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The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

Out of town races makes me excited. It gives me the privilege to wander around places I've never been to or revisit places I'm already familiar with, all the while humbling myself in the heights of the mountains. So when Kenn asked if I would run Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, I said yes, not in a heartbeat but pretty much with conviction and we both know why.

It is our first time in Zamboanga City or the so-called Asia's Latin City. Weeks prior to this trip while we're both busy training, I managed to hop in on the blogosphere to see what we could possibly do during our free time. There are too many recommendations that I would love to experience first-hand but what got me the most is the pink sand beach of Zamboanga City.

The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

This pink-blush sand beach is called as the Great Sta Cruz Island. It is said to be the twin island of Little Sta Cruz and is governed by Protected Area Management Unit (PAMU) of City Mayor's Office. Normally, you would not see shades of pink in photos but you can observe plenty of crushed red organ-pipe coral mixed on white sand, which makes it look blush or pink-blush.

Sta Cruz Island is just one out of two pink sand beaches known in Mindanao. It is a protected area where people who would go there are regulated and are allowed as early as 7am but should leave there by 2 pm for the tides going back to the berthing place could get rough. Although it does not  have a pure pink sand (like how you imagine it to be), Nat Geo Travel recognized it as one of the best beaches in the world. 

Paseo del Mar, Zamboanga City
Morning view at Paseo del Mar.

How To Get to The Pink Sand Beach - Sta Cruz Island (Booking System)

  • Book at the Registration Counter/Kiosk located at Paseo del Mar or thru the official designated number 0977-708-3194, at least one day prior to your desired date of visit.
  • Booking time is from 7am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday, including holidays except when registry is officially suspended.
  • During booking arrangements, fill up a form with the following information: 
  1. Date of visit (including preferred time of arrival at the registration counter and time of departure from the island.)
  2. Definite number of guests
  3. Preferred cottage (a beach map will be provided)
  4. Contact number
  • You will still fill up a manifest form at the registration site during the actual date of visit, but if in case your group will exceed 50 members, you may request for an advance copy of manifest form which is to be submitted on the day of the visit to avoid registration hassles.
  • Group with less than 10 members may join other group, but the dominant group with an advanced booking shall decide whether they will allow others to join their group as long as the fusion will not require additional transport service.
Note: Guests with reservations are allowed to join groups with advanced booking. Walk-ins will only be allowed to join other walk-ins.
  • Walk-ins or chance passengers will be accommodated on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • For guests with advance booking. On the day of visit, you are required to to notify the assigned receptionist 30 minutes before your preferred time of arrival at the counter. If delay is inevitable, time of departure may be flexed to your advantage, only if there is prior notice.
  • In case you fail to notify the receptionist 30 minutes after your appointed time of arrival to the registration counter and remained non-responsive thereafter, your booking will be rendered void. The same schedule will be made available for walk-ins or chance passengers of the day. 

  • Entrance fee: P20.00 per pax
  • Terminal fee: P5.00 per pax
  • Boat fee: P100.00 per pax (1-10 persons)
  • Cottages: Small, P100.00, 4-6 pax
  • Large, P200.00, 8-12 pax
  • Pavilion, P500.00, 20-40 pax

Vinta, Zamboanga City

The Great and Little Sta Cruz Protected Landscape and Seascape, Zamboanga City
In this Island, we are only allowed to walk on the sand bar and take pictures in less than 15 minutes.

Things To Do at Sta Cruz Island

  1. Shop for souvenirs and authentic pearls. Most of the items are made out of old coins. The local vendors hand crafted most of it and guaranreed that it would not easily fade. Kenn also affirmed the authenticity of the pearls when two stones chalked when rubbed against each other.
  2. Island hopping. Our tour guide took us in a secluded and protected island where we were only allowed to stay for less than 15 minutes to take pictures.  Swimming is also prohibited because opposing currents might cause accident. From the island, we can clearly see the port of Zamboanga on the other side so imagine how deep the water could be.
  3. Watch the locals perform Pangalay Kulintangan. After eating lunch, I was enthralled to see vintas coming in sync with thw instrumental music playing near us. When it got closer, I realized there were performers on board. The entire guests gathered to watch the locals as they perform Pangalay Kulintangan, a traditional fingernail dance of the Tausug people in the Sulu archipelago and Sabah. (Source) Show performance like this is requested at the Department of Tourism during booking arrangements.
  4. Play volleyball. Swim. Snorkel. There's certainly a lot of things to do here to enjoy!

Having a pink-blush sand beach is a good diversion to see something new, something different from the fine white sand beaches that we Filipinos are accustomed to. The great Sta Cruz Island is just one out of two famous pink sand beaches that we have in Mindanao and it is also included in Nat Geo Travel's list of best beaches in the world. Curious? You should go, see it for yourself.


Zamboanga Runners' Club in partnership with Department of Tourism Region IX made our Sta Cruz Island tour possible. All opinions expressed herein are mine and general information is/are linked to direct source.

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