A pontoon boat is great for fishing, family outings and parties. No longer looking as if they were built for your grandpa and his fishing buddies, today’s pontoon boats offer smooth rides and sleek finishes. The purchase of such a boat can be a significant recreational investment, but make sure you know all about pontoon boats before you buy. Use the following to help you make an informed decision:
1. How big is the deck?
Keep in mind that the deck length differs from tube length. The deck provides the usable space on the boat, while the tubes affect performance and capacity. Base the size of the deck you need on the body of water you’ll use and the number of people you’ll transport.
- 16-19 feet: Best for small, calm bodies of water; accommodates up to eight.
- 20-22 feet: Best for lakes and rivers that don’t have big waves; accommodates up to 13.
- 23-27 feet: Good for rough waters, especially when the tubes are 27 feet long; accommodates up to 15.
2. What is the pontoon model’s primary purpose?
Look for amenities that complement the activities you enjoy.
- Lounging and sunbathing: Consider a large padded sun deck and a sound system for your favorite tunes.
- Large groups of people: Select a boat with ample conversational seating, plus storage for food and drinks.
- Swimming and water sports: Your pontoon should offer easy access into and out of the water.
- Fishing: Planning to spend at least 40 percent of the time practicing your angling skills? To find the best pontoon boats for fishing, look for a model with at least two fishing chairs on the front deck, a fish locator and a live well.
3. What amenities does the pontoon boat have?
In addition to the features listed above, pontoon boats offer plenty of ways to make excursions more enjoyable. Look for comfortable seating in durable marine-grade vinyl and foam that resists fading, cracking, peeling, mold, and mildew (important when storing the boat). Enclosure tops can extend your boating season when the weather is less than ideal. High-end boats can include plush carpeting, a toilet, changing room, sound system, and generous storage space.
4. How much does the pontoon boat cost?
Pontoon boat prices reflect deck size, brand, quality of materials, engine size, tube size, the year it was made, and extra features:
- A small, no-frills boat can cost as little as $11,500.
- The average pontoon boat sells for roughly $20,000.
- For higher-end pontoon boats, prices start at $35,000-$40,000. Such pontoon prices are based on the added amenities, plus greater engine power for water sports.
- Expect to pay at least $35,000 for a high-end pontoon boat with all the extras and enough engine to enjoy water sports.
Above all, look for a warranty that covers 100 percent of parts and labor for everything on the boat, including the electronic components that are most prone to weather-related failures.