Pink Sand Beach, Great Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City © Jojie Alcantara
The beautiful but endangered Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica) on the Great Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga is bright red in color and naturally pulverized among its fine powdered white sands, turning its sandy shore to a magical tinge of pink at daytime, hence the name Pink Sand Beach.
It is wise not to bring home any of these bright red specimen as buying, using, gathering, possessing and/or transporting of these species are prohibited under Philippine laws (Republic Act No. 8550, Sec. 91, 92 and 97; Fisheries Administrative Order 202 and 208) and international treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES).
Ironically though, local vendors in the island will still sell you native accessories made from pearls, wood, and the endangered pink and black corals.
The Great Sta. Cruz Island and nearby Little Sta. Cruz Island are jointly declared in 2000 as a Protected Landscape and Seascape per Proclamation 271. The government is now planning developments and rehabilitation for the island to become an ecotourism destination since illegal coral reef mining has left most of its underwater reef ecosystem damaged. Last year’s unstable peace and order situation in the city and neighboring islands has left the gorgeous coastline empty for now and devoid of a tourist crowd since its heyday in the 70s.
However, renewed interest has been stirred since quite a number of eager, brave souls (travel writers, bloggers and social network enthusiasts) continue to rave about its uniqueness and assurance of safety. For a photojournalist like me, it was worth the bucket list.
Only 20 minutes by boat from the mainland, tour arrangements can be made through the Department of Tourism Office 9, or go directly at the jetty of Paseo del Mar where a staff of the City Tourism Office will facilitate your trip.
(Special thanks to DOT 9 Regional Director Mary June Bugante and staff who made my trip possible in between breaks during my university workshops for Canon Phils. Mindanao).