Manila get’s pretty hot during the summer months, so it is great that there are plenty of options to escape the city heat for a weekend getaway. If you have beach time and scuba diving on your mind, Anilao (read my Snapshot) is your best choice from Manila. For a recent trip over a holiday weekend, we were late to book and decided to stay at the Acacia Resort & Dive Center for a little R & R!
Location: The Acacia is in Mabini, on the West coast facing the sunset, built into the cliff side like other hotels in the area. It’s about 4 hours from Manila by car, less if you plan to drive at the rare times with little traffic in the metropolitan area. The Google Maps location is way off, but fortunately, there is only one beach road around the peninsula, so just keep driving until you see the sign. The entrance to the property is down a little side road. The resort has direct ocean access with a rocky strip of beach.
Service: The staff is one of the winning points for the Acacia – while the front desk and housekeeping staff were as friendly as you’d expect in the Philippines, the restaurant and bar staff stood out and went above and beyond what I’d expect in a property in this category: They were very attentive, quick in taking orders, bringing items or clearing the table and regularly asking if there was anything we would need. They even brought drinks and snacks poolside, packed our lunch for a day trip and all of it was delivered with sincere smiles – thumbs up for the team!
Room: We had booked their standard room and walking in was a bit of a shock – it was the most barren room I have stayed in for a long time, certainly in this price range. It’s very small, with room only for a queen-size bed (more princess-size, I’d say), a tiny desk (no chair) and closet as well as a wall-mounted air conditioner – and that was it! No safe, no TV, no phone, no bad hotel paintings or plants – nothing! The walls are in bright white, with dark wood for the bed and white laminate for the closet, making even a Tune or ibis hotel look luxurious in comparison. This spartan theme continued in the bathroom, which was equally small with little place to put anything and a narrow divider to the shower, ensuring that it would be flooded after even the most careful use. The hot water wasn’t working on arrival, but fixed for the second day.
Amenities/Restaurant: Fortunately, we didn’t spend much time in the room and went to the pool deck instead. A beautiful, old Acacia tree (featured in the name & logo) is providing shade across the pool and deck. There are a few loungers overlooking the ocean, making for a nice spot to read and relax. The beach below is rocky and not really a place to hang out. If you’d like more sun, you can swim out to a small ponton deck floating 100m off the beach and bake in the hot sun! vThe Acacia is mainly a dive center, busy with classes and dive trips during day and night. The boats leave right from the beach and the hotel location puts plenty of the dive spots into easy reach (see here). We rented snorkel gear from them one day and it was in ok condition.
Not only did the restaurant have great staff, it also offered very good food! There was a selection of salad, 3-4 main courses (local staples) and dessert for lunch and dinner, as well as a hot breakfast with made to order eggs in the morning. The quality and taste was surprisingly good – close to what the twice as expensive Vivere Azure offered – and we enjoyed every meal!
Conclusion: The Acacia Resort & Dive Center offers basic rooms, good food and friendly staff for a full-board rate of about $150 for two people. If you are there to dive, you probably won’t spend much time in your room or at the pool and will enjoy it and the price is a pretty good deal, considering the meals are all included. If you like a little comfort during your stay, are not diving or food is not high on your list, the Acacia might be too spartan. You can try their Deluxe rooms, which are bigger but in a similar decor. If you don’t mind a spartan room to rest your head at night, the Acacia is well worth considering!