There’s nothing quite like quality time out on the water with your loved ones – but until you buy one of the best boats for families, it’s going to be tough for you to do that.
If you’re in the market for. new boat and you have a family (no matter the size), there are a few things you will want to keep in mind.
Rest assured, from spacious yachts to agile fishing vessels, there’s something out there for everyone.
In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into everything you need to make the ideal purchase.
What Kind of Family Boat Should I Get? Things to Consider
There are a few factors that you should keep in mind as you are shopping for your family’s boat.
Size of Boat
Consider the size of your family as you’re deciding what size boat will best meet your needs. Smaller boats are more nimble and can reach faster speeds, a feature that’s perfect for watersports. However, they usually have less deck and seating space.
If you plan on going offshore and into rougher waters, you may want to choose a larger boat (up to 30 feet) that will give you more deck space and control.
Boats come in all different shapes and sizes. Not all are made equal!
Pontoon boats are some of the most popular boats for families since they are stable and buoyant. They aren’t “tippy” like smaller boats with unlevel decks might be. Plus, they offer a lot of deck space – perfect for family gatherings.
Most pontoons are used on freshwater lakes and rivers, though there are some that can be equipped with saltwater packages to take to the open seas.
Other popular types of boats include:
- Deck boats
- Cabin cruisers
When you’re planning on buying a boat, it’s important that you choose one that meets the specific needs of your family.
Do you plan on doing a lot of fishing? Prefer to spend time on watersports? Want to use the boat to vacation to new destinations?
Write down what sorts of activities you’d like to do with your family on your new boat, as this will help guide you to the most appropriate type of boat to buy.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a boat is the price. Boats aren’t cheap, and since most families will consider the purchase of a boat to be a luxury expense, you probably don’t want to spend more money than absolutely necessary.
Boats vary widely in their prices, so make a list of must-have features and negotiables before you start shopping. Shopping for a pre-owned boat is always an option but remember that used boats will come with repairs.
Maintenance and Other Considerations
Finally, consider how much maintenance will be needed. Just like a car, a boat has annual maintenance tasks that have to be carried out (and there are fees associated with most of them).
You might need to plan for the purchase of a trailer to transport and store your boat. Boat insurance, storage, and marina fees are three other variables to keep in mind, too.
10 Best Boats for Families:
Ready to start shopping? Here are 10 of the best boats for families to consider.
1. Best Family Boat for Sailing: Catalina 275 Sport
Sailing isn’t for everyone, but it’s a sport that has its true diehards. The Catalina 275 Sport is trailerable, making it easy for you to get it to your favorite body of water. Its beam is just eight feet four inches so you don’t need a special permit.
It has a fully battened mainsail with slab reefing, with everything being small and easy to manage. Plus, it’s loaded with amenities like a huge pullout drawer for a cooler, a compact galley, and more.
2. Best Saltwater Fishing Boat: Bennington 20 SL
The Bennington 20 SL is a pontoon boat that can seat nearly a dozen fully grown adults.
It’s one of the best family boats for saltwater fishing for a number of reasons. For one, you can add an option that will help protect the boat from damage when exposed to saltwater on a regular basis.
Each boat also comes with a 10-year warranty so you don’t have to worry about anything while you’re out there trolling on the open seas.
3. Best Speedboat: Cigarette 515
Speedboats aren’t for the faint of heart, and they might not be the right fit for every family (read – parents of small toddlers).
However, for older kids and small families, the right speedboat can make for a truly memorable getaway. The fast speeds reached by the Cigarette 515 are nothing to shake a stick at.
Although seating space is limited, this boat offers a real thrill ride.
4. Best Trawler: Beneteau Swift Trawler 30
Like sailboats, trawlers have a small (but dedicated) following. These boats are like cruisers but offer a more slow and steady journey. They look much like commercial fishing trawlers but are designed with comfort and versatility in mind.
The Beneteau Swift 30 performs best when traveling at slower speeds of seven to eight knots. However, it has the ability to crank things up to 20 knots when needed. It has an open layout that’s perfect for any voyage – and any family!
5. Best Watersports Boat: Cobalt R7WSS
At first glance, there’s probably one word and one word only that will come to your mind when you see this boat: sporty. Despite its large size and capacity, this boat navigates choppy intercoastal waters with ease.
It has a massive cockpit and a deep V hull design. When paired with the WSS Surf package, it gives you even more functionality for watersports, such as ballast tanks and simple one-touch surf settings.
6. Best Pontoon Boat: Regency 230 DL3
Pontoon boats are popular – and for good reason. They offer a stable, comfortable platform that’s ideal for young tots. Plus, they’re not nearly as backbreaking to sit in (or fish from) as other types of boats.
One of the best boats for families who are interested in the amenities of pontoons is the Regency 230 DL3. This versatile boat is well-designed, equipped with tri-toon construction, lifting stakes, and the ability to harness outboards of up to 250 horsepower.
Who said you couldn’t rev things up on a pontoon?
Not only that, but this boat has amenities like a Bluetooth stereo, swim platform, lounge seats, and more. It’s great for entertaining guests!
7. Best Freshwater Fishing Boat: Lowe FM 1800 WT
If a day of going after bass, lake trout, or pike is what your family has in mind, you’ll love this boat from Lowe. It doesn’t look like much at first glance, but it’s equipped with all the features you need for a comfortable and exhilarating day on the water.
From stainless-steel cleats that fold flat and won’t snag your fishing lines to dual aerated live wells, it is sure to make your excursion much more relaxing. It also has protective features like an extruded full-length keel. You won’t have to worry as much about damage in stump-ridden waters.
8. Best Cabin Cruiser: Carver C34 Coupe
Cabin cruisers, also referred to simply as cruisers, are large boats that can be quite a bit more expensive than other types of family boats. However, they’re well worth the expense.
Not only can you use these boats to travel to distant ports but you can even use them for full week-long vacations on the water. It’s like having a home on the water!
Of all the options out there, the Carver C34 Coupe is our top pick. It can sleep up to six people and comes with all kinds of amenities for a luxurious escape – but it’s also economical.
9. Best Bowrider: Bayliner 170
Bowriders are some of the most popular boats on the market. They are versatile and adaptable, so if your family wants to use the boat for fishing as well as for day-tripping (or even water-skiing!) these should be your go-tos in your search.
Modern bowriders like the Bayliner 170 are not only spacious and affordable, but also incredibly comfortable. This boat seats up to six people. Not only that, but you can tailor your purchase with options like an additional fishing package and specialized motors for water sports.
10. Best Runabout: Cobalt 23SC
Also called bowriders, runabouts offer size, style, and most importantly, performance. The Cobalt 23SC is our top pick in this category.
You can navigate this boat into the shallowest of waters without having to worry about its performance. It’s a low-maintenance model that has a built-in head under the port console. It also has a bow ladder for beach landings as well as a stern ladder so you can easily get into and out of the water.
What is the Best Family Boat for the Money?
This is one of the most common questions you’ll hear asked by prospective buyers, and unfortunately, it’s not a question that has a simple answer.
You’ll need to consider your preferences as you’re shopping for a boat. Obviously, cruisers are going to be more expensive than basic rowboats, and new boats are going to be significantly more expensive than used.
However, there are plenty of ways you can save money by shopping around and being savvy about what you really want and need in a boat. If your budget is more on the restricted side, don’t be afraid to shop pre-owned – or to buy a boat that only has your must-have features and none of the extra bells and whistles found on fancier models.
Whichever boat you choose, know that you’re making a smart choice. You can’t put a price on the memories you will make with your family on the open water!