Sisters’ Islands Intertidal walk

Boon Kang would like to swim in Sisters’ Islands (姐妹岛)’ lagoons. This pair of Southern islands have been designated as Singapore’s first marine park.

When we arrived at Sisters’ Island (big island) pier, sky is still dark. During this period, the tide is lowest, thus optimal to spot the marine creatures.

With coconut trees swaying by the coastline, the backdrop could be a beach resort from Malaysia or Thailand. (sing Sisters’ Island, Sunny Island Set in the Sea)


Amazing sunrise from across the horizon.

All of us are eager to explore Singapore’s first Marine Park.

Map of Singapore’s offshore islands. Sisters’ Islands are directly below Sentosa.
Map of sisters Island
(map credit coralreef.nus.edu.sg)

The visitors are split into three groups, there are two lagoons on Big Sisters’ Island. As the tide is still low, we can walk straight into the lagoon.

Some of the plants and creatures which can only be seen during low tide. (Apologies as Daddy do not have the name for most of them). Our friendly guides will be most helpful to answer your queries 🙂

(From Left to Right) Anemone shrimps on the carpet anemone, Sea worm’s poo, and a single stalk of mangrove seedling.

Fluted Giant clam (we heard it is a delicacy) and Brain coral.

Guess why this snail is called Moon Snail? (hint: its egg case is round)

Starfish spotting. For some of us, this is the first time we are seeing the starfishes so near.

These starfishes are very well camouflaged, and they like to burrow themselves into the seabed.
Starfish Singapore

Dead crab and rubbish can be seen littering the floor. Some of the rubbish float in during high tide and most rubbish are man-made.

For the kids, this is a fun and interactive outdoor classroom. Our guides will share which sea creatures we can touch. (gently please, and maybe leave the crab alone).

Forget about pepper crab, this Red Egg crab is not edible. Below pic is some sort of sea slug (Nudibranchs).

A tiny Octopus and Black flatworm (looks harmless but it actually leech itself onto its prey and suck them dry!). These creatures are placed in pails for us to understand more about them and they are released at the end of our trip.

Video : Tour of Sisters’ Island

Enthusiastic visitors soak up every nugget of information from our guides.

Patches of beautiful green seaweed, like an underwater meadow.

As our guide Ria is showing us the difference between seaweed and seagrass, offshore refineries are just across the sea.

Huge containers and oil tankers ply the busy waterway of Singapore, yet the marine diversity in Singapore’s offshore islands continues to thrive!

Not sure what is this plant, but it stands resolutely on its own. Against the elements, determined to flourish. A green petal of Life.

Exploration is possible on dry land too. We found so many casuarina seeds, and grasshoppers are thriving on this island (near extinct on mainland).

Fauna on the island.

As the tide slowly rises, we have come to the end of our 90 minutes tour.

Little bit of Sisters’ Islands history.

Before we board the ferry, try to spot the corals under the jetty.

Bye Bye Sisters’ Islands and our guides 🙂

The brothers enjoy their Sisters’ Islands trip. Although wading in the water with soggy socks might be uncomfortable, they still love the refreshing experience.


(image credit Pei Yan)

Tips to enjoy your Sisters’ Islands trip :

1) The ferry departs punctually from Pasir Panjang terminal. Do arrive early as the way in is not straightforward
2) If you are prone to seasick, do prepare a plastic bag. The Ferry is confined and air conditioned
3) At Sisters’ Island, follow your guide’s instruction. Try to walk in a single file as we want to sustain (and not kill) the marine life environment
4) Wear your bootie, boots or just wear your old running shoes. Socks will be wet, sandy and soggy. Enjoy the experience.
5) Monkeys inhabit the islands, do not expose your food or feed them
6) There is a toilet facility on the Island

** There are 4 more Sisters’ Islands tours before the end of 2014 (evenings slots). Do pop by Nparks link for the next schedule. Quick fingers are needed as many families will be trying to register.

7) Nparks’ Sisters’ Islands tours are Free. If you charter your own boat, it will be $300+

8 ) Ria (in black with bandana) was our Chek Jawa guide last round. She runs the popular nature website/blog Wildshores of Singapore which offers nature trails too. Do pop by her detail Sisters’ Islands review here, here and here (2014Sep weekend).

9) Video : You must catch the paranomic overhead view of the two lagoons from a Drone’s view (courtesy of Pei Yan)

A big Thank You to Nparks for organising this Fun trip, and our friendly and knowledgeable guides too! (Ria Tan and Pei Yan, and nParks’ Collin, Guan Xiong and Alice)

Click for more images.

More Sisters’ Islands photos can be found on our Fanpage album.
Checkout other intertidal walks from Sengkangbabies too, Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau.

Pulau Semakau intertidal walk rOCks !

Mention Pulau Semakau, or Lorong Halus, and you might cover your nose.
These landfill sites used to be, and continue to be Singapore’s dumping grounds. But Semakau also house Knobbly starfish, which are bigger than our face !

Daddy has heard a lot about Semakau before, how National Environment Agency (NEA) manage to cultivate and sustain the island’s ecosystem. Semakau is proof that landfills are not always about Rubbish 🙂

There was a video campaign under Semakau and NSS end April, and Daddy has volunteered himself for Nature Society Singapore‘s (NSS) Semakau trip.

The early morning downpour at Pasir Panjang Ferry terminal nearly derail our trip.

We brought the glorious Sun to Pulau Semakau 🙂

We can learn about how Singapore’s rubbish are first incinerated at Tuas, before the ash are towed to Semakau. More about Pulau Semakau here.

After our briefing, we head out to one corner of the island for our Intertidal walk. Intertidal means we can walk far out to shore when tides are low, and explore the rich inhabitants.

Regulars to intertidal walk came prepared with stylish boots ! (SAF shoe is Daddy’s)

As we were delayed by the rain, we need to speed up and cut through jungle trail. Hello mosquitos 🙂

An amazing sight awaits us at the exit of the trail. Our eyes can scan the entire coastline. Start wading !

The water has risen (we lose an hour due to the rain), but still got pretty much to explore !

As Singapore is an island surrounded by busy straits and container ships. We can see heavy industries all around us. It is always amazing how our ecosystem continues to strive 🙂

No wonder this is intertidal walk. In low tide, all sorts of seafood sealife is exposed ! It is very therapeutic to walk ankle deep in the sea. We try to walk in a single file, so as not to disturb the ecosystem. Occasionally, our guide will shout “stingray” !

Knobbly starfish aplenty. This is the first time most of us have seen starfish so HUGH, and upclose ! Pardon our excitement, but we can spot a colony every ten steps.

Whenever we gather, we spot new interesting stuffs. NSS guides will help us to identify the shells, fishes, seaweeds and other organisms flourishing here at Semakau.

Daddy even spotted a hugh seabass (60cm) lingering around, it might be injured, and maybe it is from a nearby fishery farm?

Wildlife galore

Back on the bank, a lone mangrove. We can spot countless fiddler crabs hiding in the mangrove’s root. The morning’s exploration has been nothing short of eXcitement !

After our short rest at Semakau’s admin building, we went to checkout the island’s scenic spots.

Mangroves, fish-farms, and we can even spot Raffles Lighthouse (Daddy visited beacon in 2011Apr) from a corner.

Beautiful and tempting lagoon under the hot sun, but no swimming allowed 🙁
We even spotted a baby black-tip reef shark.

Pulau Bukom across the straits..

Walk further inland, and we can spot the island’s different plants and ferns.

Before heading back, we witness sunset away from Singapore mainland. Watching the sunset over the sea at Semakau can be an romantic experience, as there are no tall buildings to block our view.

Bye Bye Semakau, we will miss you! We overheard Yvonne (NEA representative) mention that she has been here five times, and every experience is different !

Additional tips for enjoying Semakau
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1) Your shoes will get muddy and dirty, do not bother to clean up, just enjoy the walk.

2) Walk slowly, as you do not want to minimise disturbance to ecosystem, and you do not wish to fall and let your expensive camera equipment swim !

3) Daddy would not recommend kids below 8 years old to visit. Semakau itinerary is whole day, and can be tiring.

4) For DSLR users, get use to manual focus, the constant ripples make it hard for camera to focus.
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City view from behind a field of lalang.

We can only enjoy Pulau Semakau’s intertidal walk, through NSS and NEA. If you prefer to catch galaxy star-trails, you need to stay over night with Tasos.

Daddy would like to thanks NSS (Ter Yang) and NEA for hosting us, and the friendly guides (Han Chong and Alice) for sharing so much knowledge with us.

Our blog cannot justify the beauty of Semakau, please drop by SengkangBabies album for more photos of the day itself.
–> Semakau Album

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** Our blog are finalists in OMY’s Singapore Blog awards, if you love our kids, Read our story, and Vote for us 🙂

* updated 2014OCt – Checkout other intertidal walks from Sengkangbabies too, Chek Jawa and Sisters’ Islands.