Sentosa, Singapore’s best beaches

Sentosa Island Map

Sentosa island map, Singapore.

A shot of the official Sentosa island map, Singapore.

Typically well-designed, clear and informative the map shows the three beaches we visited – Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong – as well as a number of resorts and entertainment facilities such as the Universal theme park, a megazip ride, golf course,  the distinctly fishy Underwater World Singapore, the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom, Dolphin Lagoon, a luge and skyride and a multimedia spectacular called Songs of the Sea, involving lasers, fireworks and amped-up music and more.

Getting to Sentosa beaches

First you need to get to Sentosa Harbourfront area from Singapore city centre. Easy enough to do tho’ deciphering the MRT/tube/metro/subway map and getting the tickets may be a puzzle for tourists at first. The mechanism is, however, all typically logical.

Take the MRT to Harbourfront Sation, a complex on Singapore mainland. Then walk over to Sentosa Station (in the same complex) for an elevated rail ride across the bridge to Waterfront Station on Sentosa Island (buy a ticket for that).

Ladies waiting for Singapore

Singapore’s shining and efficient MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, i.e. tube/metro/subway).

The evil law-breaking woman on the right should, of course, stand with her feet on the right side of the line, enabling people leaving the MRT to move freely.

Sentosa Harbourfont view across to Sentosa Island, Singapore

Sentosa Harbourfont view across to Sentosa Island. On the left is the bridge, boardwalk and  express monorail. On the right  the cable car is just visible.

From Sentosa Station hop on the Shuttle Bus, which is free, and wait for your beach to appear.

You can also walk across the bridge on Sentosa Boardwalk or even take Singapore Cable Car from Harbourfront over the water to Imbiah Lookout, Merlion, and Siloso Point, plus many attractions en route such as MegaZip, S.E.A Aquarium, Universal Studios and more.

Sentosa island beach shuttle bus, Singapore.

Sentosa island beach shuttle bus. It’s free and necessary to get you from the island’s Waterfront Station hub to the beaches and shuttle between the beaches if you wish.

Sentosa beaches

Siloso beach

Siloso beach first bay, Sentosa, Singapore

Siloso beach first bay,  southwest.

We started on the biggest beach on Siloso’s southwest side which sports plenty of fine, imported sand – like the other two beaches – but also a fair collection of activities, including a zipline, volleyball courts, kayaking, climbing frames, skimboarding, mountain biking, rollerblading, beach club, shopping and dining places and protected swimming areas. We’re not sure if the protection is against stingers, sharks or oil spills, but it’s probably well-conceived.

At the far west end of the beach is the Rasa Resort hotel.

Siloso beach, Sentosa, Singapore

Siloso beach seems to be the destination of choice for the active young, teens and twenties.

Palawan beach

Palawan beach, Sentosa, Singapore

Next is Palawan Beach on the south-central coast, offering nice soft sand a couple of well-vegetated curves with small cafés and children’s playgrounds and activities, so this beach is clearly designated as the young family zone, but interestingly there’s a longish rope bridge swaying across to a little island housing two tall watchtowers. These towers – that you are free to ascend – mark the farthest south point of the Asian mainland. There are a handful of cafés and bars along the beach offering food and beverage options to visitors as well as Beach Station of the Sentosa Express.

Palawan beach rope bridge and watch towers, Sentosa, Singapore

Sentosa Island (sentosa is Malay for peace and tranquility) began its development as a holiday destination in the 1970s. It was a military strong point from the 1880s until it was promoted to ‘Fortress Singapore’ status during the Pacific War. Sadly all their guns were pointing out to sea when the Japanese arrived overland by bicycle so the island was erased from military memory as an embarrassment. Tourists can, however, still invade Fort Siloso, a restored coastal battery, compound and tunnels.

Tanjong beach

Tanjong beach club, Sentosa island, Singapore

Tanjong beach club, the island’s southeast coast. Sadly it started to rain while we were there so the view is a little depressed.

Tanjong is a sizeable, but relatively secluded stretch of soft sand with plenty of palm tree shade but not much in the way of facilities apart from the Tanjong beach club that we heard is pretty wild at weekends, so this would be the designated Romantic beach then..

BTW, according to Condé Nast Traveller Tanjong Beach Club is the best beach club in the world. Hmm. It’s open Tuesday-Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-midnight. Brunch and pool parties a speciality. Better to call/book in advance.

Tanjong beach, Sentosa island, Singapore

Tanjong Beach by BouncedPhoton

Sentosa island traffic

Sentosa Boardwalk from Harbourfont, Singapore. Photo by William-Cho

Sentosa Island Boardwalk  across the water from Harbourfont, Singapore. Photo by William-Cho

The opening of Resorts World Sentosa brought Universal Studios Singapore, Voyage de la Vie (circus/theatre) 5-star hotels, up market shopping and fine dining to Sentosa.

One downside for visitors to this island is access – it can be reached by cable car, monorail and on foot but most of its five million visitors and all of its residents (this island is the only place in Singapore where foreigners can buy stand-alone property) come and go by just one road so there can be large queues getting on and off the island, though hardly comparable with most urban jams in the rest of the world.

Tourists are obviously better off sticking with the MRT + beach trams and avoiding weekends if possible!