Saturday, October 26, 2013

GREAT STA. CRUZ ISLAND @ 2004 (written 2011)

Just wanted to make a trip down memory lane again when I saw these pictures!
This is the Great Sta. Cruz Island circa 2004
I don't think there would be much difference since they have maintained keeping the Sta. Cruz Island free from commercialism.
However, I have heard that there needs to be measures done to restore the beauty of the coral reef under the sea.
This is some trivia about Sta. Cruz Island from Wikipedia.
http://www.zamboanga.com/beaches/Santa_Cruz_Island_Beach.htm
The Great and Little Santa Cruz Islands are, arguably, this city's best beaches, and one of the country's best island beaches destination.  In its ideal natural state, there is no comparison to the uniquely beautiful "pinkish" sand (a coloration effect of pulverized rare red Organ-pipe Coral ( tubipora musica ) from eons of surf erosion mixed in with the white sand) and colorful coral reef just a few feet away from the shore of the Great Santa Cruz Island.  The nearby Little Santa Cruz Island has beautiful white sand instead, and is a military installation (read: Navy resort).  Snorkeling and scuba diving are excellent diversions for the sun worshipers with lots of colorful marine life to experience in excellent water visibility, depending on weather conditions.  In the Great Santa Cruz Island, there are some covered huts around for picnicking (food and water can be brought in), and adequate bathroom facilities.
The Great Santa Cruz Island has a big mangrove laden lagoon with a small Badjao village and their increasingly larger burial ground nearby.  The island interior is lushly covered with island vegetation and grass, with some flowering trees, providing a welcome shade from the near equatorial sunshine.  The Great Santa Cruz Island can be reached with any motorized vinta (outrigger) or boat from downtown in about 15-20 minutes, for about 800 pesos, depending on type of boat.  All trips must be coordinated with the Philippine Tourist Authority located in the Lantaka Hotel front side.  The water current of the adjacent Basilan Straight is strong, and swimmers should proceed with caution - there are no lifeguards on duty.  The Basilan Straight acts as a channel between two vast seas (the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea) and a natural conduit for migrating fishes.  The underwater scenery here can be spectacular.  In the 1970's and early 1980's, Zamboanga and Santa Cruz Island was frequented by German and Italian tourists who called it their hidden paradise in the little Spain of Asia - Zamboanga!
NOTE:  Sadly though, recent activities of illegal coral reef mining has wiped out most of the Great Santa Cruz Island's vast and beautiful coral reef population.  All that's left are the dead skeletons of what once were glorious shells and coral reefs.  The numerous colorful fish and rich marine life is no longer there, but some adventurous fish life still comes to visit along with the well-guarded human visitors.  No matter, the beach and water is still a thing of beauty, and well worth your endeavor.  Thankfully, the thieves of nature cannot cause the same damage to nearby Little Santa Cruz Island because it is a guarded military installation, and the coral reef there is still healthy, and a possible source for restoration of the big island.  Please help us restore the stolen beauty of the once spectacular coral reef of the Great Santa Cruz Island.  Thank you.
I remember the first time I visited Sta.Cruz Island.
It was October 11, 2003, just in time for the Fiesta Pilar.
I was looking forward to this first time in Sta. Cruz!
But the weather was really bad and while passing Upper Calarian, I could already see the huge waves.
My husband asked me if I wanted to push through. 
In my mind, "Yes, I did!"
And we really went ahead to go to Sta. Cruz Island.
That was the most turbulent speed boat ride I ever had, but the soldier steering the speed boat was really good and we just rode the "giant waves"... sort of like surfing!
Everyone had a life vest on and everyone was quiet (and more likely, praying!).
I was really optimistic that nothing bad will happen because it was Her Feastday!
I don't think I will take that risk again!!!
We had a great time in Sta. Cruz Island and had a few more beach outings here in the next few years.
These were taken in one of those enjoyable excursions. (Does anybody still use the term excursion?)
 arriving at Sta. Cruz Island
the place is very clean with pink sand and pristine waters...
We were swimming, snorkelling and some learned how to dive...
it was also a birthday celebration...
Sun is about to set... we will be leaving very soon...
I haven't been back to Sta. Cruz Island for a long time.
Maybe someday soon....

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