Choosing the Best Recreational Boat

Whether you're a wave-riding enthusiast, a water skiing fan, or just like to spend some leisure time on the water, there are a variety of recreational boats to choose from. Do you enjoy cruising around leisurely? Do you have a passion for water sports? Do you like entertaining guests or family on the water? When you consider purchasing a watercraft, the type of recreational boat you choose should be guided by its intended use. The most popular recreational boat types are cruisers, which are geared toward relaxing and entertaining on the water, and water sports models, which are specifically designed to tow wake-boarders and water skiers. In those categories, the top three recreational boats for leisure activities and pulling wake-boarders and water skiers, based on boating experts and customer ratings and satisfaction, are the AquaPatio 250 Express ($114,000 at Godfrey Pontoon Boats), the Bayliner 285 SB (from $54,500 at Boat Trader) and the Centurion Ri217 (from $119,999 at Boats For Sale). The following answers to common questions about recreational boats will help you determine which boat is best for your family's intended use.

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What recreational boat is best for extended trips?

Boats with cabins (often called "cabin cruisers") are the most accommodating for extended trips. The Bayliner 285 SB offers a separate stateroom with a door and features a Corian dinette for indoor dining, making it perfect for overnighting. It can accommodate sleeping for 6 passengers, but it is recommended that it only be used for weekend trips if the passenger capacity is maxed out.

Which recreational boats have fresh water available on board?

The AquaPatio 250 Express and the Centurion Ri217 do not have fresh water storage capabilities, so you'll have to bring your own on board. However, the Bayliner 285 SB can tote up to 28 gallons of water in the on board tank.

Which recreational boat seats the most people above deck?

The Centurion Ri217 offers posh seating for up to 14 people, which is the largest seating capacity out of all of the top three boats. 

Which recreational boat is best for wake-boarding and wake-surfing?

The Centurion Ri217 has their outboard motor specifically placed to maximize wakes for surfing and boarding. However, it is not compatible with water skiing.

What is the best way to determine the best recreational boat for my family's needs?

In order to make an informed opinion, the best way to compare different boats is to take a test drive on several and then compare the experience. Many dealers, such as Centurian, offer test drives of their various models on appointment.

Do I need insurance for my recreational boat?

Insurance requirements vary from state to state, but most require boat insurance. Additionally, most marinas require that you carry boat insurance to dock there, and if you have a loan on your boat, the lender will require it be covered with insurance.

Do we need to wear life jackets on our recreational boat?

The US Coast Guard requires that every person on board or being towed must wear a I, II, III or V-type personal floatation device while in operation. Additionally, Federal Regulations mandate that children under 13 must wear an approved personal floatation device while a recreational boat is in operation, unless in a closed cabin or under deck.

Can a pontoon boat be used to pull water skiers or inner-tubers?

While most pontoon boats are used primarily for leisure activities, some models with large and powerful engines can pull inner-tubers or water skiers. The AquaPatio 250 Express can be used for leisure activities, but also has the capability of accommodating both wake-boarding and water skiing.

What color options are available for recreational boats?

That depends entirely on whether you are purchasing your boat new or used. When purchasing a new model of AquaPatio, the body color choices are Icot Orange, Harbor Blue, Kiwi Green and Merlot.

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