‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’
is the Filipino moto for travelling their breath-taking islands and what an amazing find the tidal pools of Magpupunko are for adventurous families and kids!
Siargao’s famous spots
Siargao has three ultra-famous spots. Right!? I’m pretty sure that most people will have seen them on either Instagram or Facebook.
Those three are: Sugba Lagoon, Cloud 9 boardwalk and Magpupunko rock pools and even if you want to avoid mass tourism and hoards of people, Magpupunko is still a brilliant place to visit and there’s always space to find a quiet corner of paradise there.
What are Magpupunko rock pools?
The rock pools here are tidal. Low tide reveals a series of idyllic natural pools teeming with marine life.
The clear and quite warmed waters of the pool are deep enough to allow swimming, snorkelling, diving through caves and rock jumping.
On the edge of one of the pools balances a large rock, squatting on another rock. ‘Pungko’ in Visayan means to squat and this is where the name Magpupungko comes from.
DIY how to get there
Arriving there alone is relatively easy. It’s about 45 minutes north of General Luna – which is where most tourists and travellers seem to gravitate – and you only need to navigate two different roads to get there.
Google maps works really well on Siargao and if you download offline maps, you’ll never get lost. The pools are also signposted and there’s a large car park before you enter too.
The entrance fee for the rock pools is 50php per person. BY paying the lady in the booth, this allows you access to the rock pools and also Magapupungko Beach which is long and sandy.
The parking was 20php per hour when we visited in 2017 but allow for inflation and change etc.
Best time to visit
The rock pools are only exposed at low tide so the timing of your visit is imperative. Once they’re submerged at high tide, the current becomes incredibly strong and there are frequent reports of people being dragged across the rocks by the powerful waves.
The pools are perfectly safe for kids and adults at low tide but you must really be mindful that the tide times change daily.
You can check here to see the daily tides for Pilar, the local area.
The rock is not immediately visible but if you swim or walk along the reef to the left you will find the iconic balancing rock formation, which sits on the edge of the tide pools.
Our kids weren’t particularly interested in the rocks per se but they did enjoy clambering on them and jumping off. If you want to rock climb and jump, you’ll definitely need a pair of rubber soled beach shoes or something similar. The rocks are incredibly spikey!!
Looking for fishies
The natural swimming pools are so full of fish, it’s almost untrue. The enchanted underworld here is perfect for kids as once they’re in the pools, there’s no tide or current to drag them and the fish cannot escape. Now I’m not suggesting that you try and catch or touch them but it does mean they have to remain in the same areas and they’re easier to view.
You can view many species from starfish to lizards and tropical fish. We even saw an eel.
Along the beach front are a number of restaurants and places you can eat. 450php is usually enough to feed 3-4 people however the food is mostly seafood and rice.
Vegan food is plentiful in General Luna but it is much harder to find around the rest of the island.
We didn’t find any changing rooms however I didn’t ask. The air temperature was always warm enough to dry us quickly and we had our clothes in a dry bag on the side.
There is no where to keep valuables – it being a beach and all – but we safely kept our dry bag stashed in the rocks close by. It isn’t recommended to keep anything of great value.
Is it child friendly?
Our children were 7, 9 and 14 when we visited and they had a great time. They are all very confident swimmers and rock jumpers and really enjoyed our time here.
Even if your child/ren cannot swim, there’s an opportunity here to learn. Whilst we visited, there was a woman wearing a life jacket learning to swim.
The rocks can get busy however we noticed that there were more locals than tourists when we visited. For us, low tide was about 2pm and we were able to arrive at about 1pm and stay until it started getting dusky.
The rock area is a bit slippy due to the thin layer of seaweed that grows over it, so I do really recommend a pair of beach shoes with grip.
- Research tide times and avoid high tide.
- Don’t forget cash to pay the car park and entrance fees.
- Be sure to wear some reef shoes or slippers to protect your feet.
- You’ll definitely want to take snorkel gear as there’s so much to see.
- Dry bag
- No sun cream or reef friendly
Download our family guide to Siargao
If you’re considering heading to The Philippines, download our free ultimate family guide to Siargao for all our top tips on how to have the best holiday!