how to choose the right boat type

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Boat

Written by Boatsetter Team
June 16, 2021

Choosing a boat can be hard when you are unsure of the options on the market and the specific styles that would fit your desired experience best. When choosing a boat, it is important to consider various factors, including functionality, durability, and cost. By identifying your own desires and potential adventures, you can customize the selection process to fit your needs. Picking the right boat for you will be significantly easier with this ultimate guide and have you on the water in no time.

Buying a boat can seem like a far-fetched dream for most, but once you understand the basics and logistics of your options, owning a boat will become an accessible reality. Whether you want a boat for entertaining, casual solo cruising, or even long haul trips around the seas–There is something for everyone!

Types of Boats for Different Needs:

Bass Boat

bass boat

A Bass Boat is specifically designed for catching bass fish and other panfish in freshwater. Modern versions of this boat have swivel chairs that allow the angler to cast their rod from any angle. These boats have storage for bait, rods, and lures as well as live wells for fish to be kept alive while you continue fishing. The boat has a trolling motor, which allows for cruising at a slow and steady pace. These boats are usually aluminum or fiberglass.


Bowriders are known for their open bows, the front part of the V-shaped boat. They have a seating area in the back and front of the boat, holding 6-10 passengers and they run very smoothly. They are a bit smaller than a deck boat but still great for entertaining, with a deck on the back for easy entry to swim and do water sports.

Center Console

center console boats

Center Console’s are known for their console being located right in the middle of the boat, which allows you to walk completely around the boat, circling the wheel. These boats do not have a cabin or foredeck, making for great fishing boats. They are especially handy for offshore sports fishing and come with equipment to store fishing supplies.

Cuddy Cabin

Cuddy Cabin’s are known to be one of the best all-around models. They are perfect for fishing, sailing, cruising, and water sports. They are good boats for entertaining and are family-friendly, featuring a closed deck over the boat’s bow, providing shade for a nice place to eat, drink and hang out away from the wind and sun.


cruiser boats

Cruisers are powerboats that have accommodation for onboard passengers. Cabin Cruisers will have a dining area, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. These are similar to yachts but are smaller, so there is no need to have a crew. They are big enough to handle rough waters and provide a stable ride. They are perfect for long trips and entertaining or living.

Deck Boat

Not surprisingly, Deck Boats are known for their decks. These boats have an open deck area from the front to the back end of the boat, which provides a seating area for small groups. These boats are typically in a V shape and used for swimming, cruising, and water sports. Another great option for entertaining.

Fishing Boat

There are many types of fishing boats, but as you guessed, they are all primarily used for fishing! These boats can range in power, price, and style, but they are all built with durability and power in mind to allow for safe fishing activities. They have practical fishing equipment and accommodation for supplies. There are lighter, aluminum fishing boats for freshwater environments and offshore fishing boats that can sustain high winds and waves.

Performance Boats

These boats are for adrenaline junkies and are known for their speed. They can vary in size and have an inboard and outboard engine and a center console and a closed deck. They come in different styles and are designed to go as fast as possible with some new models featuring below deck accommodation. If you are seeking to go fast, this is a good choice for you.

Pontoon Boats

pontoon buyers guide

Pontoons are one of the most popular inland water boats. They are flat and rectangular boats that offer a wide space for passengers to move around. They float with two pontoons attached to the bottom of the boat, allowing for a good amount of buoyancy and massive deck space. The deck features additional luxuries like a bar, lounge seating, and maybe even a slide. This is the ultimate party boat.

Ski Boat

Ski Boats are primarily used for water skiing and can pull hard from a dead stop, creating the smallest wake possible. They do not need to be extremely fast and have an inboard engine and a back deck for easy loading. Known for its V-shape, the boat’s design helps to create flat wakes for skiing. If you are a water skier, this is your boat!



Yachts are the classic boats for leisure and entertainment, having an air of luxury and immense style. With a standard length of 36 feet and two or more diesel engines, yachts make great boats to travel with and hop around from different locations.

This is a comprehensive list of different boat types to get you started on your journey of choosing the right boat for you. These are not all of the different types of boats available on the market, but this list is your essential guide to navigating your shopping and needs. Check out further details and guides on our blog for all things boat-related!

What Size Boat is Best for You?

Determining the right size boat for you depends on determining how you will use your boat and how many people you would like to fit on your boat. Much like the factors in choosing a boat, you must first determine why you are buying a boat and what you would like to use it for to then decide about the right boat size for you.

Once you determine your needs, you can use these examples of typical boat sizes accordingly:

  • Offshore Fishing: 30 ft. plus
  • Inshore Fishing: 15-20 ft.
  • Cruising: 20-30 ft.
  • Watersports: 15-25 ft.

If you are planning on making long haul journeys across oceans and seas, where waves and winds can get pretty rough, you should be looking at boats that are 30 ft. and up.

A boat this size will handle unpredictable environmental factors and cater to your needs for long offshore trips. If you want to purchase a boat mostly for entertaining family and friends, then a 15-20 ft boat meant for inshore use and/or a 20-30 ft boat meant for cruising will be your best bet. Further, if water activities and sports are what you are looking for, then a 15-25 ft boat. These can also be highly specialized boats for specific water sports.

These include Freshwater Fishing, Saltwater Fishing, Watersports, Sailing, Day Cruising, and Overnight Cruising–There are specific boats designed to enhance these activities and should be something you consider in conjunction with size.

boat types

Are you purchasing a boat for water sports, leisure, charters to produce a profit, sailing around the world, or partying with friends and family? Once you can personally answer these questions, then making your decision on size, style and utility will be much easier.

Remember that as a basic rule of thumb that if you plan on going offshore, then your boat will have to be on the bigger end in order to be able to handle offshore swells and waves. However, if you are mainly going to be storing your boat in your yard or a garage most of the time and mostly also using it for freshwater trips on lakes and rivers, then a boat on the smaller side is your best bet to make transporting and storage simpler.

Your budget is also a factor to keep in mind when shopping for a boat, and there are new and used options on the market and rental options. Ensure to check out all of the steps involved in ensuring boat ownership and options for boating courses and classes to be safe and confident on the water.

Check out the many different destination guides and trips to be had at your disposal to better plan out your choices and options while choosing a boat. A dream activity, vacation, destination, or long-term hobby will be accessible with the right vessel. Whether you decide to buy new, used, or rent, you will never regret picking the right boat for you and opening up new horizons and adventures aboard.

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