Hale Manna Beach Resort and Coastal Gardens
This eco-friendly resort provides a good base for dolphin-watching, diving, snorkeling, and island hopping around Moalboal in Cebu.
The growing consciousness about waste and climate among travelers has resulted in more eco-friendly resorts. One such getaway in southwestern Cebu is Hale Manna Coastal Resort and Gardens in Saavedra, Moalboal.
Owner Rebecca Pestaño-Smith has made it her life's work to share sustainable development strategies with rural and coastal communities, and she has built her resort around these principles, working with sustainable living specialists. Any permanent structures are built over 100 meters from the high water mark, providing a coastal buffer zone ideal for developing local wildlife. Although visitors must walk down to the beach from the house, they do so through gardens filled with native blooms, trees, and shrubbery, as well as chattering birds.
The house ("Hale" means "house" while "manna" refers to good energy) itself is open, with large windows and doorways to allow the fresh sea air inside. The design implements permaculture design concepts for rainwater collection that help the resort minimize its environmental impact--the roof gutters route water to rain catchment tanks, where the water is filtered and rerouted to pipes leading to house toilets and garden hoses. Municipal water, on the other hand, is reserved for the showers and the faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
In addition to its sustainable design features, the resort also encourages guests to appreciate the environment-its location makes it an ideal base for ecotourism activities such as dolphin-watching and diving. The resort is also a favorite destination for the local birdwatchers' society.
What to do at Hale Manna
Copton's Point, a four-star diving site, sits right off the shores of the resort. Although Hale Manna does not have a dive shop of its own, it does allow seasoned divers to make shore entries from its beach. Since Moalboal is primarily a dive town, there are many shops where one can rent equipment, as well as dive masters willing to guide the less experienced. Sea turtles, or pawikan, are common dive companions, and lucky divers may even spot dolphins, as the resort faces Tanon Strait, one of the premier dolphin-watching sites in the country.
For guests who wish to go dolphin-watching, Hale Manna provides assistance for hiring boats with trained spotters. Pump boats may be hired for a day of island-hopping. Pescador Island, off the coast of the Moalboal peninsula, is an uninhabited island featuring a lighthouse, gorgeous reefs, underwater caves, and even shipwrecks. The resort can also aid guests who would like to hike up to Kawasan Falls in Badian, one municipality over.
Hale Manna's gardens are not only restricted to land, however. Snorkelers can swim out to the coral gardens just off the resort's beach, which can be as shallow as eight feet from the coral during low tide. A raft hut is strategically placed right above the coral garden, and guests may avail of the drop-off raft services to have themselves taken directly to the prime snorkeling spot.
Guests may also rent the one- and two-seater kayaks available at the resort. These can be taken around the northern tip of Moalboal's peninsula to the marine sanctuary. For those interested in horticulture, Moalboal also has an Orchid Farm and Gallery.
For the less adventurous who prefer to spend their time at the resort, board games, a billiards table, an in-resort library, and TV and DVD player are also available for use. There are also designated mini golf areas for putting and chipping, a leisurely activity to enjoy during late afternoons, against the sunset.
Guests interested in horticulture can visit Moalboal's Orchid Farm and Gallery.
How to get there
Hale Manna is in Barangay Saavedra, Moalboal, Cebu, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cebu City. The resort offers airport and city pickup, and guests availing of this service should indicate this when making online or phone bookings.
To drive down to the resort from Cebu City, take the South Road Properties (SRP) route straight through to its last exit in Minglanilla. Turn left at Minglanilla and continue onto Cebu South Road and drive through to Carcar City. At the Carcar rotunda, turn right to head into the mountains and cross over to Barili. Stay on the provincial road and keep driving south until you reach Moalboal. Once in the town, turn right into the Saavedra exit and keep going until you get to a junction that gives you the option of going straight to the public beach (White Sand or Basdaku) or turning right for various resorts. Turn right and drive straight through until you get to the Hale Manna sign.
To commute from Cebu City, guests can take a provincial bus or V-hire (van) from the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Avenue. These will take you to the Moalboal town proper, where you can hire a motorcycle (known locally as habal-habal) or a tricycle to take you to the resort (instruct them to bring you to the "Hale Manna" or "Smith resort").