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Monday, March 24, 2014

Zamboanga City :: Day 2 - Great Santa Cruz Island & Pasonanca Park

On our second day, we all woke up at 4am after sleeping so early the previous day. Imagine, we were all in zzzzzzzz at 6pm! We were supposed to wake up at 9pm to party at downtown but I guess our restlessness took over.

We ate Tapsilog at a nearby eatery just along Canelar Street, around 250 meters from our pension. It is open 24/7. Streetlights illuminated the road and we're down walking silently and peacefully at 4:30 AM.


As advised by the DOT, we went to Paseo Del Mar and looked for their Tourism Center, where the only boats are waiting plying for Great Santa Cruz Island. From Canelar Pension, we rode a tricycle going to Paseo Del Mar.

Tourism Center. A receiving desk awaits guests.
Registration Counter. We were greeted by the friendly staff.

A boat needs to fill 10 passengers and fare costs P100/person/2 way. There are two options, (1) wait for the other passengers or (2) rent the entire boat for P1000. I don't know how often guests arrive in this area, but during our visit, we felt like we were the only guests. There are terminal fee (P5) and environmental fee (P20) per person to be paid at the Tourism Center before the tour. As for the boat fee, it can be paid after the tour.

The people in the tourism center were all nice and accommodating. This guy willingly took our photos before we get on the boat and on the the boat. We were given life vests and were escorted by one of the Tourism Officer. 

Travel time: 20 min.

There are few things to keep in mind:
1. Don't bring sand
2. Don't loiter
3. Bring water and food. There aren't any store in the island
4. and other important personal things like sunblock, sunglasses, money, etc..

the view of the port

The Santa Cruz Islands are composed of the Great and Little Santa Cruz, both proclaimed as protected areas. While Great Santa Cruz Island is famous for its pink sand beach, Little Santa Cruz Island is famous for its white sand beach, although the latter is not open to public. Both islands have military installations. 

When we reached the island, my initial thought was "okay, where is the pink sand?". The sand is not pink pink as I imagined. There are red grains mixed in white sand.

Wikipedia: The color of the sand comes from the pulverized red organ pipe coral from eons of surf erosion mixed with the white sand.

When the water touches the shore, the sand reflects a pinkish colour, making it called a pink sand beach.

I wish we could stay overnight and camp but overnight stay is strictly prohibited. We rented a cottage worth P100 and visited a cemetery.

guests can only roam around the strip of the beach. anyone who wants to go beyond that needs a guide.

You'd notice a difference from a Badjao's grave. Normally, a grave has a tombstone, while a Badjao's have a vinta/boat miniature on the top of the grave.

badjao's grave
muslim's grave
We also noticed bottled waters on the grave, different from the candles and flowers we are accustomed to bring. It is believed the soul gets thirsty from travelling back to its grave, therefore a water is needed.

Their tourism was deeply strained by the siege caused by MNLF last August 2013. From an average of 30 occupied cottages on a weekend, it went down to 1 or 0. The vendors who are the permanent inhabitants and who can only sell souvenirs in the island are deeply affected. Because aside from fishing, they also depend on tourists buying their items. I suggest to purchase souvenirs here as they are cheaper compared to those sold in the city.

We were also told turtles used to visit the island to hatch eggs but because of the bombings, these animals were disturbed and are no longer visible. As for the military installation, yes they are there to protect the area from "unwanted" visitors.

A fresh catch. Sold for P150.

I'd love to stay longer, be idle for hours and let the soft wind brush my face, putting me to sleep like a gentle lullaby. Just. Like. That....

Reality strikes back. It's almost noon and we need to leave the island. We still have other places to go and we want to visit as many sites we could. We informed the boatman we're leaving and sent us back to the same port we have left earlier.


That afternoon, we visited Pasonanca Park. Outside the Canelar, we asked people how to get to Pasonanca Park. We were told what jeepney to ride on and told the driver to drop us off at the Boy Scout Camp. Travel time is around 20 minutes.

We checked out the Boy Scout Camp and what interests me the most are the camping tents. I wonder if boy/girl scouts really camp there.

beside the park is the Tree House. I checked it out and surprisingly, there is a bed in that house. Kinda eerie.

from the tree house, we walked upwards where the pools are.
right. but this is not strictly enforced.
Spring water! The water flows from this pool down to the second pool below.
second pool.

Hubby took a swim and he said the water is cold. Well not that cold compared to Sto. Nino Cold Spring in Camiguin where the water is freezingly cold.

That night, we went back to Paseo Del Mar and witnessed their dancing fountain.

Then ate at Tony's Resto Bar. This place was jam packed. The Seafood Group Platter we ordered was pricey. What we enjoyed the most is their acoustic live band. One of the things that I didn't like is this restaurant doesn't have their own restroom. I don't know about the other restaurants. And because we were drinking San Mig that night, it took me 5 trips to the toilet and paid P5 each time.

Paseo Del Mar is a place to dine, drink and have fun. Other restaurants have live bands. In the morning, most of the restaurants are closed. Soldiers are present in every corner, obviously, due to their previous situation. Usually, I'd be frightened to see a sight of a soldier, but in this case, I kinda got used to them.

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