The best time to visit Galapagos to avoid seasickness
The Greek physician Hippocrates once wrote: “sailing on the sea proves that motion disorders the body. Well, the last thing you want on your vacation of a lifetime in the Galapagos islands is seasickness. It is a total nightmare to spend time hovering over a toilet, hanging on for dear life because your body simply cannot adapt to the rocking motion like the other superhuman passengers on board. The FOMO, fear of missing out, in the Galapagos due to seasickness is real. This is likely because the incredible moments in the Galapagos never stop, and a large portion of your trip might be on a ship.
You might miss out on an unforgettable sunset on the cruise deck. Perhaps a delicious seafood and steak dinner. Maybe a ride to secret secluded beach inhabited by marine iguanas and beautiful Galapagos flamingos. You don’t want to miss out on anything, trust me. So, to help you out, here is the best time to visit Galapagos to avoid seasickness, and a guide to prevent the worst. I have carefully scanned the scientific literature on seasickness, and use my background knowledge and experience on Galapagos vessels to provide the effective methods to prevent seasickness.
The best time to visit Galapagos to avoid seasickness
The seas in the Galapagos are on average calmest between the the six months running from of January to June. The roughest months, occur between August to October, concurring with the incoming ocean Humboldt currents from the arctic regions. It is important to keep in mind that this is all probabilities. There is no guarantee you won’t have a day of rough seas during in February. Likewise, there may be very calm seas in September. However, all the evidence points that you are less likely to experience sea sickness during those calm months. This is brings an important point, which you find in the next paragraph
Choosing a seasickness-free Galapagos route/itinerary
If your overarching concern of your trip is seasickness, consider taking a look at the Galapagos itinerary routes. Some itineraries have long overnight voyages in the open ocean, because they visit far off islands like Genovesa (top right corner). If the cruise is traversing long stretches of open ocean, there is a higher chance of rough seas. Typically, these long stretches occur during the night, starting before or after dinner and while you are trying to sleep. Other itineraries tend to wrap around the shore, and make shorter, smoother journeys. Pro tip: take a look at the Galapagos routes each cruise offers. These are easily found on all of our cruise pages.
Galapagos seasickness prevention
There are a variety of methods to prevent seasickness in the Galapagos. If I was nervous or had a prior negative experience, I would personally try them all. Can’t hurt? However, speak to your doctor first. The scientific literature highlights that exposure to the conditions which cause motion sickness can actually build tolerance. This tolerance can last up to a year. Additionally, most passengers are habituated to the motion of a ship within two to three days. But, how in the world can I practice tolerance for seasickness in the Galapagos? Well, you will need a volunteer for this one, unless you have once of those fancy self driving Teslas. Just kidding, hands on the wheels folks.
Read a book, or watch a few minutes of a TV in the passenger seat of a car. If you are very sensitive to motion sickness, this will likely induce those seasickness symptoms. Stop immediately at first, this isn’t a sprint. Slowly build up your tolerance by incrementally increasing the time spent reading or watching while in motion. Maybe you can even go down some curved roads to really get the effect.
Watch what you ingest
The last may be a little extreme for some, so here are some easier rules to abide by. According to studies, heavy and greasy meals and alcohol increase likelihood of seasickness. Why must all the finer things in life have an unhealthy side effect? Anyways, alcohol and greasy meals make the work harder for your body to absorb sea sickness medication. For the buffet style meals, be mindful about not letting your eyes be bigger than your stomach. This may be one of the winning tickets to avoiding seasickness in the Galapagos
Avoid certain activities and practice others
Other tactics including minimizing visually taxing activities like (reading), or watching movies on your tablet at night. To relieve some of your anxiety, I guarantee if you participate in all the tours and Galapagos adventures, sleep will come easy. Having fun in the Galapagos is tiring. With all the snorkeling, hiking, swimming, eating, eating, and did I mention eating?
The academic literature also suggests that wearing sunglasses during the day, as it reduces visual stimulation that contributes to the seasick feeling. Additionally, relax in central areas of the ship, where the impacts of rolling, pitching, and heaving (the three magic ingredients to sea sickness) are reduced. Some ships will also have rooms closer to the center. If the symptoms ever pop up, head to the front deck. From there, keep your eyes fixed as much as possible on the horizon or land. Practice slow, deep breaths, as shallow breathing is also shown to increase the symptoms of sea sickness.
This is a bit of a weird one, but it might be worth trying. Apparently telling yourself that you will not get seasickness, or that you can “perform” well despite the symptoms can help lesson symptoms. They did this experiment with sailors, and the data shows it was effective. It goes along with that “fake it to you make it” strategy nicely.
Natural preventatives for seasickness
There are a handful of natural preventives and wearables that passengers rant and rave about. In my experience, I’ve met some that swear by these sea-band bracelets and rave about essential oils behind the ear. Whether placebo or not, I’ve seen it work magic for others. One fellow guest on my August cruise came down with a bit of nausea. The next day, another passenger offered them an essential oil which seemed to help significantly. They were even feeling confident enough to down a few Apertol spritz cocktails!
A body of academic literature suggests that ginger tea can be effective in preventing nausea and vomiting. Multiple randomized, placebo controlled, double blind studies all favor ginger over placebo in reducing the symptoms. You may want to pack the tea bags yourself if you are worried. The cruises often offer tea, but no promises that ginger will be available.
Medication for seasickness in the Galapagos
Of the evidence-based treatments, the majority of literature points to pharmaceutical medication for solutions. Medication is proven effective in preventing seasickness. However, do your research into the side effects. Some actually look similar to sea sickness! Secondly, speak with a doctor.
Here are a few medicines for seasickness that might save you in the Galapagos.
- scopolamine (transdermal patches, Transderm-Scop)
- dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
- meclizine (Antivert, Bonine, Meni-D, Antrizine)
- promethazine (Phenergan, Phenadoz, Promethegan)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- cyclizine (Marezine)
Some practitioners recommend Benadryl for night time. P.S. you do not want to wait until it is too late to take the medicine. Your body needs time to absorb the ingredients and adjust.
I hope everyone found this Galapagos sea sickness guide useful, and learned the best type to visit the Galapagos to avoid seasickness. Perhaps it gave you some new insights and tips. I know how important it is to have a perfect trip. One without setbacks. I’ve been there myself, when I used a travel agent that totally forgot to confirm a huge day trip to Versailles in Paris, leaving us totally upset with a half day of unplanned adventure. How is this related at all you may ask? The take away is to travel with a company that has your back, has a dedicated and professional team that is there for you rain or shine. With GreenGo travel, that is what we are all about. When you visit the Galapagos, do it right!