SINGAPORE - Nature lovers in Singapore, as well as anyone who enjoys a good hike, can look forward to having a 15km nature trail running the entire length of East Coast Park in about 10 years.
It will extend from Gardens by the Bay East towards Changi.
The planned trail will bring residents and visitors closer to nature as they walk its length, which will link up therapeutic gardens, nature playgardens, and forest patches in the park, the National Parks Board announced on Sunday (March 28).
It will also connect areas of the park that have been redeveloped in the last few years, including the recently revamped Big Splash site, as well as the former Goldkist Chalets, which was redeveloped into a new bicycle park in 2019.
"What we intend to do is to, over time, in areas where it is possible, create new trails for people to be closer to nature," said Mr Tan Jun Chao, director of parks for NParks, at a virtual media briefing on Sunday.
He noted that East Coast Park - Singapore's largest and most popular park with 7.5 million visits annually - is still considered an urban park compared with other nature parks and nature reserves in Singapore.
"It will not be the same as what we have at our nature parks. It will be a different experience that is curated within this urban coastal park setting," he added.
New offerings at Coastal PlayGrove
The new Coastal PlayGrove was also officially opened on Sunday. It spans 4.5ha at the former Big Splash site at East Coast Park and includes tube slides and water play areas.
Here is a look at what to expect when you visit Coastal PlayGrove.
Play Tower, the tallest outdoor play feature in Singapore
The 16m tower is a reconstruction of the former iconic Big Splash tower. It includes Vertical Challenge, a play area with nets.
The structures inside the Vertical Challenge are in red, orange, yellow, green and blue - the same colours used for water slides in the former water park.
Two enclosed tube slides are accessible from the third and fourth floors, measuring at 7.3m and 11.9m respectively.
The Vertical Challenge is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am to 8pm. Due to existing Covid-19 restrictions, there is a limit of 20 people per level. Visitors are encouraged to go to Coastal PlayGrove on weekdays or during off-peak hours to avoid disappointment, said NParks.
Located at the base of the Play Tower, this structure was designed to resemble waves along the shore. It is suitable for younger children, aged five to 12, to climb and explore.
Water play area
It includes wading pools and jets of water along a narrow stream. There are platforms to allow wheelchair access along the main pools and stream. The water play area is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am to 8pm.
It is designed for children aged three to 12, and consists of three themed sections. Natural materials such as wood, sand, and gravel are used.
The first zone includes a trail of bamboo tunnels to evoke a sense of mystery, with the foliage of plants providing copper and red tones.
The second zone has teepees and a log trail for children to engage in imaginative play. It features exotic butterfly-attracting shrubs and native plants to mimic the native forest habitat.
The third zone includes a balancing board and a trail leading to a sand pit, as well as native shrubs that attract biodiversity.
Outdoor classroom by the sea
It is equipped with a chalkboard and log stools, and has a view of the sea, allowing nearby pre-schools to conduct more activities at the park. There are additional features for pre-schoolers to explore and discover, including various fruit trees that have been planted in the area, as well as a former hornbill's nest, salvaged from a dead tree, which can be used to start conversations about wildlife conservation efforts.
Adjacent to the outdoor classroom is a large sand pit for free play.
Recreation and F&B offerings
There will be more food and beverage options at the park, including Food Splash, a multi-concept food outlet, OldTown White Coffee and Burger King.