The Pink Sand Beach

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Santa Cruz Islands are composed of the Great Santa Cruz (Isla Grande) and the little Santa Cruz,   located in the Basilan Strait, 4 kilometers south of the center of Zamboanga City, in the southern region of the Philippines.

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The Great Santa Cruz is famous for the 2 kilometers  pinkish sand beach,  while the little one is known about the white sand beach. Both island are an environment protected area, and underway   rehabilitation of coral reefs which suffered from illegal fishing and reef mining in the fast years.

Today the corals reefs in small island recovered and the growing populations of the corals reefs will helps the restoration of the big island.

The Great Santa Cruz is open to public, while the Small Santa Cruz is used for military installation.

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(Overlooking small Sta Cruz)

The translucent water in the islands gives a perfect place for snorkeling and scuba diving. The  colorful corals and marine lifes are amazing in their recovering state.

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From a distant, the powdery sand coastline looks like ordinary white sand, but getting closer you notice a glint of pink.

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The popularity of the Great Sta Cruz is due to its unique pinkish sand that comes from the rare red organ pipes corals which have been pulverized from the sea floor, mixed to white sand.


(Sample of red  pipe corals).

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Great Sta. Cruz is the most  famous island under the jurisdiction of Zamboanga City. It was used to be popular destinations for European tourist such as German and Italians in the 1970’s and the early 1980’s. These foreign visitors called it as a hidden paradise in the little Spain in Asia. But due to some violent groups  the  peace and order situations  suffered the popularity of the island,  both foreign and local tourist discourage to visit not only in the island but in the entire region.

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 In undeveloped state of the island, it echoes its rural appeal, where you feel comfortable and relax. The surrounded trees and native cottages savor the real beauty of nature.  The beautiful beach and the clear and clean water is inviting.  The scenery even in the middle of the day is cool and amazing.

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(Beach Volleyball Court)

Only few tourist visits the island, (aside of the security reasons)  it maybe because of the very few facilities and poor marketing promotions. There’s no resort and restaurant, where you can buy a food and water to drink. No accommodation, no overnight stay.

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 The local government of Zamboanga are now  envisioned to make Great Santa Cruz island as a world class Eco-tourism beach resort. The island is currently undergoing a low impact improvement that make the island “Functional and Operational” The government improving and installing basic facilities like additional picnic hut, small and big huts, grilling and washing stations, a portable drinking water, lifeguard structure, a gazebo and additional comport rooms, spreads strategically on different part of the island. All this project is about 20-30% completed as of this time.

The next phase of the project is the construction of water supply system, it includes the construction of the water system distribution, a power house, storage facilities, a water tanks, an atmospheric water machine, electrical works and other utilities.

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The kind of nipa hut, for rent for Php 100.00 per day. You can also stay in somewhere under the tree for free.Zam Tawi Canon 107

 Visiting the back part of the island is the lagoon and the protected mangrove forest. The mangrove has an important role in ecology of every island.

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 (Souvenirs stores)

The island is occupied by Sama-Banguigui tribe. aside from a military personnel (about 2-3 military persons)  assigned in the island, they are the only people gives a warm smile to welcome the visitors. The women sell souvenirs items, while their husband (when no fishing/after fishing) used as guide for the visitors. Guide fee is FREE. 

The husband also sell the fresh catch seafood such as crabs  at a very low price. Crabs weighing for about 3 kilos, sold at Php.200.00 to Php.250.00. After  they agreed for some discount, they cook it for free.

The community’s main source of livelihood is fishing, The island can be promoted as community based Eco-tourism destination. As a part of the improvement of the island, the Zamboanga government  also planning to make a fishnet making demonstrations as added attraction in the island they call the fishnet as “pulot bahala” where they just leave the fishnet and allow lobster to naturally get caught.

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Since there’s no restaurant or carenderia in the island, you need to bring your own foods and water. There are grilling facilities, where you can grill anything (Except-maybe pork) The cook crabs are delicious but don’t ask any condiments, condiments is  NOT AVAILABLE.

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 Another interesting place in the island is the Badjao Burial site, but surprisingly  there’s also other Muslim tribes buried in the area. From the guide you will learned who are the Badjao and non Badjao, depending on the style of the grave. From here you learned some of  their culture and history.

The site is restricted area, no visitors are allowed without a guide. Burials have been prohibited since 1975.

For more detail about the Badjao Cemetery click   HERE 



How To Get There: 


 All tourist are encourage  to coordinates with the Department of Tourism in Paseo del Mar, where the berthing point going to Sta. Crus island located.

Paseo del Mar is a walking distance from Fort del Pilar, is one of the  tourist destination in Zamboanga City.From here you can see the 2 Sta Cruz island. Boat ride  is around 15 to 20 minutes going to island. No need for military escort. The military/police is deployed in the island in the morning and go back to the city after the last visitors.


The berthing point.


Registration counter, island rates and fees.

Entrance Fee – Php. 20.00 per fax

Terminal Fee – Php 5.00 per fax

Cottage Fee –   Php. 100.00 small cottage good for 6 fax

                              Php. 200.00 good for 10 fax

                              Php 500.00 pavillion good for 15 to 30 fax

Boat Rate –      Php 1,000.00 good for 10 fax. The same rate applies in case the passengers are less 10 fax. In excess of 10 fax a bigger boat or a boat of a 12 person capacity will be use, additional Php. 100.00 per fax shall be charged exceeding the 10 passengers. The boat rate includes the return.

The island is good for day tour only. Tourist  can stay in the island until 4:00 pm.

Source of Information:

  • Business World Weekeneder/Zamboanga
  • Wikipedia