Siargao Surprises: Magpupungko Tidal Flats, Pacifico Beach & Taktak Falls

Taktak Falls
Taktak Falls in Santa Monica

While most travelers gravitate to the southeastern coasts of General Luna and Cloud Nine for surfing and island-hopping, northern Siargao’s rough roads lead to surprising finds: uncrowded surf breaks, turquoise tidal pools and lush waterfalls.

Magpupungko Rock

Magpupungko Rock
Chasing the December monsoon, we hired a habal-habal (motorbike) at Dapa town for a day to tour the less-visited attractions on the island. Siargao’s version of the habal-habal is fashioned with a wooden canopy, not only to shield riders from sun and rain, but to conveniently carry surfboards as well. From Dapa, we looped around the entire island, passing all eight municipalities of Siargao. We shuttled past carabaos (water buffalo), small palm huts and rice fields flanked by verdurous hills. There were also mangrove forests and marshlands, where endangered saltwater crocodiles still live, especially in the town of Del Carmen.

Magpupungko Tidal Pool

Low tide reveals a turquoise tidal pool at Magpupungko Tidal Flats in Pilar
Our first stop was Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Lagoon in Pilar. Despite the intermittent rains, this seascape still revealed its unique beauty. The area is characterized by a stretch of rocky beach, with strong currents and whirlpools – so it’s best to be cautious when taking a dip. 

Magpupungko Tidal Pool
Magpupungko Pool

At one end of the beach are tidal flats. At low tide, the receding waters reveal a “lagoon” – actually a tidal pool – guarded by a large boulder teetering off a small cliff, as if defying gravity. This imposing rock formation gave the place its name, rooted in the Visayan, pungko, meaning “to squat”. I suppose the name may very well also refer to waders sitting on the rocky ledges surrounding the crystal pool before taking a swim.

Another hour’s ride northwards on unpaved roads lead to Pacifico Beach in San Isidro. We regretted having not spent more time in this incredible stretch of surfing beach, perhaps the most beautiful on mainland Siargao. 

Because of its long stretch of clean sand, Pacifico can both be enjoyed by surfers and non-surfers alike, compared to the rocky coastline of Cloud Nine and other surfing spots on Siargao. A few resorts offering rental surfing gear and lessons can be found in the area. This is definitely a beach I’ve love to revisit.

Pacifico Beach
Pacifico Beach in San Isidro can be enjoyed by surfers and landlubbers alike
After San Isidro, we looped around Burgos, Siargao’s northern point. From the coastal road, we could see magnificent surf breaking across lonely beaches. Surfers escaping “Crowd Nine” head here to catch secluded waves. 

Eventually, we reached Taktak Falls in Santa Monica, located some 400 meters from the highway. While Taktak make not be as grand as other waterfalls I’ve seen before, it provided a refreshing change of scenery. Fed by the incessant rains, whitewater pummeled down a large concrete pool. Chased down by strong afternoon rains, we made the long haul back down the southern part of the island back to the town of Dapa. The tourist attractions of northern Siargao are few and far between, but what I enjoyed most was drinking in the bucolic countryside scenery aboard a motorbike as it negotiated muddy roads and braved the temperamental local weather.

Siargao Habal-Habal
A canopied habal-habal

HOW TO GET THERE: A day tour to Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Lagoon (entrance fee: PHP 50), Pacifico Beach and Taktak Falls (entrance fee: PHP5) on habal-habal (motorbike) costs PHP 1,000 with 1-3 persons per bike. Jong-Jong Espinosa is a reliable habal-habal driver we hired – +639498951159. 

WHERE TO STAY: Check out my previous Siargao post.

13 Replies to “Siargao Surprises: Magpupungko Tidal Flats, Pacifico Beach & Taktak Falls”

  1. i love the photos bai. Happy New Year. I wanna come here too.

  2. Daghang salamat bai! Siargao is surfing paradise but for non-surfers I’d recommend Bucas Grande Islands =)

  3. ByahengBarok says:

    great photos! sana, makarating din ako dyan 🙂

  4. Thank you! Wait for a seat sale to Siargao, Surigao or Butuan =)

  5. Pam says:

    tried to like show your posts to my bosses..they’ve been here man gud,..there reactions were so #lost.haha and i have heard it’s low tide..:) does it matter? or maybe these photos were just so good to be true? via #wide-angle-cams tsk..

  6. @Pam: Haha yes, the tidal pool at Magpupungko is best enjoyed during low tide when the surrounding rocks create a pool of water… No camera tricks here! These photos have been adjusted but only minimally =)

  7. Pam says:

    i see.. ^‿^ u know old people.. 🙂 plus their cameras also siguro diba? .,at least they have something to compare..Nice man gud pod! Sayang wmi khapit. Didto rami sa the weather was so bad! Good that you’ve blessed!

  8. It rained a lot during our visit, too, especially at Magpupungko. I had to use my waterproof camera. But it was fun riding the habal-habal in the rain. There were only spots of sunshine now and them. Siargao weather is so unpredictable!

  9. Pam says:

    ✓ as i’ve experienced, weather in the entire CARAGA region is really unpredictable unlike in Leyte. This place just need our so gasgas na ‘patience-is-a-virtue’. heheh

  10. i’ve seen a lot of photos of that tidal pool. would love to go there if i have more time to burn

  11. My photos don’t do justice to Magpupungko, because of the rainy weather. It’s my fave spot in Siargao

  12. agent_paupau says:

    woooww!!! been there last weekend. it was awesome! I will start writing about this enchanting place soon! 🙂

  13. Juan Carlos says:

    Jong Jong must be a trail bike rider or dare devil rider since he can balance a 3 person riding his bike in addition with the weight of the canopy he he

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