18 Types of Boats: Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Boats

Boats, boats, all types of boats.

Recreational boating continues to grow in popularity and there are different types of boats for all sorts of watersport activities and adventures.

From purpose-built boats designed with anglers in mind, to ski boats for hours of towing fun, to boats optimal for day cruising or overnighting, our list will walk you through the primary purpose of 18 different types of boats.

  1. Aluminum Fishing Boats
  2. Bowrider Boats
  3. Deck Boats
  4. Bay Boats
  5. Sailboats
  6. Bass Boats
  7. Cuddy Cabin
  8. Cabin Cruisers
  9. House Boats
  10. Catamarans
  11. Pontoon Boats
  12. Ski Boats and Wakeboard Boats
  13. Jon Boats
  14. Jet Boats
  15. Motor Yachts
  16. Surfboats
  17. Trawlers
  18. Airboats

1. Aluminum Fishing Boats

Types of Boats: Aluminum Fishing Boat
Aluminum Fishing Boat

Aluminum fishing boats are a versatile and popular style of freshwater fishing boat. Aluminum fishing boats have a V-hull design, which makes them suitable for shallow waters, while still being able to handle some chop.

Most aluminum fishing boats are powered by an outboard engine, with trolling motors at the transom, motor, or bow.

This makes them perfect for navigating open waters, shallow waters, and working through rocks and stumps to find the perfect fishing spot.

Aluminum fishing boats are lightweight come in either center console boats or side console designs. They typically include sport fishing features like rod holders, livewells, and casting decks.

2. Bowrider Boats

Types of Boats: Bowrider Boats
Bowrider Boats

Also known as runabouts, Bowriders are a hulled boat with an open bow for seating and lounging. Due to the extra seating in the front, bowriders are a great recreational vessel for day cruising and entertaining with some speed and style.

Bowriders are also very versatile. In addition to boating, they can be used for waterskiing and other towable watersports like water tubing.

Most bowriders are fiberglass, while some do come in aluminum or hybrid fish-and-ski models.

3. Deck Boats

Types of Boats: Deck Boats
Deck Boats

Deck boats earn their name from their wide bow that results in a generous amount of deck space. They are often larger than bowriders and can accommodate more people.

Deck boats are a really good option for someone looking for the entertaining qualities of a pontoon but want something sportier.

Deck boats come in both fiberglass and aluminum options and many boating manufacturers make them including Bayliner, Four Winns, Princecraft, Lowe Boats, and more.

They can be used for fishing, but a walkaround or center console is better for that purpose.

4. Bay Boats

Types of Boats: Bay Boats
Bay Boat

Bay Boats are designed for use in bays and nearshore areas. The can handle a little more wake than flat boats, while still staying at a comfortable size.

Bay Boats are primarily used for fishing shallow waters, but are stable enough to handle deeper areas.

They sit at approximately 20′ to 25′, which many anglers find to be a very versatile size.

5. Sailboats

Types of Boats: Sail Boat
Sail Boat

Sailboats are propelled partly or entirely by a mast, sails, and the forces of the wind. Recreational sailboats are much smaller than sailships and cruise along at approximately 4-6 knots (4-7 mph).

Although we often think of sailboats majestically cruising across the open seas, sailboats come in a variety of sizes and can be used on freshwater and saltwater alike.

The small sailboats that are used for sail training are called dinghies.

6. Bass Boats

Types of Boats: Bass Boat
Bass Boat

A bass boat is a purpose fishing boat with a distinct set of features. The main difference between a bass boat and a fishing boat is how space is used.

Bass boats often have more live wells, storage space, and flat casting decks. Basically, more room is used for the function of fishing than people and entertaining.

They sit with a low profile to the water, making reaching down for your catch easier.

Also, contrary to the name, a bass boat can be used for more than just bass fishing. Bass boats are popular for all sorts of sport fishing.

7. Cuddy Cabin

Types of Boats: Cuddy Cabin
Cuddy Cabin

Cuddy Cabins are sit between the functionality of a Bowrider and a Cabin Cruiser. They are smaller than full Cabin Cruisers at 18′ to 25′ in length, but can have compact sleeping quarters, porta potty, and freshwater sinks to accommodate overnighting.

Many people find a Cuddy to be the perfect compromise between a fishing boat and a full cabin vessel.

Most Cuddy Cabins have a V-shaped berth where sleeping and storage are located.

Cuddy Cabins make use of space very well and pack a lot of functionality in their size.

However, if you are looking for a galley and air conditioning, you would need to look into the full Cabin Cruiser models that have these added features.

8. Cabin Cruisers

Types of Boats: Cabin Cruiser
Cabin Cruiser

Cabin Cruisers are the mini yachts of the water. As the name suggests, they are designed for cruising longer distances and have the amenities and sleeping quarters to accommodate this.

Cabin cruisers are powerboats, and most are temperature-controlled for comfort during long travel.

Cabin cruisers are distinct from yachts due to their size. They are typically between 25′ and 45‘. Larger than this is classified as a yacht.

The main living area of the cabin cruiser is nestled into the hull of the boat, packing tons of function into a relatively small space.

9. House Boats

Types of Boats: House Boat
House Boat

House Boats are boats whose primary purpose is to be used as a home. Some House Boats are motorized, while others are fixed in position and tethered to utilities.

Like other homes, House Boats can range from small and functional to downright luxurious.

10. Catamarans

Types of Boats: Catamaran
Catamaran

Catamarans have two parallel hulls of equal size that support the deck. This design is similar to a pontoon, whose deck sits on two or more aluminum pontoons.

This unique design provides a lot of stability on the water, making them great for entertaining and pleasure cruising. They often larger vessels and are very popular in tourism destinations for group tours.

Catamarans can be propelled by sails or powered. For sailing catamarans, the multi-hull design makes them easier to maneuver than their single-hull sailing boats.

11. Pontoon Boats

Types of Boats: Pontoon Boat
Pontoon Boat

Pontoons boats are an entertaining and family-friendly boat option. The deck of a pontoon is flat and sits on top of two or three hollow aluminum tubes.

Pontoons are considered a flattish boat because they rely on floats to remain buoyant

This makes a pontoon boat very stable and easy to move around on. Pontoons offer boaters generous seating areas and the open deck is perfect for family fun.

Another great thing about pontooning is the number of accessories you can get that turn your pontoon into a full-service recreational watercraft.

12. Ski Boats and Wakeboard Boats

Types of Boats: Ski Boat
Ski Boat

Ski boats (also known as Tow Boats or Wakeboard Boats) are made for towing watersports.

For waterskiing, the ideal wake is small and narrow with minimal propeller turbulence.

To accomplish this, the inbound engine of a ski boat sits in the middle and they have a direct-drive or V-drive configuration. This provides the torque needed to pull skiers up from deep water.

Ski Boats are often designed for two people on board with dedicated seats for the driver and the observer.

Wakeboard Boats that are purpose-built for wakeboarding, create a bigger wake and have room for more passengers.

13. Jon Boats

Types of Boats: Jon Boat
Jon Boat

Jon Boats are small and versatile flat-bottom boats. They are often used for fishing, hunting, or just an inexpensive way to get out on the water.

The flat bottom of a Jon Boat makes them ideal for shallow waters. They can be propelled by an outboard motor, trolling motor, or even oars.

Jon Boats are also highly customizable with a wide range of accessories available to add additional functionality to a Jon Boat.

14. Jet Boats

Types of Boats: Jet Boat
Jet Boat

Like a Jet Ski, a Jet Boat is also propelled by a jet of water ejecting out of the back of the craft.

Jetboats are highly maneuverable boats and can come to a stop very quickly (with little more than their own length).

Jet Boats come in a variety of sizes from small 2-person crafts, right up to large tour boats.

These are high-performance boats that are fast, agile, and fun.

15. Motor Yachts

Types of Boats: Motor Yacht
Motor Yacht

Motor Yachts are the largest of all the recreational boats on this list. There's a reason we say “as big as a yacht”.

Recreational Yachts are larger vessels that range in size. Most are between 40 and 90 feet and are powered by one or two engines. Yachts over 90 feet are known as Superyachts.

Yachts are a luxury vessel and come with amenities one would expect like chef kitchens, hot tubs, deck lounge chairs, and more.

16. Surfboat (or Surf Boat)

Types of Boats: Surfboat
Surfboat

Surfboats are designed for heading directly into heavy surf from ocean beaches.

They have a pointed stern that can handle head-on encounters with waves without broaching, swamping, or capsizing.

Surfboats are oar-driven boats and usually operated by multiple people. They are most commonly used for rescue missions and sport.

17. Trawlers

Types of Boats: Trawler
Trawler

A Trawler is a class of powerboat that was traditionally used as a working boat for things like commercial fishing on the sea.

The deep hull of these boats was made for icing down/storing fish. Today, many boat enthusiasts love Thawlers for long-distance cruising in comfort.

They offer lots of practical space, are stable at sea, have walk-around decks, and have good fuel economy.

18. Airboats

Types of Boats: Airboat
Airboat

Airboats (also known as planeboats, swamp boats, or fanboats) are flat-bottomed boats propelled by an aircraft-type propellor.

The purpose of an airboat is to navigate very shallow waters where you could not have a submerged propellor.

These boats are excellent in swampy areas and thusly very common in places like the Florida Everglades.

Bottom Line

There are many types of boats to explore and enjoy, making it easy to find whatever floats your boat.

Deb Sauvé Avatar
About Deb Sauvé

Deb is a Canadian outdoor enthusiast, journalist, and photographer. Raised in rural Northern Ontario, Deb is no stranger to extreme environments, remote fishing spots, and great lakes boating.

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