BATU GOSOH, Bangka. North Celebes

It’s true what they say, first impressions are everything. Batu Gosoh, a on the tiny island of Bangka in the Celebes sea, is a nothing if not a lovely introduction to the diving on the island.

As the dive boat engine shutters to a halt and the only sound you hear is the wake and the crashing of waves against the outcrop in the distance you look down into the deep and see squadron upon squadron of bat fish waving up at you from 15 meters. As you test your BCD the briefing rolls over in your head, “Enjoy the caves and crevices, remember to look out into the blue every once in a while. You never know what you will see.”

It’s one of those dives where, almost instantly, you realize why some divers insist on buying cameras. Batu Gosoh is awash with vibrant colors, streaks of purple nudibranches, forest green, vibrant yellow and carmine red soft corals that leave you breathless. You hang anywhere between 20 and 40 meters zig-zagging between sheer walls laced with candy-store colors and rocky outcrops with white-tip sharks just on the other side.

Variety, in this case, really is the spice of life.

North Sulawesi is known around the world for its macro and Batu doesn’t disappoint. Sheer walls and submerged pinnacles create a circus-like landscape, where one minute you are enjoying a group of sweet lips sitting pretty inside a cave and the next you are upside down, face-to-face with a toothy moral eel.

Depending on what time you’re in the water—mornings mean less current—you can focus on the wall or let yourself drift and enjoy what is out in the blue. Like Heraclitus said, you never step into the same river twice. The same is true for Batu Gosoh, one morning it is awash with pygmy seahorses and ghost pipefish, the next day you might dive it in the afternoon when the current is sweeping and see sharks and groupers roaming the outcrops like dark sentinels off in the distance.

Batu is best as a check dive. Recommend that your resort or guide take you there first. It is a wild introduction to the joys of Bangka. It’s comfortable enough to get you on track for a sweet week of dives and whets your palette in a way in which you play out future dives in your mind. Renown for it’s muck and wall dives, it’s nice to think of North Sulawesi as more than what you’ve heard out of the mouths of other divers. It’s nice to think of Batu as beyond the wall.

Try to stay at Coral Eye to Mimpi Indah, tons place to stay at Bangka island.

While macro is the main course on the menu at Batu Gosoh, it’s crucial to remember to take a look out into the blue where moorish idols dart across the horizon and linger beyond the edges of the steep pinnacles where schools of fusiliers play.

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