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Santa Cruz Island | Zamboanga Pink Beach

Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City is famed for its pink sand beach. But it only allows 400 visitors per day to keep its environment healthy. What if you don’t make the cut?

zamboanga vinta

Many of us are used to visiting holiday islands anytime we want. We always think that if we can afford the trip & the weather permits, there is no reason to stop us from going. Most of our islands are managed this way anyway, without capacity handling in mind.

More tourists, more money is not how things are done at Santa Cruz Island. Because it is a protected landscape & seascape, the number of holidaymakers is strictly regulated. To add, tourists can only stay between 7AM to 2PM. And absolutely no overnight stays or bonfires permitted.

Santa Cruz Island: The getaway for the lucky few

santa cruz island

To avoid wallowing in despair, book your trip ahead of time. Or have it arranged through iTravel Tourist Lane like what we did.

Sure, it will cost a little more than DIY, but getting your peace of mind is priceless. Save yourself from the hassles of securing in advance the required permits, coordinating boat trips & preparing the food.

With a tour operator working behind the scene, all you need to do is to relax & enjoy your vacation.

What’s so special about Santa Cruz Island?

santa cruz island

Tourists are drawn here for its swath of pink coralline sand. Its lovely hues are from powdered red organ pipe coral mixed with white sand. Joining few pink sand beaches in the planet, National Geographic lists it as one of the best beaches in the world.

Apart from its velvety beachline, its turquoise water is winsome too! The water is so clean that you can clearly see the seabed.

sama bangingi tribe

Another attraction here is the rare chance of seeing the Sama-Bangingi community perform the “pangalay”. It is a traditional dance imitating the movements of nature.

There are actually 2 islands here: the great & the little Santa Cruz. The front beach is the Great Santa Cruz Island. It is where the facilities are like cottages, showers & grilling stations. Small shops also sell pearls, fresh crabs, curacha & uko-uko or sea urchin stuffed with rice.


Little Santa Cruz Island is behind the big one but it takes a boat ride to get there. It is a small community inhabited by the Sama-Bangingi people who also act as local stewards.

The best part of this side is the eco-tour around the maze of lush mangrove forest. Tourists are taken on a slow paddle ride on board the Yellow Boat. Nothing politically associated; the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is a community livelihood cooperation for seafaring Samas.

santa cruz island

This guided tour allows tourists to get first-hand experience of handling rare stingless jellyfish, harvesting seaweeds like lato & agar-agar. This healthy forest is also home to some endemic bird species.

santa cruz island

There is also a tiny sandbar here where tourists get the chance to paddle a vinta on its shallow waters. Vintas are the iconic sailboats of Muslim islanders like the Tausug, Sama & Badjao.

Caring for Nature


Basilan Strait, where Santa Cruz Island is, was once abundant with coral reef. Because of illegal reef mining & dynamite fishing in the past, it lost many of its luminescent underworld wonders.

Zamboanga City is doing immense effort in rehabilitating its ecosystem by enforcing strict regulations that promote ecological preservation & conservation.

santa cruz island

By limiting visitor capacity to 400 tourists each day, they are able to saddle the impact that tourism brings to the island. This includes waste disposal, water use & disruption of its ecological features.

Infrastructures & activities on the island are also limited to low-impact effects.


So don’t be left heartbroken like many other tourists wanting to visit Santa Cruz Island. Plan your trip well because it surely is a rewarding experience to be here.


Inquire or book your trip with iTravel Tourist Lane
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