa Kee Barbecue Pork Noodles – known for its smokey, tender char siew – and the Lagoon Chicken Curry Puff which has been around for 40 over years.
DO THIS There’s always a flurry of activity at East Coast Beach. From Castle Beach in Area E where beautiful castles with bridges and staircases are erected and the bike stations (rent a quad bike for cheesy fun) to the wakeboarding action at the Singapore Wake Park. For kids (and kidults), there’s the Xtreme SkatePark with three different areas and obstacles to practice kickflips and ollies.
Aside from being home to Tanjong Beach Club – one of the world’s top 50 best beach bars as named by Conde Nast Traveller – Sentosa’s southernmost stretch of beach is one of the prettiest Singapore has to offer. Shaped like the numeral three from above, it has fine light yellow sand and coconut trees that frame each evening’s stunning sunset. A popular swimming spot – for both humans and dogs – the area tends to be quiet and tranquil on weekdays. While the weekends see the area transform into a non-stop weekend beach party.
EAT THIS Unlike the other beaches, there’s just one place for food and drinks on this beach: Tanjong Beach Club. With its plush daybeds, plunge pool and air-conditioned restaurant, it’s remained a crowd favourite and the place to be seen at on Sundays. The menu offers everything from lobster buns to acai bowls and fresh seafood platters. For drinks, you can’t go wrong with a pitcher of their Pimm’s My Ride made with Beefeater gin and blood orange sorbet.
DO THIS Situated at the tail end of Sentosa, this stretch of beach is a prime picnic and sun tanning spot. The nearby Stand Up Paddling School offers one hour beginner and advanced SUP classes, as well as Hobie Board and QuickBlade paddles for rental.
That this was the site of the Sook Ching Massacre in 1942 is impossible to ignore – there is an on-site heritage marker detailing the tragic event – still, this stretch of beach in Northern Singapore is a gem. The sand is fine and soft, there’s a collection of boulders (which makes for great photos), and it’s often deserted, even though it’s located close to Punggol Waterway Park.
EAT THIS The Punggol Settlement, a multi-restaurant venue overlooking the beach is hard to miss. If we were to cherry pick, the Ponggol Seafood (#01-08/09) would be our choice. Also known as Old Hock Kee (when it was located near the Punggol Jetty), its Ponggol Famous Mee Goreng and chilli crab are the signature dishes to order.
DO THIS The Punggol Jetty sees many locals attempting to fish (we suspect the fisherman from the ’70s had much more success), while the viewing deck right above the heritage plaque offers an elevated view of the area, right across to Malaysia.