Situated just 15 minutes from Singapore’s city centre, Sentosa is an island of peace and tranquillity, and home to an exciting array of themed attractions, award-winning spa retreats and resort accommodations, alongside lush rainforests, golden sandy beaches and luxury residences.
Sentosa was once known as Pulau Blakang Mati which, in Malay means the “Island of Death from Behind”. During the 2nd World War, the island was a British military fortress. The British set up artillery guns in Fort Siloso that were then pointed to the south, facing the sea in expectation of a seaward Japanese assault. However, the Japanese eventually invaded and captured Singapore from the north, after having done the same to Malaya (now known as West Malaysia). Following the surrender of the Allied Forces on 15 February 1942, the island became a Prisoner of War camp, housing Australian and British prisoners of the Japanese. During the Japanese Occupation and under the Sook Ching Operation, Chinese men who were suspected, often arbitrarily, of being involved in anti-Japanese activities were brutally killed. The beach at Pulau Blakang Mati was one of the killing fields.
The island was renamed “Sentosa” in 1972, which means “peace and tranquillity” in Malay. It has an area of close to 5 km² and lies just half a kilometre away from the southern coast of the main island of Singapore. It is Singapore’s fourth largest island (excluding the main island) and has a 3.2 km stretch of white sand beach. Sentosa can be reached from the Singapore mainland via a short causeway or Cable Car, which originates from Mount Faber and passes through HarbourFront, enroute to its final destination. The island is also accessible by the Sentosa Express monorail which links the VivoCity Shopping Mall on the mainland and the southern part of Sentosa Island. Within Sentosa there are three bus services, identified as Blue, Yellow and Red lines, and a tram service called the Beach Tram. Passenger cars are also allowed to enter the island. Another alternative mode of travel to reach the island is via walking over a new foot bridge, the Sentosa Boardwalk which is parallel to the causeway and includes themed gardens, shops and eateries. It has covered walkways and travellators along the boardwalk for rainy days.
Today’s Sentosa has been rebranded and resculpted into one big tourist attraction popular among Singaporeans as a quick island getaway. Among Singaporeans, the most popular reason to go to Sentosa is to hit the beaches: Silosa, Palawan and Tanjong from west to east respectively and all three are artificial. Siloso Beach has a nice beach promenade full of clubs and restaurants, while Palawan Beach claims to be the southernmost point of continental Asia, and Tanjong Beach is the quietest of the three. Beach lovers can enjoy exciting games and sea sports along the 3.2km long sandy beaches, indulging in a host of leisure activities such as cycling, in-line skating, canoeing, or simply unwind at the beach pubs. On weekends, the beach pubs will spring into action as beach volleyball fans flock to the beaches for their favourite game. In recent years, Sentosa has gained international fame for hosting some of Singapore’s most exciting beach parties, such as the ZoukOut Dance Festival and Sentosa’s annual year-end Siloso Beach Count Down Party.
Once you step afoot the island, you can find your own slice of paradise among the many exciting attractions – history and culture come alive, entertainment by day and night, lush green surroundings to explore, manicured gardens, dancing water shows, challenging international golf courses with scenic undulating views, etc. etc.
The new jewel in the crown is Resorts World at Sentosa, an enormous complex comprising of Southeast Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park, Singapore’s second casino, shopping, hotels and themed resorts,, spas, world’s largest Marine Life Park, amusement and entertainment facilities. Sentosa Island is indeed worth a full day’s (and night’s) visit; in fact, if you have the time, you should allocate at least two days to this island to enjoy, indulge, relax, refresh and rejuvenate yourself.
Check out the latest happenings at: www.sentosa.com.sg