The island of Sentosa in Singapore beckons families with a vast array of attractions—from pristine beaches to thrilling rides. Travel+Leisure India & South Asia roams the tropical paradise with cover star Tamannaah Bhatia to explore all that it has to offer.
Produced by Aindrila Mitra
Assisted by Simrran Gill
Photographs by The House of Pixels
Assisted by Babu Bhimappa Budur
Styled by Shaleena Nathani
Assisted by Snehal Pai
Makeup by Savleen Manchanda
Hair by Tina Mukharjee
Location: Sentosa Island, Singapore
I am on the edge of my seat, quite literally. My feet are dangling in the air. I make sure my seat belt is fastened, place my orange slushie on the table in front of me, and secure my phone. I wouldn’t want to lose a panoramic timelapse video of Singapore from nearly 79 metres above sea level. I am on the highest panoramic ride in Singapore— SkyHelix Sentosa, which is also the island’s first carbon-neutral attraction. The open-air gondola slowly ascends to a height and gently rotates to give the flyers a 360° view of Singapore—stretching from Sentosa to the Keppel Bay area and the Southern Islands. Later, I learn that SkyHelix Sentosa gets its name from the vertical helix-like structure, and can also be spotted from the Singapore Cable Car.
I’m in Sentosa to shoot for our cover with actress Tamannaah Bhatia, who meets up with us later in the day. I landed in Singapore in the wee hours of morning and even in semi darkness, it was hard to miss its towering skyscrapers. I spend the rest of the day with the crew, scouting various locations on the island for the shoot the next day.
We head to Palawan Beach early next day to catch the morning light for our first shot, and to avoid the weekend crowd that would throng the beach later in the day. A favourite among locals as well as tourists, the beach greets us with white sands, aqua water, and calm waves. The rope bridge is the first spot for the shoot. This bridge leads to the islet that is the ‘southernmost point of Continental Asia’. At the end of the bridge are watchtowers from where you can survey passing ships and get a bird’s eye view of the beachfront. Palawan’s turquoise lagoons, on the other hand, are ideal for swimming and a quick water workout. As the sun’s initial rays hit the ground, there’s a whir of the camera shutter, and we get our first shot.
At a distance from our shoot location, I spot a few giant sculptures of what looked like trolls that serve as a photo op for tourists. Created by internationally renowned recycling artist Thomas Dambo, these figurines encourage travellers to discover the hidden parts of Palawan Beach and reflect on the waste we generate. Made from up-cycled wood and plastic, these four giants are Dambo’s first installation in Southeast Asia and a step towards a sustainable Sentosa.
Whether it’s the locals or travellers, people in Singapore are big on fitness, and what better way to sweat it out than a run along the beach. There are also some who prefer to simply unwind and sunbathe. And in a quest to find these like-minded people and our next shot, we head to Ola Beach Club. The Hawaiian-themed beach club is home to plenty of gorgeous backdrops like its jade coastline. With Tiki cocktails, family-friendly facilities, a menu of Hawaiian favourites, and water sports such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and water jet-packing, Ola Beach Club makes for a perfect beach holiday and is quite the hotspot for family vacationers. The entire crew stands transfixed at the sight of our cover star against the breathtaking vista. The glistening waters and lush environs of Ola Beach Club truly steal our hearts.
Beyond its natural outdoor offerings, Sentosa is also home to many indoor activities as well. For starters, there is Dolphin Island, which gives one a chance to get up close and personal with the giant Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins; you can watch them from the sidelines, in the wading pool, or in deeper waters. The island gives its visitors an opportunity to understand the mammal’s habitats, diet, anatomy, and migration patterns as well as the research Dolphin Island is doing to build a more sustainable marine environment.
During my various encounters with Sentosa visitors previously, I’ve often heard how it is a paradise for adventure junkies; after all, it is home to Southeast Asia’s first hydromagnetic coaster at Adventure Cove Waterpark. But that’s not all this water park has—one can find high-speed water slides, and also snorkel with 20,000 marine fish. Those who prefer something less adventurous can glide down a winding river or play with friendly rays in the shallows.
Although our first few frames are at scenic beach locations, I discover there’s more to Sentosa than its coastline. There is Scentopia, a touchless perfume-making bar that offers free scented tours and as many as over 300 augmented reality experiences. They also have a collection of 200 scent oils that make for innumerable combinations. And if you’re still trying to figure out your signature scent, at Scentopia you can take a personality quiz, find your preference, and create a signature fragrance. For those who’d like to take a piece of this experience back home, there is a DIY kit too.
For those who are at Sentosa with their family, one of the most sought after and highly recommended experience is a visit to one of Singapore’s best loved attractions—Madame Tussauds. The museum is home to more than 80 unique celebrity wax figures from Asia, Hollywood, Bollywood, and more. It is only in Singapore that you will find Madame Tussauds’s first ever boat ride—Spirit of Singapore. The outpost also offers travellers a chance to star in immersive experiences or walk the red carpet. Marvel fans can fight alongside their favourite superheroes in the Marvel Universe 4D cinema. Talk about a perfect family day!
My time in Sentosa, until the last day, is buzzing with activity and laughter. Little did I know that it is also home to a secret nature trail that lets you catch your breath amid all the hustle-bustle. With a dark sky overhead, we tread along a rocky path and find ourselves on the Imbiah Trail. While there is no one ‘right way’ to begin exploring the trail, starting from Sentosa Nature Discovery Gallery is highly recommended and gives you an idea of what to expect along the trail. The gallery was once an old station serving the Sentosa monorail line but has been repurposed and today, stands as an educational centre. Connecting the actual trail and the gallery is Imbiah Bridge, a 200-metre canopy walk that is four metres above the ground and allows one to get close to the treetops. This nature trail is Sentosa’s well-kept secret. There are a few waterfalls along the trail, we are told, and that’s all we need for our final frame.
Must Check out in Sentosa
Musical Sentosa Fountain
A modern-day iteration of the iconic Sentosa Musical Fountain, the attraction has synchronised water jets dancing against the open sea.
Wings of Time
This nightly light water show is about friendship and courage and features spellbinding laser, fire, and water effects along with fireworks.
Singapore Cable Car
The journey aboard the cable car begins at Faber Peak Singapore and takes one through Resorts World Sentosa’s Adventure Cove and Sentosa’s jungle foliage, and gives a view of the surrounding coastline.
Sentosa Islander Loyalty Programme
Visitors can now sign up to be an Islander without any cost. The benefits include Welcome vouchers and discounts that can be utilised right from your first visit, exclusive invites to Sentosa events, free island entries, and discounts at various attractions, retail outlets, and hotels.
This sensory walk will stretch half a kilometre across the island with five sensory gardens and four immersive woven sculptures.
The Palawan @ Sentosa
A brand new ‘beach playground’ set to launch this spring, it will feature an electric go-kart circuit, two beach clubs, leisure facilities, and a mini-golf course.
Getting to Sentosa
The Barracks Hotel Sentosa by Far East Hospitality is set against Sentosa’s storied backdrop of maritime intrigue and offers luxury rooms and suites. Doubles from INR 37,542