Most divers that visit Gili Trawangan arrive by plane and boat from either Lombok or Bali. Planning your departure timing is really important in either case as you want to make sure you can fit in as many dives as possible and still be safe to fly. So you don’t miss out on any of the incredible dives around the Gili Islands, we’re going to run through the best practices for flying after diving to maximize your time.
What is decompression sickness?
As most divers are aware, decompression sickness, sometimes called ‘the bends’, is a condition experienced when nitrogen dissolved in the blood and tissues by high pressure, forms bubbles as pressure decreases. This is a very serious condition that can cause fatigue, pain in muscles and joints, chest pain, vertigo, and in serious cases without treatment, death.
What does this have to do with flying?
Quite simply put, flying after diving increases decompression stress as pressure in an aircraft cabin is lower than that of ground-level atmospheric pressure. This isn’t usually a problem, but in divers who have already subjected their bodies to varying levels of decompression, it can be.
So, how long do we need to wait to fly?
This is where it gets a little more complicated. There are many different variables that should be taken into account and no exact formula to be followed.
– Have you been on no-decompression or dives requiring decompression stops?
– How many dives have you completed before you fly?
– What kind of flight will you be taking? Will the flight be flying below 2,000 feet or higher altitudes?
If you’ve done a single no-decompression dive, it’s generally advised to have a minimum surface interval of 12 hours before flying. If you’ve been diving multiple times on one day or over multiple days, your surface interval should be extended to at least 18 hours. This is without decompression stops.
After diving with decompression stops it is recommended that more than 18 hours is given before flying – preferably around 24 hours or more.
How to plan for Gili Trawangan
There are 2 ways to get to and from Gili Trawangan. At the end of your stay at Villa Almarik you can jump on a fast boat and arrive at Padang Bai harbor in Bali in around 1.5 hours. From Padang Bai the drive to the airport is around 2.5 hours. Depending on the variables above, you may need to stay an extra night on Gili T or even in Bali.
Your other transport option is the boat from Gili Trawangan to mainland Lombok (15 minutes) and then a car to the airport. The drive is about 2 hours to the airport in Praya, South Lombok.
In this case, you could easily dive in the morning and catch a flight in the afternoon, but this definitely isn’t recommended. A morning dive, stay at Villa Almarik and departure in the morning is a good option. Even the short flight from Lombok to Bali reaches over 7000 feet, which is much riskier than a lower altitude flight.
If you’re still wondering whether you’re planning for enough pre-flight surface interval, leave us a comment below. We can help you plan the safest and most hassle-free dive trip to Gili Trawangan.