TRAVEL & TOURISM
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Sentosa Island Experience

Sentosa Island Experience

Visit ‘Splash’ and other creatures during your ‘Fun break’ in Singapore

Marion Vogt

I bet 70% of all readers who’ve been to Singapore saw the headline and thought, ‘Oh I’ve been there,’ but have you been there recently? Sentosa Island, just off Singapore, is much more than cable car rides to an aquarium as it used to be some years ago, it developed and still is developing into a vibrant, trendy, activity-holiday-zone for the whole family.

An unusual treat is the clear view of Singapore’s skyline while you glide in South East Asia’s first cableway the 1.6 km to and from the island.

The glass bottom cable cars carrying you vertiginously 90 m above sea level to Sentosa are still an attraction but that’s just the start for an adventurous day. The new marketing plan to target families, the younger generation, and the up market crowd is well underway and some of the newer attractions must already put a smile on the face of the Sentosa developers as they trot off to the bank.

When you enter the Merlion you are on a discovery tour of legendary sea monsters. And by dropping a lucky ‘sand dollar’ in the lions’ mouth you will even enhance your good fortune.

For example the new 37 meter Merlion, which features a whimsical sea-creature and mythical monster-themed walkthrough, including an animated movie, informing visitors ‘Disney Land style’ where the name Singapore came from.

Otters belong to the dolphin lagoon and are part of the show on the beach. This one waves good bye to visitors, saying: See you again soon on Sentosa Island.

Or the ride in the new Carlsberg Sky Tower that enables you to sit 135 m above sea level in Asia’s tallest observation tower while enjoying a 360 degree view of Sentosa and the surrounding islands.

Underwater World remains an attraction with a spectacular 83 m long tunnel that can be explored by fixed or moving walkways and which is committed to marine conservation and environmental education. Now over 2500 shoals of fish, raiding predators and unusual creatures that can usually only be seen in biology books are breeding quite naturally at the aquarium, which is a true sign that they are comfortable. From sea dragons to jelly fish, piranhas, sharks and turtles, the admission charge of about 400 baht for adults and 300 baht for children is well worth the money.

‘Splash’ born on November 7, 2002 is in the stage of changing from grey to become pink like his mom and dad… Being kissed by ‘Splash’, the not yet completely pink baby, has to be booked in advance.

Something that many visitors forget to put in their holiday plan, simply because they do not know about it, is an ‘underwater adventure’. Children alone or the whole family are able to sign up for different marine discovery programs like ‘diving with the sharks’ (minimum age 12 years), Marine Discoveries (6 years and older),’Extreme Bull Shark Encounters (15 years or older and certified diver qualification needed) or a swim with the pink dolphins. Even sleepover programs for groups and school classes can be arranged.

‘Meet the Dolphin Sessions’ are 4 times per day while swimming with the dolphins must be booked in advance.

My personal favorite was the dolphin lagoon, which housed the Indo Pacific Humpbacked dolphins which reach a ‘bubbly’ pink by the time they are fully grown in contrast to the normally gray appearance. Acquired from Ocean World Chantaburi in Thailand in 1999, Underwater World Singapore did not actively attempt to breed its dolphins but was overjoyed when the pregnancy of ‘Pann’ was discovered. Son ‘Splash’ is now 2 and a half years old and closely monitored and educated by 10 expatriate trainers from Hong Kong and Australia. If you have been to Dolphin shows before you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that Sentosa’s Dolphin Show is not at an aquarium but directly on a sunny beach lagoon where you can observe these rare mammals through a variety of interactive, feeding, and training sessions. And, on a minute’s notice you can have your picture taken with ‘Splash’ while swimming with the dolphins (has to be booked in advance).

By extending the attractions into the evenings with shows like ‘Magical Sentosa’, a nightly musical fountain featuring powerful water geysers and light shows, you can make a full day of it. More hotels and spas are verging on completion and it is no wonder that a Tourism Academy on Sentosa is almost ready to open as well. The opening is planned for next month in partnership with Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and the first intake of 300 hundred students is well underway.

No matter when your last visit to Sentosa Island was, you will find something new, exciting, or relaxing. You have a wide variety of choices, and don’t forget, Singapore is just a plane ride away with Tiger Airways leaving shortly after 6 p.m. from Chiang Mai International Airport.