A fellow traveler was heading out to snorkel around Gili Air and I was quick to join after hearing about the majestic Greens Sea Turtles on the reef. My last snorkel experience ended with a blistered sunburn on my back, so I was ready to beat the sun this time! I rented a set of goggles and a snorkel from my guesthouse for 20,000 IDR ($1.45 USD) and we set off down the trail to the north end of the island.
We swam out to the reef toward several snorkel and scuba tour boats that were anchored off the coast; a clear sign of a hot spot! Immediately, we begin seeing all sorts of beautifully colorful fish and lively coral in the cool blue waters. Once we reached the back side of the reef, it was only a couple minutes before we were swimming with a Green Sea Turtle! After following him gracefully swim though the water and snack on coral, we let him be and moved south along the reef.
The current moves swiftly along the south side of Gili Air so we didn’t have to swim much at all. We just let the current take us as we took in the spectacular views of fish and coral on the sea floor. About an hour in and we saw another sea turtle swim past, this time in a much deeper part where the current swept us one way as the turtle gently swam in the opposite direction. No chance of catching up to that one.
At one point we swam through a cloudy section of water where there was a defined line of clear water about 50 feet away. As soon as we crossed the line the water cleared and instantly became much colder. We had found the end of the reef and the sea floor just disappeared to unknown depths. A shocking feeling at first! I figure the temperature difference of the water creates a circulating current of that mixes sand and soil into the water and could the water.
After about two hours, we were at the south end of Gili Air near the harbor and swam to the beach. A quick walk across the island and we were back where we started. No need for a tour guide to swim with the Green Sea Turtles on Gili Air! Although, I would recommend some footwear for the walk back, that sand and sidewalk were blazing hot!