believe it or not, even most of the Zamboanguenos has not been on the beach island of Sta Cruz. the main reason, the concern for safety and accessibility. the funny thing is it is safe and very accessible. on this trip in Zamboanga, we were hosted by the Soler family who also joined us to the island. like i said, it was also their first time.the smaller Sta Cruz island is occupied and controlled by the military while the larger island or known as the Great Sta Cruz island is open to tourists. even though it looked like a large island, it is entirely flat with a large mangrove area surrounded by a beautiful beach coast.
the pink-like sand beach gives it a unique feature, combining white sand and crashed red corals which is abundant in the Zamboanga peninsula. the public beach area is wide but the length of the beach for swimming is a bit limited because of the sudden-deep beach lines.
but beyond the pinkish sand, one of the most interesting spot in the island is the Badjao cemetery. it is just a short walk away (10mins) from the main beach area on the way to the fishing community. partly hidden on one side of the coast with used cloth hanging from one tree to another.
the tomb stones come in different forms but still like most tombs, the name of the person and the date the person died is engraved. some particular tombs comes with engraved Arabic characters and a more unique feature are its wooden boat-shape outrigger seen within the cemetery, symbolic to the Badjao community.
despite the beach area having shaded cottages and good comfort rooms, still it lack food shops. so tourists needs to bring their own food. on a small corner, souvenirs are sold by locals including miniature vintas, shells and bracelets. please don't buy those made of black corals.
the entire island is surrounded by sand but only a portion, facing Zamboanga City is open for tourists. the pink-like sand is its most interesting feature. though the coast is a sudden deep beach front, the length of the coast is long enough. the entire coast facing the city has very less rocky areas but one needs to check sea conditions as this is an open sea channel.
though majority of the island's population are Badjaos som Christians are already sharing a portion of the small fishing village. you can interact with some of the locals who are selling souvenirs to get to know more about the island.
one of the best thing about the Great Sta Cruz island is its proximity from the city port. though not by any public boats but by official boats accompanied by a security personnel as coordinated with the city tourism office. the entire one way boat trip is just about 20-30minutes.
the entire Great Sta Cruz island is flat and majority of the land area is swampy and filled with mangroves. the island is believed to be surrounded by rich coral reef that includes black and red corals.
from the time you will be picked up by the boat guide at the Zamboanga city you will be accompanied by an armed security personnel. don't be surprised as more military visibility are expected when you reach the island. island is relatively safe. this is to assure safety of tourists from any unwanted incident.
despite the big environmental issue last year, where a large number of black corals were confiscated in Cebu, some locals wer still seen selling bracelets made out of black corals. one local still handed this piece to show what the bracelets were made of.
please don't buy items made of corals and other restricted resources.
Black Coral Vendor Charged
Huge Stash of Corals, Shells, found in Zamboanga warehouses
check out Chyng's post on Sta Cruz island "Sound and Secured Zamboanga Trip".
special thanks to Marx Velasco of Marxtermind for helping us coordinate with Zamboanga tourism office for our trip slot reservation.
Island: Sta Cruz Island/The Great Sta Cruz island
Province: Zamboanga Peninsula
Region: Western Mindanao
6' 51'' 57 N
122' 3" 44 E
how to get there:
from Zamboanga City:
coordinate with Zamboanga City Department of Tourism office located in Lantaka Hotel. book in advance for a boat ride to sta Cruz island.
do the reservation at least a day before your planned trip to the island.