This modestly-sized island is one of the last rural areas in Singapore, yet it’s just a stone's throw from downtown.
Only around 100 people live on Pulau Ubin. Located between Singapore's main island and Malaysia, this is a very rare example of the area as it all once looked. Take a day trip over here to explore the flora and fauna, and relish in the tranquillity. Pulau Ubin translates as 'Granite Island', a nod to its past as a hotbed of quarries. Stone from Pulau Ubin was made into floor tiles known as Jubin, although the industry has long ceased. The old quarries now add to the island's charm.
On alighting the ferry, rent a bike. This is a fast and cheap way to get around, and will ensure that you make the most of your visit. Ketam Mountain Bike Park – one of Singapore's premier trails – takes you through 8 kilometres of incredibly varied terrain. Follow the boardwalks through the mangrove swamps, race through open meadows, glance down into the huge chasms made by the granite miners or climb the observation tower for immense views of the main island.
Conservation is a vital part of Pulau Ubin today. Call in at the Hornbill Conservation Project to get a glimpse of these endangered birds. Head to Chek Jawa – 100 hectares of wetlands on the south-eastern tip of the island – to spot sea and bird life. Look out for fiddler crabs, cuttlefish, monitor lizards, sea anemones and sponges. The visitor centre here is a 1930s Tudor-style building – a strange but beautiful sight.
Pulau Ubin's other big attraction is its inhabitants. Friendly locals are often happy for you to watch them fishing or running their small farms. Other locals offer up accommodation for those who want to stay the night. The cuisine on Pulau Ubin is fresh, tasty and not to be missed.
Pulau Ubin is just a short boat ride from Changi Beach, east Singapore. Boats run throughout the day, and there's no need to make a reservation.