Ready to Set Sail: A Guide to the Best Boats for Beginners

Around 12 million American families own a boat. Would you like to join them?

There’s no doubt that owning your own boat is a major tick on your bucket list. The freedom to go out on the water whenever and wherever you want certainly has its appeal!

However, before you start drooling over boating magazines or attending exotic boat shows, you need to think long and hard about the best boats for beginners. Just like you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari if you only have a learner’s permit, you need to carefully consider which type of boat best suits your skills and needs.

In this post, we’ll dive into boating for beginners and help you determine the best type of boat for you. Keep reading to learn the best type of boat for beginners (that’s you)!

Boating for Beginners: What Kind of Boater Will You Be?

Before start debating whether to get a pontoon boat or a sailboat, let’s talk about your boating experience and goals.

Boating for beginners is exhilarating — even addictive. But you also have a lot to learn to ensure your time on the water is safe for everyone on board. You also need to make sure you choose the right type of boat for your goals.

For example, are you going to be cruising up the canal or fishing in the flats? Do you plan on doing a lot of watersports, like water skiing or wakeboarding? Or do you plan to go scuba diving or deep-sea fishing out in the ocean?

A pontoon boat may be great for a party on the lake, but it would be miserable in the open seas. Similarly, you can’t take a boat designed for offshore use into shallow fishing flats.

You also need to consider your locale and which type of boat is best suited to the local waters. A pontoon boat, bass boat, or ski boat is ideal for freshwater lakes. But you also need to factor in whether to get a boat that’s powered by diesel or gasoline, or whether it’s best to have an inboard or an outboard motor.

Do your research and ask your friends and neighbors who have boats for advice. This will give you a better idea of how to narrow your search for the best boats for beginners in your area.

The Best Boats for Beginners (By Type)

So, you’ve narrowed your focus to a particular type of boat. Let’s take a closer look at five major types of boats to see which one is best for your needs.

1. Aluminum Fishing Boat

For lazy days fishing on quiet waters, an aluminum fishing boat may be all you need. These lightweight boats are typically 8-24 feet long and can hold up to eight passengers. They’re easy to tow on a trailer — some small ones may even fit on top of your car!

The smallest aluminum boats start around $1,000 and don’t include a motor. If you have a small pond or lake on your property and don’t mind paddling with old-fashioned oars, this is an ideal choice!

If you hope to do some fishing in nearby rivers, canals, or the Intercoastal Waterway, a larger aluminum fishing boat is a solid choice. Look for one with a gas or electric motor to make it easy to get around.

2. Bowrider

When you picture a small powerboat perfect for zipping around with your friends, you’re likely picturing a bowrider. They’re well-suited for both freshwater and saltwater and are an affordable option for most families.

Most bowriders range from 16-28 feet in length and hold up to 10 people. They’re perfect for watersports or arriving at your favorite waterfront restaurant.

Mid-range and luxury models often include a mid-cabin with a head department and berth. This provides a great source of security and shade for anyone who needs a break from all that sunshine.

3. Fish-and-Ski

Looking for a mid-sized boat that can do it all? A fish-and-ski boat combines the best features of different boat styles into an all-in-one platform.

Easy to transport via trailer, fish-and-ski boats range anywhere from 15-22 feet in length. Most models comfortably hold four or five people, as well as the equipment you’ll need for a day of tubing or water skiing.

Enjoy a morning fishing with the guys, then take the kids tubing in the afternoon. When the sun sets, you can take the entire family out for a beautiful sunset cruise. What more could you want from a boat?

4. Pontoon Boat

Forget those ugly “floating boxes” of yesteryear. Today’s pontoon boats are sleek, stylish, and ideal for anyone who wants to throw a great party on the water.

Modern pontoon boats range from 16-30 feet in length and can accommodate up to 15 passengers. Some are made for casually puttering around a lake, while others have engines designed to whisk you across vast waterways.

Their flat style makes them ideal for day cruising, fishing, cookouts, or just lounging in the sun. Luxury models often include kitchens, bathrooms, or even a bar for making your favorite cocktails.

The Best Type of Boat for Beginners: Now You Know

Just like there’s no single make of car that’s ideal for everyone, the same is true of boats. Much depends on where you live, the type of boating you hope to enjoy, and the experience you already have.

For some, a modest aluminum fishing boat or a casual pontoon boat8 may be ideal for their needs. Others might prefer a little more power and versatility in a bowrider or fish-and-ski boat.

If you’re still in the decision-making process, bookmark this article to refer back to. Keep learning and doing more research, and you’ll soon find the perfect first boat for you!

Now that you know the best boats for beginners, what’s next? Keep browsing our site for more great tips and advice.