Ever wanted to go on the high seas and explore Singapore’s shores and kelongs? Let’s Go Tour organises three-hour kelong tours which are SingapoRediscovers voucher-friendly. The experience was awesome, learning from seasoned boater Robin who jovially shared his vast knowledge and immersing in the tranquillity of the open sea and mangroves at Pulau Ubin, plus a visit to Smith Marine Floating Restaurant.
We met Robin, our guide for the day and also the founder of Let’s Go Tour to board his 12 seater boat at SAF Yacht Club on a cool morning. It was the perfect weather for a boat ride! The waters were calm as we cruised past huge ships where Robin pointed out the significance of all the activities along the coast.
Learning More about Singapore’s Prime Spot in the Maritime Industry
We saw the towboats in action near Sembawang Shipyard where repairs of ships were taking place. If you and your child have read the children’s classic “Little Toot”, you could see the strength of the tiny towboats compared to the really large ships. These towboats served a big purpose in helping to tow the ships safely out of the harbour.
During our ride, our guide constantly pointed out facts about the boats plying the waters between Malaysia and Singapore. We saw a huge variety of vessels – fishing vessels, Police Coast Guard boats little fishing sampans, kayaks, stand-up paddles and also a cruise ship that was docked for maintenance of its lifeboats.
We were also alerted about the huge sand storage and the barges containing sand. Because of massive construction efforts, Singapore needs tonnes of sand. While we used to import sand from Malaysia and Indonesia, this has stopped and Singapore has looked to the Middle East to buy sand. Because of this, we have sandflies on our beaches – which are not native to Singapore. Ah well – something’s gotta give for fine sand.
Rediscovering the North Eastern Banks of Singapore
It was so liberating to be out at sea looking across the straits of Johor, seeing Malaysia (and feeling slightly sad that we couldn’t go over) as well as looking at Sembawang, Seletar, Seletar Island, Punggol. The Seabreeze refreshed us instantly as the boat leapt over waves. For a while, we seemed so far from Singapore it felt like we were travelling (finally!).
We saw trainee planes taking off from the nearby Seletar Airport. These days, flight school trainees were practising their aviation skills by taking off, circling then landing. As we passed an uninhabited island with a few wakeboarders having a splash, Robin told us it was Seletar Island. It used to be occupied by Orang Laut, its population dwindled after the separation of Singapore and Malaysia. It looked tempting to be explored, but we were warned of the sandflies on the shore.
Sailing by Punggol Waterfront, we could see plenty of cyclists at the park. This was familiar ground to Robin who grew up by the waters. He shared that a signature dish was the Punggol Mee Goreng which was a wet type of noodles with all kinds of seafood. Hawkers used to ply the area selling such dishes.
Exploring Pulau Ubin, Seeing the Kelongs and Going upclose with Mangroves
Soon, we entered a familiar area and saw more kayakers. We were nearing Pulau Ubin! Bird calls were aplenty and the loud shrieks of the hornbill were very clear. We could also see many raptors like the White Bellied Sea Eagle circling the skies, and egrets perched near the waters fishing.
Robin pointed out some floating kampong houses which were probably the rarest form of housing these days.
We steered closer to the mangrove forest at Pulau Ubin. Robin stopped the engine of the boat so we could just hear the sounds of nature, various bird calls, leave rustling and observing the wildlife. Mangroves are extremely important eco-systems, aside from serving as coastal protection for the shores. Their strong roots help break down very powerful waves and prevent erosion of coastlines.
Did you know there are slightly over 100 floating kelongs in the waters of Singapore? You would see some of them around, swaying along with the waves. Robin told us that the kelong fish farms are a tough business, as they are subjected to plenty of factors out of their control like plankton boom which cause all the fish to perish. The kelongs are also out-of-bounds to tour groups as they hold only farm licenses. The only kelong we could visit in Singapore is the Smith Marine floating restaurant.
Visiting Smith Marine Floating Restaurant
Smith Marine Floating Restaurant is a kelong and restaurant concept situated between Johor and Changi. It is a popular stop for paddlers, families for a seafood meal or snacks and drinks. There is also an opportunity to fish!
You can spot Smith Marine Floating Restaurant from afar with its light green concrete structure. You can also see the “kelong side” from the restaurant. Seafood meals are certainly the freshest ever. If you are feeling up to it, you can try catching a red snapper which is a definite success. One of our young participants caught one within seconds!
Robin from Let’s Go Tour also showed us mussels growing on the floating buoys and structures of the kelong. Mussels are an extremely good source of iron, but one tip from Robin is “never eat those attached to metal as the mussels would absorb harmful metallic substances”.
A Highly Educational, Relaxing and Fun Let’s Go Kelong Tour
After a relaxing 30 minute ride back to SAF Yacht Club, we came to the end of our Let’s Go Kelong tour. We learnt plenty about the maritime industry, Singapore’s history, spotted wildlife like birds, fish and jellyfish and developed a greater appreciation for our fishermen toiling daily. If you would like to join the Let’s Go Kelong tour, you can check out the details here.
This story is part of a series of tours in collaboration with Let’s Go Tour Singapore. Check out more tours offered by Let’s Go Tour Singapore here. When you make a booking for this Let’s Go Kelong Tour and any other tour on Let’s Go Tour Singapore’s website, don’t forget to quote “LDO” in the Special Concerns field on the booking form or let them know you first heard it from Little Day Out. Your booking will help us earn a small fee. There is no additional cost to you and goes towards supporting Little Day Out’s efforts to deliver the best news and reporting for families.