When we arrived back in Singapore in late 2010, I looked after the boys for three months straight while Andrea went out to build up a business and while we waited to get them into a school. As a result, we were forced to look for new things to do, within a relatively short distance of where we were living. Labrador Nature Reserve popped up one day – and whilst not the boys favourite adventure of all time, they love it there as long as we don’t go too often. The reason why we space our visits is because it’s not that big, and doesn’t offer too much for adventurous kids. That said, we have never explored the full extent of what this place has to offer.
Labrador Nature Reserve overlooks Sentosa, and actually has a lot of history attached to it. It was identified as a prime defence position during WW II and as a result, still has a few machine gun positions and pill boxes to climb around. If you drive along Telok Blanagh Road towards Tuas (do NOT opt for the elevated West Coast Highway as you can not get off), approximately one kilometre past Vivo / Harbourfront you come to Alexandra Road on your right and the turning to Labrador Nature Reserve is immediately opposite on your left down Labrador Villa Road (click here for a decent map). Follow this road all the way to the end, bearing right by the restaurant sign, and you reach a small roundabout with a small carpark to the left and a larger one opposite. You can also catch the MRT to Labrador Park station which is on the main road.
From the carpark, head off to the left and you come across a small lighthouse on the corner. Further around is a big rock monument thingy with historic photos of how the area used to look. Even further around is a slipway leading down to the ocean – watch out as it’s really slimy, as our little lad Lex can attest to after falling flat on his bum one day. If you follow the ocean around to your right from the car park, there’s a large promenade which is popular with the local fisherman. About 100 mts from the carpark are the public toilets (and water fountain), and just in front is a large open area which is excellent for remote control cars.
By now you will have spied the play area, which is pretty big on a massive sand pit area. There’s only a couple of bits of kit, but it’s quite large and plenty of fun can be had climbing. Be warned, in the middle of the day the slide gets really really hot, and I mean burning hot, so watch the little ones as you may get a few yelps of pain from burnt bottoms. Also in the sandpit area is this cool maze, made of vertical wooden posts. The gaps are big enough for kids to wriggle through, but not the adults with more “generous proportions” such as myself.
From here you can see the extent of the park, which has the obligatory exercise route (which our kids love climbing all over), and a series of shade houses to take shelter from the sun. The back of the park (furthermost from the ocean) is flanked by a huge hill. Along here you can climb the steep steps and follow the signs to the underground tunnel network which was used by the British Army during WWII and only rediscovered in 2001, (unfortunately currently under repair “until further notice”). This path links back up to Telok Blanagh and boasts a variety of wildlife.
There are plans to link this park with other natural garden features via the Southern Ridges, and I presume it will eventually link back all the way to the Alexandra Archway and HortPark. On the National Parks Website it does mention a boardwalk to Reflections at Keppel, but we have yet to discover this.
Unlike most parks in Singapore, Labrador is pretty shaded with lots of mature trees and shade houses. It also usually has a nice breeze off the ocean, but when this drops the heat is stifling. It never seems to get busy, and during the week it’s a favourite place for sales reps and drivers to catch a sneaky nap in the carpark.
There is a drinking fountain by the toilets, but you’ll need your own water, hats and sunblock. It is easily accessible by MRT with the new Labrador Station on Telok Blanagh Road. It’s pram-friendly (unless you want to climb the stairs up to the tunnels) but we couldn’t see any baby changing facilities.
All up, a more sedate park by Singapore’s standards with some quirky stuff to see and a good spot for a picnic. Whilst it’s not brimming with stuff for the kids to do, ours usually make their own fun by climbing over, under and through everything – as usual.
Stuck for ideas to spend a morning or afternoon – take a trip and tell us what you think?