A Complete Guide to the Different Types of Boats

Are you looking to buy a boat? Have you fallen in love with the water? Or, are you just curious about the different types of boats?

If so, you've come to the right place.

There are about a hundred different kinds of boats, but we're here to break down twenty of the most common boat types.

Keep reading to learn our list of the top 20 different types of boats.

1. Personal Watercraft (PWC) Boats

PWCs are those small cruisers that you may have seen on popular spy movies and shows. These are one-seaters that act as water scooters and jet skis.

Because of their moveability, PWCs are mostly used for adventurous activities on the water. 

You may want to do water-skiing, sports fishing, racing, and more.

There are two kinds of PWCs: sitting PWCs and standing PWCs. Sit-down models may offer more than one seat, while stand-up models are meant for a single rider.

2. Banana Boats

A banana boat isn't just a type of sunscreen. It's an actual boat.

Banana boats aren't large, but they are great for family recreational activities as well as family entertainment. 

As the name suggests, the banana boat is shaped like a banana. It's an inflatable watercraft that sits on top of the water easily.

Depending on the size of the banana boat, it may seat between three and ten people.

Further, banana boats are able to carry other banana boats as a means of transportation of the vessels.

3. Lifeboats

If you've ever been on a boat or seen a movie with a boat in it, you know what lifeboats are. Usually, they're a bright orange color and sit in plain sight on the sides of the boat.

These small watercrafts were developed with the purpose of helping people save themselves in case of emergencies on larger boats. Lifeboats, or liferafts, are meant to carry passengers to a secure area until they can get the help that they need.

Some lifeboats are equipped with food, water, and other important supplies.

4. Dinghy Boats

Dinghy boats are small and inflatable. Usually, they're made of rubber.

These boats also have cross thwarts for seats and rowlocks for oars.

You may hear others refer to dinghies as rowboats, sailboats, rowboats, inflatables, or another similar term.

Usually, dinghies are kept on board in case of an emergency. If the mothership can't navigate into narrow waters, riders may use dinghy boats to get where they need to go.

Dinghies can also be useful for riders in shallow waters who want to go camping, fishing, or do other boating activities.

5. Fishing Boats

Just like the name implies, fishing boats are exclusively for fishing. Used in both salt and fresh water, fishing boats are known for their stability, strength, and durability. These boats can handle a bunch of different kinds of water conditions.

Most fishing boats have a front bow, rod lockers, a trolling motor system, an outboard power system, and live wells.

Fishing boats that are meant to go away from the shore are much taller and stronger than those that stay close to shore. If you're planning on getting a fishing boat, you need to find the right size for your needs.

6. Runabout Boats

Runabout boats can seat between four and eight people. You may have seen these used in racing, fishing, water skiing, or other similar activities.

These boats have a steering wheel and forward controls. These straightforward controls make runabout boats an easy driving job for the captain.

Runabouts are entry-level vessels for casual sports and boating activities. Because of this, many people don't think that these boats can be powerful.

However, the motor on the back of the boat can cause the boat to move quickly.

7. Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats are mainly used for inland bodies of water and other small bodies of water. These types of boats for lakes have flat bottoms. There are small tubes, called pontoons, that help to keep the boat afloat on the water.

These boats have a shallow draft but can be extremely long to seat a lot of people.

Pontoon boats have multiple tubes of aluminum that provide stability for the boat and its passengers.

Often, people use these boats for recreational activities like cruising, fishing, and more. 

8. Deck Boats

Deck boats are one of the most common types of boats for personal use. If you were to buy a boat for yourself and your family, it would likely be a deck boat.

These types of small boats have open decks to accommodate seating for a small group. So, they're great for hanging out with family and friends on the open water.

Deck boats have a stern power drive and can also be used for water sports like skiing and tubing.

9. Bowrider Boats

Bowriders offer room for eight or more passengers. This is why these kinds of boats are referred to as the "quintessential family boats." You and your family members can sit across the cockpit, bow cockpit, and helm.

All of the areas of the boat are made to spaciously seat several people. So, this boat will never feel cramped.

This is another kind of boat that can support wakeboards and other swimming activities. 

Bowriders can sustain boating on different kinds of water conditions due to their V-shaped bottom. Some of these boats use sterndrive power while others use outboard engines.

10. Jet Boats

Jet boats have their name because they're powered by water that jets out from behind the boat. Because of this mechanism, jet boats have great moveability. 

This jetting water cannot cause any damage to the boat since the advanced propulsion system is enwrapped in the hull. This extensive security also protects those riding in the boat from any harm.

The structure of jet boats is similar to the structure of bowriders. Both offer a great amount of seating as well as a swimming platform.

11. Catamaran Boats

Catamarans are multi-hulled watercraft that have two parallel hulls. These are equal in size in order to drive the boat evenly.

Catamaran boats have a lower hull volume, a shallower draft, and a higher water displacement than other vessels.

People often use catamaran boats for fishing, cruising, and other boating activities. Because of their size, they can hold a large group of people for these varieties of boating activities.

However, there is limited space on the outside of the boat. Most of the riders will need to remain inside the boat.

12. Cuddy Cabins Boats

Cuddy cabins boats are one of the most family-friendly boat types. They are able to support fishing, yachting, sailing, wakeboarding, skiing, and other water activities.

Cuddy cabins boats have closed decks over the bow of the boat. There is a lot of storage space with easy navigation across the boat.

Their layout makes boat-related accidents much less likely. This and its activity-friendly nature may explain why these boats are seen as a very family-friendly choice.

In most cases, manufacturers make these boats using fiberglass and aluminum. 

13. Center Console Boats

Center consoles are another boat type that makes fishing fun and easy.

Center consoles boats don't have cabins or foredecks. So, riders can perform sports fishing in a variety of waterways.

You could even use this boat to fish offshore in the ocean.

If you buy one of these boats, you could deck it out with bait wells, gunwale rod holders, fish lockers, and outriggers. After you catch all of your fish, you can use the boat's insulation system to keep all of your fish icy cool until you get back to shore.

14. Trawler Boats

Trawlers have a displacement haul with engines that are more fuel-efficient than other options. These kinds of boats can travel smoothly through different bodies of water without using too much horsepower or fuel.

If you ever want or need to perform long-range cruising activities, the trawler boat is the best choice for you. 

These boats also offer modern facilities for individuals who want them. You can outfit these boats with just about anything you want.

15. Game Boats 

Game boats have diesel or petrol engines. Depending on the kind of game boat you get, you could have either source of fuel.

As the name suggests, game boats are great for the game fish pursuit. Most fishers use these boats to get pelagic fish like tuna and marlin.

These boats are made of fiberglass and large. They have sleeping berths, plumbing systems, cooking galleys, and more.

So, if you need to stay on this boat for more than a day, you have everything you need to stay for a while. 

16. Wakeboard/Ski Boats

Wakeboard boats and ski boats are separate kinds of boats. However, we've listed them together because their structures and functions are similar to one another.

However, there is one distinct difference.

Inboard ski boats have a powerful acceleration capacity. In order to drag skiiers along the water, the boat has to be able to accelerate quickly without difficulty.

The shape of the ski boats' engines and propellers helps to accelerate the boat smoothly.

On the other hand, inboard wakeboard boats have a V-drive engine system that offers deep hulls. This allows the boat to set wakes in motion for the wakeboarder to ride off of.

17. Houseboats

Just like regular houses, houseboats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But, no matter what kind of houseboat you get, you're in for a treat.

Houseboats are a great luxury living choice, whether you live there every day or only over the holidays.

You can fit your houseboat with modern amenities, entertainment choices, fine dining, and proper sleeping arrangements.

These boats are also great for people who want to cruise, play water sports, sail, and more. 

The only disadvantage to these boats is that they're used to staying in one place. While most of them are motorized, they can't operate under their own power.

18. Cabin Cruiser Boats

Cabin cruiser boats give riders all of the features that they may get at home. Great for sailing, cabin cruiser boats offer heaters, air conditioners, power generators, and more.

These boats have a galley and a birth. And, they have a deep-V bottom that gives them a secure shaft drive. 

Cabin cruisers also have rudder steering that's great for driving through salty waters.

If you're looking for a relaxing time for all of your friends and family, this may be the choice for you.

19. Sedan Bridge Boat

The sedan bridge boat is a very specific kind of boat that comes from the Sea Ray Company. It was developed with the idea of making sightseeing more pleasurable for all passengers.

The boat has an extended bridge area that offers accommodations that make it possible to stay on the boat for long periods of time.

These boats are large enough to hold many passengers and many passengers use the boat for recreational activities, sightseeing, traveling, and similar activities.

20. Motor Yacht Boats

The motor yacht is one of the most modern boat types. We've all seen them on the television, but - in real life - these boats are much bigger than you may think. In fact, these boats may have two diesel engines in order to navigate the waters, whether they're in inland water or on ocean water.

Motor yacht boats are mainly used for leisure activities for family members and friends.

There are plenty of subtypes of yachts, including the following:

  • Sailing yachts
  • Weekender yachts
  • Cruising yachts
  • Luxury sailing yachts

The kind of yacht you should get for your family is going to depend on what you want to do with the boat.

Trying Different Types of Boats

Whew! That was a lot, and there are still many more kinds of boats out there.

If you're interested in trying one of these types of boats or another kind of bat, you should join the Freedom Boat Club. Our boat club membership allows you to try different types of boats without having to buy them yourself.

Once you've paid your membership fee, you can try any and every boat you want.

Get started today!