10 Best Boat Brands & Manufacturers: 2023 Edition
There are countless boat manufacturers and brands, each building unique models. Big ones, small ones, boats with one hull, boats with two or three hulls, boats with pontoons, boats for fishing, boats for cruising, boats for wakeboarding, and more. When you first start looking at boats, this can overwhelm you. You don’t have to search alone; we’ll guide you! Let’s look at 10 of the leading boat manufacturers and brands up-to-date together:
- Cruisers Yachts
- Sea Ray
- Grady White
Wisconsin-based Cruisers Yachts has been building boats since 1904. It currently has Cantius and GTS lines, with 15 different models between them. The boats range in length overall from 34 feet to 60 feet and can come with everything from open tops to closed tops to flybridges. Generally speaking, Cruisers makes boats for cruising with friends and family. ou can find these boats on the nation’s coasts and on larger lakes.
Sea Ray is based in Tennessee and has been building boats since 1959. Its Sundancer line is one of the most ubiquitous on America’s waterways; the company also has an SLX series of luxury cruisers, an SDX series for family day-boating, and an SPX series of sport boats that you can sometimes rent with things like wakeboarding towers built-in. You could rent multiple Sea Ray boats on Boatsetter and have a different boating experience every single time.
Azimut is an Italian boatbuilder that was founded in 1969, and today is part of the Azimut-Benetti Group of shipyards and other companies. Azimut itself has six lines of boats: Fly, S, Grande, Magellano, Verve, and Atlantis. Within those lines, multiple sizes offer increasingly larger versions with more and more features. Overall, Azimut builds boats intended for higher-speed family cruising with chic Italian style.
Florida’s Monterey Boats got its start in 1985. It has four models currently available: Super Sports, Outboard, M Series (which come with lots of options, so there are lots of versions of them on the waterways), and Sport Boats. When you combine all the lines and sizes within the lines, about 30 different Monterey boats are available—which means many rental opportunities.
Georgia-based Chaparral boats have been in business since 1965. It makes five lines of boats: SSI Sport Boats, SSI Outboards, SSX Luxury Bowriders, OSX Luxury Outboard Sport Boats, and the Surf line of wakesports boats. Quite a few of Chaparral’s models can be trailered to and from different locations, and the various models can be outfitted with features for cruising, fishing, and water sports.
Leopard Catamarans builds its boats in Cape Town, South Africa. As the company’s name states, these are cats, not monohulls, which means they have two hulls instead of one. Leopard cats come in power and sail varieties, from about 40 to 53 feet in length overall. Because they’re catamarans, boats with these lengths are much wider than monohulls, giving people more room to stretch out on board.
Florida’s Everglades is a favorite brand among boaters who like to catch fish. The company builds center consoles, dual consoles, and bay boats, and some of its models are regularly seen hunting for big game during professional-angler tournaments in the offshore canyons. On these boats, expect to find things like rod holders, outriggers, bait stations, and other features that are intended to make a day of fishing even more fun.
Grady-White, based in North Carolina, has been building boats since 1959. It has long been known for its coastal fishing boats, with five lines available today: Center Consoles, Dual Consoles, Coastal Explorers, Express Cabins, and Walkaround Cabins. Many of these boats can be ordered with features that make them equally great for family cruising and fishing, so check the Boatsetter listings for specifics when deciding which one to rent.
Indiana’s Bennington is a leading brand name in pontoon boats, which are often available for rent on lakes and other inland waterways. These are wide, stable boats that can be used for family cruising. Parents with small children tend to like pontoon boats because of the higher sides all around. Bennington makes four lines: the customizable Q Line, the sporty R Bowrider line, the higher-end LX Sport line, and the more traditional SX line.
Malibu Boats in Tennessee is a brand that’s synonymous with wakeboarding and other tow sports. It makes a dozen different styles of boats that are shaped and outfitted in ways that produce fun-to-ride wakes, step-up features to make it easier to get in and out of the water, seating that lets passengers look forward or aft (at the wakeboarders in the water) and soft-grip flooring so there’s less of a chance of wet feet slipping. The premium sound systems are pretty darn cool, too.
One of the great things about learning through Boatsetter is that you can book a different builder, and even a different model from that builder, every time you head out on the water. Boatsetter rentals are a terrific way to learn which brands and styles of boats are ideally suited to the type of fun you want to have on board.
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.