Beaches of Singapore

Are There Nice Beaches in Singapore?

I’ve been in Bangkok for the better part of the past month. As great as my love for the Thai capital city may be, I’ve definitely been in need of some beach time. Singapore, where I flew last Thursday, is an island — a tropical island, no less — so it would stand to reason that Singapore has many beautiful beaches.

Unfortunately, Singapore is also a highly-developed tropical island nation of more than 5 million, so even if the country’s government has spent billions on beautification campaigns, the fact remains: Singapore beaches, where you find them, are only so nice.

Allow me to show you what I mean!

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Every Singaporean I asked about “beautiful Singapore beaches” suggested I head to the island of Sentosa, located a short monorail or cable car ride from the HarbourFront station of Singapore’s MRT. Or, a 15-minute stroll along a newly-opened “boardwalk.”

I was horrified as I began the 600-meter journey, and not just because an oppressive system of overhead signs informed me every time I successfully traversed 50 meters: The castle in the distance suggested I was heading toward Disneyland, rather than anywhere remotely tropical or idyllic.

It was pretty spot-on, as harbingers go: The northernmost part of Sentosa Island, known appropriate as “Resorts World,” is home to Universal Studios Singapore. I obviously bypassed this hot mess and continued heading southward, toward the Singapore beaches I so desperately craved.

The good news is that Universal Studios (and the requisite clusterfuck) quickly came and went. The bad news is that the first glimpse I caught of the sparkling, blue sea was tinged by the sight of tankers in the distance.

 
 
 
 
 

Signs of bad things to come became more plentiful the closer I got to the beach. When I reached the end of the southbound path I turned left and headed toward “Palawan Beach” — other Singapore beaches include Siloso and Tanjong beaches — and was greeted by a poorly paved (albeit empty) parking lot. I feared the worst!

I was surprised, after being passed by a 200-strong pack of power walkers, to find that Palawan Beach was clean, natural-looking and maybe even beautiful, even if it doesn’t live up to its namesake in the Philippines. Some views are even tanker-free!

(But others, unfortunately, are not).

The most beautiful part of Singapore’s Palawan Beach is Palawan Island (again, sorry Philippines!), which you reach via rope bridge from Palawan’s main beach. The view looking back toward Sentosa’s mainland is stunning, even if you probably don’t want to look south toward the open sea (and the aforementioned tankers).

So, there you have it: Singapore has (relatively) nice beaches, although to be fair they did not satiate my beachlust — it’s on to Bali for that! But if you travel to Singapore only and are desperate for beach time, head to Sentosa Island. It’s not so bad.

Where to Stay in Singapore

Beaches notwithstanding, Singapore is known as one of the priciest cities in Southeast Asia, although there are ways to sleep here on the cheap. For instance, Golden Royal Hotel allows you to stay centrally, in the Little India neighborhood, for around S$75 per night. On the slightly more upmarket end, Hotel 1929 is a boutique hotel, while you aren’t going to find a much more luxurious stay—or better view—than you do at Marina Bay Sands.

Read More About Southeast Asia

About The Author

is the author of 790 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

 

informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!

 
 
 

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Priyank Thatte September 25, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hi Robert!
Singapore is such an urban city-country, I never pictured it having a beach either although watching a huge steamer pass by while relaxing on the sand might be funky. 😀

Sarahsomewhere September 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm

A ferry to Bintan Island is always good for a beach fix! It’s in Indonesia but only 45mins by boat, just remember your passport!

paul | walkflypinoy September 26, 2012 at 3:02 am

visited this part of SG the first time i was on the island. i genuinely felt depressed. more so when i learned they named it after one of my favorite islands in the philippines. and i’m filipino! haha.

Robert Schrader September 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

I thought it seemed a pretty inappropriate name!

Robert Schrader September 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

Do you need to pay for a visa on arrival?

Singabob November 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Maybe not a great country, but Singapore is a super “swimming pool” place.

Singabob November 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I meant to write: maybe not a great country for beaches but Singapore is a super “swimming pool” place.

Robert Schrader November 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

I know that’s right! It has the making of a beach destination from a weather perspective, too.

ang April 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Hi Robert- u don’t know Singapore. There are many beaches in Singapore 🙂 Palawan Beach is man -made and most locals don’t go there. This beach is a hangout place for foreigners, tourists and sometimes locals tweens.

Robert Schrader April 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

Ang, where do you recommend going?

'Lingo' Lin Weiling May 1, 2014 at 3:36 am

No we do not have many beaches, and none of them are nice, and they all stink – don’t lie to a foreigner!
Palawan Beach is probably the nicest one, because it’s man-made… unfortunately.

Head down to Bintan or further north of Malaysia if you want beautiful, peaceful beach with clear sea water.

Robert Schrader May 2, 2014 at 7:53 am

Thanks for the comment!

HandLuggageOnly July 2, 2014 at 12:49 am

On the whole, I quite like your blog and what you stand for but there are two things that really bugged me about this post. Those things are predominantly to do with this part of your post below (and I quote):

“The northernmost part of Sentosa Island, known appropriate as “Resorts World,” is home to Universal Studios Singapore. I obviously bypassed this hot mess and continued heading southward, toward the Singapore beaches I so desperately craved.The good news is that Universal Studios (and the requisite clusterfuck) quickly came and went.”

First, I thoroughly detest it when people try to make themselves feel/seem better by putting other (people/things) down. Fair enough you might not enjoy experiences like Disneyland or Universal Studios but that doesn’t make them bad/terrible. A lot of people get a lot of pleasure from spending time at these places with their family and friends and so it is probably as much (if not more) fun than hanging out at a beach – at least to some people. If it’s not for you then it just isn’t but that most certainly doesn’t make it a ‘hot mess’.

The second bit that bugs me is that you have built this idea of what an Asian travel experience should be and in effect stereotyped all these countries as places that ‘must have great beaches’ as part of their repertoire (and indeed have no have commercial symbols of fun & success like other countries such as the US and the UK have). Each country in Asia has it’s own unique identity and so surely, part of your role as a travel blogger to take in these experiences for what they are and NOT to criticise them for not being what you want or expect them to be?

Robert Schrader July 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Hi HandLuggageOnly:

If you would read the rest of my posts on Singapore on my blog, you would see that I rank it very highly among my travel experiences, and have a great deal of respect for the people of the country. Please explore more!

HandLuggageOnly July 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the reply man. I have read your other posts and think your website is fantastic, hence why I started off by saying “On the whole, I quite like your blog…”. I think this to some extent is why I was disappointed with this post. I love opinionated writers, I think strong opinions make for very interesting conversations, I just didn’t feel like it had to belittle people/activities/places for it to be a valid opinion. Belittling people is the refuge of the inept and you sir, are anything but that. 🙂

FYI, I love your photography! Especially all the ones you took in Japan! Absolutely fantastic.

Rishav Jonchen July 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

Lovely place

Robert Schrader July 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

Thank u

tommyboy July 26, 2014 at 7:37 am

Good reply

Robert Schrader July 26, 2014 at 8:19 am

And what is your reply, Tommy?

HandLuggageOnly July 29, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Thanks

afiko September 24, 2014 at 11:44 am

Why do you keep comparing the palawan beach to the palawan in phillipines. palawan means hero or warrior in malay and the beach has no relation to phillipines.

Robert Schrader September 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

Humor?

Michelle Wong October 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I actually enjoy the blogger’s opinions and honesty.

When I read travel reviews, I like people who say it like it is. The reply from those that attempt to avoid criticising anyone or please everyone, those folks I learn nothing.
Robert does not blog with mean spirit. He gives praise where it is due. It is his blog, he is entitled to his strong opinions. But if he is visiting blog of others, I am sure he will write differently.
I am a Singaporean and I agreed with Robert. There is very little nice beaches in Singapore when compares to rest of Asia. Nature reserve is not our key assets Robert. But we are a food paradise !

HandLuggageOnly October 12, 2014 at 3:28 am

The point is not about whether or not his review is honest. It’s about how you make your point. I REALLY like Robert’s blog and I find him quite entertaining but I feel it’s more useful to say that you don’t like something because it’s not right for you personally instead of saying that something is bad. Things can still be good and yet not right for you. Universal Studios is not bad, it may not be right for Robert but that doesn’t make it bad.

Robert Schrader October 13, 2014 at 7:00 am

Thanks for your perspective Michelle! I can’t wait to come back to Singapore and enjoy some chili crabs.

KSM October 25, 2014 at 9:54 pm

In good spirit and in tune with reality

Robert Schrader October 27, 2014 at 7:37 am

😀

Robert Hsiao January 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm

The way I would characterize Singapore, beaches and otherwise, is all are very well-MANICURED.

John Love June 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm

I ask the same question to a Singaporean friend, and he suggested me to fly to the Boracay island in the Philippines.

Robert Schrader June 17, 2015 at 6:51 am

lol

Robert Hsiao June 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

I have been to the man-made beaches and the natural sea shores. I am a diver and I like oceans. The natural shores are muddy; I would not get into waters there. The man made ones are nice, but they are, uh, man-made.

Eric August 4, 2015 at 8:36 pm

The cool thing about Blogs, is you can literally say whatever the f you want, without bias or influence from people who might be “offended” by your words. In other words, you’re entitled to you opinion no more, no less than the writer. That being said, if you’re offended by comments, so what?

HandLuggageOnly August 5, 2015 at 3:39 am

Not sure what your point is here Eric. Could you be a bit more succinct?

Robert Schrader August 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

Right?

James Broggan August 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm

I went to Sentosa yesterday and was surprised how badly the water was littered. Garbage was everywhere! It is coming from all those endless oil tankers and container ships passing by. I don’t know if Singapore could do anything about this. It is sad, especially considering amazing job they have done to maintain the city clean.

Robert Schrader August 23, 2015 at 6:09 am

That’s a good observation, although I would imagine a lot of the litter also comes from foreign tourists.

Anndi May 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Hi! how much is the boat ride to Bintan? I will go to Singapore tomorrow and I really want to go to the beach 🙂

Esther October 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm

There’s a small stretch of natural-ish beach at Sembawang Park. The other tip of Singapore.

Robert Schrader October 17, 2016 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the tip 🙂

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Shivani in Singapore August 10, 2017 at 11:11 pm

I live in Singapore, not far from Sentosa. I actually quite like gazing at the tankers from Sentosa beach. The view is so unusual and the experience of sipping cocktails in a nice beach bar, under palm trees and blazing sun, gazing into the world’s second busiest shipping lane is pretty unique! Anywhere else, in ‘off the beaten track’ SE Asia or the west, it would be labelled ‘industrial beach chic’ by the likes of Conde Naste and Lonely planet. The nightime plane view across Singapore is interesting as the boats become floating candles glimmering in the darkness.

The nicest natural beach is actually Pasir Ris, not far from the airport. Crocodiles have been spotted there. I see monitor lizards and monkeys near where I live and I nearly trod on a python in my local park one evening when I first arrived. So there is a very different side of Singapore that travellers don’t get to experience. Being a trading port in one of most important shipping lanes in the world means Singapore is not going to have the stereotypical SE Asian beaches. Though Singapore actually has plenty of lush greenery to make up for that, much of the island is actually dedicated to walking routes. The Botantic Gardens are well deserving of their UNESCO status. Funnily enough, moments from the cable car at Mt Faber, it is pretty jungle-like (my Westie gets a bit scared!). Neither locals nor expats aren’t too bothered by it’s beaches as they have access either to first-class swimming pools either at their upmarket condo or the government-run SAFRA centres. As others say, we hop over to Bintan which has truly amazing white sand public beaches and you can relax and picnic like the locals like to do.

On my 3-day stoppover, I didn’t get to see any of the above and only scrapped the surface with the legendary hawker centres. Nearly a year and I’ve barely begun with the culinary experience of Singapore, yet so many Michelin* establishments to get through, and not all at all require a mortgage. Singapore is as advanced as you can get (makes my hometown of London look ‘Second World’) so sure, it is unlike the rest of Asia. Though I think that is what makes it interesting and surprising, and globally unique. Singapore achieves the impossible, in urban design and the way people live. Singapore comes alive as you walk through Chinatown, Little India, Arab St etc and take in the colonial heritage which contrasts with the futuristic design works or the neighbourhood HDBs, old and new. Yes, you see the ‘real Singapore’ chowing down noodles in a local food centre or even a mall (they are equivalent to European High Streets or town centres). You’ll still experience a challenge ambling around as nowhere else even in SE Asia is as close to extreme heat & humidity of Singapore’s climate (I ‘cool off’ when i visit Malaysia and actually felt cold at night in Bali)!

Many westerners feel slighted by Singapore, because it so successful. Take an day trip to Pulau Ubin to understand really how amazing Singapore is, where it started from, and how much progress is possible if people get on and live and all work hard together. As a British Asian, I feel awed that it punches way above it’s weight and defies expectations. Where else can you get islands with world-class theme parks (built for locals as much as for foreigners), hang out at trendy rooftop bars past midnight in in shorts and sleeveless and not reach for a cardigan, multiracial diversity of cultures, peoples and food, futuristic urban design, go for all-night walks through natural jungle-like parks as well as yes,manicured-to-almost perfection parks and streets (keeps out the mozzies actually)?
In many ways, what make it great is that you kind of have to live here to really experience this.

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