Sta. Cruz Island Travel Guide (Itinerary & Expenses)

by Rizanoia

Is it safe to travel to Zamboanga City? Ask me and those who explored Zamboanga and we will answer “YES”. All you have to do is to respect their culture and you will feel very welcome as they see you. In this travel guide, you will know how to get to Sta. Cruz Island Zamboanga from Manila, sample itinerary, a breakdown of expenses, as well as my recommended hotels.

ABOUT STA. CRUZ ISLAND

Zamboanga City’s popular tourist destination is Sta. Cruz Island. The area that surrounds both islands is considered protected, so everyone needs to follow the rules to ensure that they do not ruin any part to preserve its beauty.  The Great Sta. Cruz Island is mostly where tourists stay long, because Little Sta. Cruz Island is a research area along with a military installation.

GREAT STA. CRUZ ISLAND

The Great Sta. Cruz Island is well-known for the pink sand that lines the beach that’s why it is called “Pink beach”.  The unique color of the sand is created from the bright red coral when it is dissolved by the waves.  The little red particles of the coral end up getting mixed into the sparkling white sand and it turns it into a shimmering pink that continues for what seems like forever on the shoreline.

ALSO READ: 10 Beautiful Pink Sand Beaches in the World

The only way that people can visit this island is by boat and the number of people allowed on the island each day is limited.  Everyone needs to schedule their trip through the tourism office and each passenger on the boat needs to go through a short orientation on how to protect the natural beauty of the island, as well as the beach before they can ride over.

Visitors are not allowed to spend the night on the island, which ensures that there is no trash left behind or damage done by those who get carried away when partying.  Those who go to the island can simply lay on the beach and go swimming, or they can participate in any of the activities that the local community provides.

Also, you may bring your own food and drinks or buy seafood such as squid to a local vendor within the island and they can also cook it for you at a minimal cost. In the event that you are traveling solo have an advanced reservation on weekends for a greater chance to join a large group so the expenses for boat fee will not be that expensive.

A few options that visitors included are taking a mangrove or lagoon boat tour, going diving or snorkeling, sailing in one of the small vintas, and visiting the Badjao Cemetery.

LITTLE STA. CRUZ ISLAND

Very few people get to see the extraordinary beauty of Little Sta. Cruz Island, but a few lucky people may receive permission to go there.  The long winding sandbar that connects the islands is only accessible during low tide, and it is amazing to watch as the waves crash over it from both sides, before covering it completely once again.

Those who do manage to receive permission to visit this smaller island needs to understand that they cannot do much other than walk around when they are there.  No one is allowed to swim at any time, as they are trying to preserve the area and rehabilitate the coral reefs that have been damaged in the past.

HOW TO GET TO STA. CRUZ ISLAND?

Please keep in mind that walk-ins are not advisable. The City Tourism Office must be advised in advance so they could arrange the boat transfers. So please contact them first to reserve.

Email: [email protected]
Call: (6362) 992-3007

FROM MANILA, ride a plane going to Zamboanga City.

FROM ZAMBOANGA CITY AIRPORT

  1. Ride a tricycle going to Paseo del Mar. Fare – P100
  2. Take a boat going to Sta. Cruz Island. Fare – P1000 good for 10 pax, roundtrip

WHERE TO STAY?

There are several accommodations around Zamboanga City. In fact, everywhere you look there will be a pension house or hotel available it’s just a matter of preference and budget where you want to stay. But don’t forget to consider the date of your stay because almost all of the accommodations are expected to be fully booked if there are special events.

AFFORDABLE HOTELS IN ZAMBOANGA CITY

CASA CANELAR PENSION (where we stayed)
Check Here for Rates and Availability

CITYINN HOTEL
Check Here for Rates and Availability

ZAMBOANGA TOWN HOME BED AND BREAKFAST
Check Here for Rates and Availability

GARDEN ORCHID HOTEL
Check Here for Rates and Availability

EVER O BUSINESS HOTEL
Check Here for Rates and Availability

WINZELLE SUITES
Check Here for Rates and Availability

GRAND ASTORIA HOTEL
Check Here for Rates and Availability

CHECK THIS FOR MORE BUDGET FRIENDLY HOTELS

WHERE TO EAT?

Alavar Seafood Restaurant

Serves a variety of different kinds of seafood, but they are best known for Curacha.

Bay Tal Mal Restaurant

Features a full range of Moro Cuisine. We ordered Latal, which is a platter made up of several different Tausug dishes.

Local Carenderias

If you’re in a tight budget, there are nearby carenderias around Casa Canelar that offers rice meal from 40 to 60 pesos.

KCC Mall

Just a few minutes tricycle you can reach this mall and eat on food court, fast food or other restaurant.

SAMPLE ITINERARY WITH BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Before we proceed on itinerary and budget breakdown, please take note that the same rate for boat fee applies if less than 10 passengers. Please see other rates below.

RATES

  • Boat – Php 1000 good for 10 pax RT + Php 200 if with Sandbar (Little Sta. Cruz)
  • Entrance Fee – Php 20
  • Terminal Fee – Php 5
  • Cottages
  • Small – Php 100 (4-6 pax)
  • Large – Php 200 (8-12 pax)
  • Pavilion – Php 500 (20-40 pax)

Here’s a sample overnight itinerary with breakdown of expenses. This itinerary assumes the following:

  • You’re joining a boat transfer with complete number of passengers.
  • You’re a party of 2, splitting some expenses.
  • Your hotel budget is P1250 per night that will be divided by 2 pax so prepare to shell out P625 per night.
  • You’re coming from Zamboanga City Airport and traveling by tricycle to Paseo del Mar on your first day.

STA. CRUZ ITINERARY WITH BUDGET BREAKDOWN

07:20 am – Arrival at Zamboanga City Airport
07:30 am – Ride tricycle to Paseo del Mar, P100/2 pax = P50
08:00 am – Attend quick orientation and ride the boat, P100
08:30 am – Arrival in Sta. Cruz Island
Entrance Fee – P20
Terminal Fee – P5
Small Cottage – P100/2 = P50
10:45 am – Arrival in Little Sta. Cruz (Sandbar), P20
11:30 am – Back in Paseo del Mar and Lunch, P100
01:30 pm – Ride tricycle to Casa Canelar
02:00 pm – Check in Casa Canelar, P625
07:00 pm – Dinner, P100

What to do the next is up to you. You may visit Once Islas on Day 2 and then city tour on Day 3.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Like what I saw by my own naked eye, I am sure you will be also amazed when you arrive at Great and Little Sta. Cruz Island, as it will give you a unique way to experience Zamboanga City while enjoying the spectacular water and learning about the cultures of the locals.

CONTACT INFO

Zamboanga City Tourism Office
Tel No.: (6362) 992-3007
Email: [email protected]
FB Page: facebook.com/TurismoLocaldeZamboanga

Buenas Travel and Tours Phils
Guiwan, MCLL Highway
Zamboanga City, Philippines
CP No.: 09062087106
Email: [email protected]

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