Photo by Walter Lim

In a corner of a rustic island off mainland Singapore, a secret wonderland of nature stayed hidden from locals for centuries. The natural attractions of Chek Jawa were discovered, ironically, only when the area where it sits was slated for redevelopment in 2000.

When Singaporeans realised what had been uncovered - a 100-hectare wetlands teeming with wildlife - they flocked to the area and plans for redevelopment were halted.

It was an accidental discovery that has since benefitted thousands of visitors to this treasure trove of biodiversity, where six major habitats meet and mix.

Tucked away in a corner of Pulau Ubin – an island off mainland Singapore – you will need to catch a ferry to get here. Once on the island, you can hire a van or rent a bicycle from the main village. The more adventurous can hike to the wetlands in about 40 minutes.

The 1.1-kilometre boardwalk along the coast is a convenient way to view the rich plant and marine life, while a 21-metre tall viewing tower also gives you a chance to observe birds like the Collared Kingfisher and Straw-headed Bulbul.

Guided tours are available, while educational information about Chek Jawa can be found at the Visitor Centre and viewing jetty.