Skip to main content

As people look for new ways to entertain themselves while staying socially distanced, some have decided to buy a new boat. This is a great idea as boating is a fun activity for the whole family.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), new boat sales in May and June were up 30% over the same months last year. One type of boat you might be considering is the pontoon boat. While it’s a great type of boat for a lot of different purposes, it won’t be perfect for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of pontoon boats.

Why pontoon boats are appealing

Pontoon boats have a large deck, which is supported by two or three pontoon tubes. Pontoon boats are commonly used in lakes and rivers and are usually 15 to 30 feet long. Pontoons have a number of factors that make it appealing for different types of boaters, according to

The large space on deck makes it possible to include more people, often about 11 people. The roomy deck can be customized with comfy seats and furniture as needed. It can even be enclosed for cold-weather use. With the flat floor, high enclosed sides, and lots of seats, it’s also safer for people as well. In addition, pontoon boats are quite stable and very unlikely to capsize.

The boats are also good for a variety of different uses. While most people likely use their pontoon boat for cruising, they can use the boat for fishing or even water sports like waterskiing, wakeboarding, and tubing (with the right engine).

The drawbacks of pontoon boats

Men fishing off of a pontoon boat in a lake
People fishing on a pontoon boat | Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Some of the same reasons that make a pontoon boat appealing to one person might make it unappealing to another. These boats are not known for speed, topping out around 25 to 35 MPH for most models.

With its stable size and shape, most of these boats also lack maneuverability and can’t handle tight corners. For example, a 22-foot model has about a 25-foot turning radius.

Used pontoon boats sometimes have very noisy outboard engines. It’s something to check out before buying, but it’s less of an issue with newer engines. For quieter engines, consider an inboard engine or a trolling motor.

It can be dangerous to get caught in rough waters in a pontoon boat. This boat that’s super safe in calm waters has trouble navigating more dangerous conditions because of its decreased maneuverability.

To buy, or not to buy

A pontoon boat is a great purchase for a family, people who fish, or those looking for versatility. Because of the space and safety, families can be comfortable bringing small children aboard and can entertain lots of their kids’ friends as well.

When fishing, there are comfortable seats to spend the day in, plus there is space to move around without rocking the boat. In general, these boats are perfect for the causal boater.

While there are drawbacks, pontoons are very versatile. These boats are perfect for people who have multiple uses in mind for their boat. Buying one isn’t the best idea for everyone though.

People looking for specialized use, like competitive waterskiing or fishing in narrow spaces, may prefer a boat designed for those uses instead. Boaters hoping for high speeds, ocean voyages, or overnight stays are likely not in the market for a pontoon boat either.


Can You Finance a Used Boat?