Complete Guide to Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk

Labrador Nature

Labrador Nature

This post consists of three parts: Labrador Nature Reserve Walking Trail, Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk, and recommended route.

Labrador Nature Reserve Walking Trail

  • Be transported into Singapore’s historical maritime and war past
  • Get up close and personal with diverse flora and fauna
  • Walk through Singapore’s only coastal cliff vegetation (Guided tour only)
  • Enjoy the panoramic view of Singapore’s offshore islands from lookout deck
  • Appreciate the beauty of the sea from vantage points along the promenad

Labrador Nature Reserve is a gazetted reserve containing an indigenous ecosystem that houses Singapore’s rich biodiversity. This includes Singapore’s only protected coastal cliff vegetation and rocky shore.

Map of Labrador Nature Reserve Walking Trail

Lying adjacent to the reserve is a 10-hectare park. Experience the fascinating connection between the landscape and historical themes by tracing the journey back to the 1870s. Follow the landmarks with interpretative signage that show how Labrador transformed from a thick coastal forest and mangroves to what it is today - a tranquil nature reserve with relics of Singapore’s World War II past.

This trail will take you into the dense secondary forest housing diverse flora and fauna. You will walk through Singapore’s only coastal cliff vegetation and enjoy a spectacular view of Singapore’s offshore islands from the lookout deck. The trail will then lead you down the cliff and into the park.

After your walk, spend a relaxing afternoon basking in the sun along the sea. Have a picnic and watch the waves lapping against the shore. Or, sit back and soak in the breathtaking view of the South China Sea, the Southern Islands and passing ocean liners and cruise ships.

Maritime History Trail

Labrador Nature Walking Trail

Labrador Nature Walking Trail

Begin the trail at Carpark C. Walk along the Promenade that overlooks Keppel Harbour and Fort Siloso on Sentosa Island and you will arrive at the Dragon’s Teeth Gate (known in Chinese as Long Ya Men)(1), it was originally a natural rock outcrop that stood in the waters just off Labradors’ shore.

These waters now house Keppel Harbour, Singapore’s main port since the 19th century. This rock outcrop used to serve as the gateway to Keppel Harbour’s western entrance, acting as a navigational guide to sailors traveling through the narrow channel.

The landmark was blown up in 1848 to widen the channel for modern ships to sail through. What stands today is a symbolic replica of the original. It was installed in 2005 for the commemoration of the Singapore Celebrations for the 600th Anniversary of Admiral Zheng He, the famous Chinese explorer.

A stone’s throw away stands a red beacon (2), which also served as a navigational guide in the maritime history and marks the shortest distance between Sentosa and mainland (about 240m).

War History Trail

Besides its maritime history, Labrador played a significant role during World War II. Military installations were built on the highest points (now inside the nature reserve) overlooking the reserve below.

A machine gun post (3, above) in this area is one of several war relics you will see. This bunker was built to guard 12-pounder guns on the hill right above. Another machine gun bunker is located behind Toilet B.

As you walk along the promenade before heading towards the forested part of the trail, enjoy the spectacular view of the sea and southern islands. This area, which used to be part of the old Pasir Panjang (or Long Beach), was a popular seaside resort with private pavilions and beach houses from the late 19th century.

During the late 1930s, the British felt that Pasir Panjang beach would be an easy place for the enemy to land. By 1940 the jetties and pavilions had been replaced by machine gun posts and barbed wire obstacles, and Pasir Panjang beach ceased to be a place of recreation.

The next part of the trail takes you to the forested areas of the reserve. Walk through the Old Fort Entrance (4) next to Carpark B. The brick walls you see here are remnants of the wall of an old fort built around 1886. A portcullis (or vertical iron gate) spanned the gateway of this sea-wall, closing off entry into the fort from the seaward side. The fort was also protected by the thick mangrove swamp and steep cliffs, which made it impossible for anyone to climb.

Only infantry could pass through this portcullis, and all supplies, ammunition and garrison support to the fort had to arrive by sea. This makes it the only gateway to the fort until a road was built from the landward side in 1892.

(5) firing cannon (6) Sea Almond (7) lizards (8) Fish Poison Tree (9) Sea Grape Tree

(5) firing cannon (6) Sea Almond (7) lizards (8) Fish Poison Tree (9) Sea Grape Tree

You will walk past another war relic – a display of 6-inch quick firing cannon (5). The barrel displayed here is authentic. This relic was discovered at the former Beach Road Camp in 2001. These cannons, aimed south and seaward with concrete barriers behind them, were originally intended as defence from coastal attacks. However, during the 1942 invasion, the Japanese attacked from the North. In the battle for Pasir Panjang, these guns aided the Malay Regiment by firing high explosive shells at enemy troops advancing along the coastal road. Tunnels and bunkers beneath the battery were used to supply ammunition and to house the troops.

Nature Trail

The secondary forest beyond the 6-inch quick firing cannon was formed by a process called succession. It provides a habitat for a diversity of trees, shrubs, plants and climbers. The forest canopy consists mainly of tall sea apple trees (Syzygium grande), and some sea almond (6) trees (Terminalia catappa).

From March to May, and from August to October, the synchronised flowering and shedding of leaves give the tree crowns a different colour. The crown of Syzygium grande is dense with massive widespread branches and can grow up to 30m tall. Its leaves are thick and leathery. Flowers are white, and fruits are oblong and fleshy.

Commonly called ketapang or Sea Almond (6), this is a common fast growing tree that can grow up to 25 m in height with a spreading pagoda-shaped crown. Its big leaves are arranged in rosettes. Flowers are greenish-white in colour.

The fruits are oblong, flattened and thick. The name of the tree is derived from the almond taste of the seed. Look out for lianas while walking along this nature trail.

Fauna

As you walk through the secondary forest looking out for signs of wildlife, be mindful that these mammals, reptiles, birds and insects, all play important roles in the forest. Some 50 species of birds and 11 species of butterflies have been recorded here and the species lists are still growing.

Plantain squirrels feeding on fruits are also a common sight. They are usually found in a wide range of habitats and are identified by their orange bellies, with black stripes that run down the sides of their bodies.

On a lucky day, you may even get to spot Malayan monitor lizards (7) and skinks roaming around the nature reserve. Listen to the cicadas which liven the forest with their loud singing.

Promenade

Back at the promenade, look out for a number of interesting coastal trees. The Fish Poison Tree (Barringtonia asiatica) (8) contains saponin that fishermen use to stun fish. Look down at the ground for its fluffy flowers, which open at night to release strong scents to attract nocturnal pollinators such as moths and bats.

Another coastal tree you can see at the promenade is the Sea Grape tree (Coccoloba uvifera) (9) . This tree bears reddish, fleshy fruits that resemble grapes. This tree is easy to spot; just look out for the rusty red colour of the trunk and round-shaped leaves with clear veins.

After your walk, linger at the promenade and enjoy the sea-breeze and spectacular view of the sea.

Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk

  • An up-close and personal experience with rich mangrove flora and fauna
  • Exposure to a wide variety of habitats around the seamless loop – mudflat, mangrove, coastal forest, rocky shore, parkland and Adinandra belukar
  • Mesmerising views of Keppel Harbour, Sentosa island and Labrador Nature Reserve
  • Easy access by foot from Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk to Labrador Nature Reserve and the Southern Ridges

Just a stone’s throw away from homes, busy wharfs, offices and shopping centres, the Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk seamlessly connects the Southern Ridges to Labrador Nature Reserve and the Southern Waterfront. It runs along Alexandra Road from Depot Road to Telok Blangah Road, through the Berlayer Creek mangrove area and skirts the foothills of Bukit Chermin. Providing visitors with a wide variety of habitats to explore – mudflat, mangroves, coastal forest, rocky shore, parkland and Adinandra belukar (a type of secondary forest) – there is a myriad of experiences which will definitely thrill and enrich your senses as you embark on this connected loop.

Located within walking distance of Labrador Park MRT Station, the 2.1km Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk comprises three distinct segments – Alexandra Garden Trail, Berlayer Creek mangrove trail, and Bukit Chermin Boardwalk. Visitors can now enter mangrove and coastal areas which were previously inaccessible to pedestrians. These tranquil nature spots not only contain 40% of the endangered and vulnerable plant species in Singapore; they are also an oasis of calm for visitors amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Other than introducing Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk, this guide will also briefly take you on a route through Labrador Nature Reserve and the Southern Ridges. If you are looking to explore the southern part of Singapore in a day or hankering for an adventure in the midst of nature, this trail is definitely for you.

Route 1: Labrador Park MRT to Harbourfront MRT station

Labrador Nature Route

Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk Route 1

  1. Berlayer Creek—Pavilion at Labrador Park MRT Station
  2. Berlayer Creek—Bakau Pasir (Rhizophora stylosa) and Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans)
  3. Berlayer Creek—Look-out points
  4. Bukit Chermin Boardwalk
  5. Labrador Nature Reserve
  6. Alexandra Garden Trail
  7. The Southern Ridges

Alternatively, you can start from Harbourfront MRT station and walk to Labrador Park MRT: 7-6-1-2-3-4-5

1. Berlayer Creek—Pavilion at Labrador Park MRT Station

Upon stepping out of the MRT station, you will notice a sheltered pavilion with wooden panels on your right. Go up to the pavilion’s roof deck to enjoy an elevated treetop view of the Berlayer Creek, which was named after a historic rock formation, Batu Berlayer (“Sail Rock” in Malay), that stood at its mouth to the sea.

Possibly the only mangrove patch in the southernpart of Singapore island with the convenience of an integrated MRT station entrance, you are immediately greeted by the lush landscape of the entrance plaza before you enter the 960m Berlayer Creek.

2. Berlayer Creek—Bakau Pasir (Rhizophora stylosa) and Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans)

Within metres of the Creek’s entrance, the Bakau Pasir (Rhizophora stylosa) with its small, eye-shaped leaves can be spotted on the right of the boardwalk.

A rare mangrove tree threatened by habitat destruction, the plant’s flowers appear on long stalks, but the petals would fall off soon after blossoming. Interestingly, the Australian aborigines use the plant to make boomerangs and spears.

Just next to the Bakau Pasir is the Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans), also known as a “plant of a thousand uses”. In the past, the leaves of this palm were used for roof-thatching. Its seeds, known as “Attap Chee”, are commonly added to a local dessert, ice-kachang. The Nipah Palm is an increasingly rare sight in Singapore as most of the mangrove areas are reclaimed to make way for urban development.

3. Berlayer Creek—Look-out points

As you continue walking along the boardwalk, you will come across two look-out points or rest areas on the left. Perched over the creek, these look-out points allow you to observe the surrounding mangroves and get closer to the rich biodiversity.

Currently one of two remaining mangroves in the south of mainland Singapore, Berlayer Creek is home to a myriad of fauna and flora – some 60 recorded bird species, 19 species of fishes and 14 true mangrove plant species have been recorded here. Despite its relative small area of 5.61 hectares, Berlayer Creek also has one of the highest densities of molluscs in Singapore with some 50 species being recorded. Keep a lookout for the Pythia scarabaeus, a species of snails found only on back mangrove plants. These snails graze on microscopic algae growing on the surfaces of leaves and tree bark.

At low tide, be sure to look out for the Giant Mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), one of the largest mudskippers in the world. It can be identified by its huge goggly eyes on top of its head (a distinctive feature of all mudskippers) and a black band across its sides. Also, if you are observant enough, you might just spot a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) or an Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) perching among the trees or soaring in the sky.

4. Bukit Chermin Boardwalk

Walk on to the end of Berlayer Creek and continue to Bukit Chermin Boardwalk on the left. The 330m Bukit Chermin Boardwalk connects the Berlayer Creek mangrove trail and the circular plaza at the tip of Labrador Nature Reserve to the promenade at the Reflections at Keppel Bay. This elevated boardwalk on sea will bring you across the mouth of Berlayer Creek and along the coastal foothill of Bukit Chermin.

Take a leisurely stroll along this coastal boardwalk, while enjoying the different views of the expansive waters of Keppel Harbour, the lush greenery of Bukit Chermin hill, and the distant rocky cliffs of Sentosa island. During high tide, the low-lying boardwalk will bring you close to the water surface where schools of fishes can be sighted; while at low tide, you can also spot seagrass beds and different species of crustaceans found on the extensive mudflat, which is a habitat that supports a wide variety of marine organisms. Also, spend some time to appreciate the conserved heritage of the four existing black-and-white bungalows on Bukit Chermin.

In future, visitors will be able to continue walking seamlessly all the way to Sentosa and HarbourFrontMRT Station via the public promenades at the Reflections at Keppel Bay, the Caribbean at Keppel Bay, Harbourfront and Vivocity.

5. Labrador Nature Reserve

Tread back to the end of Berlayer Creek and turn left to Labrador Nature Reserve if you would like to explore two other types of habitats – the coastal cliffs and the rocky shores. One of Singapore’s four protected nature reserves, Labrador Nature Reserve provides a safe haven for biodiversity. Experience the fascinating connection between the landscape and historical themes by tracing the journey back to the 1870s.

In addition to being rich in wartime and maritime history, the Reserve has a rich range of coastal plants that have interesting features which help them survive in the harsh, windy environment. You can always look forward to a breathtaking experience with nature in a wide variety of habitats, including Singapore’s only protected coastal rocky shore.

6. Alexandra Garden Trail

Stroll on to the Alexandra Garden Trail from Labrador Nature Reserve via Port Road. Pedestrians and cyclists can revel in the scenic views and greenery along the 830m Alexandra Garden Trail, which is connected to key recreational destinations in the area such as Alexandra Arch, Forest Walk and the future arts cluster at Gillman Village.

Designed as a linear garden, you may cycle or jog on the cycling and foot paths which meander around mature roadside trees. Many species of flowering plants and foliage plants were also added at the foot of the trees to enhance the trail. These include more than 10 species of butterfly-attracting and scented plants such as Flaming Beauty (Carphalea kirondron), Flowering Banana (Musa coccinea), and Paradise
Flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).

They not only bring life to the garden with their vibrant orange-red flowers, they also attract delicate butterflies such as Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus), Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona pomona) and Common Mormon (Papilio polytes). Besides beautifying the area, these plants also act as buffers, shielding pedestrians and cyclists along the trail from the heavy traffic along Alexandra Road.

7. The Southern Ridges

If you enjoy walking or cycling in lush open spaces, do not miss the great outdoor experience that the Southern Ridges offers. From Alexandra Garden Trail, you may wish to continue on to HortPark and Canopy Walk on the left, or Alexandra Arch on the right. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Southern Ridges is one of the latest and most exciting recreational destinations that Singapore offers.

The most distinguishing feature about the Ridges is the seamless experience it offers to visitors – the 9-kilometre chain of green, open spaces spanning the hills of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park are mostly connected by nature pathways and bridges. The other highlights of the Southern Ridges are the Forest Walk and Canopy Walk – bridges cutting through the Adinandra belukar, a distinct type of secondary forest where the forest regenerates after exhaustive agriculture exploitation.

These trails are excellent for bird watchers to observe birds in their natural habitats. You can also find a rich variety of flora and fauna here.

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