There are plenty of special boating gifts that your loved one would surely appreciate unwrapping this holiday season. But wouldn’t they be even more excited to receive a boat-themed gift they can enjoy on their next boat trip?
We’ve sorted through the potential presents that can make a boater’s time out on the water even more awesome than it already is, and one or more of these picks is sure to put a smile on the face of your most beloved boater.
As you try to figure out how to make this season special, be sure to consider these top 10 gifts for boaters.
1. A Boat Lift
Keeping your boat on a lift doesn’t just eliminate the need for bottom paint and mooring lines; it gives you peace of mind.
Plus, boat lifts aren’t just for private dock owners. Many marinas allow their customers to put lifts in their slips. However, remember that there’s usually a long-term commitment involved, and the marina may retain ownership of the lift afterward.
2. Boat Electronics
Would navigation be made easier with a new MFD? Maybe a gift that would help when fishing would be in order? Or, perhaps there’s been a communications breakdown, and a new VHF radio would be the best gift?
Marine electronics are constantly evolving, so upgrading a system that’s more than a few years old is always a good idea. Once you narrow it down to the best bet, you can start considering individual brands and units.
3. Fishing Rods and Reels
If you need a perfect gift idea for an angler, this one’s a no-brainer—there’s not a fisher alive who doesn’t love getting new rods and reels. Whether the angler you’re shopping for is into freshwater fishing or they’re a dedicated saltwater fishing aficionado, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from at all different price points.
See all Fishing Gear, Tackle, & Equipment.
4. Emergency Signaling Devices
There’s no better way to tell a boat owner you love them than to get them safety-adding gear like an emergency signaling device. You have several options, from electronic flares to satellite text messengers to EPIRBs. These items all share one thing in common: they add a huge safety margin every time the boat leaves the dock.
Added bonus: some emergency signaling devices, like Garmin’s inReach satellite messenger, also allow you to send regular text messages via satellite so you can stay in touch even when you’re far from land.
See all Safety Equipment.
In the just-plain-fun department, a new tow toy could be just the nautical-themed gift you need. We intentionally didn’t specify between wakeboards, water skis, and inflatables because different people enjoy different tow sports.
Whatever type of watersports the person you’re shopping for may favor, remember that each different board or tube offers different riding and performance characteristics. So, even if there’s already one board aboard, adding another can change the experience.
See all Water Sports Equipment & Accessories.
6. A Boat Grill
The newest, most expensive boats often have gas grills built in, but most bowriders, center consoles, and pontoon boats out there don’t.
If your family enjoys cooking, getting a high quality grill for the boat could be an excellent way to enhance those long days out on the water. Plus, you could give them other items to maximize their boat dining experience, like a bottle opener, serving trays, and silicone cooking utensils.
See all Boat Cooking Tools & Galley Supplies.
7. A Bilge Pump
A bilge pump might seem like an odd gift item, but let’s get real—few items are more critical than a bilge pump on any boat. And since many models are built with just one bilge pump, adding a backup is always a good idea.
There are plenty of different pumps to choose from, but one you’ll certainly want to take a peek at is Attwood’s Sahara Mk2, which eliminates air-lock.
8. Safety Harnesses
Sailboat owners have their own unique needs, and something they may want is a harness. If your special sailor is into racing, a strong, light, comfortable harness is a critical safety gear—and makes for a gift sure to be appreciated.
See all Sailboat Accessories.
9. Boat Trailer Guide-On Bunks
Does the gift recipient you treasure need to take three or four attempts to get their boat lined up correctly on the trailer? If so, they will love a set of guide-on trailer bunks. The vertical posts will help the boat self-center, directing the bow into the proper position every time the boat goes onto the trailer.
See all Boat Trailer Parts & Accessories.
10. Fishing Rod Holders
It’s a fact: anglers love rod holders on their boats. And no matter how many they may have, more is always better. So find the flush mounts, rail mounts, or rocket launchers that will fit your adored angler’s boat and start wrapping.
Bonus Gift: A Brand New Boat
Do you want to give your loved one the ultimate nautical gift? Well then, there can be no further debate—check out our Boat Finder tool and get them a brand new boat!
Editor’s Note: This article was updated in December 2022.