When's the last time you've been to Pulau Ubin?
These months (May, the whole of June, and part of July) might be a good time to plan a day (or night) trip there with family or friends — now in full swing is an annual festival called Pesta Ubin, which celebrates Pulau Ubin, Singapore's last remaining untouched kampung island.
It started on May 10 — Vesak Day — and will run all the way till July 16, over 10 weekends, and there's an entire range of activities for all kinds of interests, with some that are free and don't require registration.
The festival is organised by volunteers and enthusiasts, in partnership with residents and folks working on Pulau Ubin.
Here're our picks of the seemingly-endless list of activities available:
1. Go kayaking, during the day or at night
(Photo: Asian Detours)
Did you know that you can kayak at various places in Pulau Ubin? You can go even if you're a rookie, for a three-hour guided session on the weekends, with one morning, one afternoon and one evening slot each.
A minimum age of 12 for day kayaking, and 16 for night kayaking, applies here, and you'll need to sign up at least 24 hours in advance of a session.
Organisers are raising funds to support the refurbishment of homes in Ubin, as well as to help defray the costs of electricity for people living there, so a fee ($45) will be collected — although fees for night kayaking (usually $90) have been halved for the duration of Pesta Ubin, so this is as good a chance as any to try it out, if you've never gone night kayaking before.
When this is happening: Night Kayaking — Every Saturday, from 6:30-9:30pm. Day Kayaking — Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am-12pm or 2-5pm.
Where you can find it: Living Fishing Village — map here.
2. Take a free mountain biking course on July 1
Ever wanted to cycle off-road but never had the confidence to? Learn techniques in mountain bicycle handling and safety from experienced instructors from the Mountain Bike Association, and traverse a few easy off-road trails with uphill and downward slopes.
Bikes and equipment not included, though, so you'll need to rent what you lack (bicycle or helmet or both) beforehand. Don't bring too many things, either — only "haversack type" bags will be allowed. Also, you need to be between 15 and 50 years old, and confident in cycling on tarmac roads.
They've opened this for 50 participants, so sign up soon!
You'll need to register for this — email Chris De Souza ([email protected]) with the following:
- Sex M/F
- Riding experience (months / years)
- Riding experience on road or off-road?
- Any medical conditions?
- Expectations of this session (optional)
When this is happening: Saturday, July 1, from 8am-2pm
Where you can find it: Mountain Bike Association booth, at the assembly area
3. Tour a Chinese Kampung house
Formerly owned by one Chew Teck Seng in the 1970s, who ran a provision shop called "Teck Seng Provision Shop" (well, hey), this house was returned to the government after Chew resettled in mainland Singapore with his family in 2005.
It was since refurbished and preserved as a model of a Chinese kampung house, complete with memorabilia that gives you a good idea of what life was like in '60s and '70s Singapore.
Admission is free, and no registration is required.
When it's open: Every 2nd and 4th Saturday and Sunday and public holidays, from 10am - 2pm
Where you can find it: 363B, Jalan Ubin — about 300m, 10 mins walk from Ubin Jetty (map here)
4. Rediscover awesome things at Chek Jawa on June 3
It's true, you can visit Chek Jawa anytime and read signs, but if you happen to be free on June 3, Saturday, why not visit and enjoy free guided tours from enthusiastic nature-loving volunteers?
This part of the island boasts an impressive range of creatures — there are birds, hermit crabs, monkeys, wild boars, butterflies, mudskippers, and if you're lucky, otters and dugongs.
Admission is always free, with no registration required.
When it's open: Saturday, June 3, from 10am-3pm
Where you can find it: Meet at the Chek Jawa Info Kiosk, 3.3km away from Ubin Jetty. It's about a 1.5-2 hour walk, or a 15-min van ride. More on how to get to Chek Jawa here.
Hop on a boat for a leisurely ride around the Pulau Ubin mangrove forest, which is teeming with life (and also for some pretty pictures):
Or check out a floating fish farm, which can only be visited by boat:
These activities are organised by the Living Fisher Village, though, and you'll need to pay $20 for the hour-long tour, which happens twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays (for the fish farm tour) or $10 for a half-hour tour on weekends (for the mangrove tour).
You're also requested to register at least two days ahead, but a refund will be given if fewer than six have registered for it.
When it's happening: (Mangrove tour) Saturdays and Sundays, dependent on tide conditions. Next available tours are on weekend of 27/28 May, from 11am onwards, with the last ride ending by 2pm. (Fish farm tour) Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am or 2pm.
Where you can find it: Living Fishing Village — map here.
6. Go bird-spotting with Nature Society experts on June 11
It's always exciting to spot hornbills at Pulau Ubin, but there are many others who live there equally worth looking out for. In this bird-watching trip, bird-lovers from the Nature Society will guide you in groups to catch a glimpse of common and rarer bird residents of the island.
Be prepared for quite a bit of walking, though!
This event is free, but you'll need to register yourself by emailing Lee Ee Ling ([email protected]). Limited participants will be accepted on the spot in the morning.
When it's happening: Sunday, June 11, from 7:30am-11am
Where to meet: At Ubin Jetty, in front of the big map
7. Go for guided night walks
Discover creatures you don't normally see, especially during the day, during this series of night walks led by established nature guide Subaraj Rajathurai. Registration is on-the-spot and costs $15, which will be donated to the Herpetological Society of Singapore.
Bring along insect repellant, water, a torch, and a poncho in case it rains. More details at the links for each date below.
No registration is required for these walks, just turn up and pay the donation on the spot.
When this is happening:
- Friday, May 26, 4:45pm till 8pm
- Friday, June 2, 6:15pm till 9:30pm
- Saturday, June 24, 6:15pm till 9:30pm
- Saturday, July 1, 6:15pm till 9:30pm
- Saturday, July 15, 4:45pm till 8pm
Where to meet: Assembly Area, 200m or a 6-min walk from Ubin Jetty (map).
There are also many, many more activities that are family-friendly and kid-friendly that you can discover by navigating the pretty-well-organised Pesta Ubin site. If you want to pick a specific date that you're going to find an activity, you can also navigate their nifty calendar here.
Top photo by Ria Tan