Siargao Island is home to some seriously fancy hotels and resorts with their own beautiful swimming pools. However, nice these may be, there is no chance that they come close to being as good as the natural swimming holes at Magpupungko Rock Pools.
This natural phenomenon has created a handful of natural rock pools that appear every day at low tide. There are lots of different pools dotted along the coastline in this area, so even though it is a popular tourist attraction you won’t be packed into one small pool.
The crystal clear blue water here is amazing and looked even better from above when we chucked the drone up to grab some aerial shots. When the tide is out, the sun warms the pools up really quickly, making them ideal for lazing in for a couple of hours. Grab some friends, jump on a scooter and make your way up to the ultimate Siargao rock pools.
How to Get to Magpupungko Siargao Island
The easiest way to get to Magpupungko Rock Pools is to rent a scooter and drive up there yourself. Scooter rentals should cost around 350 PHP ($6.70 USD) per day. If you rent a scooter for a few days you can get long term rates which are slightly cheaper.
The roads in Siargao were some of the best roads we have driven on anywhere in Asia. They are wide roads, with no pot holes and there is minimal traffic. It is one of the easiest places to ride a scooter in the Philippines.
The route to Magpupungko is well marked and easy to find. Take the main road leaving General Luna. After 15 minutes, take a right turn and continue on this road for another 30 minutes until you see the turn off for the rock pools on your right hand side.
Driving around Siargao Island is amazing. We have been to our fair share of tropical islands, but none of them are quite as beautiful as Siargao. Most of the island remains relatively untouched and driving along palm tree lined roads through the tropical countryside is exhilarating. We wanted to stop every few minutes to take photographs of EVERYTHING.
On your way to the pools you will pass Tayangban Cave Pools which is worth stopping at. You can climb, swim and walk your way through the caves and there is also a chance to do some cliff jumping. It’s worth visiting on the way to the rock pools or on the way home.
The location of the rock pools is shown below on the map. The drive from General Luna to Magpupungko tidal pools should take just under an hour.
There is also the option to organise private transport to the rock pools through your accommodation or local tour operators. This will be more expensive than renting a scooter, but is great if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself.
Island Tour to Magpupungko and Sugba Lagoon
Although we decided to drive ourselves here on a scooter there is a cool tour you can take that provides all the transportation from General Luna. This tour also takes you to Sugba Lagoon, which is an epic spot and one that should definitely be on your Siargao itinerary.
Check rates and availability for Magpupungko and Sugba Lagoon tour.
Entrance Fee to the Rock Pools
The entrance fee is just 50 PHP ($0.95 USD) per person to enter Magpupungko Beach and Rock Pools. This has got to be one of the best value activities you can do on Siargao Island. Somewhere this good should cost more than $1.
There is a 5 PHP government fee per scooter that you must pay when you first turn off the main road towards Magpupungko and there is also a 20 PHP fee for parking your scooter at the entrance. Total cost is 75PHP ($1.45 USD).
Best Time to Visit Magpupungko Pool
To be able to experience the rock pools you need to visit at low tide. When the tide is high the pools are covered by the ocean and there isn’t really much to see. As the tide goes out it leaves the rock pools on the shelf of reef exposed. Check out the local tide times and help plan your trip.
It is also worth noting that this spot can become very popular with locals on the weekends and holidays. If you are wanting to get to the rock pools at a quiet time, aim to go during the week and find a low tide earlier in the morning before the crowds arrive.
Magpupungko Rock Pools
The first thing you see as you pass through the entrance is the beautiful Magpupungko Beach. We reckon it’s one of the best beaches on Siargao (but more on that later). If you look to the left as you walk towards the water you will see the tidal pools.
When we visited we didn’t go right on low tide so we had to clamber across some rocks and wade through some knee deep water to reach the rock pools. Some of the rocks are fairly sharp so it is a good idea to wear aqua shoes or trainers.
There are a few different rock pools to choose from. The largest one is the most popular as there is loads of space to swim around and there are several rocks that you can cliff jump off into the deep blue water. The water is several metres deep, making it safe to jump and backflip into from the top of the rocks.
Scaling the rocks and launching yourself into the tide pools is great but climbing up them isn’t much fun if you don’t have shoes on. The rocks are jagged and uncomfortable to climb up in bare feet so wear some aqua shoes or trainers.
After cliff jumping we recommend heading to the next pool over and hanging out in the sun for a while. It is a bit shallower than the main pool and is perfect for lazing about in. It is also next to the crazy balancing rock that looks like it is defying the laws of gravity. The pool next to the balancing rock tends to be much quieter and we even managed to have it to ourselves at the end of our time here.
While the main beach at Magpupungko is awesome, there is also a little known secret beach here. If you continue walking past the balancing rock and along the reef for a few minutes there is a small beach that nobody ever goes to. It is a bit of a walk to get there from the entrance but the walk is worth it to have such a beautiful stretch of sand to yourself. Just don’t get caught here once high tide hits as it could make for a difficult journey back.
The rock pools are certainly the main attraction here, but it is worth spending some time on the main beach. It really is one of the best beaches on Siargao! It is quite a large beach so even when it is busy, it is easy to spread out and doesn’t feel that crowded.
At the left hand side of the beach there are some palm trees where we set up for a couple of hours. It’s always nice to get out of the sun for a bit and relax in the shade, plus we were right next to all the food vendors.
There are a few different food options at Magpupungko Beach, Siargao as there is a couple of burger stands and a restaurant that serves a wide variety of local food. Dishes cost around 150 PHP ($2.88 USD) and although it wasn’t the best food we have ever had, it filled the void.
Even though the best time to enjoy the rock pools is at low tide, you can easily spend the whole day here. Once the tide came in and covered the pools we headed to the beach, soaked up some sun and filled our bellies with some local food.
Best Time to Visit Siargao
The dry season on Siargao Island runs from March until October. This is generally the peak tourist season as the weather is at its best. As it is a tropical island, you can still expect there to be rain showers and tropical thunderstorms from time to time. We experienced one huge storm during our stay here in May but otherwise the weather was great.
If you are coming to Siargao to surf, then the best time to visit is between August and November. There is much more swell hitting the island and there tends to be consistent waves at all the different surf spots. The main break at Cloud 9 seems to be a wave magnet and there are waves almost every day. However, it is a hectic wave and is for advanced surfers only.
Where to Stay in Siargao
There are a few cool areas to stay around Siargao Island, but 99% of tourists stay in General Luna and the Cloud 9 area on the Southeast Coast. It is home to some incredible hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping and nightlife. Staying in Siargao on a budget can be tricky and cheap accommodation will often be back to basics. Expect fans instead of air conditioning, poor wifi and cold showers. That being said, since the first time we went to Siargao three years ago, accommodation has improved greatly, with the quality increasing as more places and competition arise.
General Luna has loads of great restaurants where you can find local and western food as well as a couple of small supermarkets. This area is also home to some amazing shops, with surf gear, clothing, jewellery and much more available.
If you are looking to get off the beaten path, then Pacifico in the Northeast is an up and coming surf area worth checking out. But if you are only visiting for a short holiday, we would still recommend staying in General Luna to make the most of your time here.
The most popular places to stay in Siargao tend to get sold out months in advance. If you know when you will be traveling here, then we recommend you get in and book somewhere early.
Below are our recommendations for places to stay in the General Luna and Cloud 9 area.
Budget: Hiraya Surf Hostel – This place bucks the trend of cheap accommodation in the Cloud 9 area and is just a 2-minute walk from the Cloud 9 surf spots. It’s super cheap, has air conditioned dorm rooms and even has its own swimming pool. The hostel offers a relaxed and social atmosphere allowing you to meet other like minded travellers. If you are looking for a cheap bed in Siargao, this is easily the best option.
Mid-range: Lampara Siargao Boutique Hostel – Located right on the beach, Lampara offers some of the coolest accommodation on the island. Stay in one of the well decorated dorm rooms or have a unique experience and go glamping in one of their many luxury tents. As it is a hostel there is also an opportunity to enjoy a more sociable atmosphere but without sacrificing style and luxury. Lampara is rated as one of the best places to stay on Siargao and it’s easy to see why.
Luxury: Kalinaw Resort – If you are coming to Siargao and looking for a luxury escape Kalinaw has it all. There is a private beach, an infinity pool over-looking the ocean and some of the villas even have a private swimming pool. Add in the fact it is just a few minutes walk from Cloud 9 and has an incredible restaurant on site, and you have the perfect place to stay in Siargao.
*We couldn’t in good faith recommend the next resort as our luxury option on Siargao as it is obscenely expensive and we could never afford to stay there. That being said, we just had to mention it as it is so insane!
Super Luxury: Nay Palad Hideaway – If money is no option, then this is the ULTIMATE place to stay. The resort is actually ridiculously beautiful and it has shot to fame on Instagram. Enjoy the private beach and free massage service when you stay here. When we win the lottery we will be back to Siargao to stay here for a couple of nights.
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Magpupungko Rock Pools was one of the places we had read about and seen pictures of before we arrived in Siargao. We were really excited to visit and had high expectations for it. Thankfully it lived up to it’s billing and we absolutely loved these awesome natural swimming pools. It was so cool to arrive and chill out in the pools and then watch them disappear from the beach as the tide came back in.
Visiting these tide pools is one of the must do activities when travelling to Siargao. It was one of the highlights of our 3 week stay here and we would undeniably recommend it.
Have you been to Siargao? What was your favourite spot?
Planning a trip around the Philippines? Check out our South Cebu itinerary to discover why it should be a must-visit destination for your Philippines trip.
*Please note, prices are a reflection of our experiences while traveling the Philippines in May 2019 and are subject to change. Prices quoted in PHP were the exact prices we paid and USD conversions are listed for your convenience.