Ting-ting-ting-ting-ting-ting-ting! Someone, somewhere, had found something really exciting! One of the dive guides was tapping frantically on the side of his cylinder with his metal pointer. Ting-ting-ting replied my dive guide Opo, only to receive more frantic tapping in response. My pulse rate upped a few more levels in anticipation of yet another exciting find.
We’re swimming fast. Too fast for my liking. I’m taking heaving gulps, and I know my tank won’t last very long if we don’t slow down soon. Just as I’m about to stop and risk losing my group, we hear a rapid series of bangs coming from our dive boat in the distance. Our guide, a lithe Indonesian with pistons for legs and bottomless iron lungs, points into the blue and somehow quickens his pace.
There are very few places in the world that remain unknown to the dive community. Let’s face it, scuba enthusiasts are nothing if not resourceful when it comes to finding new and uncharted waters to dive in. But chances are excellent that when you read the title of this article you asked yourself, “Buyat Bay? Where the heck is that?”
The world’s full of triangles. There’s the Love Triangle, the Golden Triangle, the Bermuda Triangle… and then of course, most relevant of all to us divers, there’s the Macrolife Triangle, that blissful figure made up by the Malaysian islands of Lankayan and Kapalai and—at the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi—the Strait of Lembeh.
Sulawesi is one of those places on nearly every diver’s bucket list. If not, it ought to be. A dozen years ago, people would have thought you daft to go diving there, much less build a dive resort in an area dominated by dark volcanic sand. Yet in Sulawesi there are nearly two dozen resorts vying for divers’ dollars, yen and euros.
I can’t help likening this island to a chromosome. It’s contorted shape not only looks like one, but also has its different features spread out along different points even when you zoom in. Our focal point is the northern region. On the western side of the tip, we find Bunaken national park with its majestic drop-offs, on the top of the area around Gangga Island, and on the eastern side, Lembeh, famous for its critter diving.