El Dorado - A Superb House Reef with its own Mermaid

“El Dorado” reminds me of the mythical land of gold and riches that is dreamt of by treasure seekers. As I aimed my camera in search of the exotic marine wildlife of the “El Dorado” house reef, I felt like a treasure hunter from the fable.

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Resort & Travel Information

El Dorado dive resort in Dumaguete city is located southeast of the Negros island, central Philippines.

From the capital city of Manila, one-hour flights (approximately 250 kilometers) are provided by Philippine Airlines. El Dorado resort can provide land transfers from and to the Dumaguete city airport.

Facilities include air-conditioned rooms, swimming pool, open-air  theatre, souvenir shop, bars, restaurants and excellent food.  
Diving in the house reef and other fabulous sites is best experienced with guides like Rico of Sea Explorers, who operates a PADI Gold Palm IDC center and dive facility at El Dorado and other locations in central Philippines.

The El Dorado dive resort is 20 minutes from Dumaguete City, Negros Island of the Philippines.  Situated along the beach, it is a staging point to the popular Apo Island and other appealing locations.  

One of the most enthralling dive spots is the house reef in front of the resort.

This muck site contains a zoo of the strangest critters.  Here I experience regular encounters with the ornate ghost pipefish, frogfish, cuttlefish, dragonet, spearer mantis shrimp, leaf fish, an array of nudibranchs, and a mermaid. 

That’s right! A mermaid!

Before leading the first dive, Rico (my guide at El Dorado) asked me what it was I intended to find during the dive.  Nothing was impossible, he said.  I jokingly challenged him to lead me to a mermaid.  Without hesitation, he agreed.   During the dive, I heard Rico making grunt noises intended to catch my attention. 

Then, from the pocket of his BC, he pulled out a Barbie doll with long blue hair as if saying that my wish had been granted.  I immediately took a picture of this rare find.  Consequently, I soon used up all my remaining air as I laughed during the rest of the dive!

After a few hours of rest, it was time to do the second dive.  This time, Rico hinted that we might find an albino great hammerhead shark.  That was impossible, I thought.  No way could there be a great hammerhead shark in the shallow waters of the house reef, much less an albino!  Well, I was mistaken.  During our second dive, a toy hammerhead shark materialized out of Rico’s BC pocket.  I wondered what else Rico had in his BC.  He is a genie of sorts.

The best was yet to come.  It was getting dark and that meant it was time to do another shore entry.  The reef was teeming with nocturnal creatures – decorator crab, squid, Spanish dancer, crocodile snake eel, pebble crab, sea snake, robust ghostpipefish, and others I could not identify.  There were so many interesting subjects that I immediately ran out of film.  

And it was only my first day! True to its name, the El Dorado dive resort is treasure-filled. ■



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