The History Behind Coney Island

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The History Behind Coney Island

From an abandoned villa to the only wild cow in Singapore, Coney Island is home to an array of stories and wildlife that will make your visit all the more meaningful!

Home to stretches of mangroves, grasslands and casuarina woodlands, Coney Island has grown to become one of Punggol’s must-visit spot. However, few are aware of the fascinating history behind the once private island.

Har Par Island

Abandoned Har Par Beach Villa | Image credits:gforce-guru blogspot

Formely known as Pulau Serangoon , the then 13-hectare large island was purchased by the Aw Boon siblings — Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, founders of Tiger Balm — in the 1930s and renamed to Haw Par Island.

The brothers then constructed Haw Par Beach Villa to turn the island into a summer vacation home for the family. Located in a mangrove area, the now deserted mansion have been fenced off from the public due to a lack of repair.

Coney Island

A change of ownership happened in the 1950. when the Aw Boon siblings sold the island to Ghulam Mahood, an Indian businessmen who envisioned an integrated holiday resort island. Modelled after the famous amusement park in Coney Island, New York, the island would offer various outdoor activities including swimming, boating and fishing, complete with restaurants and chalets.

However, the business venture was deemed to be an unprofitable one and was terminated in the 1960s.

Beach along Coney Island | Image credits:Timeout

After several other change in ownership in the 1960s, the island was eventually acquired by the government of Singapore in 1974. Through a series of reclamation works, the island has expanded to 133 hectares– more than ten times its original size.

The Coney Island Cow

Once a star attraction on the island, the Coney Island Cow became a local sensation when it was found wandering alone around the island. Many would make a dedicated trip to the island to take a photo of the only wild cow in Singapore.

Coney Island Cow | Image credits: NParks

In spite of having no natural predator and being monitored by NParks, it was malnourished and stricken with chronic illness. It passed away during a routine health check by the veterinarians. News of the passing made international headlines as locals question the need to sedate and conduct a health checkup on the old animal.

Till today, the origins of the cow remains a mystery as there were no reported cases of a lost cow, neither were there any farms in the area.

Fortunately for wildlife lovers out there, the island is still home to over 80 bird species including the spotted wood owl and the red junglefowl.


Coney Island trail | Image credits: eynabee08

Under the Master Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), sections of Coney Island was zoned for sports & recreation and residential activities. This includes a new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) centre, allowing the better utilization of existing green and blue space to conduct outdoor programmes.

However, as the island was not immediately required for development, 50 hectare of the land was converted into Coney Island Nature Park. The ecologically sustainable park boast five beaches totalling two kilometers and basic amenities including a toilet and bicycle bays.

Two bridges are built at opposite ends of the island. The northern end is connected to Punggol Promenade Nature Walk, linking the island to Punggol Point Park; the southern end connects to Lorong Halus Wetland via Serangoon Dam.

Getting There:

Punggol Promenade Nature Walk, Singapore 829325

By Bus:
– From Punggol Interchange, take bus 84 to Punggol Point Park and walk 600 metres along Punggol Promenade to Coney Island Park West Entrance

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