What Is The Best Marine GPS?

Looking for a great marine GPS?

Ready to have the best marine navigation tool at your disposal?

For marine navigation, nothing beats the cutting edge technology of GPS systems for the job. A GPS can be a great tool to have on your boat. The accuracy of a GPS is a godsend for navigating the water no matter what your purpose for being out there is.

Below we'll look at the best marine GPS and chart plotters that are perfect for your marine navigation needs.

What is a Marine GPS?

GPS technology has an interesting history and was originally developed for military use by the U.S. Department of Defense but is now widely used by the public.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System and the technology has revolutionized the way we navigate the world both by land, by sea, and by air. It allows users to pinpoint their exact location easily.

GPS has wide use in modern times and is available all day, every day. The technology can provide great accuracy and is typically accurate up to 15 meters.

Many types of GPS systems exist including ones for handheld use, land vehicle navigation, and marine use. Most smartphones today have GPS capabilities as well.

What to Think About Before Your Purchase

Before we get to the list of the best GPS navigation options there are a few things to think about first to make sure you know what you should be looking for. Here are a few things you'll want to consider when choosing.

Purpose of the GPS

GPS options for marine use vary a bit so you'll need to think about what your purpose will be for it.

If you'll be using your GPS for fishing you'll have different needs than someone who is using it for diving or exploration.

You'll also have different needs if you need it for a commercial boat instead of a private one.

Think about your specific purposes carefully before choosing a GPS.

Fish Finder Capabilities

If you'll be using the GPS when you'll be fishing then it may be important to you to have fish finder capabilities on the GPS.

Many of the GPS systems include a fishfinder as part of the system, and for avid fishermen, using one of these correctly can be a game changer.

Travel Routes

A chart plotter can be helpful for any type of GPS user, but it can be particularly important for anyone who is exploring a lot and will have multiple routes that they'll be taking.

Storage capabilities can vary between different GPS units so if you'll be traveling numerous routes you need one with the capability to have multiple routes stored.

Features Vs. Portability

It's important to think about the portability of your GPS too. GPS units can be either handheld or portable and similar in appearance to a car GPS. You may also choose to buy a large mounted GPS unit.

If you're using your GPS for commercial use you'll probably want to invest in a more fully-featured option.

However, if you just need it for occasional recreational usage you may want to go with a less expensive, portable device. A smaller more portable GPS will be more flexible and can be easier to handle and carry around as needed.

Features to Look For

When you're looking at GPS choices you'll want to evaluate a few main features and see if they have them or not.

Not every GPS will have every feature and the quality of each feature will vary. Consider the below features carefully. It's important for you to consider the features wisely and think about it beforehand to make the best choice.

Below are some features you should be looking for in a marine GPS.

Screen Size and Resolution

There are different sizes of GPS screens out there. If you want one that is easy to see and understand you may want to look for a larger screen with a high resolution. While devices with larger screens may not be as portable they can make navigation a breeze.

Water Resistance

Many of the best marine GPS units come with an ability to resist water. Water resistance can be a good feature to look for when you'll be using the device around the ocean, the lake, or another body of water.

Since these devices can be expensive, you'll likely want to look for some good waterproof or water resistance features to help protect your investment.

There are different water resistance ratings out there, so check the resistance beforehand if you want to keep your device protected.

Electronic Compass

There are a number of additional and built-in features that a marine GPS may include. An electronic compass is one of these, and can be very helpful for a GPS and can allow you to not only see where you are but also exactly what direction you're facing.


A built-in barometer function can also be a great help and allow you to be aware of storm systems while on the ocean. You may want to check for a good barometer before buying a GPS.

Extra Maps/Charts

Many GPS units will include maps and charts with the initial purchase, but others will require an additional purchase for you to have what you need. You may want to put in the money to get either more detailed maps or more of them when choosing your GPS device.

Enough Power

If you'll be using a GPS with fish finding capabilities you'll want to make sure you have one with enough power to do the job.

If you're fishing at 200' or less in depth you won't need a powerful device. However, if you plan to do any deep sea fishing you'll need to make sure that the GPS has the power you need.


If you're looking for a GPS with fishfinder capabilities, it's also important to find out about what fishfinder transducers are included on the device. The diameter of a transducer's focusing crystal matters a lot.

Using a larger transducer crystal will have the same effect as having a higher power fish finder and can increase the depth capabilities of the device.

Best Marine Navigation GPS Choices

So what are our favorite marine GPS choices? Below are our top picks out of all of the many great offerings on the market.

1. Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro

The Raymarine Dragonfly Pro is our top choice of GPS units for boat and marine usage. It's a powerful GPS option that can be mounted on your boat.

This Raymarine GPS offers a great looking display with a high resolution as well as a robust set of features. It has bright colors and excellent contrast on its LCD screen.

The device comes with some great sonar and fish finding capabilities. It features Spectrum CHIRP technology that delivers excellent sonar signals and information from the water.

The GPS also comes with US Navionics for charts and also has built-in wi-fi.

Overall, if you're looking for a great GPS and fish finder the Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro is one of the best options out there.

2. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc GPS is another great unit for marine use. The GPS is packed with some great features that will serve any marine explorer well and it can be a lot of help during navigation.

The GPS has excellent chart plotter functionality and a great looking display. This is a very portable option that will give you a lot of flexibility in how and where you use it.

Some of the best features of this device are the extended 30+ hours of battery life and the fast performance. It also has some great safety features such as the "man overboard" button which allows you to mark the location if someone falls into the water. It also floats on the water, so if you drop it's not a big deal.

There are more features than we'll list here, but it is a great device that overall will serve any user well especially for sailing and any exploring needs.

3. Garmin EchoMAP CHIRP 54cv

The Garmin EchoMAP CHIRP 54cv GPS with a transducer is another excellent choice if you're looking for a reliable marine GPS for your needs.

Like the above device, this GPS also features the excellent reliability, performance and extensive features that Garmin is known for. The device has an easy installation process and can easily be mounted for your needs.

The GPS includes built-in maps and charts and features a great, large display that will serve you well during navigation. The image on the display simply looks great.

The CHIRP sonar technology serves the GPS and it updates at 5 times per second, meaning you'll always have an accurate reading.

Overall, this is another excellent option if you're looking for a killer GPS for navigation and all of your marine needs.

4. Lowrance Mark-4 Chirp

The Lowrance Mark-4 Chirp is another excellent marine GPS that can meet just about anybody's needs. It has extensive fishfinder and chartplotter capabilities and will be able to do just about anything you need it to do.

This GPS is unique because the display is monochrome however the display still looks great and has an excellent resolution.

The GPS also includes an 83/200 KHz mount transducer and it's performance benefits well from the advanced signal processing. It also DownScan overlay technology for some excellent imaging and the CHIRP Sonar also works great.

Overall, if you're looking for a great device that works well as a fishfinder as well as a chartplotter, this Lowrance GPS makes a great choice.

5. Humminbird Helix 5

The Humminbird Helix 5 is another great marine GPS that you can choose from. It has great features and good chartplotter capabilities that will allow you to navigate with style and plenty of ease.

The GPS has great fish finding capabilities and every fisherman would love to work with this GPS. The device will work well for even smaller boats such as kayaks and rafts but has the power that a larger boat will be able to use as well.

The GPS features a great looking back lit display, excellent imaging capabilities, great sonar power, and more that will help you find fish and navigate your vessel well.

Overall, this is a great unit that offers a lot for fisherman as well as anyone hoping to navigate the waters on either a small or large boat.

6. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter/Fishfinder

The Simrad GO7 XSE is another great GPS, chart plotter, and fish finder that does a great job and has plenty of features that leaves nothing missing.

The GPS features a large 7-inch display that is back lit LCD and looks absolutely stunning. The device also has built-in wi-fi functionality and a multi-touch interface that works great.

This chart plotter/fish finder boasts great performance due to TotalScan Transducer technology, CHIRP sonar, and great looking HD imaging.

This chart plotter and fish finder is a powerful option that is on the larger side, so if you're looking for a portable GPS device this probably won't be your top choice.

However, if you want a large GPS you can mount and that will work great for your navigation and fish finding needs, the Simrad GO7 XSE will make a great choice.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a reliable and powerful marine GPS for marine and boat use, you can't go wrong with any of the above options.

However, make sure to weigh your different options carefully and think about what individual features you need the most. If you do, you'll be sure to make the right choice in the end.

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