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Whether it’s a Jet Ski, Seadoo, or Waverunner, the theme is the same. You’re skipping across the ocean at high speeds with the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair.
If you’re an advanced rider you might be riding waves and catching air, or you might be traveling with loved ones to discover hidden coves and private beaches. If you decided to take your Jet Ski out of the harbor you’ll want to have a reliable GPS to ensure you don’t end up lost.
GPS devices range in quality and price. There are reputable brands like Garmin and Magellan, but there are also applications you can install on your phone (just make sure you don’t drop your phone in the water).
In this article, I’ll share a few GPS devices for your Jet Ski, Seadoo, or Waverunner. The devices are waterproof and can be kept in a secure location on your Jet Ski or attached to the handles.
I’ll also share how using your phone can be an effective way to monitor GPS coordinates. Let’s get started.
Dedicated GPS vs Phone GPS
Should you use your phone for GPS on your Jet Ski? After all, it’s a wise decision to take your phone with you in case of an emergency. Sure you could drop your phone in the ocean, but there are waterproof cases for that.
There are more serious problems with using your phone for GPS.
- It drains your battery (fast). If you’re spending the day on your Jet Ski you better have a full charge. Even if it’s charged it might not be enough. GPS is working second by second to track you and charts your course and will utilize your battery faster than normal.
- You need cell phone service. If you venture out of the harbor there’s a good chance you’ll lose cell service. Without cell service, your GPS won’t register.
- The screen on a phone can be hard to read in the sun and if it’s kept in a waterproof case there might be a glare.
So what about using a dedicated GPS? Companies like Garmin and Magellan use strong signals to pick up GPS from satellites.
- No cell service? No problem. Satellites will transmit information to your dedicated GPS quickly and more accurately than a phone GPS (if there’s really bad weather the transmission might not be good but you probably won’t be on your Jet Ski in bad weather.
- Accuracy is much better. As I mentioned above, dedicated GPS can pinpoint your route to the exact point. Phones aren’t bad but also have a delay in registering GPS.
- Battery life far exceeds a phone. A dedicated GPS is focused on one thing while a phone has many applications. You won’t need to worry about a dedicated GPS losing its battery as long as you’ve charged it before jumping on your Jet Ski.
4 Best GPS For Your Jet Ski, Seadoo, or Waverunner
#1 Garmin Waterproof GPS Map 78sc and Chartplotter
What I like best about the Garmin 78sc is that it floats in water! It’s perfect for boating, sailing, and jet skis and it’s one of the best selling GPS and chartplotters on the market.
- Waterproof and floats
- Compact, handheld design
- 6 inch color display
- High sensitivity GPS receiver
- Built-in charts for U.S. and Bahamas (depth, contours, harbors, marinas)
- Compass and barometric altimeter
- Sharable waypoints, tracks, and routes with compatible devices
The Garmin 78sc is the best GPS for watersports. It can be kept in a pocket or in a storage area on your jet ski.
Turn it on when you leave land and use it as a back up in case you get lost. I like that it also transmits your data to other users so friends and family can monitor your location (check Garmin 78sc price on Amazon).
Some reviews state the screen is too small, but that should be expected with such a compact device.
The price is reasonable, given it’s a great product. Garmin has the best GPS trackers on the market and reliable customer service.
#2 Garmin Waterproof GPS 48 (Marine)
The second best GPS for Jet Skis, Seadoos, and Waverunners in another Garmin product. This option is another solid marine GPS that can be dropped in the water without worry.
Keep it in your safe box and allow it to quietly track your progress in the ocean (check Garmin waterproof GPS 48 on Amazon).
- Compact 2.7 inches
- Uses 12 satellites to continually track
- 500 waypoints, 1,024 track log points (with navaids like buoys, racons, fog horns)
- 24 hours of continuous use
- 1 year warranty
With Garmin you know you’re getting a good product and this option looks good too. It has a strong battery life and the warranty is what I’d expect from a company like Garmin.
#3 Magellan Waterproof Explorist GC Geocaching GPS
Magellan is another popular GPS company, aptly named after the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The company has been around since 1986 and has over 200 patents in GPS technology.
This GPS is one of their best-selling GPS units. It uses a 2.2 inch LCD display and has an easy-to-learn interface.
- Attractive, compact design
- 2 inch display
- Trans-reflective screen for viewing in direct sunlight
- 5.1 ounces
- 18 hours of battery life
Most reviews are using it for geocaching but it’s made to be around the water. Feedback also mentions that it was useful in rain and wet conditions (check Magellan Waterproof Explorist on Amazon).
Similar to the Garmin GPS, this Magellan would be great to keep in the storage box or first aid kit of your jet ski.
It’s a reliable product from a well-respected company.
#4 Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
I wanted to include the Garmin Foretrex because it’s the best-reviewed GPS available. The design and wrist strap leaves a little to be desired, but the performance of this GPS is top notch.
Unlike the other GPS units on this list, the Foretrex offers a new look that attaches to the body.
- High sensitivity receiver (for tree and cloud cover)
- Tracks routes and waypoints
- AAA batteries (2)
- 17 hours battery life
- 42 x .91 inch display
- Electric compass and barometric altimeter
- Weighs 3.1 ounces
Customers have used the GPS in combat and on their boats (it’s obviously versatile). Most people like the wrist strap to keep it on your arm.
It allows you to view the screen without having to hold it (frees up the hands) (check Garmin waterproof wrist GPS on Amazon).
I like this model a lot, however, it’s not a true marine GPS. If you suspect you’ll need to use your GPS while riding your Jet Ski, Seadoo, or Waverunner, then this is the best option because you can view your tracks while steering.
Optional Item – Waterproof Phone Case
Some people will still insist on using their phone. If you’re on vacation and venturing out of the harbor in a new area, then using your phone GPS will work just fine.
Make sure you use a cover for the phone – they are inexpensive and work great. Some even have neck straps so you can keep it securely around your neck (check waterproof phone covers on Amazon).
Navionics and SeaPilot are popular sailing navigation apps you could install on your phone but remember they will require cell phone service!
My Pick For Best GPS for Jet Skis, SeaDoos, and Waverunners
I have to go with one of the Garmin devices. I trust the brand and like the small, lightweight products.
My top 2 GPS for Jet Skis, Seadoos, and Waverunners are the 78sc Waterproof/Floating and the Foretrex that attaches to the wrist. Both of these will hold up in wet conditions though you should do your best to keep them dry.
Turn on the tracking, put them in a safe storage area on your Jet Ski and explore the ocean
The choices for best GPS for Jet Skis, Seadoos, and Waverunners are limited but the companies that make marine GPS units are solid. In this article we covered why a dedicated GPS unite is better for jet skiing than using a phone GPS.
We also reviewed the best options on the market.
Garmin and Magellan are two well-known and respected brands. They are good to use for hiking, geocaching, boating, and sailing.
If you’ve recently purchased a Jet Ski, Seadoo, or Waverunner it’s a great idea to add a GPS unit for safety.
Even the best can get disoriented in the ocean and lose their sense of direction. Let us know what you think in the comments. I’m always looking to add information and options to the list.
Thanks for reading another Beach Life blog post. Check out the homepage for more safety information, tips, and reviews.