Locally known as *Pulau Belakang Mati* and *Pulau Panjang* (the long island) amongst other names, stories of the island in the 19th century were spun from tales of pirates, foreign settlers and other maritime adventures. During the British occupation, it was also a military fortress and housing facility for the Royal artillery. But its redevelopment in 1972 saw the blueprint of a leisure destination for locals and tourists take shape.
Renamed ‘Sentosa’, meaning tranquillity in Malay, the island underwent a transformation and is now home to an exciting array of themed attractions, award-winning spa retreats and resort accommodation nestled amidst lush rainforests and sandy beaches. The idyllic ambience is made more so with the presence of world-renowned championship golf courses and even a deep-water yachting marina and luxury residences. Making Sentosa its home, too, is Singapore’s first integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa, which operates South East Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park.
Enhancements to the transportation and infrastructure to and from the island resort have increased its accessibility and popularity. The Sentosa Monorail has since been replaced with the Sentosa Express, and one can now experience Faber Peak Singapore and Sentosa on the new Singapore Cable Car Sky Network. The opening of the new intra-island Sentosa line – which is an extension of the existing Mount Faber line, takes one to dozens of attractions on Sentosa, also known as ‘The State of Fun’. The Sentosa Causeway, opened in 1982, has also been improved and supplemented by a parallel Sentosa Boardwalk for pedestrians to enjoy a scenic walk or jog as an alternative to vehicular transportation.
Amidst the tourist infrastructure and luxury residences on the island, it may be easy to forget Sentosa’s other group of inhabitants who have co-existed peacefully, and thrived abundantly on the island. Sentosa’s 45 hectares of natural coastal and secondary forests are also home to a host of feathered and furry creatures - the long-tailed macaque, white-bellied sea eagle, various species of sunbirds and kingfishers, and peacocks which strut freely around the island, offering nature lovers a chance at wildlife spotting.
This focus on retaining the island’s idyllic and verdant charms as part of Sentosa’s Sustainability Plan, will see the restoration of primary forests, green transportation and infrastructures, renewable energy, and eco-tourism. A partnership with the Nanyang Technological University will test-bed Singapore’s first low-flow tidal turbine at the Sentosa Boardwalk, and transform the mixed-usage of attractions on the island.
An estimated 20 million locals and tourists visit Sentosa yearly, making it one of the leading leisure destinations in Singapore. With the planned enhancements, this southern jewel looks set to shine even more as a compelling leisure and business destination for millions of visitors from all around the world.
Photo credits: Sentosa Development Corporation