Changi Coast

Last Updated on 20 November 2023

What comes to mind when we think about Changi Village is its holiday chalets, popular local fare at the bustling food centre, and rare pokemon finds. Despite having tried all those at least once in our lifetime, we had never actually thought to take a walk along the Changi Point Coastal Walk and Beach Park.

So we decided to do something about it one morning, when we jumped out of bed before the crack of dawn, made our cross-island journey from west to east, and arrived at Changi Village as the sun was just beginning to peek out from behind the clouds.

The Changi Point Boardwalk blended in so well with the coastal flora and fauna that we wouldn’t have known it was there if we didn’t set out to find it. The boardwalk is helpfully divided into six sections – Creek Walk, Beach Walk, Sailing Point Walk, Cliff Walk, Kelong Walk and Sunset Walk – so that we can better appreciate the landscape at each section while we bumble along.

Image credit: National Parks Board

By public transport, bus number 29 conveniently connects Tampines to Changi Village. If driving, we could park at the big open-air carpark next to Changi Village Food Centre or the new high-tech mechanised carpark. But why pay for parking when we can park for free at the large and usually deserted carpark along Turnhouse Road? So that’s what we did, and we made our way along Netheravon Road to start our trek from the western entry point of the Changi Coastal Boardwalk.

When walking along Netheravon Road, be sure to check out the super cool heritage tree there. This rare species of strangling fig (Ficus stricta) has only been recently recorded for Singapore, and was actually first discovered here in Changi! The strangling fig is known to grow around a host tree – in this case it was growing around a Durian tree – fight with the host tree for light, and eventually ‘strangle’ the host tree to death.

The informative sign planted right in front of this rare specimen was what drew us in for a closer look. The strangling fig’s yellow fruits are known to attract many greedy birds, including the Oriental Pied Hornbills.

In fact, we were fortunate to meet the resident family of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) that day. Mummy and daddy hornbills were flying in and out of the trees plucking beetles from the branches…

…while baby hornbill was resting on a branch, looking around and wondering when breakfast was going to be served.

It is a short walk from the carpark at Turnhouse Road to the start point of the boardwalk.

At the start, the boardwalk is well shaded by overarching trees and surrounded by greenery, providing natural air conditioning.

The boardwalk soon opens up to a beautiful view of the sea with its bobbing boats set upon a misty backdrop with Pulau Ubin in the horizon.

Scanning the horizon, we spied on a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) who flew around for a while before landing on one of those bobbing boats and looking out wistfully into the calm waters.

A series of balconies jutting out from the boardwalk provides the perfect platform to perch and admire the sea view in front of us.

Looking out into the horizon, we spotted some raptors soaring through the skies. One of these was the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), easily recognisable with his gleaming white body and chocolate brown wings. A pair of them were thermalling high up in the sky, looking like they had not a care in the world.

Also out for a fun family excursion was the White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – mother, father and kid – happily circling up above us.

Suddenly out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a large raptor-like shape glide past us and disappear into the trees. We immediately proceeded to stalk it, and were delighted to find a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle resting in the shade of a tree.

Somewhere between Cliff Walk and Sailing Point Walk, we came to a wide open field, looking so lush and green that we had to make a stop there and try to spy on some birds.

A pair of Brown-throated Sunbirds (Anthreptes malacensis) were weaving in and out of a flowering bush, taking turns to suck nectar from the flowers.

A couple of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus) were swooping up and down the field, picking up insects for their morning snack.

We soon heard the familiar squawks of the Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri), a non-native parrot species that has established a stronghold in Changi. Without fail, we will see or hear them every time we visit Changi Village.

As we continued along the path…

…we came to a sudden halt when we saw a Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) standing all alone in the middle of the walkway. Not wanting to alarm him, we stayed a distance away, watching and waiting to see how long he would stand there.

As expected, he didn’t stand there for long. He soon flew a few metres away and perched on a rocky outcrop next to the walkway. That didn’t seem like a much safer place for him to perch, but it afforded us more unobstructed views and opportunities to snap photos of him.

Along the breakwater, we weren’t surprised to meet a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), who was doing his characteristic butt bob while foraging among the rocks.

As we walked from Beach Walk to Creek Walk towards Changi Point and Changi Creek, the tip of Changi Beach Park and its beautiful sandy beach soon loomed into view.

At the mouth of Changi Creek is a wharf lined with bumboats that ply the route between Changi Point Ferry Terminal and Pulau Ubin. Looking at the boats brimming with passengers and bumming past us, we were beset with an itch to make a trip to Pulau Ubin ourselves. That would be a story for another time.

Crossing the narrow bridge at the mouth of Changi Creek, we were transported to Changi Beach Park for the next segment of our coastal hike.

Upon setting foot on Changi Beach Park, we were immediately greeted by a flock of Tanimbar Corellas (Cacatua goffiniana) foraging on the grass. They gleam so white they will be quite hard to miss.

Also known as Goffin’s Cockatoo, this is a non-native cockatoo species that has been introduced into Singapore, and is globally classified as Near Threatened due to deforestation and bird trade.

The Tanimbar Corellas love to feed on the seeds of the sea almond fruits, and they are very adept at picking up the fruits with their claws and using their sharp beaks to crack them to get at the seed inside. Every bird had a fruit in their claw, and they were too busy cracking their nuts to mind or care about the humans that were gawking at them.

We were surprised to see that feeding amongst the flock of ten Tanimbar Corellas was one lone Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), looking like he totally belonged in that gang. Also a non-native introduced cockatoo species in Singapore, the Yellow-crested Cockatoo looks quite like the Tanimbar Corella, except that it has a yellow crest and a dark bill.

The best thing about walking along the trail of Changi Beach Park is the fresh air and strong sea breeze, so strong that it threatened to blow my cap and camera off.

Some might even be tempted to take a dip in the cool ocean water and enjoy the lapping waves.

A trip to Changi Beach Park wouldn’t be complete without visiting “The Finger”, a sculpture also known as “Inscription Of The Island”. Legend goes that this hand was once part of a gigantic statue that guided the ships of an ancient, mythical civilisation. The statue later collapsed and the hand fell off. So now, it stands at Changi Beach guiding us onlookers to ponder upon the mysterious significance of this finger.

After the 7-km jaunt, a hearty brunch at the Changi Village Food Centre hit the spot.