Pulau Ubin: Everything You Need to Know

Pulau Ubin is a small island in the northeast of Singapore, to the west of Pulau Tekong.

Pulau Ubin Resort / Chalet

Pulau Ubin UCC resort is the perfect local getaway, just 15 minutes boat ride away from mainland Singapore.

Previously called Ubin Lagoon Resort, or Marina Country Club (MCC), it is now known as Celestial Resort.

Celestial Resort started its operation in July 2009, & offers more comfortable overnight stays than outdoor campsites. It has cozy rooms with facilities equipped for your utmost comfort & convenience.

It has facilities aimed at team-building and corporate retreats. The facilities include abseiling, flying fox, rock climbing and other games. Guided trekking and canoeing outside the resort is also organised.

The standard room (2 guests) cost $98 on weekday and $118 on weekend. You need to add $90 extra if you want duplex room (4 guests).

Pulau Ubin Map

View Map of Pulau Ubin in Larger Map

Pulau Ubin Ferry

How to go to Pulau Ubin? Easy!

Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal ($2.50 one-way). Boats will leave when there are 12 passengers but you can also opt to pay the difference for the boat to leave immediately. Guests of MCC Ubin Resort can access from the Club premises at Punggol.

Bumboats run from sunrise to sunset. Special arrangements will have to be made with the boatmen for trips after dark.

Admission to the island is free. There are no opening or closing hours, but regular services only run during daylight hours. The NParks Information Kiosk is open 8.30am-5pm. Bumboats to and from Pulau Ubin, and public transport on the island operate from sunrise to sunset.

How to get to Chek Jawa Wetlands Upon arrival at the Ubin jetty, visitors can hire a van or rent a bicycle from the main village. For the more adventurous, a walk to Chek Jawa would take about 40 minutes.Chek Jawa Wetlands was officially launched on the 7th July 2007 by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development. New amenities in Chek Jawa Wetlands include an information kiosk, boardwalk, viewing tower, viewing jetty and a visitor centre with seminar room and workroom. Impact of human traffic on the grounds of Chek Jawa Wetlands is greatly reduced with the visitors now enjoying the splendors of Chek Jawa from the boardwalk.

Pulau Ubin Cycling

One of the best and fastest way to explore the island is by bicycle. Many people had a good time cycling at Pulau Ubin. You can bring your own or rent it at the village next to the jetty (there are many rental shops for you to choose).

Pulau Ubin History

The name Pulau Ubin literally means “Granite Island” in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. The word ubin is said to be a Javanese term for “squared stone”. To the Malays, the island is also known as Pulau Batu Ubin, or “Granite Stone Island”. The rocks on the island were used to make floor tiles in the past and were called Jubin, which was then shortened to Ubin.

The island is known as chioh sua in Hokkien, which means “stone hill”.

Legend has it that Pulau Ubin was formed when three animals from Singapore (a frog, a pig and an elephant) challenged each other to a race to reach the shores of Johor. The animals that failed would turn to stone. All three came across many difficulties and were unable to reach the shores of Johor. Therefore, the elephant and pig together turned into Pulau Ubin whilst the frog became Pulau Sekudu or Frog Island.

Pulau Ubin first appeared on map in an 1828 sketch of the Island of Singapore as Pulo Obin and in Franklin and Jackson’s map as Po. Ubin.

Since the British founding of Singapore, the island has been known for its granite. The numerous granite quarries on the island supply the local construction industry. The granite outcrops are particularly spectacular from the sea because their grooves and fluted sides create furrows and ridges on each granite rock slab. These features are captured in John Turnbull Thomson’s 1850 painting — Grooved stones on Pulo Ubin near Singapore.

The granite from Pulau Ubin was used in the construction of Horsburgh Lighthouse. Tongkangs ferried the huge rock blocks (30 by 20 feet) from the island to Pedra Branca, the site of the lighthouse, in 1850 and 1851.

Later, the granite was also used to build the Singapore-Johor Causeway. Most of the quarries are not in operation today and are being slowly recolonised by vegetation or filled with water. Apart from quarrying, farming and fishing were the principal occupations of the inhabitants of the island in the past. It is also called Selat Tebrau (tebrau is a kind of large fish).

In the 1970s as the granite quarries closed down and jobs dwindled, residents began leaving.

In the 1880s, a number of Malays led by Endut Senin, from the Kallang River were said to have moved to the island that began the thriving Malay community on the island.

Many of the former kampongs on Pulau Ubin were either named after the first person who settled in the kampong or by some feature in the area. Kampong Leman was named by Leman; Kampong Cik Jawa by a Singaporean named Jawa; and Kampong Jelutong from people from Changi and from its jelutong trees.

Bin Kiang School was established in 1952 for the increasing number of children, from money donated by the resident Chinese. Lessons prior to this were conducted on the village wayang stage. With a student population that once numbered 400, enrolment fell as the Singapore mainland developed. The school closed in 1985, and was demolished on 2 April 2000. There was also a private Malay school around 1956 at Kampung Melayu, which closed in the late 1970s.

Pulau Ubin was found to be suitable for the construction of several campsites. Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) was established in 1967 at Pulau Ubin, by Dr Goh Keng Swee, while the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) opened its 30-hectare site located between Kamupung Bahru and Kampung Noordin.

On June 3, 2005, the Singapore Government ordered that all the farmers rearing poultry on the island were to ship them to mainland Singapore and rear them in government-approved farms by June 17, 2005, in the wake of the avian influenza. In exchange, the local inhabitants were offered HDB government housing packages, although they could choose to live on the island.

Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna. 

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