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There are many different types of lake boats, from jet skis to houseboats and everything in between. Some are more common than others, some are more expensive than others, and some are best in certain situations for certain families.
In this article, I’ll show you 19 different types of lake boats. We’ll look at some pictures and briefly discuss the watercraft.
I hope you enjoy!
19 types of lake boats
Whether you are in the market for a new boat or just want to look at some pictures, here are types of boats you might see at a lake near you.
Houseboats aren’t limited to lakes, but they’re probably better suited to calm lake waters than to the more active waters of the sea. These are large boats which are designed to be a floating home, and many people who own one live aboard full time. They aren’t especially fast, but they’re pretty comfortable and have all the amenities of home.
2. Pontoon Boat
Pontoon boats consist of a deck mounted on at least two pontoons, which gives the effect of having two hulls. Essentially, it’s like strapping two boats together and putting one large deck on top. There are lots of benefits to this design, including tons of deck space and unparalleled stability. Pontoon boats are great for family-friendly lake activities. I owned one for several years.
Bowriders are named for the seating area in the bow. This seating gives them more deck space than other, similarly-sized boats. It makes them a decent compromise between pontoon boats and smaller speed boats. They offer plenty of speed and power for most people, with more deck space than a true speed boat. Bowriders are excellent starter boats, especially if you want versatility.
4. Cuddy Cabin
If you take a bow rider and replace the bow seating with a small cabin, you’d have a cuddy cabin boat. Depending on the boat, this cuddy can be a small sleeping cabin, extra storage, or a bathroom. It all depends on the maker and on how you decide to use the space. You’re sacrificing some deck space, but you may like the added comfort. I really like this style of boat, however if I wanted a cabin I’d probably go for the next on the list.
5. Cabin Cruiser
These are larger boats with true cabins inside. There will be sleeping accommodations, a bathroom, and possibly even a dining area. The cabin won’t be as spacious or as comfortable as a house boat since it’s not designed as a permanent residence, but it’s great for spending a full day out on the water. Due to these having small living quarters, you can even stay overnight on the lake if you want. Great for lake camping on the water.
6. Deck Boat
Deck boats, as the name implies, have lots of deck space. They typically have a flared hull design to maximize the size of the deck. These are perfect for boaters who like to take a crowd out on lake. You can use them however you like- for water sports, fishing, or just cruising. So if you like having the size and room of a pontoon boat but want the speed of a bowrider, then this style boat might be right for you.
7. Jon Boat
Jon boats are usually simple, aluminum fishing boats with flat bottoms. They’re cheap, low maintenance, lightweight, and can access very shallow water. These traits make them very popular with anglers and hunters. They aren’t luxury boats by any means, but you need to access remote hunting grounds or spend the day hauling in fish, a job boat is a great choice.
8. Fish and Ski Boat
The name is pretty self-explanatory. These boats have features that allow them to be used for water sports and fishing. Arguably, this means they aren’t as good for either of those purposes as dedicated fishing or skiing boats, but most people probably won’t notice the difference and will enjoy the added versatility. You can take the family fishing in the morning, and when the bites slow down break out the water skis.
Runabout is a bit of a catch-all term describing boats built to move quickly. Technically, cuddy cabins and deck boats are runabouts. However, there are boats that are specifically called runabouts. They usually hold 4-8 people and were originally made for transportation, the idea being to use them to carry people across the water quickly. So this is more of a category of boats, some people refer to several types of lake boats as runabouts.
10. Speed Boat
Again, speed boat can be a catch-all term referring to any boat with a motor. Usually, though, when we talk about speed boats we’re talking about something built with racing or water skiing in mind. Hobbyists all over the country have built their own flashy speed boats with big engines, their only purpose is to be loud and go fast on the water. These boats are sleek, streamlined, and powerful.
11. Wakeboard/Ski Boat
Built for wakeboarding and skiing, these boats have powerful engines to reach and maintain high speeds. They have a good amount of deck room, and they’re often designed to generate an especially large wake to enhance the sport. Some even have adjustable ballast so you can customize the size and shape of your wake. When it comes to the price of ownership, some of these wakeboarding boats are not for the faint of heart.
12. Bass Boat
Bass boats or fishing boats are made for freshwater fishing. They have large, flat decks that are low to the water and usually have no gunwale to make it easier to bring your catch into the boat. They’ll typically have a pedestal seat at the bow and live wells for storing bait or the fish you catch. Many have built-in coolers or built-in sonar fish finders. If fishing is your main lake activity, you want a bass boat.
Sailboats are usually associated with the ocean, but you can sail just as well in lakes. Naturally, these sailboats are a bit smaller than their sea-going cousins, but the basic principles of operating one are the same. Most modern sailboats have a motor included so you can still take the boat out on calm days. There are many different types of beginner sailboats that are great on the lake.
Yachts are luxury boats. They’re big, with big cabins and lots of comforts. Multiple sleeping cabins, large living and dining spaces, and even full kitchens are just some of the luxuries that yachts are known for. Some of them can move fast enough for water skiing, but these boats are more about enjoying the lake in comfort. This category is probably going to be the most expensive, with many ranging from $500k to over $1m dollars to own.
15. Personal Watercraft
More commonly called jet skis, personal watercraft (or PWC’s) are, essentially, aquatic motorcycles. They’re fast, powerful, and meant for one or two riders at most. Jet Ski, WaveRunner, and SeaDoo are actually the names of models from different brands, not types of watercraft. These machines are built for fun, and some are even designed for performing tricks. They’re great to get started with if it’s just you or you and your SO that will be going to the lake.
16. Inflatable Boats
Inflatable boats can come in many styles. Some are fishing boats, some are runabouts, and they even make inflatable kayaks. These boats are often quite affordable, but one of their biggest advantages is the ease of storage. Once they’re deflated and folded up they don’t take up much space at all. Not really what you think of when you think of a lake boat, but it could work. Here’s an example of a 4 person inflatable boat that could work on the lake.
Once a little-known specialty boat, kayaks have exploded in popularity in recent decades. They’re more stable than a canoe, and often faster as well. You can buy specially designed fishing kayaks, whitewater kayaks, or two-person kayaks. They’re affordable, easy to store, and easy to transport. They’re easy to strap to your car and take to the lake as well, a really great option for many people.
Americans have been paddling canoes around our lakes for generations. It’s easy to see why- they’re easy to use, reliable, easy to transport and can hold several people. They aren’t quite as stable as a kayak, but once you get the hang of it paddling a canoe is a remarkably peaceful and pleasant experience. Also, most canoes can hold 3 or more people so they’re great for going to the lake with a couple of friends.
19. Stand-up Paddle Boards
Not a traditional boat, but a floating non-motorized watercraft nonetheless. These stand-up paddle boards have become extremely popular in recent years. Every time you go to a marina you see people on these things just leisurely paddling around the shore. It’s something I’ve yet to try but am quite interest in at this point. Here’s a sharp looking stand-up paddleboard on REI that I’ve been eyeing.