10 things you didn’t know about Sentosa

10 things you didn’t know about Sentosa
May 11 10:49 2016

With award-winning spa retreats, beaches, and world-renowned golf courses, the 500-hectare Sentosa Island positions itself as Singapore’s “State of Fun”. We all know the place for its commercialized attractions, like Universal Studios Singapore theme park, the fancy casino, the annual ZoukOut music festival and frequent rave parties at Tanjong Beach Club, but what your travel guide won’t tell you about is the hidden caves behind a popular hotel resort, where to find free parking, and how you can dispense gold bars from a vending machine.

Discover a different side to this leisure destination with our round-up of top 10 things you didn’t know about Sentosa:

Tanjong Rimau

A beach so mysterious you can’t even find it on Sentosa’s official website or on Google Maps, Tanjong Rimau is Singapore’s last remaining natural coastline and honestly the country’s best kept secret. Go off the beaten path on the Western tip of the island behind Shangri-La Rasa to find this gem of a place. Tanjong Rimau has the clearest water in Singapore, and during low tide, you’ll be able to spot a diverse range of marine life, including coral and reef species, octopi, crabs, starfish and even the venomous stonefish.

There are also mangrove trees and two small stone caves for picture-taking, and I bet your Instagram followers can’t guess where in the world you are.

For non-experienced nature explorers, email nature@sentosa.com.sg or the Naked Hermit Crabs to book a guided tour.

Dispense real gold bars from a machine

In a country where 1 in 6 people are millionaires, you can bet there will be some opulent attractions around. Located near the casino-rich atmosphere of Resorts World Sentosa sits two shiny SMART Gold ATM’s. The first of their kind in Asia, these ATM’s act pretty much like your regular vending machine, except instead of dropping out candy and cookies, they dispense 1 to 10g of pure refined gold bars and silver ingots in exchange for cash or credit/mobile/debit/internet payment. The prices change twice daily to reflect market prices of gold and silver, but expect to pay around SGD $80 for 1 gram of gold to SGD $1,500 for a 20 gram pendant.

Rotunda at Hotel Michael and at Porte Cochere
Open daily 10am – 10pm

Wildlife habitats

Sentosa has wildlife on display at the Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom at Sentosa. Photo by Gordon Wrigley

Almost 70% of Sentosa is actually covered by secondary rainforest, and is home to some of the world’s rarest habitats, including coastal rainforests, rocky seashores and wetlands. With some 170 species of birds and animals, you’ll be able to catch sight of wild monkeys, monitor lizards, peacocks, squirrels, and the endangered magpie robin. The best way to explore these natural beauties is at the Sentosa Nature Discovery, which includes a gallery of interactive exhibits and a 1.8km Nature Walk through the jungle.

Free entry
Open daily 9am – 5pm

If that’s not enough to convince you, then check out the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom and be surrounded by 15,000 live butterflies and over 3,000 species of insects.

Admission fee – $16
Open daily 9:30am – 7pm

Sentosa’s intriguing history

Before the $6.59 billion Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) opened its doors in 2010, Sentosa had a number of expensive but failed attractions that have since been taken down. These include the $60 million Asian Village, $52-million water theme park Fantasy Land and $20 million Volcano Land, which was meant to give you the experience of journeying to the center of the earth.

With new hits like Universal Studios, Adventure Cove and Singapore’s first casino, integrated resort RWS really helped to boost traffic to the island, more than doubling Sentosa’s annual visitorship to 19.1 million in 2011. Today, RWS accounts for an astounding 1/3rd of ALL visitor arrivals to gated attractions in Singapore.

Free entry and lunch-time parking

The tranquil Sentosa Boardwalk promises free entry for all visitors until the end of 2016

The Sentosa Boardwalk from Vivo City. Photo by William Cho

The $4 Sentosa Express and $6 car gantry fee kind of puts people off from visiting the island, but now you can get in for free. As part of SG50 celebrations, Sentosa waived the $1 fee for walkers entering by the sheltered 670m Sentosa Boardwalk, a promotion that lasts until the end of 2016 (fingers crossed they extend this freebie forever!). Sentosa is also notorious for their pricey parking lots ($10 in your first 1.5 hours at RWS), which is why we love dining at Quayside Isle at Sentosa Cove. Here, free parking is available from 12pm – 2:30pm on weekdays for you to enjoy lunch at over 25 casual to high-end restaurants serving anything from Indian and Chinese to Belgian, Spanish and Greek cuisines.

Actually, many activities in Sentosa don’t cost a cent

Many people have the misconception that everything at Sentosa is just a money-making gimmick, but there are actually a ton of cool attractions that are completely free-of-charge! For free shows, check out the nighttime water, light and firework display at Crane DanceTM , or catch live animals in action at Animal & Birds Encounters. Free activities include a scenic trek 11-storeys high along Fort Siloso Skywalk, a walk through the jungle at Sentosa Nature Discovery, beach volleyball at Siloso Beach and even guided tours to see original cannons and guns at Fort Siloso

Tours are conducted Fri – Sun & Public Holidays 12:30pm – 3:30pm at Beach Station

P.S, getting to all these places around the island is also free, via Sentosa’s internal bus, monorail and trams.

Enjoy a unique staycation at Sentosa

The enchanting Ocean Suite at the Resort World Sentosa

Stay at the magical Ocean Suite at the Resorts Worlds Sentosa. Credit: Resorts World Sentosa

With 6 themed hotels and more than 1,500 rooms, Resorts World Sentosa is always a great place for a staycation. Up your experience with one of Beach VillasTM’s more exclusive options. For a romantic getaway, choose their TreeTop LoftTM suites – only 2 available, 12m above ground, 192sqm in size and surrounded entirely by nature. Or get up close and personal with sharks, manta rays and fish by opting for their Ocean Suites, which have floor-to-ceiling windows looking straight into the S.E.A. Aquarium. If you’re one of the lucky ones to be on RWS’s VIP list, then you may also get an exclusive invite to stay at Crockfords Tower, where their lowest-standard room is a suite (the rest are mansions and villas).

On top of world-class interiors designed by master architect Michael Graves and extravagant facilities (private spa treatment rooms and lounge pools to name a few), Crockfords Tower offers 24/7 butler services. According to RWS, these butlers have been asked to do the craziest things, such as buying nasi lemak and durians all the way from Johor Bahru.

The Capella at Sentosa Island also qualifies as one of the best luxury hotels in Singapore!

BBQs on the beach are no longer forbidden

Sentosa's beach can now be used for BBQs

Enjoy BBQs by the beach at Sentosa at the BBQ events organized there all year round. Photo by Symphonex

Most beach-goers prefer hanging out at East Coast Park because Sentosa doesn’t have public BBQ pits and has an official rule forbidding visitors to bring their own grills or outdoor cooking devices. However, what many don’t realize is that Sentosa actually organizes BBQ events year-round (this is safer when such activities are under their control). On weekdays, Wave House offers a set menu of marinated meats and salads for a DIY BBQ by the Beach ($170++ for 4-5 pax), while the Port of Lost Wonder hosts monthly night time “BBQ Under the Stars” events, which include movie screenings ($39). Or, if you’re a lucky guest at Costa Sands Resort, you can rent their private BBQ pits.

Anyone can chill out at the premium Sentosa Golf Club

Most clubs are exclusive to members and members’ guests, but not at the Sentosa Golf Club. The alfresco Golfer’s Terrace is open to the public for lunch and dinner. With over 100 Asian and Western items on their menu, you can spend a good few hours eating while enjoying panoramic views of the Tanjong Golf Course and South China Sea. Visitors can also tee off at this S$40 million course, provided you have an official USGA® handicaps index lower than 36.6 for men and 40.4 for women.

Be one of 600 interns hired to run Sentosa

Can’t get enough of Singapore’s State of Fun? Resorts World Sentosa hires 600 interns from over 40 countries each year to run the various attractions at Universal Studios Singapore, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and the S.E.A. Aquarium, not to mention all the spa, retail, and 60+ F&B outlets across this integrated resort. Not only will you get to earn some pocket money while you’re here, but this is also a great way to make new friends from around the world and go “behind-the-scenes” to discover what makes Sentosa so special.

Read about application requirements here.

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Wai Yan Yip
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