Singapore

Coney Island Park offers an escape to nature

With no piped water or electricity, Coney Island offers an escape to nature

Mention "Coney Island" and the US is more likely to come to mind than Singapore.

Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, is famous for its amusement parks and boardwalk. Our own little island that shares the name is not so well known, not even among Singaporeans.

And it could not be more different.

Coney Island Park, which opened to the public on Saturday, is all about nature.

The island, also known as Pulau Serangoon, hugs the north-east coast of Singapore, facing Pulau Ubin, and is roughly the size of 70 football fields.

There is no electricity or piped water on the island. The pumps for toilets use solar power, while water for washing and flushing is harvested from rain.

Most of the signboards, benches and boardwalks are made using timber from uprooted casuarina trees.

In the 1930s, the island was bought over by the Haw Par brothers - Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par - who built a beach villa there.

It fell into disrepair after World War II and the island remained uninhabited until 1950, when Indian businessman Ghulam Mahmood bought the place with the intention to turn it into a resort, but his plans never materialised and he was fined for corruption.

The National Parks Board now manages the island, which is home to 86 tree species and at least 157 animal species.