Things to Do: Sentosa Island

Like Orchard Road, Sentosa Island is such an icon and covered so thoroughly in guidebooks and pamphlets available from the Singapore Tourism stormtroopers that I hesitate to spend too much time on it.

One thing to consider is how to get to the island. The coolest but most expensive way is by cable car, followed by (in descending order of coolness and cost) ferry, taxi, bus, car and walking. In 2006 a light rail link to the mainland is set to open. No matter how you get there, you end up in the same place and admission is only S$2 more than whatever your transport cost. That S$2 covers entrance to the island and moving around on the monorail, but most attractions cost extra.

Sentosa is aimed mostly at local families with weekend funtime, and so may not really fit into your own once-in-a-lifetime visit to Singapore. The beaches, for example, are pretty lame compared to just about any natural beach you could go to, but if you are from Iowa and will not see salt water again your whole trip, then maybe one is worth seeing. The brochures insist on making jokes like “At Sentosa, when we say life's a beach, we mean it.” There is a flamboyant laser and water jet show that tests the limits of kitsch. Just kill me now.

One of the key attractions, the aquarium, is still pretty impressive if you like fish, with its walk-through plexiglass underwater tunnel. They also have a decent dolphin show, albeit a tad circus-like at times. Yes, they have a Nemo fish.

Sentosa island does boast the southernmost point of continental Asia, which is cool, but our taking a picture of our kid in front of the sign is so lame I am embarassed.

You can spend a whole day on Sentosa is you like, or more if you have a high tolerance level and a Thorozine addiction. Your children will, in spite of all this, probably like the theme park nature of the unnaturalness of it all, but otherwise we were not amused.

Learn more at the Sentosa Island web site.

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