In this paper we present mean velocity distributions measured in several different wave flumes. The flows shown involve different types of mechanical wavemakers, channels of differing sizes, and two different end conditions. In all cases, when surface waves, nominally deep-water Stokes waves, are generated, counterflowing Eulerian flows appear that act to cancel locally, i.e. not in an integral sense, the mass transport associated with the Stokes drift. No existing theory of wave–current interactions explains this behaviour, although it is symptomatic of Gerstner waves, rotational waves that are exact solutions to the Euler equations. In shallow water (kH ≈ 1), this cancellation of the Stokes drift does not hold, suggesting that interactions between wave motions and the bottom boundary layer may also come into play.