Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga City's pink sand beach!

Yes that's right, pink sand! The prospect of visiting Zamboanga City's pink sand beach – Great Santa Cruz Island – was more than enough reason to hope that the rains that had been pouring down on the city would stop even for a brief moment. Zamboanga Hermosa, the city's fiesta, and rain come hand in hand. But they say when the image of the Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar is brought out for her procession, the skies clear up. I was hoping the skies would clear up for our trip too!

And it did! We woke up to an overcast morning. But as the boat neared Great Santa Cruz Island, the sun smiled.

The pink color of the sand is due to mixed particles from the organ pipe coral which is red in color.

Not many people know that Great Santa Cruz Island has a rich history too. It was first inhabited by the Subanens. Then the Badjaos followed. There is a Badjao village near the mangroves and an old Badjao cemetery which is walking distance from the main beach. Note that you need a guide if you want to visit the cemetery.

There are a few graves marked in the traditional Badjao manner. It's an interesting site if you are into indigenous culture and history.

As we walked back, we saw Little Santa Cruz Island. We were hoping to visit the smaller island on our way back to the city. It's off limits to visitors. And one needs special permission to set foot on the island.

Greater and Little Santa Cruz Islands and the areas around them are protected landscapes and seascapes. Make sure to bring snorkeling gear since it's a fantastic place to check out the marine life.

And at the main beach, vintas add color and character. During my last visit years ago, I don't remember seeing them there. I don't even remember seeing vintas in Zamboanga City. Which is why the city should be commended for reviving this colorful icon of Zamboanga.

Before leaving, we explored the mangroves. Unfortunately the tide was too low for us to reach the really old mangroves in the center of the island.

It's best to check the tides before visiting Greater Santa Cruz Island and note when high tide is so you could explore more of the mangrove forest.

We had been keeping our fingers crossed the whole morning about a possible visit to Little Santa Cruz Island. Luck was on our side again and we were allowed to make a brief stop!

White sand around the island made the clear waters sparkle as we approached Little Santa Cruz. And like the parting of the Red Sea, low tide was also exposing a sand bar on one end of the island. All I could say was, "Wow!"

Little Santa Cruz Island was definitely the highlight of our morning. But for now, visitors cannot go without securing permission, usually for research purposes. But Great Santa Cruz Island is more than enough reason to make that trip.

Boats for Great Santa Cruz Island leave from Paseo del Mar. Reservations are highly-recommended since a trip to the island requires security escorts. A boat usually costs Php1000 and can seat up to ten people. You can try walking-in at Paseo del Mar where the staff of the City Tourism Office will assist you.

Santa Cruz Island is no doubt, hermosa!

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