14 Recreational Boat Types Most People Choose (With Pictures)

In Boating by Morten Storgaard

Are you are looking forward to cruise around leisurely? Maybe you have a passion for watersport? Whatever are you are looking for; there is a kind of boat that perfectly fits your needs.

To start, you should select a type of boat from three watercraft categories.

Boat types

3 Main Categories Of Recreational Watercrafts

  1. Cruising
    Geared to those looking to spend time relaxing or entertaining on the water. Some models offer rooms and feature sufficient for a day cruise; others feature cabins and amenities for an overnight stay.
  2. Watersports
    They are specifically designed to accommodate water skiers and wakeboards; these boats have towing capabilities and offer a faster more thrilling ride.
  3. Fishing
    Open cockpits in the rear or stern allow for more front or bow deck space to make it easier to fish. While smaller vessels don’t have much room for seating, the larger craft may include cabins for overnight trips.

Once you decide what you want from a boat, understand that the price and insurance rate will be based on the brand, size, and model and those options can be overwhelming.

Continue your research by getting to know the different types of boats below and their uses:

7 Types Of Cruising Boats

1) Pontoon Boats

There have been whole songs written about Pontoon boats. They are very popular. Pontoon boats have two or even three pontoons instead of a traditional one-piece hull.

A flat platform rests upon these tubes, making a wide open space in which to fish, relax, sunbath or check out the sight.

They are usually between 15 and 30 feet in length.

Pros

  • Their spacious decks and ample seating make them highly functional because guests have plenty of room to lounge and even walk around.
  • The extra space that pontoon boats afford makes them an ideal type of boat on which to entertain family and friends.
  • With little kids, it feels like a pontoon boat is much safer because there are fewer “don’t go there” area on the boat. They are fenced with high side rails so they’re less likely to fall out of the boat.

Cons

  • Pontoon boats are often bulky, making them difficult to control in windy weather. Especially if it is being used for fishing as it may be difficult to maneuver into the narrow spot where fishermen must go.
  • They are only viable for river and lakes that are calm because their size makes them undesirable for rivers with many shallow areas or those that are prone to erratic fluctuations in water level.

2) BowRider & Run-About Boats

Known as a quintessential family boat, bow-rider offers room for ten or more passenger across its bow cockpit, helm and cockpit.

The bow area of these types of boats has been constructed in a unique way to allow a spacious seating arrangement.

Moreover, these runabout-style vessels contain a swim platform for putting on wake-boards, or for swimming activities feel-good leisure boating. With its V-shaped bottom, bow-rider boats offer a splendid ride across different water conditions.

The usage of stern drive power is the typical rule, but the demand for an outboard engine is increasing at a high rate.

Pros

  • Free up cockpit space inside the boat.
  • In most cases, outboards deliver superior power-to-weight ratios over stern drives.
  • Bow-rider boats can be tilted completely out of the water to prevent corrosion.

Cons

  • Bow-rider can be expensive.
  • Sacrifices crispness in turns, particularly in close-quarters maneuvering, compared to stern drives with dual props.
  • An outboard boat requires swim steps rather than a full-beam swim platform.

Run-about boats are capable of accommodating four and eight people, Runabout Boats are typically used racing, fishing and water skiing, etc.

The movement of these open boats is controlled by a steering wheel and forward controls, as located behind a windscreen.

Runabouts are usually declared entry-level vessels for casual sports and boating activities.

Pro

  • Runabout boats are entry-level best used for family boating, tows ports and fishing.

Con

  • Carrying capacity is limited to a few people.

3) Cabin Cruiser Boats

Offering all the essential features of a home, cabin cruiser boats are great for relaxed sailing.

Designed with a galley and a berth, these boats offer modern comforts like air conditioners, heater, and power generator.

In addition to a deep-v bottom, the cabin cruisers employ a secure shaft drive mechanism plus rudder steering and therefore are mainly suited for movement in the salt water.

Pros

  • A cabin cruiser is usually heavier and has a larger freeboard hence the ride is smooth and dry.
  • Their spacious decks and ample seating make them highly functional because guests have plenty of room to lounge and even walk around.

Cons

  • New cabin cruiser can be expensive and costly to maintain.
  • Due to the size of a cabin cruiser, they are most likely to be left in the water, requiring slip fees.

4) Houseboats

There are houseboats of different shapes and sizes across the world, offering the luxury of living on water and provide excellent recreational and holiday accommodation facilities.

Houseboats, also known as Float houses, incorporate broad flooring and modern amenities such as fine dining, entertainment, and proper sleeping arrangement.

The boat offer fun activities like relaxed cruising, family sailing, water sporting, etc.

While most of the houseboats are motorized, there are boats incapable of operating under their own power since they are usually kept stationary at a location.

Pros

  • Houseboats are way cheaper than a regular house and can be quite charming to live in.
  • The extra space that houseboats offer makes them an ideal type of boat on which to entertain family and friends.

Cons

  • The houseboat can rack up quite the monthly bill between mooring, water, sewage, and other utilities.
  • Fees and property taxes may vary widely.

5) Trawlers Boats

With features including a displacement hull and fuel-efficient engine, trawlers are intended to smoothly maneuver through the water. Without exhausting much horsepower or consuming excessive fuel.

This quality makes the trawler a brilliant option for participating in long-range cruising activities as all modern facilities can be found aboard the boat.

Pro

  • Trawlers tend to run at 7 to 10 knots while using a minimum of fuel, making them pretty efficient.

Cons

  • Due to the design of the hull construction, they are highly inefficient at high speeds.

6) Motor Yacht Boats

The latest design in the evolution of boats (the motor yacht) is a watercraft primarily used for leisure activities.

The motor yacht has a standard length of around 39 feet (12 meters) and above, with one or two diesel engines as per navigation requirement in inland waters or the oceans.

The motor yacht can vouchsafe for an enjoyable family trip. There are different types of yachts in the market including:

  • Day sailing yachts
  • Weekender yachts
  • Cruising yachts
  • Luxury sailing yachts

Pros

  • They offer an element of luxury as well as the ability to cruise farther for a longer period of time.
  • Many motor yachts today’s are highly stylized and offer an impressive level of privacy and luxury for the owners.
  • Designer accommodations, high-end appliances and plenty of space to entertain multiple small groups are standard.

Cons

  • New motor yachts can be expensive and costly to maintain.
  • Cleaning of a motor yacht isn’t easy as it may look as most parts are totally enclosed.

7) Catamaran Boats

Unlike other boats, the catamaran is a multi-hulled watercraft that features two (or three!) parallel hulls of equal size.

Compared to vessels with a single hull, catamaran boats features less hull volume, shallow draft, and higher displacement.

Excellent for fishing purposes and even for leisurely cruising abilities, catamarans are being built for various purposes across the world.

Pros

  • Power catamarans offer a fabulous amount of interior space and are the ideal cross between speed and efficiency.
  • The two hulls connected by a nacelle make them extremely stable and are easily controlled with the engines mounted far apart.

Cons

  • Power catamarans tend to be expensive.
  • Traveling with power catamaran takes a little more planning and coordinating than atypical cabin cruiser.
  • Catamarans are less able to cope under the heavy rough sea than conventional cruisers.

4 Types of Watersports Boats

The last types of recreational boats we will look at are not built for people to live on. They are for having fun on the weekends and for active living.

1) Personal Watercraft (PWC) Boats

The PWC boats, also known as jetski and water scooter are customized boats for adventurous activities.

This recreational watercraft allows individual to explore the water at their own ease and also to participate in games such as sport fishing and water-skiing, etc.

There are two types of PWCs such as “sit down” and “stand-up” model, where the former is intended for two or more people, while the latter can only accommodate a single rider.

Pros

  • PWC can be rigged to pull tow-toys likes tubes and wakeboards.
  • Many models have integrated stereos, cruise control, digital throttle and shift, and even braking system
  • Many have the fuel capacity to make longer trips, in some cases even beyond 100 miles.

Con

  • Carrying capacity is limited to two riders only.

2) Wakeboard/Ski Boats

The ski boats and wakeboard boats look quite the same but differ in their field of action.

The inboard ski boats require a powerful range of acceleration and the shape of the engine and propeller accentuates it.

On the other hand, the inboard wake boards feature a V drive engine system, deep hulls and a huge wake to set in motion.

Pros

  • Wakeboard boats have their engine placed backward in the bow of the craft which creates a larger wake.
  • Ski boats feature a sun pad area that can convert into a fishing platform.
  • For the waterski enthusiasts, the ski boats are made to tow 1 or more water skiers.

Con

  • Wakeboards boats are some of the most specialized and most expensive boats on the market.

3) Jet Boats

Powered by a jet of water ejected from behind the vessel, the jet boat is notable for its high maneuverability.

The structure of a jet boat is quite similar to that of a bow-rider, as it offers a lot of seating area along with a swimming platform.

The advanced propulsion system is securely enwrapped in the hull, to protect it from any external damage.

Pros

  • A jet boat does not have an outdrive or driveshaft, so there is typically nothing hanging down below the boat hence can be operated in as little as 12’’ of water or less(note that isn’t recommended).
  • Jets boats have extremely quick acceleration and unmatched turning ability.
  • Jets boats do not have an exterior propeller hence any longer at the risk of accident related to the spinning prop.

Cons

  • The motors in modern day jet boats tend to run at higher RPMs their stern drive counterparts. This makes the potentially less fuel efficient.
  • Noise is a matter of concern as this goes hand-in-hand with fuel consumption due to higher RPMs.

4) Sport Boats

Sport boats are dual console boats with a walk-through windshield designed with sporty performance. They can be inboard stern drive powered or outboard powered.

Due to the design and performance, they are not considered open water boats. Sport boats tend to be relatively inexpensive.

Most modern sport boats provide adequate performance for many of the popular tow sports.

Sport boats make great social platforms for day boating with family and friends.

Pro

  • Sports boats offer a fabulous amount of interior space and are the ideal cross between speed and efficiency.

Con

  • Sport boats are relatively expensive.

2 Types of fishing boats

1) Centre Console Boats

Center console boats are generally designed for fishing. By placing the operating console in the center of the boat the cockpit extends to the bow and moving about while fishing is easier.

Pure center console boats have very little seating.

Forward seating has become a standard on many models and in most cases; there is storage that can be used as a fish box or cooler.

While fishing, the forward seating cushions can be stowed, and the anti-skid surface of the seat serves as a forward fishing platform.

This is the most comfortable place to ride on the way to the bite due to the fact that is near the outboard(s).

Behind the helm is usually a leaning post form of seating. Most center console boats that are larger than 20-feet in length have an operational head inside the center console.

Most center console boats are equipped with fishing features such as outriggers, hardtops, and rocket launcher-style rod holders.

The center console boat category continues to grow as the popularity increases. Larger center console boats, 35-feet and more, frequently have full cabins within the console and under the deck areas with a galley, head, and berths. These boats are built well for offshore conditions.

Pros

  • One of the best things about a center console boat is the fact that you will be able to fish from all around the boat.
  • People choose center console boats because of its phenomenal visibility that its offer while boating; since the helm is located at the Centre of the boat, you can literally see all around it.

Cons

  • The biggest shortcoming is that most console models have very few seats; other than the driver who usually gets a comfortable double seat, passengers have to make with harder seats often with no seat back.
  • Console center boat has no sun- pad for stretching out hence making long trips less pleasant.

2) Walk-Around Boats

Walk around boats are a very popular design for fishing, as well as family trips. The best walk around boats is versatile enough to be used for many different purposes.

These vessels can be operated on large, inland waters, as well as offshore fishing locations.

This style of boat is very similar to a cuddy cabin. Unlike cuddy boats, workaround allows you to walk all the way around the bows of the boats for easier access to all areas on the deck.

The walk around the boat gets its name from this distinguishing feature.

Walk-around boats come in various lengths, which suits fishermen and families with different needs. The walk-around boat is a popular boat type.

Prices vary, based on a boat’s size and features, but these models are usually more affordable than other similar vessels.

Pros

  • These boats are commonly used for both fresh and saltwater fishing, along with day cruising.
  • Newer walk-around models have recessed bow cockpits and convertible sunshades.

Cons

  • In some models, the cabins do not provide good ventilation. A boater who takes trips in a hot climate may find that the cabins are uncomfortable and (too) hot during the day.
  • The cabin of the boat is too small although a walk around boat provides easy access around the boat. The walkway takes away a fair amount of cabin space and only allows room for two people to sleep aboard.

Two Types Of Materials You Need To Know

While there are many types of materials boats are made of, aluminum and fiberglass happen to be the most commonly used types for recreational boating.

The most obvious difference between the two is the price tag- aluminum being significantly less expensive than fiberglass types.

The latter requires pricey material, expensive molding and many hours to build compared to the former.

Aluminum

There are two methods of construction for an aluminum type of boat:

  1. The pressed aluminum
  2. Plate aluminum construction.

Pressed aluminum is ideal for smaller boats intended to be used in calmer journeys like in rivers and lakes.

Plate aluminum construction, on the other hand, is used for larger boat ideal for coastal and offshore purposes, commercial fishing and ferries.

Fiberglass

The fiberglass-made boat is the best option to pick for a yacht or a cruiser.

Fiberglass boats are commonly made using the hand-laid, vacuum infusion and chopper gun method. This type of boat is generally heavier compared to aluminum and thus requires more care when being operated. They chip or crack when it hits a rock while aluminum boats will have dents.

Tip
The best thing about fiberglass is durability. Here’s everything you need to know about how long fiberglass boats last. You’ll be surprised!

These two types of boats are great but it all boils down to your preference and what you intend to do with the vessel.

Conclusion

I am hopeful that this helps you to determine the best boat to meet the needs of your boating family.

Whatever boat you choose, be sure to partake in a US Coast Guard or Power Squadron Safe Boating class and be sure that there is always a ‘designated captain’ available if you intend to partake of the spirits.

You must also be aware of State laws regarding Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) and other safety equipment that’s needed for safe operation.

Have a great voyage!