I have never missed a flight.
I never had a problem with getting up to watch a sunrise, but on this day, everything that can go wrong did go wrong. The 2 alarms set did not go of due to a flat battery on my cell phone. That meant I could not manage to get access to my GPS map to Marina South Pier, which was where a bunch of panicky volunteers and Ria (Wildshores) were waiting for me.
By a stroke of luck, I remembered once stumbling along the place when I was previously in search of the Satay By the Bay (another God forsaken place) and I was in the right direction! The boat was already waiting and I hopped into a boat of relieved faces.
It would be a shame if I were to miss this trip to the Sisters’ Islands. It has recently received a lot of excitement from marine life lovers, nature conservationists and general public alike because of its new found status as Singapore’s first Marine Park.
With over 350 different species of reef fish and hard corals and with a wide range of biodiversity, it’s no wonder why the Islands are described as an “educational storyboard.”
Along with us were a team of volunteer guides and NParks officers on the shore to familiarise themselves in preparation for public walks on the Sisters’ Island Marine Park. The group of volunteers were also on the trip to do their usual health check on this shore, especially to look out for coral bleaching.
We were given a safety briefing at the start of our quest before we went our with our own adventures. Look out for stonefish and other dangerous species while on the shore! Do not bring opened plastic bags and food as it may attract the wild monkeys. We were also told stories of coconuts free falling on visitors head – did someone also point out the obvious fact it was 6am and we can’t see anything on the island?
I can still see it now – having a rogue coconut smack you in the head, transporting you back into the legend of Sisters Island like a movie. You see, the legend of the Island tells of a poor widow who had two beautiful daughters. Named Minah and Linah, they were very close.
Their mother died and the sisters were forced to move in with a distant uncle. A pirate took notice of the beauty of these sisters and wanted to marry one for himself. He fetched Linah, threatened her uncle with a dagger, and said he would be back to marry the beautiful sister in the morning.
After a night of frightful weeping, more than a dozen pirates return and rip Linah from her sister’s arms. At this moment, a storm broke out over the land, during everything dark. The pirates take Linah to the boat and, desperate to save her sister, Minah swims out to catch it.
Linah sees this, escapes her captors, and jumps into the water as well. The sisters are never seen again, but there are two new islands at the exact location where Linah and Minah were last seen.
It is said that it rains every year at the same time on the Islands. Apparently random coconut violence has also become part of the legend!
I did not get into the shore surveys with the team this time round, but check out the amazing marine life they have found. From James Chua’s FB photos (click to see more)
I was sitting on this seawall when the first light broke over the nearby St John’s Island. There was small, warm and rosy glow that arose from St John’s Island into a majestic ball of light. It was a sight to behold. (Check out the sunrise timelapse video). You can never ever witness this on the mainland. I strongly recommend Nparks to make sunrise viewing a feature of the visit to the Marine Park. It will certainly attract scores of people wanting to come.
As the light shone on the island, we got a view of the rusticity and tranquility that the island has to offer. On the shores, it was a clear, polarised display of marine life and corals. In the background, hundreds of coconuts trees were swaying and making orchestral music in tandem.
There is always a lingering fear that with all things new, especially with its new found status – Sister’s Island will lose its authencity as well as harm caused to its marine life with many visitors coming on its shores. Therefore it was heartening to hear from Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee that NParks will strike a balance between conservation and visitorship, said, such as by installing stepping-stones or boardwalks to give public access while protecting delicate intertidal areas. Educational signs might be nice, but too many might be an overkill. I believe the best stories are told through guides who are truly passionate about this place, and not from a signboard.
An Aerial Overview of the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park (video)
To visit the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, please look out for the introductory guided walks offered by Nparks to the public.
More tips for visitors – source (WildSingapore.com)
There is no ferry to the Sisters Islands. To visit, you will need to charter a fast work boat from Marina South Pier. Rates will have to be negotiated with the operator which depends on their availability and diesel prices among others. The work boats operate 24-hours, but the booking desks at the Pier only opens during office hours. The work boats generally service business for ships in our harbour. These boats are not intended for leisure trips and are not designed for comfort.
Admission to the island is free. Camping overnight requires a permit from Sentosa Leisure Group (SLG). There is no charge for the permit. More on the Sentosa website It is advisable to consult SLG if you are bringing large groups even if it’s just a day trip. Facilities on each island include: Two swimming lagoons, toilets, shelters.
Current around the Sisters Islands are very strong and swimming is not advisable outside the swimming lagoons.