After a quiet couple of years, Singapore’s Sentosa island is back with a bang, counting a exciting new attractions - and with more still to come. Carolynne Dear crossed Keppel Harbour for a look.
Sentosa' boasts Singapore's best beaches and a heap of fun attractions.
Sentosa island is probably most well-known for the massive Resorts World Sentosa, featuring Southeast Asia’s first and only Universal Studios theme park. Then there’s the cable car network, luge run, zip line, water park, skyline ride, Madame Tussauds, golf courses, resort hotels and the best beaches in Singapore, all served by a free-of-charge network of easy-rider buses and monorail links. This is family friendly holidaying at its most enjoyable.
Predictably visitor traffic dried up during the pandemic and management took the opportunity to “spruce things up”. But now Singapore is back open it’s all systems go for Sentosa’s pandemic-delayed revitalisation programme. I recently popped over the Keppel Harbour bridge to check-out the latest raft of new openings.
One of the most fun new attractions is SkyHelix, an open air gondola that gently rotates as it slowly climbs to 80m above sea level. It’s the tallest ride in the city and soaks up glorious views of Sentosa, Keppel Harbour, the southern islands and Singapore.
SkyHelix Sentosa rises to 80m above sea level, taking in sensational views.
Take a seat at night and the sparkling cityscape is stunning. We watched as a lightning storm raged over Malaysia beyond the Singapore city lights and boats jostled in the harbour below. Riders are seated around a sunken circular ‘stage’ from which a guide gives a potted history of Singapore and what can be seen as the ride gently spins 360 degrees. Our friendly guide was also happy to take a few Insta snaps for us. You can even take a drink up with you to sip on as the city slowly unfurls before you.
SkyHelix is family friendly although riders need to be over 1m5cm and under 12s must be accompanied by an adult. Top tip, if you’re not great with heights, don’t look down as your feet dangle 35m in the air.
Restaurants with a view
SkyHelix has been developed for Sentosa by Mount Faber Group, the people behind Sentosa’s famous cable car that links Sentosa with Singapore. The Mount Faber stop in Singapore has two alfresco restaurants with some of the best views in the city.
Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro is aimed at families while Dusk Restaurant & Bar serves a more sophisticated menu. I tried the Mount Faber Singapore Sling which is being served with a limited-time wine pairing dinner menu developed in collaboration with Danish winery, Frederiksdal. The four-course meal is available until December 2.
Visitors can also dine in a cable car; appetisers are served at Mount Faber before diners embark on a two-loop circuit to Sentosa and back, more than enough time to tuck into a two-course dinner menu.
Central Beach Bazaar
Mount Faber’s second big attraction to open is Central Beach Bazaar. Expect food trucks, carnival games and a stunning laser jet light and sound show over the water, featuring the giant 80m high Sentosa SkyJet (that’s equivalent to a 24-storey building and it’s as impressive as it sounds). The screens are reminiscent of Sydney Opera House's famous 'sails', onto which a story is projected. The narrative content is a little weak, but nevertheless it's enough to showcase an impressive display of lights, music and water jets.
The sound and light show at Central Beach Bazaar lights up the sky.
The Sentosa Musical Fountain has also made a nostalgic return, playing tunes Singaporeans (who are old enough) will recognise from the early 1980s. Grab some food from the trucks and settle in for an entertaining family display. There are two shows an hour from 11am and entry is free for children under four years.
Plans abound for 2023. Sentosa SensoryScape, a linkway connecting Resorts World Sentosa in the centre of the island with the beaches, is slated to be ready by the end of next year. Described by its architects as a “sensory public park”, the eco walkway will be covered with native plants designed to stimulate the five senses.
Shangri-La Group is busy developing Palawan Sands, a multi-activity attraction with an electric go-kart circuit, a mini-golf course and two beach clubs. It, too, is scheduled to open at the end of next year.
And Raffles will also be opening a Sentosa property. Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa Singapore is next to Sofitel Singapore Sentosa on the western side of the island and will offer all-villa accommodation in one- to four-bedroom configurations with private pools. Raffles' famous butlers will also be in residence.
By 2024, says Sentosa Development Company, it will be showing a new Sentosa. I’m looking forward to the return trip already.
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