A few lovely days of Open Water Swimming
Gili islands, Indonesia
Simon Murie, SwimTrek founder enjoying an Indonesian sunset.
The 3 islets that make up the Gili Islands are located in the Lombok Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Lombok and Bali. They extend outward from the Sire peninsula on Lombok. Bali lies about 35km to the west of Gili Trawangan, the islands' most westerly and well known member.
Both Bali and Lombok are easily visible from the Gilis in clear weather. Indonesia's second highest volcano, Mount Rinjani, is close by on neighbouring Lombok, and dominates the views towards the east.
Gili Trawangan to the right and Lombok in the background as Simon crosses to Gili Meno.
Uniquely, the Gili’s are also situated at the cross roads between Asia and Australasia as they sit upon the Wallace Line, a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, that separates the ecozones of Asia and Australasia.
West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. Wallace noticed this clear division during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century. The line runs through the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok.
Aerial view showing from left to right, the three islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meni & Gili Air.
The open water swimming here is superb and convenient with many reefs situated within a few metres of the surface. The region here is an island hoppers paradise with the islands being separated from the mainland by three crossings of between 1-1½km in distance, which makes it manageable to do over 1-2 days. Along with coastal swims, I came here in December 2012 and managed 4 days of swimming here.
Local fisherman repairing their traditional boat on Gili Trawangan.
It’s worth noting that strong currents are present between the islands, even within metres of the shore, so you need to hire a local pilot who can advise on tides and provide safety cover during the swim. Jellyfish can also be an issue, but a more an irritation than anything else.