Labrador Nature Reserve reminded me of the rustic beauty in nature
The trek seamlessly captures both land and sea elements.
As a self-proclaimed outdoor person, I am embarrassed to say it took me this long to experience Labrador Nature Reserve.
One of Singapore’s four protected nature reserves, Labrador Nature Reserve is a safe haven for biodiversity with a huge range of coastal plants, and Singapore’s only protected coastal rocky shore.
During World War II, the area functioned as a coastal artillery fort to defend Singapore’s waters, and is one of the few remaining WWII historical sites in the country.
Here are the four highlights from my hike.
Basking in one of two remaining mangrove forests in Southern Singapore
To get to Labrador Nature Reserve, you can take the MRT to Labrador Park station and start your trek at the Berlayer Creek Mangrove Trail.
The first thing I noticed upon beginning the hike was a massive mangrove tree and the surrounding blossoming flowers. The swampy creek reminded me of Shrek’s beloved abode.
As I continued the hike, the viewing platform that runs adjacent to the swamp allowed me to soak in the surrounding mangroves and appreciate the rich biodiversity. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the biodiversity when I spotted two terrapins, including a baby one, swimming through the cloudy swamp.
The creek is also host to an array of fauna and flora with over 60 recorded bird species, 19 species of fish and 14 mangrove plant species recorded. At the end of the mangrove trail, you can either turn left onto Bukit Chermin Boardwalk to catch a sight of Keppel Harbour, or make a right turn to continue with the Coastal Trail.
Dual elements in harmony - Forest and Sea
After the peaceful and tranquil stroll down Bukit Chermin Boardwalk, I reached Dragon’s Teeth Gate, a replica of a granite rock that served as a navigational aid for sailors. The Gate towered over me and must have been around six metres tall.
Just around the corner was a machine gun pillbox which was hidden behind the playground. The pillbox was used to protect 12-pounder guns on the coast It was refreshing seeing these historical monuments that you don’t see everyday.
Between the Dragon’s Teeth Gate and the machine gun pillbox was a bright red structure that resembles a mini lighthouse.
According to the accompanying plaque, the structure once served as a navigational beacon for boats in the mid-20th century. The stark contrast between the dazzling red structure sitting in front of the vast lush coastal view made the spot stick out.
One thing unique about my hike here was the seamless transition from forest-y and jungle-like terrain territory to the lush therapeutic sights of the ocean.
Take a step back into the 19th century
As I followed the Heritage Trail and reached the top of the hill, I felt like I was on a field trip to a war museum.
The Gun Emplacement that stood there was built in 1886 as a defence fort where soldiers manned their arsenal. As I walked along, I spotted a six-inch cannon on display – which happened to be an actual war relic discovered in 2001!
Being on high ground and having myself surrounded by the forest was truly befitting given the history behind the Heritage Trail. War junkies and historian buffs will relish this part of the reserve.
Being on high ground and having myself surrounded by the forest was truly befitting given the history behind the Heritage Trail. War junkies and historian buffs will relish this part of the Reserve.
Enjoy a “sea-nic” view at Labrador Jetty
I concluded my trip at the popular fishing spot, Labrador Jetty which helms a movie-esque view of the sublime sea and charming coastline.
Next to the jetty is Singapore’s only protected coastal rocky shore. If you’re lucky during high tide, you might be able to spot a school of fishes! Whilst at low tide, you can spot seagrass beds and different species of crustaceans on the extensive mudflat.
Quite frankly, this was my favourite spot of the hike as it was windy and allowed me to enjoy the breeze whilst admiring the charming coastline with the many ships sailing out to the horizon. It was truly fitting for the hike to end here as the view was reminiscent of an ending shot in a movie.
My time at Labrador Nature Reserve was pleasantly eye-opening. The trek itself was rather straightforward with no real challenging routes nor tricky terrain to navigate through. It is the ideal hiking spot for beginners and is also wheelchair-friendly.
The trail also connects to the Southern Ridges through Bukit Chermin Boardwalk. While I didn’t make the continuing journey to the Southern Ridges, I did get to enjoy the mesmerising views of Keppel Harbour and Sentosa Island.