Santa Cruz Island: The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City

Pink Beach of Zamboanga

The Philippines is a country of amazing beaches, its coastline is one of the longest in the world, even longer than that of the United States of America. No wonder we have different kinds and colors of beaches – sugar fine, coarse, pebbly, boulders, white, black, cream, gray, gold, even pink. Wait, did I say Pink? Well… yes, pink! Such as the pink sand beach of Santa Cruz Islands in Zamboanga City.

Santa Cruz Island
The famed pink sand beach of Santa Cruz Grande

Situated in Basilan Strait, just off the coast of the city proper and around four kilometers or merely 20 minutes boat ride from Paseo del Mar, are the twin islands of Sta. Cruz. The smaller one called Little Sta. Cruz is restricted to public because it is being used as a military camp while the bigger island, called Sta. Cruz Grande, is the one we usually see in photos as the famed pink sand beach of Zamboanga. It is just a tiny island inhabited by small community of Badjaos, open to general public but only on arrangement with the City Tourism Office of Zamboanga.

But what makes the beach pink? Well it is because of the crushed red corals known as organ pipe corals (Tubipora musica) that blend well with the sand making it look like color pink specially on broad daylight. If you walk along the beach, there’s a good chance that you’ll see these corals that are washed ashore.

Santa Cruz Island
Why pink? Here’s the culprit!

The waters surrounding the islands are protected area teeming with vivid marine life, an ideal site for scuba diving and snorkeling. The City Tourism Office have dive guides and can also arrange the dive prior to reservation, you may contact Dive Master Raymond of DoT Zamboanga at +63926-3721457. There is no accommodation on the island and camping isn’t allowed.

Santa Cruz Island
Also a nesting ground for sea turtles!

How to Get to Santa Cruz Island

Guests who wish to visit the island can go to City Tourism Office in Zamboanga City’s Paseo del Mar, prior reservation is not required. The boat costs P1,000 round trip, good for 1-10 people, additional P100 per person is charged in excess of 10. Entrance fee of P20 and terminal fee of P5 are also collected for every guest. There are also cottages in the island that can be rented: P100 (small, good for 6 persons), P200 (large, good for 10 persons) and P500 (pavilion, good for 15-30 persons). Expect to have armed police officers to guard and assist you during your trip.

*Originally Published: 01-Feb-2014 | Updates: 02-May-2018; 15-Mar-2020


  1. alona

    hello good day ,ask ko lng po .paano po pg nasa dipolog kna .ano po pumanta jan? pls po reply kau 😊

  2. […] is the unique and lovely Santa Cruz Islands. Just a twenty-minute boatride from the city proper, Santa Cruz boasts of pink sand and pristine, clear waters. When you explore the nearby mangrove area towards […]

  3. Renee

    From Cagayan De Oro City, how much would you estimate the cost of travel to reach Sta. Cruz Island? I’m interested to visit 🙂

    1. If you’re from Cagayan de Oro, then you can easily visit Zamboanga City by bus which cost only around P300 to P350 I think. Once you’re in Zamboanga city, simply visit the Paseo del Mar National park, all tricycle drivers know the place, the costs for the Boat ride to Sta. Cruz Island is only P100 per head on Week ends, or P1,000 per 10 on weekdays if you are less than ten, but can be shared of course. So in total, you can visit Sta. Cruz Island with less than P1,000 pesos if you are already in Mindanao and can easily go to Zamboanga by bus.

  4. Perla

    Phenomenal island, what’s the assurance of being safe for foriegners to visit?

    1. Currently my friend, every boat that will go to Sta. Cruz Island is guarded by 2 Armed PNP (Philippine National Police) Escorts so no body can hijack the boat, and the Island itself is actually protected by the Phil. Navy, by the sea, and a Phil. Marine detachment camp is also built right next to the island, so it’s perfectly safe. But if you think it’s still unsecured, the PNP (Philippine National Police) is always willing to provide any foreign nationals or tourist to visit any places in the Philippines, simply contact the local Government where you’re visiting for that.

  5. Hi. I already booked a flight to Zamboanga this May to visit Sta. Cruz island. I heard it is a hidden paradise. But, is it safe to roam around the island? knowing that Zamboanga has many rebellious people?What do you think? Can i wear swimsuit at the island? Are there many muslims around? I might disrespect their culture. Thanks!

    1. Hannah Faith Guevara

      Hi Mae! I’m from Zamboanga but haven’t been to Sta. Cruz Island. Most of the people I know (including my mom and other relatives) have already gone there. They said it’s safe there since there are securities that go with every group that visit the island. I’m sorry but the rebellious people usually come from rebellious cities. Zamboanga is actually a peaceful city that the rebels want to have. You definitely can wear swimsuit in the island. There are many respectful muslims around and there are more of other religions. There may be beggars around depending on where you’re going. Please just ignore them because some are quite rude if you give them your attention and not give a coin. 🙁 Nonetheless, I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Zamboanga City! You may also try visiting Merloquet Falls and many more. Good day!

      1. omggg. thank you for this

    2. Hannah Faith Guevara

      (beggars in the city proper, not in Sta. Cruz Island)*********

    3. Hello there! Recently, we have two visitors from manila. First timers in the city of Zamboanga. They also went to Sta Cruz Island. From there, you may also visit the lagoon from the inside of Sta Cruz Island. It was described by our visitors as a peaceful quiet place for you to meditate. for more info, please visit our site
      You may also visit the Badjao Cemetery and the Sama-Bangingi Village located in the island. All of that you can visit in the Greater Sta Cruz Island. In terms of security, police and military is always visible to localities to avoid even petty crimes like pick-pocketing and the likes.
      Our visitors said that, their perception about Zamboanga changed when they came here as they roam around all alone by themselves. No relatives to guide them nor friends. But people in the area who would answer their questions in terms of information. Thank you 🙂

      1. Hi Sir Ronald. Thank you for the information.

    4. marissa de los reyes

      hi, yes, you can wear any clothes you want. it is mostly a christian city like the rest of the philippines though there is a large number muslims around, but they are not zamboanguenos, they come from other provincial cities. you won’t be disrespecting their culture at all since their culture plays minor role in the general culture of zamboanga. the culture of zamboanga is influenced by hispanic traditions just like most cities so there’s no problem fitting in. yes, it is safe to roam around the island. so please, enjoy!

    5. John Ramon Quin III

      i think it’s offensive to say that zamboanga city has rebellious people.

    6. Hannah is absolutely right, rebellious people are outside the city proper and not in the city or closer to Zamboanga city. The city is perfectly safe from any rebels not like Maguindanao or Cotabato or other unstable places in Mindanao. The previous attacks that happened few years ago was just a Political Plots funded by some Politicians (they say) to give bad names to the southern parts of the Philippines, and they never succeeded, Zamboanga city remain as peaceful as it was.

  6. […] have probably heard of or visited the Subic Beach of Sorsogon and/or Sta. Cruz Island of Zamboanga City, their common denominator – the rare pink sand beach! Well, if you think those are the only […]

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