Our third and last day in Singapore and we were headed for the S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa Island and the Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay. The Gardens by the Bay did not exist the last time I was in Singapore and I was really looking forward to seeing it. In recent years Sentosa Island and the Marina Bay area have been reinvented with themed attractions, resort style hotels, and large scale environmental initiatives. Out of all the attractions on offer on Sentosa, I choose the S.E.A Aquarium because it is unique and a very relaxing way to spend a few hours.
A quick reminder of my itinerary for this long weekend.
3 – Sentosa S.E.A Aquarium / Gardens by the Bay
Day 3 – Sentosa S.E.A Aquarium and gardens by the bay
On the Way to Sentosa
The first time I visited Singapore the only way to get to Sentosa was by aerial cable car. The resort complex with its international hotels, theme parks, and manicured beaches did not exist back then. I remember wandering along one of the beaches collecting coconuts to crack open over a large rock sticking up out of the sand. There really is nothing as good as drinking fresh coconut water that you just harvested!
These days it is possible to visit Sentosa by subway, but feeling nostalgic, I decided to take the cable car from Mount Faber instead. Now, I have to say I generally enjoy riding cable cars. Unfortunately, in this instance I really regret the decision to not take the subway. We took a taxi up to the top of Mount Faber and then joined the queue which was incredibly long and very slow moving. We waited for over ninety minutes before boarding what would be a very short ride to Sentosa. The views from the cable car are great, but the amount of time it took to actually get to Sentosa and the cost of the ride plus taxi fare made the journey not worth it in my opinion. Next time I will take the subway.
By the time we arrived at the top we were starving. Luckily there are several food stalls near the exit from the cable car, so we sat down and enjoyed root beer floats and chili dogs before heading to the S.E.A Aquarium.
Maritime Experiential Museum
The path from the Mount Faber Cable Car exit to the S.E.A Aquarium winds its way down a series of escalators and through a large courtyard, passing several of the other Sentosa attractions along the way. The first thing we encountered after entering the building that houses the aquarium was the Maritime Experiential Museum. This museum contains several displays about the seafaring history of Singapore and a very enjoyable multi-sensory show that can be seen for a few extra dollars at the Typhoon Theater. Entrance to the museum is free and we passed through it on the way to the aquarium entrance.
sentosa S.e.a. aquarium
The S.E.A. Aquarium opened in 2012 and eventually replaced the Underwater World aquarium that existed on Sentosa from 1991 until 2016. At time of writing, the S.E.A Aquarium is the world’s second largest with twelve million gallons of water in its tanks. Upon entering the aquarium one of the first attractions is an underwater walkway where tropical fish, sharks, and stingrays can be seen.
I love spending time at the Open Ocean display which has over 50,000 animals in its 4.8 million gallon tank. Standing against the glass it feels like the sea is surrounding you. I could watch the fish here for hours.
In addition to the big tanks, there is an extensive array of smaller tanks that contain fish from different parts of the world. We spent about one hour wandering through the various displays.
One of my favorite sections is the jellyfish display. I love wandering through tank after beautifully lit tank watching these graceful creatures float on the current.
Another fascinating creature that I enjoy watching is the nautilus and the S.E.A Aquarium has several of them.
Departing Sentosa by Public Transport
About two hours after we entered we headed out of the aquarium and made our way to the subway. We passed a large food court directly across from the entrance to Universal Studios. Almost all my food favorites were on offer. You can read more about my favorite Singaporean foods here. We continued past a Merlion statue (half lion, half fish) and got on the monorail heading back to the central part of Singapore.
The Sentosa Express Monorail goes to VivoCity Mall. From there we followed the signs for a short distance to the Harbour Front Station on the North East MRT subway line. We took the train heading in the direction of Punggol Coast and changed to the Downtown line at Chinatown Station. Once on the Downtown line we went three stops to Bayfront Station – the stop for Gardens by the Bay.
singapore Gardens by the Bay
We arrived at the Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon. This 249 acre nature park consists of several gardens, domes, and the Super Trees. From the entrance near the Bayfront Station we took a shuttle to the main entrance of the park so that we could visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Of course, it had been hours since we last ate so we quickly stopped in a bakery near the ticketing office and gift shop for a sweet snack.
Our cake finished, we headed to the Flower Dome. Entering the park is free, but the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest require tickets which we purchased online in advance. Both environments were amazing and completely worth the price.
This glass greenhouse is absolutely beautiful. The dome is divided into sections that surround a central courtyard. Each section contains plants from a different ecosystem and we spent about an hour viewing the various sections. I found myself surrounded by baobabs, pine trees, tulips, and roses. We wandered over bridges, up short flights of stairs, and down winding paths. Even though we were surrounded by other people, every moment we spent in the Flower Dome was really peaceful
In addition to nature, there were several sculptures and other works of art in the Flower Dome. I found this particular sculpture incredibly moving and thought provoking.
After the Flower Dome we headed to the Cloud Forest. The first thing I saw when I entered the Cloud Forest was a gigantic wall of green with a massive waterfall flowing down it. The power of the waterfall cools the entire dome making it a welcome respite from the tropical heat outside. Once past the waterfall, we walked around the corner and headed to the lift that takes you to the top of the dome. From the top we walked down the elevated walkways as they circled the central column.
Looking down from the top I had a brief moment of vertigo – we were up so high! The elevated catwalks sway slightly which was occasionally unnerving. But the view! The view was absolutely breathtaking!
As the sun set outside, the forest lit up and became even more beautiful. Mist flowing from the various walkways rolled through the air. I have to say that the Cloud Forest is now one of my most favorite spots in Singapore.
After the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest we headed to the Supertrees to watch the evening light display. These artificial trees are solar powered and provide energy and rain water for the park. I have seen them in the media and even in video games in recent years. It was nice to see these iconic trees in person.
We discovered two great view points to look at the giant supertrees while we were there. The first spot was along the path heading away from the flower dome toward the Bayfront entrance.
The second view point was at the base of the trees. We followed signs for the Supertree Grove and then sat down on a bench at the edge to watch the nightly light show – Garden Rhapsody.
After a very long and thoroughly enjoyable day out we headed back to our hotel for the night.
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