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Magpupungko Rock Pools: Bathtubs Carved by Nature

Siargao Island is a teardrop-shaped island that is situated 800 kilometers away from southeast of Manila. It is a distant piece of land that promises an exhilarating haven on one side and an unperturbed paradise on the other. The experience it offers is comparable to the thrill and the chill of the beaches in Bali, Indonesia. Named among the top surf spots in the world, Siargao continues to gather more attention from the global surfing community. In fact, according to the local tourism of the municipality of Del Carmen, most tourists who patronize the island hail from international borders such as Europe, Japan, and Australia. While it is true that Siargao Island is currently under strict military policies due to the declaration of the martial law in Mindanao region, it is still as charming and laid-back than ever, operating in its usual routine and all.

 

The First Time

July 21, 2017 – I woke up to the sound of raindrops on the roof, my mind swiftly processing the Plan A’s and Plan B’s for today’s itinerary. The weather in Siargao seemed to tell us to slow it down – it has been raining for days now. But the media group was unstoppable, we hopped inside the van and went on with our agenda. Merely forty-five minutes travel time from Bakhaw Bed and Breakfast in Del Carmen to Magpupungko Beach in Pilar, we enjoyed the attraction amidst the downpour of the rain.

 

 

I’ve never come across a natural wonder that reveals itself only at given conditions, until Magpupungko Rock Pools. It was raining lightly when we got to the Magpupungko Beach. At 9 in the morning, the low tide was the perfect time to visit this place. As we carefully walked on mossy limestone rocks, the tidal pools slowly appear on the surface. Whether it’s manmade or carved by Mother Nature, I am left in awe of the magic brought by these pools.

 

 

Magpupungko Beach is widely known for its tidal pools that only come into view at a certain time of the day. It is the rise and fall of the tide that dictates its emergence. During low tide, the beach lay bare a flat rocky path covered in moss. It leads to nature-made bathtubs scattered unevenly in the area. The jagged carvings on the ground create a series of natural saltwater pools deep enough to let tourists cliff jump and/or swim with the small fishes.

 

 

More than the puddles, the tourist spot is also known for the iconic limestone formations. In the Surigaonon dialect, the term “pungko” means to sit or squat. The name Magpupungko Beach was inspired after an odd-shaped boulder that rests on a flat-surfaced stone which can easily be found in the middle part of the rocky stretch. The boulder resembles the shape of a human head facing sideways when viewed from a distance.

 

 

The drizzle developed into a rain and we had to leave. Although I wasn’t able to take a dip in the rock pools, I know I’ll be back soon to experience this wonder!

 

This trip was part of a media familiarization tour sponsored by Municipality of Del Carmen Tourism and Skyjet Airlines. Itinerary and expense are not published.

 

 

The Second Visit

Due to work, I was able to take a visit again to Magpupungko Tidal Pools. Since our trip was no longer a media tour, my friend and I had the liberty to enjoy the activities Magpupungko Tidal Pools have to offer.

October 18, 2017 – From our hotel at Malinao View Beach Resort, we drove the scooter heading to Pilar – about 30 kilometers away – to witness this beauty. Although my friend and I were both aware that it was way too early for the morning drive to the beach, we couldn’t risk the rainy weather at 9 am to stop us from the joyride. At 7 in the morning, we arrived at the premises. There was no one guarding the gate so we parked our scooter and went inside.

 

 

What greeted us with intensity were the high waves crashing against the rocky shore. The long stretch of the coast boasts a white sand that easily deepened in every footstep.

 

 

The wind was blowing hard, its sound whispering through the trees. It kept raining, and the tides kept changing its mind whether it’ll go high or low. While killing time, my friend and I had the opportunity to take photos and appreciate the beach. Even the dogs seemed to have enjoyed our company, lying on sands and carefreely running in circles.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

With the waves still on high, we decided to eat breakfast at one of the eateries by the gates. Our breakfast view led us to watch these men catch fishes using a pointy stick. Upon finishing our meal, I asked one of the fishermen if walking towards the tidal pool is safe even though the waters haven’t fully dropped yet. We went on with our business after we got the go signal from the locals.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

It was different when I first visited the place. This time we were walking on ankle-high water, with a strong current lightly pushing our bodies occasionally.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

Magpupungko Beach (10)

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

The tidal pools are uneven – shallow on some parts and deep on the others.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

Magpupungko Beach (10)

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

After passing by the tidal pools, the Magpupungko Rock came into view.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

Behind it was a long stretch of flat limestones which leads into an unknown path.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

Surprisingly, we were almost head to head with the larger-than-life waves while journeying the flat limestones. It somehow stirred panic within us, but we were encouraged by the locals nearby who told us not to be scared off by the ocean.

 

Magpupungko Beach (10)

 

Just a few more steps and a pristine white sand beach peeked into the scene. It was a private beach for travelers looking for a peaceful hideout.

 

Photo by: Kristine Nobleza

 

 

Although we could have gone ahead with our sojourn, the waves were much persistent even at noontime. We went back to the tidal pools and just enjoyed the dip instead.

 

 

Guide to Magpupungko Rock Pools

    • Wear high-friction sandals. The rocks are mossy and very slippery!
    • Jump from the big rock in one of the tidal pools! It’s not as high as it seems but see for yourself!
    • Visit this place at 10am-12nn when the tides are low. Magpupungko Beach does not allow visitors when it is high tide.
    • There is an entrance fee of ₱50 per person.
    • There are stores nearby the beach. Get some drinks, snacks and even beers.

 

 

Itinerary and Budget

October 18, 2017 6:00 AM ETD from Malinao View Beach Resort to Magpupungko Beach ₱450/scooter (Rental Fee); ₱350/motorcycle (Rental Fee)
6:45 AM ETA Magpupungko Beach / free time ₱20/parking space (parking fee); ₱50/head (entrance fee)
9:00 AM Breakfast ₱40/head (Lucky Me noodles LOL)
9:30 AM Swim
11:30 AM ETA Pacifico Beach
12:05 PM ETD from Pacifico Beach to Tayangban Cave
12:55 PM ETA Tayangban Cave / Start tour ₱70/head (Entrance Fee)
1:50 PM Finish Tour ₱150/tour guide (Guide Fee)
1:45 PM ETD to Malinao View Beach Resort
2:45 PM ETA Malinao View Beach Resort / Rest / Wash Up
4:30 PM ETD Malinao View Beach Resort to Kermit Siargao
4:40 PM ETA Kermit Siargao / Dinner ₱450/head (Average Meal Cost)
TOTAL EXPENSES ₱1,080 / head

 

 

How To Get There

From Manila to Siargao Island

Make sure to catch the fastest flight from Manila directly to Siargao Island via SkyJet Airlines. They offer low-fares for as low as ₱4,000 if you’re patient enough to wait for their promo. The 90-minute flight was smooth and comfy, all because of the spacious legroom and peaceful jet travel.

 

From General Luna to Magpupungko Rock Pools

After passing through the Dapa-General Luna Road, we navigated straight through the Siargao Circumferential Road. We crossed the town of Dapa and Pilar (Sur). Note: Waze was a great help for us although we still asked around to confirm.

 

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