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Stay Fit! The Ultimate Guide to Swimming on Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan has long been known as the “Party Island” of The Gilis. But times are changing in line with the global mindset. At no time in history have people been more aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and that also extends to what activities they do on holiday (for some people at least!). Gili Trawangan has embraced this healthier environment as its popularity grows worldwide. Restaurant menus are more vegan and vegetarian conscious. There are far more opportunities to join activities like yoga or HIIT classes. The island has many fully furnished gyms as well.

But today our focus is on one of the most universal and popular forms of exercise there is; Swimming! It is a fantastic sport, offering a full-body workout that is both high intensity and low impact. This means there’s very little likelihood that you’ll pick up injuries while you attempt to stay in shape.

We love swimming, and where better to swim than in warm, crystal clear waters? Gliding above sea turtles and coral gardens while you exercise. This guide will tell you all you need to know to get the most out of swimming here in Gili Trawangan.

Two swimmers racing in the ocean surrounding Gili Trawangan
Grab your Swim Gear, Let's Dive In!

Gili Trawangan’s Ultimate Guide to Ocean Swimming

Swimming around Gili Trawangan is great fun. But, there are several things to consider before diving in (pun intended). This guide’s purpose is to give you all the information to safely enjoy the waters around Gili Trawangan. Below you will find a rundown of all the factors you need to take into consideration. If you’re a frequent ocean swimmer, some of the information you will already know. But even the most experienced swimmers can find value in the local Gili T insight.

Currents in Gili Trawangan

The number one concern for anyone wanting to swim in the waters around Gili T is the currents. The Gilis experience large volumes of water movement between high and low tides. This leads to strong currents and potentially dangerous conditions for swimmers. But, the good news is that with some forward planning and some common sense, it can be very safe and a lot of fun. To avoid strong currents, you’ll need to plan your swim accordingly.

A woman swimming under the ocean near Gili Trawangan
Always Make Sure you're Prepared before a Swim Around Gili Trawangan

Time of Day, Tides & Swells

Choosing the best time to swim depends on two main factors. One being the tides, and the other being boat traffic. You should always check tidal movements when planning a swimming session. Try to start your swim before high tide. That way, the majority of the session will take place during slack tide when currents are minimal. You can find reliable tidal information on phone applications such as ‘Tides’.

In terms of boat traffic, try to swim early in the morning before the harbour and dive boats start operating. Late afternoon, once the dive shops have finished for the day and the harbour is closed, is a safe time as well. It can be dangerous to swim in the middle of the day, particularly on the east coast near the harbour and dive shops.

There are certain areas around the island which experience larger swells than others. These are on the northeastern tip, portions of the entire west coast and the southeastern corner. It’s this southeastern corner which suffers from the worst swell. Be sure to check this area out before you plan to swim through it. Always bear in mind that conditions can change quickly. Areas with swells are best avoided by swimming outside of the breaking waves. This increases the swim distance but dramatically reduces the effort required. It will also decrease the likelihood of fatigue during the swim.

Two snorkellers observing the fish and corals in the ocean
Start with a Snorkel and Work Your Way Towards a Swim


You may also want to consider wearing an Exposure suit when swimming around The Gili Islands. An exposure suit will minimize your exposure to the sun. If not, make sure to apply water-resistant sunblock, especially on your head and neck. An exposure suit will also protect you from any marine life which could cause you harm. The primary culprits in the waters around Gili Trawangan are jellyfish and sea lice. They are not a constant presence but can appear after storms and heavy rainfalls. You can ask a local dive centre about jellyfish conditions before a swim to know for sure.

If you are not a strong swimmer, we would always suggest that you use fins when in the ocean. These can provide much more power at much less effort if you were to find yourself in poor conditions.

Entry/Exit Points

Another reason it is best to swim around high tide is because it is by far the easiest time to enter and exit the water. There are some places around the island that are very difficult to navigate during low tide. Avoid cutting yourself on broken coral by avoiding these areas at that time. In general, it is easiest to access the ocean on the northeastern coastal area. The West coast is the worst.

Avoid damaging the reefs by not standing on coral structures during a swim. There are also some poisonous fish which live on the reefs, so to avoid them too, it’s best not to touch anything. This is easy enough to do. Do not touch the sea turtles!

Buddy Up!

In light of the unpredictable and changing conditions around Gili Trawangan, it is important to always swim with at least one partner. Let friends or family know your plans before you leave as well. If you do find yourself in a strong current, try not to overexert yourself. This will only put you in more danger by leading to exhaustion or panic. Unless the current is pushing you out to sea, try to relax and drift with the current. Then, regain your composure and slowly start to head towards the shoreline. You may not exit the water exactly where you intended to, but you will at least be safe.

If you feel that the current is pushing you away from the island, do not swim into it. Instead, swim at a comfortable pace across the current towards the shoreline. If you are feeling fatigued, signal to people on the beach or in nearby boats that you need some assistance.

Try to keep an awareness of your position in the water at all times. Be careful to check that you have not drifted too far from your desired position.

Snorkelers swimming in the clear blue waters of Gili T
Enjoy your Next Swim Around The Gili Islands

When going swimming, always notify your hotel staff of your plans. Do not attempt swimming of any type without prior experience or trained supervision. The currents around Gili Trawangan can be unpredictable and unforgiving. Exercise caution at all times, and be careful not to tire yourself out.

That’s our top tips for swimming around Gili Trawangan done. We hope you enjoy our little paradise and get to hang out with the turtles soon!



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