15 Different Types of Boats: Complete Guide

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Marina with different types of boats

Boats encompass a broad category. The word includes so many different vessels that it conveys little useful meaning. There are many different types of boats, each with a different purpose, size, and functionality, but most people don’t know the difference between them and what makes them unique. That’s why we’ve created this guide: to provide a list of 15 common types of boats, explain their characteristics, and answer some of your burning questions.    

15 Different Types of Boats

There are many different types of boats to choose from. This list includes 15 of the most common different types of boats available. It will help you learn more about them and then make a sound decision.

Each of them has different characteristics and uses, as well as different types of waters to which they belong. Let’s break down each of them and learn more about how they’re used and what they’re best for.

1. Fishing boats

Father and daughter on a fishing boat

Fishing boats, unsurprisingly, are boats meant to be used for fishing. This includes a wide variety of different types of boats. There are small fishing boats used by individuals for freshwater fishing, performance boats for sport fishing, and much larger boats for commercial fishing. Small, personal fishing boats can be used in shallow salt and freshwater bodies. But larger commercial fishing boats can be used for deep-sea fishing.

2. Game boats

Game boats are a subtype of fishing boats. These high-performance saltwater boats are used specifically for big game fishing and offshore fishing. They are typically quite large boats used on the open sea to catch big game fish like marlin, swordfish, and tuna. These boats have living quarters and cooking galleries to allow for comfortable long trips.

3. Cabin cruisers

Cabin cruisers are small yachts which are a type of luxury recreational boat. They have spacious living spaces, walkaround decks, and layouts usually including one or two bedrooms and a kitchen area. They have everything you need inside, so this makes them perfect for day trips or longer vacations.  

These spacious boats offer modern comfort amenities for a relaxed boating experience. They’re usually 30-50 feet long and can comfortably fit as many as ten people with plenty of storage space.

4. Center console boats

Center console boats are named after their unique design. They feature a steering station in the middle of the boat, leaving space on all sides for open deck space, seating, and access to the water. These boats are also sturdy and reliable. They work well in most water conditions and are great for fishing or day cruising. They can range widely in size and features.

5. Bowrider boats

Bowrider boats get their name for their large seating areas in the bow. They tend to be 21 feet or less in size. These small motor boats are ideal for small, inland bodies of water rather than the ocean. Bowriders are known as one of the best family boats since they can seat eight people. They also carry a swim platform for fun water activities. Groups can also use these small boats for water skiing. You can use a boat trailer to transport a boat of this size.

6. Catamaran boats

Catamaran boats are sailboats with two hulls. They are faster and more stable than mono-hulled sailboats but also operate differently. People also often find them harder to steer. They often come in handy for commercial uses and luxury yachts.

They can be perfect for fishing or leisure activities like day sailing as they work best in shallow water. Also, since they’re on the bigger side, they can fit more than eight people at a time. However, due to their difficulty of use and the fact that they can be quite bumpy in rough seas, they don’t always make the best family boat.

7. Dinghy boats

Dinghy boats are small and easily transported with a wide variety of uses. Rowboats and inflatables are often considered “dinghy boats.” They work best in shallow waters, where they’re often used on camping trips for fishing and sailing or as lifeboats on larger vessels. They’re also typically very easy to use, making them great for any skill level.

8. Motor yacht boats

Motor yachts are large, luxury cruising vessels. They’re usually over 40 feet and have a variety of decks and interior spaces for comfort and entertaining friends. These boats provide lots of amenities and are traditionally associated with the wealthy, so they’re perfect for family trips at sea or leisure activities.

9. Jet boats

Jet boats use a high-pressure stream of water to move them forward and steer them. This allows these small motorboats to move at high speeds and quickly change direction. Many jet boats are similar to bowriders. Some are basically faster and more maneuverable versions. They also belong in shallow waters.

10. Pontoon boats

Pontoon boats have a unique construction. With a flat deck, these boats use tubes filled with air to keep the vessel afloat and stable. They generally stay in inland waters because they don’t fare well under sea-like conditions. That’s why they’re most commonly used for recreational outings like cruising or fishing on small, inland bodies of water.

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11. Deck boats

Deck boats have larger deck space to facilitate recreational activities. These boats typically have decks ranging from 19 to 26 feet long. This provides plenty of space for seating and socializing. This also makes them quite popular.

Deck boats are rather versatile, and people can use them for many different activities. However, they work best in smaller bodies of water instead of long trips on the open sea.

12. Houseboats

Houseboats are boats that act as people’s houses. But there are two kinds of houseboats. The first kind is stationary and can’t go out on the water. The second type is a boat fit to live in that can go out on minor waters. Typically, people use the first type for housing and the second for vacation.  

13. Lifeboats

Lifeboats are crucial safety equipment for any boater. These life-saving permanent or inflatable boats are small vessels that stay onboard larger ones in case of an emergency. They can be used to evacuate a sinking boat to get to safety. They also carry other safety equipment like first aid kids and compasses. So keeping them stocked is an important part of boat maintenance.

14. PWC boats

PWC boats are small, personal watercraft. These jet-powered water vehicles provide single or double seating. The most common, well-known kinds are Kawasaki Jet Skis and Sea-Doos. They are personal recreational boats that can move quickly along the water. While they aren’t usually thought of as boats, they’re technically a type of small boat.

15. Trawler boats

Trawler boats are sturdy yachts that can travel long distances and fare well in harsh conditions. The largest ones can exceed 75 feet. While they aren’t fast-moving ocean boats, they’ll safely get you across the ocean. For that reason, they have large interior living spaces to keep you comfortable during the long journey.

This long list doesn’t include all the boats used around the world. There are also countless varieties ranging from tug boats and banana boats to surf boats and runabout boats. But these commonly purchased varieties are a great place to start your search.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now, we’ll respond to the most common queries on the subject. Here are some common related questions and their answers.

How many types of boats are there?

There are hundreds of different boat types in existence. Some of them differ wildly from one another, while other types have a single small change. Pontoon and tritoon boats, for example, only differ by the number of air-filled tubes they have.   

Also, several different types of boats may be subsets of another boat. For example, game boats are a subtype of fishing boats. This leaves room for many distinctions, which is why so many types exist. Boats also feature different types of exteriors, like fiberglass or metal, or have inboard or outboard engines, adding even more distinctions.

What are the three main types of boats?

Boats can generally belong to one of three basic categories based on their main purpose. These categories are cruising boats, fishing boats, and water sports boats. Each of the different types of boats listed here fits under one of these main umbrellas.  

What is a small yacht called?

Small yachts— meaning yachts under 40 feet long—are frequently referred to as cabin cruisers. People also often call them cruisers for short.

What do people call a fancy boat?

When people think of fancy boats, they usually think of luxury yachts. These boats have all the amenities and provide the most style and comfort. Many of the best boat brands make these luxury yachts.

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