Did you know that Sentosa is turning 50 this year? Here's a compiled list of fascinating things about the island in celebration of its Golden Jubilee!
Many may know that Sentosa was once a British military base before becoming the leisure destination we know today. However, there are many other facets of Sentosa and its history that may be less well known to some. For instance, did you know that the island was almost transformed into an oil refinery?
Read on for more on that and other interesting things that you might not know about Sentosa!
1. Sentosa is home to more than 20 carefully conserved buildings
Source: Capella Hotel Singapore
While we now know Sentosa as a multi-faceted leisure destination with its sandy beaches, exciting attractions, dining establishments, nature trails and resorts, it was once home to several villages and a British military base.
Among the historical buildings that have been preserved is the building housing Capella Singapore. This modern resort once used to accommodate the officers of the British Royal Artillery and their families.
2. Sentosa could have been an oil refinery
Source: National Heritage Board
In September 1967, Pulau Blakang Mati (now known as Sentosa island) was returned to the Government, following the closure of British military bases. During this period, plans were made to turn the island into an oil refinery. Thanks to a proposal by Albert Winsemius, then chief economic advisor to Singapore, as well as his team, Sentosa was instead transformed into a leisure destination for locals and tourists.
3. Sentosa means peace and tranquility
In 1968, the Government decided to develop Sentosa into a holiday resort for locals and tourists, and the public was invited to suggest a name for the island. ‘Sentosa’, meaning peace and tranquility in Malay, was eventually selected.
4. Sentosa's first attraction was the Coralarium
Source: National Heritage Board
Opened in 1974, the Coralarium housed rare and colourful live corals, marine life associated with coral reefs, and a collection of 2,000 seashells from around the world. Situated amidst beautiful gardens and landscaped pools, the highlight of the attraction was a 18-metre-tall coral tower.
5. Before Adventure Cove Waterpark there was Fantasy Island
Source: National Archives of Singapore
Over the years, Sentosa has continuously rejuvenated and refreshed its various leisure experiences. One such experience was the Fantasy Island, the predecessor to the Adventure Cove Waterpark The water park was in operation between 1994 and 2002. The attraction had several different water rides but it most known for its huge, eight-lane water slide.
6. The Mount Faber cable car line was the first in Southeast Asia
Source: Mount Faber Leisure Group
Singapore has two cable car lines. The Mount Faber Line connects Sentosa with various leisure offerings at Mount Faber Peak, while the on-island Sentosa Line gives guests a spectacular bird’s eye view of Sentosa and its golden beaches.
The first cableway, the Mount Faber Line, commenced operations in 1974 and not only was it the first in Southeast Asia but it was also the first in Asia to straddle a stretch of water.
Download the colouring sheets of the cable cars from Sentosa's Learn With Us page, and share this information with your little ones too!
7. The first Sentosa Monorail commenced in 1982
In 1982, the Sentosa Monorail began operating with an initial nine trains each capable of transporting up to 90 guests at a time. The system started and ended at the Ferry Terminal, looping a distance of 6 km around Sentosa and passing by offerings such as the then Apollo Sentosa Hotel, Fort Siloso and the cable car station at then Carlton Hill.
After over two decades, in 2005, the Sentosa Monorail ceased operations and later made way for a more advanced transportation system, the Sentosa Express. Beginning operations in 2007, the Sentosa Express connects Sentosa to the mainland via VivoCity.
8. 4-min Ferry Ride to Sentosa
Completed in 1987, a ferry terminal was built to enhance the island's accessibility and to attract more visitors to the island. Visitors could take a 4-min ferry ride from mainland Singapore to Sentosa.
How many of you remember the ferry ride?
9. Sentosa is home to over 60 peafowls
Sentosa is home to rich biodiversity, with lush greenery and wildlife found across the island, including along its nature trails. As part of earlier efforts to enrich Sentosa’s flora, fauna and rustic charm, Sentosa welcomed its first pair of peafowls in 1980. Since then, the population of peafowls on Sentosa has grown to more than 60, illustrating the island’s conducive environment for wildlife and biodiversity to thrive. These peafowls comprise a mix of Indian blue peafowls and Javan green peafowls and are believed to be the largest number of peafowls in a single location in Singapore.
10. Fort Siloso has been gazetted as Singapore’s 74th national monument
Source: National Heritage Board
Once known as Sarang Limau or Tiger’s Lair, Fort Siloso is the best-preserved 19th century fort in Singapore, serving as an important site to mark the nation’s war years.
The historic site has been gazetted as Singapore’s 74th national monument, with 11 structures that collectively tell Singapore’s defence story. This marks the first time that a site with structures has been gazetted as a National Monument.
Among the gazetted structures at Fort Siloso are its casemates, which are strong underground chambers built to provide accommodation, office and storage space. They were designed to be shell-proof and faced away from the sea to protect it from naval attacks. The walls between the rooms are about 90 cm thick.
If you would like to find out more about Fort Siloso, check out SentoSights tours. The series of sustainability- and heritage-themed tours, a part of Sentosa's Golden Jubilee offerings, provides an insight into the rich history of the island, including Fort Siloso.
11. Sentosa offers ferry services to nearby islands
Source: Marina South Ferries
As part of sustainability advocacy and education efforts under the Sustainable Sentosa strategic roadmap, Sentosa Development Corporation will pilot new low-carbon leisure experiences in the Southern Islands, as it extends the Sentosa getaway to the nearby islands and help guests better appreciate the islands’ rich flora and fauna. As part of these efforts, guests can now take a ferry from Sentosa to the Southern islands on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays from the Sentosa Jetty @ Cove.