I’ll be the first one to admit that I am notorious for getting lost, especially on the water.
I’m grateful we live in a world where we have GPS units for our cars, but what about for jet skis?
The good news is that there are plenty of options when it comes to GPS for your jet ski, some you may already have. Let me explain what the best GPS is for your jet ski and how to install them.
1. Your Smartphone
The best GPS for a jet ski is the one you already have on you, and that is your smartphone.
Just about every smartphone has a map app, and while it may not be made for turn-by-turn directions while on the water, it’s better than most physical maps or having nothing at all.
To be clear, your smartphone won’t work in the ocean or places where you don’t get a signal. But with phones getting better and better every year, and some even having an SOS function, it’s just a matter of time your phone works better than a standalone GPS. We’re already seeing jet ski owners making the leap to only use their phones for plotting, and it’s growing every year.
You can get apps that tell you where to go while on your local lake or river, just search your app store. Even Sea-Doo makes an app that allows you to mark your way on your phone and display the directions on certain model’s displays.
The video below shows you how to use your phone for navigating on the water.
Mounting Your Phone To Your Jet Ski
The tricky part of using your phone, or any GPS on your jet ski, is mounting it. Please take note, most of the phone holders and mounts don’t protect your phone from water, so a clear case bag* may be needed.
If you have a Yamaha with RAM mounts, you can use their option to secure your phone. If your jet ski has a phone hookup with directions displayed on the gauge, that is the best solution, as they often have a dry compartment for your phone as shown below.
For jet skis with a thin handlebar, you can use a regular motorcycle phone holder*.
If you’re handy, you can do a slight modification to the lid of your jet ski glove box, as shown in the video below.
My personal favorite option is using an armband case for my phone*, but I keep it lower, almost like a watch, to keep it in view. My phone is attached to my body, I just look at my arm quickly to know if I’m going the right direction, and it’s just perfect while riding a jet ski.
If none of these options work for you, then do what I did when I first started out, stop when you get to a place where you’re not sure where to go and look at your phone. I would mark on the Google Maps app where I wanted to go, then zoom out to see my dot on the screen, then move my dot closer to the other dot. Every so often I would stop once I got confused, get my phone out of the protective dry bag, and check if I was going in the right direction. Since there are no roads and a lot more open spaces, it’s easier to navigate a jet ski on water than a car on land.
2. Garmin GPSMAP 66i
Up next for the best GPS for a jet ski is the Garmin GPS MAP 66i, which is a dedicated handheld GPS unit.
The reason why the Garmin GPS MAP 66i is so high on my list is that it not only does GPS and plotting, but it also allows you to communicate with others.
You have an SOS feature in case you get lost or stranded.
You also have the marine chart mode built into the device, which is necessary for navigating waters.
3. Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 72sv
A bit more serious option when it comes to GPS on a jet ski is the Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 72sv*.
With a transducer, you also get a fish finder along with GPS navigation.
For most jet skis, you will need to make some modifications to fit this full-sized GPS, but if you do a lot of fishing and exploring it will be worth it.
See the full details of the GPS model here*.
Can You Put A GPS On A Jet Ski?
You can put a GPS unit on a jet ski, some models even come with a GPS built in, like the Sea-Doo Fish Pros. All jet ski manufacturers offer kits that allow you to attach a GPS to your jet ski, for example, Yamaha has this.
If your jet ski doesn’t have a GPS already, you can buy one of the units mentioned in this post and mount it. Often, a simple motorcycle phone mount will work, but many larger marine GPS units have the mounts and just need to be bolted to the jet ski.
The best place to mount a GPS for a jet ski is on the hood or wind deflector, as it’s easy to replace if you want to get rid of the mount later. Another great place is the lid of the glove box, as it pops off easy and can be replaced if you go to sell the jet ski later without the GPS.
Do Jet Skis Have A Place To Put Your Phone?
Most newer jet skis have a place to put your phone in the glove box, as shown in the image below.
We started seeing phone storage become a thing around 2018, and before that, there was no good place to keep your phone in your jet ski.
Even today, I suggest keeping your phone in a hard-case phone holder* or dry bag with soft rags around it. You bounce around a lot on a jet ski, so phone storage is important. Your phone can be your GPS or a device that can get you help, so it’s important you take care of it.
Why Don’t Jet Skis Have Navigation Lights
The reason why jet skis don’t have navigation lights is due to them not being allowed to drive at night.
Jet skis are too small and people are too careless with them, add darkness to it and many places don’t allow jet skis to drive after sunset. Some countries allow it, but overall, it’s a bad idea.
GPS Tracker For A Jet Ski?
You can buy GPS trackers to keep in your jet ski, I cover that and more in this post here.
I like keeping an Apple AirTag* in my jet ski because it’s cheap and easy to hide. While the AirTag is not made for this exactly, I figure it’s better than nothing.