Your Phone Is The Best GPS For Your Jet Ski Travels

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 and boats, but what about for jet skis?

The good news is that there are plenty of options when it comes to GPS’s, some you may already have. Let me explain what the best GPS is for your watercraft and how to install them.

1. Your Smartphone Is The Best Option

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 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 PWC

The tricky part of using your phone, or any GPS on your PWC, 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 (Amazon Link Ad) may be needed.

If you have a Yamaha with RAM mounts, you can use their option to secure your phone. If your watercraft 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 (Amazon Link Ad).

If you’re handy, you can do a slight modification to the lid of your glove box, as shown in the video below:

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 on water than a car on land.

2. Garmin GPSMAP 66i Comes In Second

Up next 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 (Amazon Link Ad).

With a transducer, you also get a fish finder along with GPS navigation.

This GPS unit is similar to the ones you get on the Sea-Doo Fish Pros, you can even convert some models of Sea-Doo to fit this GPS.

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 (Amazon Link Ad).


Can You Get A GPS?

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 PWC 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 machine!

The best place to mount a GPS 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 craft later without the GPS.

Is There 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.

Even today, I suggest keeping your phone in a hard-case phone holder (Amazon Link Ad) 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.

GPS Tracker?

You can buy GPS trackers to keep in your watercraft, I cover that and more in this post here.


I like keeping an Apple AirTag (Amazon Link Ad) in my Sea-Doo because it’s cheap and easy to hide. While the AirTag is not made for this exactly, I figure it’s better than nothing.

I know people frown about the AirTag, as it can be used for bad things, but people were being creepy long before the AirTag came to be. GPS trackers are not new, it’s just that the AirTag is cheap (cheaper than other options) and it works “good enough“. It’s easy to hide in your jet ski, like in the seat foam, and gives a nice piece of mind if something were to happen and someone steals it.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.


  1. One can always use their old GPS unit to navigate on a pwc. I have our old Garmin Nuvi on our boat. Works great and dims automatically at dusk.

    • Sure, whatever works for you. Just keep in mind that most states you can’t drive past sunset. I like using my iPhone since I always have it on me, but I rather use an old GPS just in case I drop it.


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