In a corner of a rustic island off mainland Singapore, a secret wonderland of nature stayed hidden from locals for centuries. The natural attractions of Chek Jawa were discovered, ironically, only when the area where it sits was slated for redevelopment in 2000.
When Singaporeans realised what had been uncovered – a 100-hectare wetlands teeming with wildlife – they flocked to the area and plans for redevelopment were halted.
It was an accidental discovery that has since benefitted thousands of visitors to this treasure trove of biodiversity, where six major habitats meet and mix.
Tucked away in a corner of Pulao Ubin,an island off mainland Singapore – you will need to catch a ferry to get here. Once on the island, you can hire a van or rent a bicycle from the main village. The more adventurous can hike to the wetlands in about 40 minutes.
The 1.1-kilometre boardwalk along the coast is a convenient way to view the rich plant and marine life, while a 21-metre tall viewing tower also gives you a chance to observe birds like the Collared Kingfisher and Straw-headed Bulbul.
How to Reach?
Take a bumboat from Changi Jetty – the jetty is near the Changi Village Hawker Centre. The bumboats will take you to Ubin Jetty. Cost: $2/person. Maximum 12 passengers. Just join the queue and the boats will leave when they have 12 persons. If there are less than 12 persons, you might have to wait a little while until enough people turn up.
Take a van from Ubin jetty – walk to the inland end of Ubin jetty, to the road, and look for vans and land rovers. They will all have “PU” license plates these days! On weekends, there are usually ample drivers. Just tell the driver “Chek Jawa” and he will do the rest. Again, they might wait for enough people to fill the van. Cost of 1-way van trip to Chek Jawa: $2 per person.
Important note: The road to Chek Jawa includes a portion of clay road off the main road. During the monsoon season, this clay road may be badly washed out and the vans will not be able to take you all the way in. Then you will have to walk from the main road. The clay road itself may be difficult to walk: muddy, slippery, with large water-filled potholes.
If the van drives you all the way in by the clay road, at the drop off point, walk to the Chek Jawa shore – it is a 3-minute walk. Take the fork to your left, which slopes steeply down-hill. Follow the path to reach the beach. To the right of the sign “Welcome to Chek Jawa” is a broken down jetty, follow it down to the beach and go to your right towards the big rocks. The fork to the right takes you to House No. 1, a disused house.
The same route gets you back to Changi! Van drivers will give you their name cards so you can call or page them on your handphones when you are ready to go home, or you can pre-arrange a pick-up time upon your arrival.