Can you get Seasick on a Jet Ski?

Jet skis, Sea-Doos, Waverunners – these are all terms and brands for personal watercrafts (PWC). Known as fun toys for soaring through the waves, jet skis are also used for racing, fishing, and patrolling. Unfortunately, you can get seasick on a jet ski, but it’s not common and there are steps you can take to prevent getting sick.

Can you get seasick on a jet ski?

You can get seasick on a jet ski just as you can on a boat. The constant movement both forward, back, and side to side can cause you to be nauseated and be seasick. There are several things you can do to prevent it such as eat ginger, go out on calm days, as well as get a seasick wristband to prevent it.

Riding a jet ski is a fun activity that is accessible on most bodies of water. Check out this guide for more information about jet skis, including jet ski related nausea and preventing seasickness. This guide also includes some recommendations regarding safety and jet ski basics. Make sure you read it before hitting the waves!

Why ride a Jet Ski if you will get Seasick?

Jet skis allow you to race through the water and experience the wind, salt, and surf first hand. They’re also a quick and efficient way to move through bodies of water, especially since newer models can go longer distances. It’s also much quicker to hop on a jet ski than to take a boat out for a spin. In some countries and states, you don’t need a jet ski license or special permission to ride. Because jet ski riding is a very common recreational activity, they’re very accessible to rent. If you decide to purchase, jet skis are easy to transport. These portable, fast toys are great options for a fun day on the water!

In addition to general recreation, you can use jet skis for fishing and racing. For fishing, jet skis offer a great, quick alternative to boating. Jet skis also allow you to go into bodies of water that you can’t reach by boat. It is more challenging to fish off a jet ski, you have to take balance into consideration. You also won’t have anyone else to help you with a catch. If you decide to try jet ski fishing, make sure you rent/purchase a model with storage capacity. For more information about jet ski fishing, here’s an article from Boating Magazine on the subject.

Jet ski racing is an extreme sports competition. The P1 AquaX is one of the most well-known competitions. If you are considering trying out jet ski racing, then you will need more gear than the average ride (i.e. a helmet, goggles, etc.). You’ll also need a jet ski that is specifically made for speed. If you want to go watch a race, or are considering joining one, this website offers a list of racing activities.

Another benefit to riding a jet ski is that they can tow other items behind them- such as rafts and wakeboards. They can also tow water skiers!

Jet Ski Basics

Jet skis are a fairly recent invention, with the first models appearing in the second half of the 20th century. Not to be confused with jet boats, jet skis are less than 13 feet long and the riders sit or stand on them. They carry one to four people, depending on the model, and feature a gas-powered engine and impeller (which pumps water through, creating propulsion). As previously mentioned, there are several brands of jet skis, that come in many different shapes and sizes.

Jet skis are typically categorized into several categories: recreation, tow sports, luxury, performance, and rec-lite. However, some can be used for more than one purpose. This article explains the differences in-depth. Most jet skis that you will encounter are considered “recreational” and are very stable and average in size. Tow sports are used for other water sports (i.e. water skiing) and luxury are more expensive (and best for experienced jet ski owners), these have all the “bells and whistles.” Performance jet skis are typically used for racing or working, and rec-lite jet skis are cheaper and lightweight recreational options.

If you buy a newer larger jet ski, this larger hull can handle the waves better than a smaller lighter option. This will cause your jet ski to be bounced around less and be less likely to cause you to be seasick.

Driving a Jet Ski

Driving a jet ski is fairly easy, but some states do require a license (so make sure to check!). A jet ski has an ignition switch and throttle. Top speeds for jet skis are usually around 60-70 mph, but that doesn’t mean you should be going that fast! Like with bikes and motorcycles, make sure to lean into turns, this will help with steering and prevent you from falling off. It’s also a good idea to gradually increase speed as you’re getting used to the jet ski, and drive perpendicularly into waves to prevent rolling.

All of this moving and going up and down can send your stomach in a knot and cause seasickness. If it is a rough day, you may want to consider beaching it.

There are jet ski courses and lessons you can take if you really want to learn the ins and outs of jet skiing. Ask your local jet ski rental or search online for a pro to teach you. For convenience, there are even online course options (this is useful if you need a jet ski license in your country/state).

Jet Skis and Seasickness

Seasickness is a result of an inner ear imbalance and can make you nauseous, dizzy, and can cause headaches, sweating, vertigo, and vomiting. The main issue in the disassociation between what you’re seeing and the motion you’re experiencing. Luckily, symptoms go away almost immediately when the motion stops. You may also be able to get over seasickness over time.

Being on any watercraft can cause sea sickness because of the irregular motion, this includes jet skis. Whether or not someone will get seasick is really determined by the individual’s body chemistry. Some people get over seasickness after spending prolonged periods of time on the water. Usually if you spend more than a day or two out at sea seasickness will dissipate. The type of motion also matters, some people only get sick during certain types of activities.

How to Prevent Seasickness on a Jet Ski

Being seasick is no fun. It can ruin activities and lead to more serious complications (resulting from dizziness and dehydration). Luckily, being seasick on a jet ski is not very common. If you are worried about potentially getting sick, there are many steps to prevent seasickness on a jet ski:

  • If you’re on a multi-person jet ski it may help to be the driver instead of a passenger. This allows you to be in control and helps your body prepare and respond to changes in motion.
  • Stay hydrated and eat something bland (think toast, pretzels, etc.), this will help settle your stomach. Don’t forget to pack water and make sure to drink it!
  • Don’t stop for too long. Often the rocking of the waves is what is causing the seasickness, so if you continue to move this will mitigate that effect.
  • Take medication for seasickness. Many over-the-counter options are available, such as Dramamine. Make sure to read the side effects and check with your doctor first. Some of these medications may make you drowsy and impair your ability to operate the jet ski. Ginger is a natural alternative that can help soothe motion sickness. You can buy ginger tablets, candied ginger, and other ginger products to take/eat before or after your ride.
  • Some people believe that acupressure can help prevent symptoms of all types of motion sickness. You can purchase anti-nausea wristbands, which sit on an acupressure point in your wrist, believed to be associated with nausea.
  • Concentrate on the horizon. This old trick works for boating as well! When you look at the horizon it helps to steady your posture and perspective. This trick isn’t great if you’re the jet ski driver!
  • Avoid direct sunlight. The sun and heat can make seasickness effects worse. Wear sunglasses and stay moving!

Keep in mind, you can also rent or take your jet ski to an area close to a shore or dock, that way if you begin to feel sea sick you can quickly come back and end your ride. Choose your body of water carefully- swells and choppy water are more likely to give you seasickness.

General Safety Tips

There are many other factors (in addition to seasickness) to consider when riding a jet ski. Jet skis are fairly safe, but there are some risks to driving/riding. Potential hazards include crashes, mechanical failure, injuries resulting from falling or being ejected from the jet ski, and injuries caused by the propulsion of water or the impeller itself. In order to stay safe, take the following precautions:

  • Wear a life jacket, even if you are a good swimmer! If you are ejected, get nauseated due to seasickness, or lose consciousness for any reason, a life jacket is vital. It’s also a matter of legality in most places. Make sure your life jacket fits properly!
  • You also may want to consider wearing a wetsuit (depending on weather) and other protection, such as goggles or glasses. This is based on your comfort level and the type of jet skiing you will be doing.
  • Drivers should not be under the influence of alcohol or any other substances (and should be over the age of 16). They should also keep the lanyard or key for start/stop on their wrist or life jacket. If a driver is ejected and has this lanyard/key attached, the jet ski will automatically stop.
  • Passengers should hold on tightly and communicate clearly with the driver, particularly when starting or stopping. This will help prevent you from falling off.
  • Know where you’re going and make sure not to jet ski in water less than two feet deep. Stay clear of other jet skis, boats, etc. Be familiar with boating laws. You do NOT want to run aground or get into a collison.
  • Carry a horn or other device to signal in case of an emergency. A GPS is also a good idea. Jet skis often have fire extinguishers onboard as well.
  • If you fall off, re-board from the back of the jet ski. If you try to board from the side the jet ski could fall on top of you. This is both dangerous and also makes it harder to get back up and running!

Can you get seasick riding a jet ski on a lake?

Jet skiing on a lake is a great option if you suffer from seasickness. You are much more likely to get seasick while on the ocean. Lakes typically do not have the large and constant wave movement that you experience when at sea. The exception here is extremely large lakes, which can have currents like oceans (such as the Great Lakes). Also, heavily trafficked lakes can also have this effect due to constant watercraft wake.

In general, it is rare to get seasick on a lake while on any watercraft (including jet skis). When choosing a jet ski destination, a lake is typically a great option for beginners. Lakes are usually calm and predictable, as well as easy to navigate!

Some suggestions for the best lakes to jet ski include Lake Tahoe, Lake Winnipesaukee, and Big Bear Lake. When choosing a destination, look for calm, well-marked, and tourist-friendly options. You’re sure to have fun (and mostly nausea-free) adventures on these beautiful lakes!

What to do if you get seasick on a Jet Ski?

If you get seasick while jet skiing there are a few things you can and should do to stay healthy and safe. Most importantly, you should try to get back to land in order to settle your stomach and avoid getting stranded if you become incapacitated. If you think you’re going to get seasick, try to avoid vomiting while on the jet ski. If you bend over the side, you could flip the jet ski. This may seem like common sense, but you also don’t want to get sick off a jet ski while it is in motion.

Other things that can help with your seasickness include staying in motion and looking at the horizon (see “How to prevent seasickness”). Putting your face towards the wind and taking some deep breaths may also help. Unfortunately, at this stage most medications won’t work (because they’re preventative) but you can try a product with ginger in it, or possibly an anti-nausea medication.

One trick I learned while deep sea fishing is to take a cold wet towel and drape it around your neck. This will greatly improve your seasickness.

What are the dangers of getting seasick while riding a jet ski?

As previously mentioned, vomiting on a jet ski has several complications, including the risk of flipping your jet ski. In addition, you could become dehydrated or disoriented, and unable to get back to the shore. Dehydration can be serious and may result in hospitalization. Seasickness can cause a lack of balance, which can be an issue while trying to stay on a jet ski and can affect your driving abilities. 

Seasickness can have serious side effects and can also cause major problems if you’re out on the water when it hits. Luckily there are steps you can take to mitigate the side effects, and the risks. If you’re worried about getting seasick, jet ski close to shore, pack medication, and/or jet ski with a friend!

If you do get seasick while riding jet skis, do you get used to it?

You can get used to seasickness if you jet ski regularly and for prolonged periods of time. Your body will adjust, and you may also develop a routine for settling your stomach before and after your ride. There are some very rare cases where people do not adjust. If this is the case for you, you will have to find preventive options or avoid the water.

One technique for permanently overcoming seasickness is to gradually introduce an activity over time. Try taking your jet ski out for a short period, and then add five or 10 minutes each time you go out. You could also do this by increasing your distance each time. Try this method if you plan to be out on a jet ski regularly – it will only work with consistent trips!

Final Thoughts

Jet skis are fun toys that provide hours of entertainment in the water. They are versatile, easy to transport, and have many uses. There’s many factors to consider when learning to drive or potentially owning one of these personal watercrafts. Make sure to follow safety protocols, be sensible when learning to drive, and carefully weigh important factors when purchasing.

It is possible to get seasick on a jet ski, due to the movement and an inner ear imbalance. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent seasickness, including things you can take or do beforehand, and techniques you can use while operating the jet ski. Because jet skis are typically used for short periods of time and close to shore, it’s easy to test one out to see if you may be susceptible to seasickness.

If you’re an avid camper, check out these articles about transporting a jet ski, including the use of toy haulers and double towing.

Have a great time jet setting through the waves, nausea and worry-free!