Choosing the Right Boat: Buying Guide for Recreational Boating

There are so many different types of boats out there that choosing the right boat for you, personally, can seem like a tough decision. Answering the “what boat is right for me” question begins with a look at our Boat Finder, which will help you narrow down the choices depending on: what type of activities you like; how many people you usually take out; the size of the boats you’re interest in; the type of propulsion you favor; and whether or not you want a trailerable boat. This will help you select among these popular options...

Types of Boats

All-Purpose Fishing Boats - If you like to cast for everything from bass to bowfin, you need a fishing boat with maximum versatility.

Aluminum Fishing Boats - Light, easy to transport, and rugged, aluminum fishing boats are incredibly popular among a wide range of anglers.

Bass Boats - These highly-specialized fishing machines are the ultimate when targeting bass in in the plans.

Bay Boats/Flats Boats - Light tackle and fly anglers honing their skills will be attracted to these types of boats.

Bowriders - Joy-rides with the family, watersports, and trips to the beach are all in store when you have a bowrider.

Cabin Cruisers - When you want to cruise in luxury, a cabin cruiser fits the bill.

Center Consoles - Saltwater anglers in particular love the fishing flexibility a center console provides.

Cuddy Cabins - Cuddy cabin boats let you enjoy the open air and sunshine, while still providing some shelter when you need it.

Deck Boats - Maximizing interior volume and seating is what these boats are all about, so you can invite a big crew aboard.

Dinghies - Whether you need transportation from the dock to a mooring or a mini-boat to gunkhole around in, a dinghy will do the job.

Fish-and-Ski - You’re an angler who also enjoys water skiing and wakeboarding? Then this might be the right pick for you.

High Performance Boats - If you feel the need for speed, a high performance boat can’t be beat.

Inflatables - Whether you have a specific need for an inflatable boat or you just want a watercraft you can deflate and stow under the couch, there are plenty of inflatables to choose from.

Jet Boats - Sporty and no propeller—what’s not to like?

Motor Yachts/Power Cruisers - When you want a boat that puts you squarely in the lap of luxury, a motor yacht/cruiser is the way to go.

Multi-Hull Powerboats - Some boaters believe that two hulls are better than one, and multi-hull powerboats are their top pick.

Personal Watercrafts (PWCs) - Get a personal watercraft, and you’d better get ready for a serious adrenaline rush.

Pontoon Boats - Modern pontoon boats are a whole lot more than mere party barges.

Sailboats - Become one with the watery world and harness the wind, with a new sailboat.

Ski Boats/Wake Boats - If watersports are your thing, a ski, wake, or surf boat will get the party started.

Sportfishing Yachts - Few fishing challenges are as intense as hunting for big-game sportfish, and few boats are as ideal for tackling that challenge as sportfishing yachts.

Trawlers - When you believe half the adventure is in getting there, a trawler will be perfect for the voyage.

Walkarounds - Fishing, weekending, and cruising can all be in the mix, if you own a walkaround boat.

Boating Activities

Naturally, a big part of what makes a boat ideal for you and your family depends on how you’ll be using it. Bear in mind that some boats are more specialized than others, and may be perfect for one activity but entirely inappropriate for another. On the other hand, there are also lots of models out there that are meant to be more general-purpose in nature. Some of the more specialized activities some boats are designed to enhance include:

Find the details about other considerations that come into play when choosing the right boat, in our Boat Buyer’s Guide. We cover all the bases in it—ranging from budgets and finance to what type of vehicle you may need to tow your boat—because our mission is to make sure you end up being a happy boater.

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