Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Nestled in Serenity

Stacy Danika S. Alcantara - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - To say that nothing is impossible is utterly wrong, utterly unrealistic.  The moment one sets foot in the rustic town of El Nido, hidden amidst a barricade of jagged limestone cliffs, it is impossible not to be smitten by its gentle, rural charm.

El Nido is nestled at the northern part of Palawan and although much has been written about it, it seems as if not many have truly enjoyed this manifestation of serenity.  El Nido’s name speaks much about what it is known for, apart from its languid beaches and pristine shores.  Taken from the Spanish word which means “nest”, El Nido’s limestone cliffs are a colony for an entire civilization of Balinsasayao birds whose nests are prized ingredients for everyone’s all-time favorite Chinese soup better known as Nido soup.

Expect no parties in this side of the world as El Nido is a nest, a haven for those who seek respite from the city’s blaring noise and blinding lights.  Don’t expect to find your favorite fast food chains dotting the corners of El Nido’s narrow streets, either, as homey bare-foot bars and restaurants which serve either seafood or dishes whipped up from recipes of generations past will most likely consist the venues for your daily fare.

Linger by El Nido’s beachfront sans any footwear and sink you feet into its powdery sand while you take in the vast blueness of its waters.  Explore the many shards of land scattered from the mainland and be brought back to shore with a spirit soaked in awe at El Nido’s beauty.

Secret Beach is one island that should never be missed although you must not expect to return to your boat unscathed.  The way to Secret Beach poses a bit of a challenge as you need to battle it out against strong waves and powerful currents before finally squeezing into a crevice punctured from a limestone wall.  Here you’ll be left weak-kneed either from the waves or from an entirely different world hidden behind the rocks—a small patch of still water and white sand hidden from the tumultuous sea outside.

Hidden Beach is another piece of paradise that is anything but easy to reach considering that the waves here are a bit stronger compared to the tides you will encounter in Secret Beach.  Retreat to Hidden Beach by mid-afternoon to witness the sun shift across the limestone enclaves forming Hidden Beach’s bay.  With the sea roughly chest-deep a few meters from the shore, you’ll already find yourself amidst pockets of sea anemone and its resident clownfish, without having to venture deep into the sea.

Matinloc Shrine, an abandoned shrine is another island with the most sweeping and arresting view of the entire island system in El Nido.  Take courage and make your way atop its precipitous cliffs and feel as if you are nowhere else but on top of the world.

El Nido’s natural charm is nothing short of captivating, its ascetic island lifestyle nothing short of endearing.  Claim a calm respite for yourself where there are hardly any people,  hardly any parties, hardly any noise.  After all, a vacation is supposed to be a retreat to be nestled in the company of oneself. (FREEMAN)

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