Lonely Planet Writer

Make sure your hotel has a sea view - it can significantly improve your health!

Having an ocean view at your house – or indeed your holiday home – can have a significant impact on your mental health, according to new research.

Cancun beachfront.
Cancun beachfront. Image by Ricardo Diaz / CC BY 2.0

A study discovered that people who lived looking over what the research calls “blue space” seem to suffer much less from psychological distress. The research mapped the city of Wellington in New Zealand according to whether people could see the ocean and cross-checked it against data from the country’s health databases. Even after they took account of things like age, wealth, and other neighbourhood factors, the sea views still seemed to significantly improve mental wellbeing. The research also found that a view over “green space” like forests, parks, or playing fields did not have the same calming effect.

One of the study’s author Amber Pearson said it was not possible to say for definite if a temporary view of the ocean during a holiday would have the same effect … but that it was certainly possible. She told Lonely Planet: “In our study, we did not measure how long individuals lived in their neighbourhood and thus, the amount of time they were ‘exposed’ to blue space. We do not know yet how long it takes to be ‘exposed’. In other words, one may receive the mental health benefits immediately when looking at blue spaces.”

One of the main theories put forward for the calming effect of sea and ocean views is that the brain finds it much easier to “efficiently process natural backdrops”. Ms Pearson said: “[That] reduces sensory stimuli and promotes mental relaxation. Surely mental relaxation is part of the purpose of travel and holidays.” While there is no guarantee booking an ocean view for a short holiday will have the desired impact, most travellers will testify to the miraculous calming effects of the sound of waves lapping on the shore. The study’s authors said future research might look at whether views over fresh bodies of water like large lakes had the same effect.