Can Snorkeling Make You Seasick?


Yes, snorkeling can make you seasick. A continuous movement caused by waves or currents, whilst staring at a stable ocean floor, can result in motion sickness.

Let’s explain the details and what you can do about it.

How Do We Get Seasick?

Maybe some of our readers have already experienced seasickness on a boat trip. We start to get dizzy and maybe sweat a little. Sometimes this even results in vomiting. Definitely not an exciting experience.

The reason why we get sick is because our brain gets a little confused. Let’s say you’re on a boat sending a text message from your phone. Since you’re looking at your phone, your brain might think that you’re not moving at all. Your view stays the same, right? On the other hand we also have a so called “inner ear“. This includes organs that detect movement. On a boat trip the inner ear could tell your brain that you are moving, even though your eyes make it seem as if you’re not.

Looking at a distant object like a beach or an island can be of help. If both your eyes and your inner ear notice the same movements, your chances of getting sick are smaller.


Is Motion Sickness The Same Thing?

You could say that it is, yes. Motion sickness is no different as it refers to the same symptoms caused by “unnoticed” movement. However, motion is a broader term. People can get sick on an airplane, on a train, in a car, anywhere really. Since a lot of people get sick when they’re out on a boat, they tend to call it “seasick”.

So How About Snorkeling?

In a way it’s not different from the things we mentioned above. When we go snorkeling, we usually prefer to take a look at the marine life. Or maybe some beautiful corals, reefs, you name it. Let’s say you are waiting for that sea turtle to come out of it’s shelter. You stay focused on it’s location in order to not miss that final moment.

Let’s say you snorkel with a GoPro in order to make that perfect underwater shot. Who know’s you’re waiting for that moray eel to finally show it’s head. There are numerous reasons why we could be focused on a certain area when snorkeling.

At the same time however, we are often experiencing currents and waves. Our bodies could change direction or suddenly move because of a stream. If we’re too focused on the ocean bottom, we could in fact get seasick.

In the end it’s not a very common thing to happen when snorkeling. Most people will notice their oceanic movements and send according visions to their brain.

Some people say that full face snorkel masks reduce the risk of getting seasick since they provide a 180 degree vision. We couldn’t find any evidence whether or not this is true.


What Can You Do About It?

First of all, obviously you want to head back to the beach.

If you can, try to find a fixed spot in the distance and focus on that. Avoid staring at nearby objects. Let your brain know where you are and who knows you’ll soon feel better.

Other people find comfort in closing their eyes. They try to find a spot to relax and maybe even get some sleep. If you’re too sick to fall asleep you could try to listen to some music for example.

Get some fresh air. When you get seasick whilst snorkeling, head back to the beach and breathe calmly. Don’t immediately run into your favorite restaurant with that typical fast food odor.

Drink water. Having a few sips of fresh water can make you feel better. Maybe you bring water bottles with you anyways. If not, you can ask a friend to get you one from a local shop or hotel.

Ginger seems to help people out as well. A few even eat some prior to snorkeling in order to avoid seasickness all together. Just keep in mind that what works for one person could not work for the next.

There is some medication to consider if you really need to. We advise you to do your own research and ask your local doctor. Here’s a video to consider watching.

Final Thoughts

Getting seasick from snorkeling is definitely possible. It doesn’t happen too often, but it depends on the person. Some experience more problems than others. Some locations require you to join a boat trip in order to explore the most diverse marine life, like snorkeling in Hurghada (Egypt) for example. If you plan (or need to) join an excursion on a boat, take the necessary steps. Other locations offer boat tours to a variety of surrounding islands, like snorkeling in Lombok (Indonesia), well…once again, you better come prepared.

By letting your brain know where you are, the chance of getting seasick declines. Don’t stare at one single object for too long, but enjoy the different aspects of the underwater world. Understand and feel the currents in combination with what you are seeing.

In case you feel seasick, get back to the shore and relax. Fresh air can already help you out. If not, try one of the other options we listed in this article or simply watch the educational video.


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