Explore

Sta. Cruz Island: The Pink Beach of Zamboanga

Hailed as one of the best beaches in the world.

This is according to National Geographic, citing the Great Sta Cruz island of Zamboanga as one of the most beautiful. It was early 2017 when I read about the story and it made me think that hey, someday I will travel to Zamboanga and be on that island.

A few months later, an invite popped up on my email from the DOT (Department of Tourism) Region 9 inviting me to take part in the Savores 2017, an annual food festival in the city and one of the side trips on the tour is the visit to Sta. Cruz island. Am I being lucky or what? Hahaha!

On our last day in Zamboanga, the van picked us up and brought us to Paseo Del Mar where the boats going to Sta. Cruz island were waiting for us. It only took about 20 minutes until we reached the island.

By the time I set foot on the island, I realized why it was hailed as one of the best. Cool and pristine waters plus white sand glowing in pinkish color. The pinkish color is because of the crushed red corals on the shore known as organ pipe corals.

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

It’s because of these red corals.

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

We were lucky that when we were there the local government was celebrating its Summer Festival with activities lined up for the tourists like games and the cultural presentation.

It was fun watching those games. I didn’t join, because it would be better to let other tourists enjoy and do those running and sailing. Hahaha! For me, I liked the dance presentation.

I was just resting on our cottage drinking some ice-cold beverage when I heard a traditional Muslim song. Then when I looked at the beach, I saw these vintas slowly moving towards the shore with one dancer each on it. By the time they reached the beach, the performance began.

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

Humanda kayo. Dumating siya upang bawiin ang hacienda hahaha!

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga
explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

It’s not every day that I see this kind of performance. It shows how rich and colorful the culture and traditions of people of Zamboanga!

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga
explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

Dinadamdam niya masyado ang sayaw.

Still, the best way to enjoy Sta. Cruz island is by walking on its pinkish shore and take a lot of photos. The vintas are just too amazing for you not to take a photo of it.

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

sa dako paroon? Credit: Potpot Pinili of Travel Trilogy

During our lunch, they served us the famous Curacha and some local dishes. We had this interesting food named Oko-oko or rice cooked inside the sea urchin. Yes, you read it right, and it was good, just a bit saltier than our usual rice. Our food was like a feast of the delicious dishes of Zamboanga and fresh seafood!

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga
explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

oko- oko

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

After our lunch, it was time to explore more of the island. Sta cruz is a protected area, and at the heart of the island is a rich lagoon and mangroves where locals get their food every day. It was time for the lagoon tour!

Our tour was led by Sir Richard Aliangan and aside from the rich biodiversity of the place, it was his humor and exciting way of storytelling that really made the tour more memorable. We learned how to determine the sexes of mangroves, yes there is. He kept us entertained until we reached the part where we found a lot of stingless jellyfish!

Richard showed us the right way of touching and holding this kind of jellyfish and I tried it.

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga
explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga
explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

Stingless Jellyfish!

As the tour ended, vintas were waiting for us near the shore. Some of my fellow travel bloggers tried it, and I was just happy looking at them. The vinta was small and not so good with huge people like me. Hahaha!

Just seeing them enjoying the ride made me happy. Hahaha!

explore, travel, sta. cruz island: the pink beach of zamboanga

That’s Kara of traveling-up.com

When I started the tour in Zamboanga, I was honestly looking forward for the last day so to experience Sta. Cruz island. But it turned out that I would enjoy Zamboanga on the very first day. Touring the city with its great food and warm people are the reasons I why I would love to come back.

The pink sand of Sta. Cruz was just a finale of a series of great happenings from the Latin city of Asia, Zamboanga City!

How to get to Sta. Cruz Island (Pink Beach)

The jump-off to the pink beach of Zamboanga is Paseo Del Mar. Before boarding the boat, guests are oriented on how to protect and island while enjoying its beach and natural beauty. Every boat is licensed by LGU and can accommodate up to 10 people for Php 1,000. Please see below the other fees.

Entrance Fee – Php 20
Terminal Fee – Php 5

Cottages
Beachfront – Php 200
Pavilion –   Php 500

Lagoon Tour – for an optional lagoon tour, please inform the management by contacting 0927-2835-684. You may also contact this number for assistance in your DIY trip and to ensure that there are boats to accommodate you.

You may also arrange some packaged tours at Asociación de Guia Turístico del Zamboanga (AGTZ). This is an association of tour operators in Zamboanga City. Contact them at 0917-724-3199. Or you may book your tour through ITravel Tourist Lane!

Where to Stay in Zamboanga?

We stayed at the Garden Orchid Hotel, one of the top hotels in Zamboanga. For Room and Rates, Check here!

If you’re looking for other options for budget hotels to lessen your expenses, check this for the recommended hotels in Zamboanga City. 

READ: Best Tourist Spots in Mindanao

Sta. Cruz Island Map

Note: Thank you DOT Region 9 for this trip and wonderful experience!