When we journeyed to the end of Singapore, to Tuas to check out the lovely Raffles Marina club, we had no idea we would chance upon this charming, still-functioning lighthouse on the marina’s promenade.
Tuas is the westernmost point of Singapore, and is where the Tuas Second Link, Singapore’s second causeway to Malaysia connects to Johor Bahru at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. The Raffles Marina club is located almost at the foot of the bridge, and at the end of the marina’s pier sits the Johor Strait Lighthouse which lights the way for yachts navigating into and out of the marina.
A Google search disappointingly turns up almost nothing about the lighthouse however, such as when it was built.
Lighthouses have been in use as a navigation aid to light coastlines and harbours ever since man took to the seas in ancient times. The first lighthouse is said to be the Lighthouse of Alexandria in ancient Egypt, built around 280 BC.
There are only 6 operating lighthouses in Singapore today, including one located strangely in Malaysian waters, and a modern day one that looks nothing at all like the lighthouses of old. All the lighthouses are operated by the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore, save for the Johor Strait Lighthouse which is managed by Raffles Marina itself.
Singapore’s other lighthouses are:
- Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca in the eastern waters of Singapore. It was built in 1851 and is our oldest lighthouse. The rocky island is a familiar name to Singaporeans and Malaysians as it was contested by both countries in a territorial dispute. In 2008 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over the island however.
- Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu (“One Tree Island”) in the southern waters of Singapore, built in 1855.
- Sultan Shoal Lighthouse on a tiny island or sandbank really, in the southwest of Singapore waters. It was built in 1895.
- Bedok Lighthouse, a modern day, fully unmanned “lighthouse” located at the top of the 26-storey Lagoon View condominium in Bedok in the east of mainland Singapore. It is actually just a small lighting tower that flashes a light every 5 seconds, looking nothing at all like a traditional lighthouse. Set up in 1977 when the condominium was built, the Bedok Lighthouse was designed as a replacement for the Fullerton Lighthouse atop the Fullerton building, which was decommissioned. It has been reported that the Bedok Lighthouse is scheduled to be moved from the Lagoon View condominium to a nearby block of flats at block 3, Marine Terrace.
- Pulau Pisang (“Banana Island”) Lighthouse, in the Strait of Malacca in Malaysian waters, although it is operated by Singapore’s MPA. The lighthouse was built in 1914.
Raffles Marina is a first class yachting marina and country club, and is well-known in the sailing community around the region. It has a capacity of 350 berths and can even provide for megayacht berthing, accommodating yachts of up to 100 metres in length. There is also a full service boatyard on site to perform general repairs. The marina welcomes yachts from all over the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
On land the club has regular country club facilities for its members, including a pub and 2 restaurants that are open to the public. The alfresco Marina Bistro serving Asian and Western fare is next to the pool and open lawn space, and has a wonderful view looking out onto the marina. I imagine having a cocktail and sunset dinner here would be pretty nice, especially as you will be able to see the lighthouse lit at night. I can’t vouch for the quality of food though as I didn’t try it, although you can check out its reviews on a local review website here. The club is also a popular venue for weddings and other events.
The marina area is open to the public so you can stroll out onto the promenade to admire the many pretty yachts docked there, quite a few of which have “For Sale” signs out. There are small modest yachts as well as larger, luxe ones that clearly cost a pretty penny. When we were there we saw a large yacht moored at the pier, with a sun-kissed couple lounging on the deck in their skimpy swim wear enjoying the warm afternoon sun. That is the life.
There are also a few unusual boats like a Malaysian registered schooner we saw, ominously named “L’ Albatross”.
On the promenade you can enjoy views of the almost 2km long Tuas Second Link bridge stretching across the water, and Johor Bahru across the strait. The charming 15m high Johor Strait Lighthouse sits at the end of the promenade and is such an anachronistic sight, although the lighthouse is probably nowhere near as old as the others. The Raffles Marina club itself is 19 years old, so the lighthouse is likely relatively young.
Still, lighthouses hold a certain fascination for many people, and the Johor Strait Lighthouse is so special and rare that it’s worth a visit.
10 Tuas West Drive
The whole Tuas industrial area is a mess now due to the construction works for the Tuas MRT extension. Best to follow a map or GPS for directions.
The club’s pub is open till midnight, so I guess that is the latest non-members will be allowed on the club premises.
HOW MUCH TIME
About 45 minutes to stroll out onto the marina’s promenade and back, although you’ll probably want to take a little more time to enjoy the fresh air, sea breeze and the refreshing views.
- You can also stay overnight at one of the Raffles Marina’s 19 guest rooms. Rates for non-members start at around S$200 a night.
- Check out Luis Kalife’s “My Lighthouse Postcards” here which showcases lighthouses he has photographed all over the world, including the Johor Strait Lighthouse.
- Check out a short video interview with the lighthouse keeper of Singapore’s Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu.
- The club provides a free shuttle bus service from the nearest MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations – Jurong East, Lakeside and Boon Lay stations, and bus terminals. Priority is given to the club’s staff however. Check the shuttle bus schedule here.
- The club is currently undertaking some construction and repair work around the marina, due to be completed by the end of March 2014.