LIFE has a lot of stress, but who says you will allow stress to get the best of you? Relax, stay cool, and have fun!

One way to relax is to go to the beach! And I do just that—occasionally. I have been in many beaches across the country and for me, El Nido is arguably the best beach in the Philippines.

I have visited El Nido twice. The first trip was planned months before—my friends and I spent about a week there. My second trip—which was recently—was unplanned. I was requested to facilitate a stress debriefing/psycho-social processing in another town in Palawan and had the chance to spend a day in El Nido.

El Nido is about 238 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. It offers many activities like island-hopping, kayaking, scuba diving and of course, swimming.

There are more than 50 beaches to frolic around with, and also amazing lagoons and caves that lead to secret beaches. The limestone cliffs are naturally carved out of extensive and thick layers of coralline deposits formed 250 million years ago.

El Nido is relatively a small town where every local seem to know one another. There are many immigrants in town. Some are foreigners who married a Filipino/Filipina and built a restaurant or a store. You can easily walk around the town as the locals are very friendly.

For my first visit, my friends and I booked all the Island Hopping tours but only experienced one due to bad weather. It was windy and rainy. Bad combination. They cancelled the tours.

In fact, we were in the banca during the Island Hopping A tour when it started raining and a chubasco happened. Chubasco is a squall, violent gust of wind and rain. We are lucky to be alive.

Island Hopping Tour A brought us to four islands — Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island (where we had our lunch) and Seven Commando Island.

The boat can’t fit in the small lagoon so we swam to the lagoon. We wore life vests but I admit I was still a bit nervous because it was high tide and the water was very stormy. But it was worth it.

The boat was not able to enter the big lagoon, either. It was too dangerous because of the big waves. We stopped in the safer part of the water to admire the big lagoon from afar. My friends swam and snorkelled. They found plenty of beautiful fishes. I watched them and took photos.

We stopped at Shimizu Island to have lunch. We swam in the beach while our guides prepared our food. We had our dessert at Seven Commando. We bought shakes.

Since the island tours were cancelled, we decided to take the inland tour. We went to the hot springs, and Nacpan Beach Resort. We had fun swimming in the beach. We wanted to walk to the cliff to check out a better view. But it started raining and it was windy that the sand was painful, we ran to our van to go back to our hotel.

Eating was also an adventure. We tried different delicacies every day. We met new friends. I was amazed at El Nido. It was really breathtaking.

My next trip happened earlier than planned— with different friends. My friends and I had limited time. We arrived in time for dinner and had to choose an island tour that can be done in a half a day. We did the Island Hopping A. I did it twice!! Both experiences were the same but also different. Different? The weather was sunny this time. We walked to the small lagoon. It was not as scary anymore was there were no big waves. Our banca was able to go around the big lagoon.

We passed by Shimizu Island and went to the secret lagoon. The entrance to the lagoon is very small. Only one person can enter at a time. We swam a bit and went to the last destination, Seven Commando, where we had our shakes. We went back to Puerto Princesa after lunch.

I have been to El Nido twice but I still want to go back there. It is really amazing! It is like paradise. God must have been working his magic when He made El Nido!