Pink Beach is one of our planned itineraries in Zamboanga. Aside from city tours and food trips, beach bumming is one of our fave pastimes when traveling. The initial plan of going to Once Islas was cancelled due to budget. Our intended date for that trip didn’t have registered joiners and we’d end up paying the entire package fee if we pushed through. Good thing, we had a back-up option of going to Great Sta. Cruz island (Pink Beach) instead. It’s interesting to see different beaches in different regions, and this one is particularly special because it’s my first beach trip in Mindanao. I was surprised with new things and I will tell more of that later.
Note: There are two islands in Santa Cruz: The Great Santa Cruz island and the Little Santa Cruz island. The latter serves as a base for military officers.
How to Get to Pink Beach
The jump-off point to Sta. Cruz Island is at Paseo del Mar, one of the prominent landmarks in Zamboanga. Just tell the tricycle to drop you to Paseo del Mar. A week before our trip, we made reservations with their tourism office at +63927-2835684. Down payment is not needed. Although reservations are not required, it is advisable to book in advance. We have companions who were walk-ins only and they were not prioritized in the queue. The names enlisted in advance will be grouped first in the boat ride and the walk-ins will be next in line.
The rate of the boat ride is Php 1,000. So for example you are ten in the group, each one of you will pay Php 100 for the boat fare. You also have to pay Php 20 for the environmental fee and Php 5 for the terminal fee. The island is open to tourists from 7 AM to 2 PM only so start your day early! We were not accompanied by a military escort to Sta. Cruz, but this is the standard safety protocol in Zamboanga.
Rules and Regulations
Before boarding, you need to attend the orientation. Local tourism officers seemed serious about the implementation of the rules. Here are some of the rules mentioned in the briefing:
- No smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages in the island.
- No littering.
- No picture taking with the officials in the island.
- No bringing of anything from the marine life.
- No climbing of trees is allowed.
Violators will be penalized with Php 5,000 fine or will be required to render community service for a number of hours.
We were impressed because when we went to the island, we didn’t see any of these violations. There were no instances of drinking and smoking. We didn’t see plastics and cigarette butts in the sand which are common in other public beaches. The island seemed calm and peaceful.
I also read that the grilling of pork is not preferable in the island since it is near Muslim communities.
What to do in the Sta. Cruz Island
Since there are no water sports or beach activities in the island, here are some of the things you can do in Pink Beach:
Enjoy the scenery.
One of the things I liked about the island is that it is simple, preserved, and not commercialized. You’ll appreciate the bareness of the beach. The island is also abounding in trees and bushes, so you get to enjoy the lush scenery.
Take as many photos as you can.
Since there was nothing much to do, we explored the different angles we can shoot with our camera!
Walk along the shore.
Sta. Cruz has a long stretch of fine, pinkish sand brought about by the crushed red corals, or the organ pipe corals. You won’t see it instantly from afar but if you hold the sand in your hands, you’ll see the pulverized reddish corals. The view is nice as you walk from one point to another.
We enjoyed swimming in the uncrowded beach. We were just careful because the water seems shallow in the first few meters but it will get deeper.
Buy fresh catch from the locals.
Although you can bring your own food (which most visitors do), you can buy seafood from the vendors in the island and they will cook it for you. We spent around Php 250 for the grilled fish and rice. Note that there are no food stalls or restaurants in the island.
Rent a cottage.
Cottages are available for rent for Php 200 (good for 10) but we didn’t get one because we stayed under the tree which is just for free.
Other things to note:
- Water from the bathrooms is sea water.
- Tour packages are also available at iTravel Tourist Lane.
- The sand bar is not accessible without a tour guide.
- There are souvenir stalls in the island.
Sample computation of expenses:
Tricycle from Wynn Hotel to Paseo del Mar- Php 70/2 = Php 35
Boat rental – Php 1000/4 = Php 250
Terminal fee- Php 5
Environmental fee- Php 20
Grilled Fish and Rice= Php 280/2= Php 90
Tricycle from Paseo del Mar to Paseo del Mar- Php 70/2 = Php 35
Total: Php 435 per head
We definitely had an enjoyable stay at Pink Beach. Although we stayed only for a few hours, we were still amazed with the serenity and cleanliness of the island.