If you’re feeling a bit claustrophobic in the city this weekend, escape to Pulau Ubin for adventure and a great upper body workout. Daily mangrove kayaking tours at Pulau Ubin offer visitors a chance to explore a winding water world full of sea life and greenery. There’s something really lovely about the island’s quiet stillness, the absence of hustle and bustle, and although I’m not an experienced paddler…the freedom and mobility of steering your own boat is thrilling!
As a first time kayaker, I really had no idea how to go about maneuvering myself to and through a mangrove, let alone little things like getting in and out of a kayak without capsizing. Fortunately, our guide, Rozita, gave step-by-step instructions the whole way to ensure success (no accidental swims with sea creatures this trip).
Once settled in we began our voyage around the jetty to the entrance of the mangroves. Paddling out a bit more on the open sea was quite exhilarating. Convincing my boat to go where I wanted with the wind sweeping it to the side was challenging!
About ten minutes in, almost to the entrance of the mangroves, the arm ache started. I figured this was normal, but Rozita informed me aching arms are a tell tale sign that my paddling was wrong! Instead of pulling yourself through the water, you should be performing a pushing motion with your arms. Her advice on how to correct this meant no more aching arms! If you’re using the proper technique, you should instead be feeling a bit of strain on your shoulders, but none on your arms. If you use the even more advanced and proper technique of using your upper body as a whole, you should feel it in your abdominals and obliques! Either way, as long as you’re performing the movements right, you will reap upper body strength and burn calories, but overall have an easy time paddling.
Kayaking allows you to explore areas in the mangroves that you wouldn’t be able to reach on a hike or in a boat. As you move smoothly and quietly through the water you experience the rhythm of the mangroves, hear the singing of the birds, the rustle of the leaves, and the drops of water falling from the trees. You can feel the tide coming in and then (later) out, and somehow for a few hours you become part of the ecology.
During my exploration, I spied hermit crabs, fish, and heard the singing of Kingfishers. The wildlife sightings differ every time—Rozita said some lucky kayakers got the chance to watch group of sea otters play in the shallow waters.
Getting to Pulau Ubin is quite easy—just take the East West MRT Line out to Pasir Ris and then catch bus 109 to Changi Village. From the Changi Point Ferry Terminal catch a boat for $2.50 to Ubin. Once you get to the island head to the right on the road and you should see the kayaking adventures hut.
Calories burned: apprx. 700.
Tips: Bring a hat, closed toed water shoes (the beach is rocky), and a water bottle.