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Which Type of Boat Should You Buy?

Darrek Olson
Which Type of Boat Should You Buy?

Unless you grew up boating, trying to understand all the different types of boats can be a daunting task. 

It’s Boat Week at Carsforsale.com, so we are breaking down the three main types of boats to help you pick the best boat for you and your family.

The first step in picking the type of boat is simply asking yourself, what do you want to do with a boat? Are you a fisherman? Does relaxing time on the water with family sound ideal? Do you enjoy waterskiing, or does the calm of sailing seem more enjoyable? Once this is established, it’s easy to narrow down your search by choosing one of three types of boats.


If you enjoy the thrill of riding the wake on either skis or a tube, a watersport boat may suit you best. These are designed with speed and towing in mind. Here are a few of the types of boats ideal for watersports.

Ski and Wakeboard Boat

2006 Malibu Wakesetter - Carsforsale.com
2006 Malibu Wakesetter - Carsforsale.com

As the name suggests, these boats are designed to pull skiers, wakeboarders, etc. The primary difference between a ski boat and a speed boat is that some ski boats can create an adjustable wake by pulling water into a ballast, creating a smoother service or steeper wake, depending on your desires.

Fish and Ski Boats

2013 Glastron GT185 - Carsforsale.com

2013 Glastron GT185  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Glastron Boats on Carsforsale.com

If you enjoy fishing, but want to take your kids tubing on the weekend, this is the all-in-one solution for you. These boats often have dynamic features such as comfortable seating, live wells and tow bars.

Personal Watercraft

2008 Sea-Doo RXT 215 - Carsforsale.com

2008 Sea-Doo RXT 215  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Sea-Doo on Carsforsale.com

PWCs are often lumped into the term, “Jet skis.” These watercraft can sometimes carry up to four passengers. PWCs are a blast on their own, but many have engines that are capable of towing skiers and tubers.

Jet Boat

1998 Baja Islander - Carsforsale.com

1998 Baja Islander  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Baja Boats on Carsforsale.com

These boats are designed with spacious seating and increased maneuverability and speed. They can be used for watersports or high-speed riding. They are generally capable of accessing shallower water.


The most straight-forward category on our list is the fishing boat. Shore fishing is fun, but locating and catching fish on a boat is a rewarding, and often more productive experience. There are many types of boats that accommodate fishing.

Jon Boat

2013 Tracker 1648 GRIZZLY - Carsforsale.com

2013 Tracker 1648 GRIZZLY  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Tracker Boats on Carsforsale.com

If you are looking for an inexpensive option for a small, shallow body of water, the Jon boat is for you. These watercraft are usually aluminum or fiberglass, and can be equipped with a trolling motor or outboard motor. Jon boats are often designed for one or two passengers, and are great for boating beginners.

Utility Boat

2004 Fisher Mud Boat - Carsforsale.com

2004 Fisher Mud Boat  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Fisher Boats on Carsforsale.com

These could be considered glorified Jon boats. Utility boats are often slightly larger aluminum boats powered by an outboard motor. The simple, practical and economical design makes it a top choice for many casual fisherman.

Bass Boat

2012 BassCar Margay - Carsforsale.com

2012 BassCat Margay  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop BassCat Boats on Carsforsale.com

Typically used for fresh water fishing, bass boats generally have high powered outboards and a trolling motor. The boat’s low profile makes it easy to access the water and handle fish. Other features include a recirculating live well, swivel chairs, rod storage and much more.

Center Console Boat

2007 Alumacraft MV1860 - Carsforsale.com

2007 Alumacraft MV1860  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Alumacraft Boats on Carsforsale.com

The helm of center console boats is appropriately located in the center. These boats are often used for saltwater fishing. The hull is open, allowing anglers to easily move from the front to the rear. These are often larger boats and can generally handle rough open waters.


2015 Seahunt Gamefish 25 - Carsforsale.com
2015 Seahunt Gamefish 25 - Carsforsale.com

Also used primarily in saltwater, walkarounds have a path that surrounds the cabin. They are ideal for targeting large ocean fish. These are often used for large fishing charters because many people can have access to the water at the same time.


If you want to boat just for the sake of boating, a cruiser may be best for you. These types of boats are designed for comfort, spending time on the water and sometimes an overnight stay.

Pontoon Boat

2011 Suntracker 18 - Carsforsale.com
2011 Suntracker 18 - Carsforsale.com

One of the most popular types of boats, pontoon boats are supported by two or three aluminum tubes. Pontoons are able to support a large platform and maintain great stability. They are ideal for leisure trips, but can be used for some fishing and watersports.


2006 Hunter 44 Deck Salon - Carsforsale.com
2006 Hunter 44 Deck Salon - Carsforsale.com

One of the purest forms of boating, sailboats are powered by the wind. Sailboats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are designed for personal operation on small bodies of water, while others are set up for the open water with amenities for an overnight stay. Sailing is a unique, specialized skill, so make sure to receive the proper training before going out.


2008 Crownline 200LS - Carsforsale.com
2008 Crownline 200LS - Carsforsale.com

These boats are ideal for families and those new to boating. Bowriders are designed with extra seating ahead of the helm. This extra seating provides room for big groups to get out on the water. Often equipped with a swim platform off the stern, bowriders are sufficient for many watersports.


2006 Advantage 40 Poker Run - Carsforsale.com
2006 Advantage 40 Poker Run - Carsforsale.com

As expected, Cruisers fall into the Cruising category. They are usually large boats with a cabin in the bow of the boat. Designed for overnight stay, these boats are capable of handling the largest bodies of water. Some can require a great deal of skill to operate.

Of the hundreds of types of boats available, these are a few you may want to consider. To undertake boating is a big responsibility, but it is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling recreational activities you can participate in. If you’re ready to get started, check out the hundreds of boats on Carsforsale.com, or read our other articles from Boat Week.

Darrek Olson
Darrek Olson

Darrek is an enthusiast driver who values the journey more than the destination. A self-proclaimed Miata fanboy, his obscure knowledge of cars sometimes prevents him from remembering what he had for breakfast.

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