4 Iconic Open Water Swim Events – Unique Challenges Across Europe, Asia & The Caribbean

Courtesy of SwimTrek, a SwimSwam partner.

The rise of swimming vacations has never been more noticeable than it is today. It seems more travellers are giving up their sun loungers for life-affirming adventures. But it is not just vacations, some open water swimming races also attract large crowds of competitive swimmers from around the world.

It is easy to see the attraction. You can swim between Caribbean islands, spotting rays as you go. Or, you can join thousands of swimmers in the annual swim challenge from Europe to Asia. Whether it’s a challenge you’re looking for to enjoy with friends or the chance of a competitive win, there are events for you.

SwimSwam asked the swim vacation experts SwimTrek.com where their customers travel to race and why.

The Hellespont – The World’s Oldest Swim

It’s been said that you can’t call yourself a true open water swimmer until you’ve completed this historic cross-continental swim from Europe to Asia in Turkey.

courtesy SwimTrek/Afþin Çelik

In 2024, SwimTrek supported Swim Across America fundraiser, Julia Brookshire, entry to the Hellespont race in August. Julia spoke of her inspiring motivation in the build-up to her departure: ‘The Hellespont is the world’s oldest open water swim crossing the strait of the Dardanelles in Turkey between the continental boundary of Asia and Europe. My goal is to swim the Hellespont and raise $50,000 for research and ultimately bring us closer to a cure.’

SwimTrek also offer the Hellespont Week Tour (from 26 Aug) with additional tours of Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy.

Nevis To St Kitts Cross Channel Swim – Caribbean Island to Island

Located in the Caribbean Sea (70km west of Antigua), within easy travel distance for the east coast, the island of Nevis is the smaller of the two islands making up the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It is one of the most unspoilt and relaxing islands in the Caribbean.

courtesy SwimTrek/ Nevis to St Kitts Cross Channel Swim

Vividly green with blue skies, clean air and long empty beaches, Nevis has a gentle pace of life that encourages you to stop and appreciate the natural beauty around you. It is a perfect setting for a challenge to swim from one island to another! This challenge is one of the friendliest events to take part in.

Gozo To Malta Cross Channel Race – Mediterranean Island to Island

This is an amazing crossing from Gozo to Malta, it offers warm waters and the chance to swim between the Three Islands of the Maltese archipelago.

The swim passes the archipelago’s smallest island of Comino, following an iconic 6km course, it’s a real opportunity to enjoy the Maltese landscape and island hop through the channel.

Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim

The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim is run annually by the Turkish Olympic Committee. You don’t have to be an Olympian to complete this crossing from Asia to Europe, but you do have to be competitive just to secure one of the 2,400 swim spaces.

courtesy SwimTrek/Afþin Çelik


Run by swimmers for 20 years, SwimTrek are the world’s pioneer of open water swimming vacations. Their portfolio of award-winning trips spans 23 countries and more than 50 locations around the world, from the Galapagos Islands to Vietnam. 

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