I decided that during our time back here in Singapore, I want to explore a few nature-y places I have yet to visit, and see if hauling the kiddos with me as well is doable/practical/fun. I had the chance recently to check out a sliver of a nature reserve near VivoCity/Sentosa called Labrador Nature Reserve to see what kind of nature I could get myself into.
I actually wasn’t expecting too much. Once upon a time, I was of the opinion that in order for any chunk of nature to be valuable as a protectable sanctuary, it should be big, or at least contiguous with another big chunk of nature. When seen from above, Labrador is not only tiny, but isolated. It is flanked by urbanization on all sides, which includes a massive shipping port, a golf course, and the occasional giant cruise ship gliding a stone’s throw away. It just doesn’t look like there should be much nature left there worth seeing.
I was wrong, and delightfully so. There aren’t any big critters around, like monkeys or crocodiles or pangolins, though there are lots of squirrels, and I imagine otters pay a visit every now and then. There are hefty o’l monitor lizards too. We were fortunate enough to see one slink away from us towards the water.
We headed from the MRT station down a beautiful boardwalk built next to Berlayer Creek, a muddy trickle surrounded by mangroves. The boardwalk and creek cut a fairly narrow path between an empty field and a golf course, but it’s a beautiful, quiet stroll, with few other people, and two branches of the boardwalk that protrude over the creek to give you a broader view up and down the length of the waterway. You can perch yourself up there and watch the little fishies below swimming upstream, and scan the mangrove roots for crabs, lizards, snakes and the like. It’s a leisurely, shaded 1km walk from the MRT to the mouth of the creek, and well worth it. Very doable with youths in tow. Take your time and enjoy a glimpse of old coastal Singapore mangrove marshes.
At the end of the creek the boardwalk heads off to the left, out over the water towards Keppel Harbor, but we took the path to the right and headed down towards Labrador Reserve itself. The reserve has some of the last sea cliffs in Singapore open to the public, as well as a fair bit of local history wrapped up in the area, particularly in regards to the British fortifications built up before WWII to repel any potential Japanese incursions into Keppel Harbor (they did invade, but from the north after conquering Malaya).
The reserve itself is loaded with beautiful second growth forest, and feels a world away from the city beyond. From my experience with nature spots in Singapore, they do an excellent job of transporting you out of city environs instantaneously and completely, and Labrador is no exception. There is also a long jetty over the water, with views of a reef, and walking trails around the hill with great views. But alas, I did not have the opportunity to explore these spots, due to the fact that the youths began to grow antsy and hungry, and I forgot to bring lunch, so I calmed them with snacks and we headed back to Vivo.
The park has tons of bird life, and I managed to spot a beautiful black-capped kingfisher, which I was not able to photograph, though not for lack of trying. Aside from that, there were plenty of fascinating insects. I have indoctrinated Shiloh to love bugs (but not touch them), and she loved Labrador as a result. Here are a few:
Labrador is a great spot for a picnic with the fam. Bring ’em and check out a little pocket of nature well worth a visit. I might be back myself.