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10 ways to avoid seasickness on your Great Barrier Reef trip

I’m very lucky. Other than on a couple of occasions I’ve never experienced true seasickness. Anyone who has knows that it’s not just the nausea, but the dizziness and disorientation that can really ruin your day. If you’re ticking off an item on your bucket list with a trip to the Great Barrier Reef it’s the last thing you want to happen.

But don’t worry, there are some tried and tested ways to avoid seasickness during your Great Barrier Reef trip. And I’m here to tell you what they are!

1. Watch the weather

Now most people will take a look at when the sun will be shining the most and go with that, but those people would be wrong. And sick. Ask any local and they’ll tell you to choose a day with nice low wind regardless of whatever else is happening weather wise. You’ll be thanking me as you snorkel without the taste of bile on your throat. Sites like seabreeze and windyty are excellent for checking out wind strength. Try to avoid anything over 20 knots, and anything under 10 will be just dreamy.

2. Consider the trip you choose

So you’ve been a good reader and followed my first bit of advice, but the weather Gods clearly hate you and are sending a mother load of wind your way for the entirety of your trip. Bummer. Now is the time to choose an appropriate trip based on this. There are some great trips that I love, like Ocean Freedom, Coral Sea Dreaming and Silverswift, but they won’t be the best in windy conditions.

An island is your safest bet, but you will compromise on the quality of what you see. I recommend visiting one of the large pontoons which are like man made islands. You’ll get to see beautiful coral and, if you do get sick, the pontoon is stable and steady. So although you may not be able to totally avoid seasickness on your way out to the Great Barrier Reef, you will feel okay when you get there!

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3. Use the drugs

Seriously, don’t take the ginger tablets unless you want to have a terrible day. Go to a pharmacy and get the proper drugs. And when you have the drugs, take them at least one hour before the boat leaves so they can have a chance to kick in. Remember that they’re a preventative not a cure and need to start affecting your body before the waves do… Those pressure point bands are good as a back up, but don’t rely on them completely. Want to avoid seasickness on the Great Barrier Reef? Take drugs!

4. Take your coffee black and your brekkie light

Think about how nice that big milky latte is going to feel swishing and swirling around in your stomach later on. Not good. Ditto the massive breakfast buffet piled full of eggs, bacon and other delicious fatty foods. Opt for a nice bit of toast and take your caffeine plain. Unless of course the breakfast looks so delicious that you fancy tasting it twice.

5. Choose your seats wisely

Sit downstairs and in the middle – the part of the boat that moves the least. Avoid the upstairs if you can and keep well away from the front, a spot that can challenge even the hardiest of tummies. I’ve seen a lot of people suffer from first time seasickness just because they were sitting in the wrong spot!

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6. Ice, ice, baby

Against all the odds you’re feeling queasy. What now? Go and sit outside and yourself some fresh air as soon as your legs can carry you. Hopefully you’ve booked a trip with nice staff who will come bearing a sick bag and ice cubes. It sounds strange, but honestly sucking on an ice cube can do absolute wonders.

7. Distract yourself

If all you’re doing is sitting down and thinking about feeling sick then guess what? You’re going to feel sick. When I went parasailing the crew had a massive plastic spider they enjoyed biffing at people to scare them. Not out of a need to terrify tourists (so they say) but because when they make people with an iffy tummy jump most of the time they forget how they felt before. Avoid getting seasickness by trying not to think too much about it…

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8. Don’t be scared of the spew

Seriously, the boat crew will get vomited on every single day. If you feel your breakfast coming to make a reappearance then just let it go and laugh it off. Everyone working on a Great Barrier Reef boat knows that people suffer from seasickness so don’t panic if you don’t manage to avoid it. Open up that sickbag and read the instructions inside. Just don’t forget that they’re only waterproof for a few minutes so get it in a bin as soon as you can…

9. Know that you’ll feel better once the boat stops moving

A little bit of hope can go a long way. When the boats stops-a-rockin’ you’ll stop-a-spewin’, and you’ll get to jump in and find nemo. It might not be much but just keep reminding yourself about why you’re putting yourself through this torture. Within an hour a turtle could be waving you hello as your eyes take in one of the natural wonders of the world. Totally worth it!

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10. Splash out on a helicopter

If all else fails then there is the option to combine your day on the reef with a scenic flight, taking a helicopter out to the reef and back rather than the boat trip. Expensive, yes, but it depends what price you put on not vomiting through your nose before you go snorkelling. Oh and flying over the reef is the most amazing thing you’ll ever do after snorkelling it. Maybe fake being seasick as an excuse to upgrade…

What do you think? Have you tried any of these? Do they work, or would you add something else?

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2 Comments

  • Reply Camels & Chocolate

    Great post! I am actually writing one now that starts with everyone getting seasick (but me!), all thanks to the scopolamine patches. Honestly, I have such bad seasickness that I throw up on a half-hour ferry ride, but when I worked on a ship that went round the world four years ago, I got my doctor to prescribe me the patches and it has been a GAME CHANGER (particularly since I love to dive and am always the one spewing off the bow, ha!).

    August 17, 2015 at 3:00 am
    • Reply Cheskie

      Those patches are amazing, as long as you don’t touch it with your hand and rub your eye…it makes your pupils go crazy!!

      August 26, 2015 at 8:45 am

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