Thinking of cruising the Galapagos Islands, but worried about sea sickness? Take it from someone whose been – and gotten sick – it’s still worth it! There are a number of proven ways that you can combat the possibility of sea sickness in the Galapagos and truly enjoy your trip.
The classic 8-day yacht cruise is a great way to see all the Galapagos Islands has to offer. You see more animals, visit more islands and – on occasion – get to see some whales or dolphins passing by. With all the benefits of a yacht-based tour, it’d be a shame to miss out just because you’re worried about maybe getting seasick. Plus, we find that most people don’t experience any sea sickness at all or if they do, it’s very manageable and only happens on occasion.
Some tips for keeping seasickness at bay if it does occur or if you’re prone to motion sickness:
1. Choosing Your Travel Dates and Itinerary: The seas in the Galapagos Islands are the most calm between December and May, and the most rough in September and October. In general, cruise itineraries stay in the middle of the archipelago, so you’re not in the open ocean. But there are some itineraries that go very far north to Genovesa Island, or around Isabela Island that go into the open ocean for a few hours. These can be fairly rough crossings. If you’re really prone to seasickness, avoid the worst months and those itineraries.
2. Choosing Your Boat: Catamarans, boats with two hulls, are more stable than yachts, boats with single hulls, so you will feel the movement of the ocean less. This makes the most difference when you’re not traveling the Galapagos from December to May, when the seas are most calm. In general, it doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re traveling in the calm months. Another thing to consider is size. Larger boats, with 30 or more travelers on board, are more stable. But I think going to the Galapagos on a smaller boat is a better and more intimate experience, so you can really get to know your guide and fellow travelers. But if you’re seriously prone to sea sickness, you should consider going big!
3. Be Honest with Yourself: Our guide on board the M/Y Letty told us – after fifteen minutes of being on board that we should already be able to tell if we were seasick prone. First mistake, I got competitive. My boss told me stories of being on a fishing boat in Alaska and I thought… awesome! That would be crazy! I could do that! So I ignored the somewhat off feeling I felt in the hopes of discovering my hardcore inner sailor. Three hours later I was not so hardcore. It’s best to battle sea sickness before it sets in; it’s therefore helpful to be honest with yourself and start fighting sea sickness before it begins if you’re prone to it.
4. Know Your Course: With briefings each evening your guide(s) will let you know what to expect. They even told us “Hey, at 4pm after your siesta and before the dingy ride this would be a good time to take a sea sickness pill.” Our boat even had a little candy dish of Dramamine. As long as I remembered to take a pill when they said to, I did fine
5. Over-the-Counter Medication: I took Dramamine. I also heard of people using Bonine. The upside to these tablets – they’re easy to get and they worked. Even if I happened to take it a bit late. The downside – you need to remember to take it, which sounds like a no brainer but when your out playing all day it’s easy to forget. Also, they can make you drowsy – even the non-drowsy formulas.
6. Prescriptions: Patches (Scopolamine): These seem to be the way to go if you’re extremely worried about motion sickness. A lot of my shipmates had them. They didn’t feel an inkling of seasick. The small, circular patches are placed inconspicuously behind the ear. They can be worn for up to 3 days (which means much less remembering) and provide time-released doses of the medication. The only downside I see is you have to make a trip to the doctor to get them.
There are other prescriptions, but it’s may be best to think of them as more of a last resort or the nothing-else is-working-drug. 99% of travelers visiting the Galapagos won’t need to go to such lengths to quell their nausea.
7. Natural Remedies: The sea-band is a skinny, wristband that has a plastic stud protruding out of it. The stud is to be placed on the Nei Kuan acupressure point on each wrist. I was skeptical, but being that I worked in health food store and we sold them I had to try it. When I was actually feeling nauseous they took the edge off. I would not recommend them as a way to ward off feeling sick. But they’re good to have around when you are actually feeling seasick.
Ginger is a good anti-nausea remedy. You’ll want to go to a health food store and get the concentrated ginger tablets or pills. You don’t want to get ginger candies or even crystalized ginger, as these aren’t strong enough. This has helped me a ton with motion sickness of all kinds.
There are other homeopathic remedies that you can find at health food stores, you’ll have to check a few out to find what works best for you.
With so many preventative options available – that work well for most people – there’s no reason to forgo a destination because of sea travel. Just be prepared.
Still worried about getting seasick in the Galapagos? Ask a Detour Galapagos expert for advice. We can help you pick itineraries, cruises, or a land-based tour that will help you avoid seasickness. These are good trips to start with:
One of the very best active trips possible in the Galapagos Islands, this land-based multisport adventure combines nice accommodations with great guides and equipment and a well-planned itinerary designed to maximize recreation while seeing as much wildlife as possible. This trip is ideal for private groups or families, too. Trip Length: 7 Days Destination: San Cristobal, Isabela, & Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos Lodging: First-class, beachfront Optunia Lodges Activities: Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing
The Seaman Journey (formally the Seaman II) is a stable and very comfortable catamaran with several itinerary choices. Trip Length: 4, 5, 8, 11, or 15 days Destination: Galapagos Islands Lodging: 16-passenger, 1st-class motor catamaran Activities: Wildlife viewing, naturalist walks, snorkeling