While doing research for our recent boat purchase, I learned about the many different types of boats. We’ve had a tandem kayak for years. Now we have an 18′ aluminum Hewescraft fishing boat that we’ll be using for commuting to our boat access cabin.
Below we list out all the boat types in alphabetical order as well as list boat options by various categories such as lake boats, recreational boats, small boats and boats with cabins.
Related: Aluminum vs. Fiberglass Boat | Boat Accessories | Where to Buy Used Boat | Hewescraft 180 Pro V Review | Renting a Boat Slip | Parts of a Boat | Boat Cost | Hard vs. Soft Top vs. Hybrid vs. Semi Top Boat | Buying a Boat | Parts of a Boat Trailer
A. 3 Main Boat Categories
- Human-power boats: kayaks, rowboats, canoes and dinghies.
- Motor-powered boats: fishing boats, ski boats, yachts, cruisers… any boat with a motor.
- Wind-powered: boats powered by wind via sail.
As an aside, while there are many boat styles, designs and types, most boats have the same boat parts. Two exceptions are sailboats and ships which have quite a few components not found on other boats.
B. Types of Boats List (A to Z alphabetical order)
Here’s our A to Z list of boat types.
1. Bowrider Boats
Bowrider boats are boats with seating in the bow (the front). They are often ski boats or pleasure craft so that the boat can accommodate more people.
3. Cabin Cruisers
A cabin cruiser is a small yacht. It’s a boat with sleeping quarters and often a small bathroom and kitchen (galley).
4. Canal Boats
Canal boats are most popular in Holland. They are floating homes but can propel through the water if necessary.
A catamaran has two separate hulls. They can be motor-powered or wind-powered. They can be small (no cabin) or huge (yacht with luxurious cabin).
6. Center Console Boats
These are boats with the driver area having one seat in the center of the boat. It provides for more deck space and easier to move around the boat. These are mostly on fishing boats.
7. Commuter Boats
Not an official boat type but still a boat category if you look for a boat by purpose. Our boat, a Hewescraft 180 ProV is commonly used for fishing, but they are also popular among boat-access cabin owners because they are durable, offer plenty of deck space, go fairly fast, offer protection from the weather and basically are the best option for commuting on lakes and the ocean. For example, there’s a water taxi boat on the fjord where our cabin is located and it too is an aluminum fishing boat with hard top.
8. Cuddy Cabins
A cuddy cabin is a small cabin cruiser boat with sleeping quarters in the bow.
9. Deck Boats
Deck boats are boats with plenty of deck space… pretty much all deck space. Often they’re fishing boats.
10. Dual Console Boats
A dual console boat is a boat with two seats side-by-side at the front. Our fishing/commuter boat is a dual console. Most boats are dual console.
11. Duck Boats
A duck boat is a that can drive on land but also float on water. They’re typically tourist boats but they aren’t the safest given some of the tragedies of these boats in recent years.
12. Fishing Boats
Any boat that is designed for fishing is a fishing boat. There are many different types of fishing boats. There are small skiffs, center console boats, cuddy cabins, commuter boats, large aluminum boats and so on… all of which are used for fishing. Some have a cabin/hard top while others offer a semi-top and others have no covering. Read about the aluminum vs fiberglass differences (pros and cons of each).
Check out the 20 different types of fishing boats.
13. House Boats
A houseboat is a pontoon boat with living quarters. They’re like a floating cabin. They’re used on large lakes. They are popular as vacation boats. Most folks rent them. Read about house boats and floating homes here.
A hovercraft is a boat because it can travel over water. It hovers. It can also travel on land making it a very versatile vehicle.
15. Inflatable Boats
16. Jon Boats
Jon boats are specific type of fishing boat. Their design features include flat, squared-off nose. They’re terrific for lakes and rivers… good for shallow water. They’re smaller in size.
17. Personal watercraft boats
- Rowboats: aka dinghy and powered by oars.
- Kayak: Long narrow closed-top boat powered by paddles.
- Canoe: Long narrow open-top boat powered by paddles.
- Dinghy: these are small rowboats or inflatable powered with oars or pulled by another boat.
- Jetski: Motorized motorcycle on water. Also referred to as a waverunner.
18. Pontoon Boats
Pontoon boats are boats are defined by having large floating barrel-type hulls, two of them running the entire length of the boat on each side. A flat platform is built on top and that’s your boat. They can be small and simple or large with a house built on it.
Sailboats are powered by wind. Most sailboats have a motor on board as well but ideally they propel from wind power which propels the boat by being captured by a sail or sails. They can be small, single person in size or massive yachts.
A skiff is basically a rowboat with a motor. They do range in length but typically are small. They are open (no cabin or covering) although you probably can outfit them with a soft top for some shelter.
21. Ski Boats
Any boat built for pulling waterskiers and/or wakeboarders is a ski boat. They are unique in that they’re designed to go fast, have a lot of power, ski/wakeboard storage, accommodate passengers and engineered for attaching ropes optimally for waterskiing.
22. Speed Boats
Speed boats are built for speed. A popular type is called a cigarette boat.
Trawlers are fairly large motor-powered boats for fishing. They have living accommodations that are utilitarian given the boat is designed for fishing and not luxurious living. They typically travel slow and are built for commercial fishing (although I’m sure you can buy one for personal use). What’s the difference between a trawler and yacht? Trawlers are slower. Power yachts can hit planing speeds.
24. Tug boats
Tug boats are workhorses designed to pull/push other boats.
25. Walkaround boats
A walkaround boat is any boat where you can walkaround the entire boat. For example, our boat is not a walkaround because the cabin spans the full width of the boat. However, some cruisers and yachts offer walkways on the side of the cabin.
Yachts are luxury boats with living quarters. Today’s yachts are high-tech, fast boats. There is no set length or other definition for a boat to qualify as a yacht but generally, any boat that is fairly large (50′ or more) with living quarters is a yacht. For example, long sailboats can be a yacht as well and would be referred to as a sailing yacht.
Yachts are to boats what mansions are to houses. There isn’t a set definition or set of criteria for a boat to be a yacht but you know a yacht when you see one. We attempt with our types of yachts article.
C. Types of boats for lakes
Boats for lakes are smaller. Many boat types are good for the lake. It depends on what you’re doing. In a nutshell, here’s a list of boats that are good for lakes:
- Bowrider boats
- Cabin cruiser (larger lakes)
- Center console boats
- Cuddy cabin
- Deck boats
- Fishing boats (small)
- Inflatable boats
- Jon boats
- Personal watercraft boats
- Pontoon boats
- Ski boats
D. Types of boats with cabins
- Cabin cruisers
- Canal boats
- Cigarette boats (some)
- Cuddy cabin boats
- Large fishing boats
E. Small boat types
The smallest boats you can buy are:
- Jon Boats
- Ski boats
- Center Console boats (small versions)
- Inflatable boats
F. Best Type of Boat for Various Water Activities and Bodies of Water
The best fishing boats depend on several factors, such as the type of fish you’re trying to catch, the waters you’ll be fishing in, and your budget. Some of the best fishing boats include center console, bass, and pontoon boats.
Another factor to consider when choosing a fishing boat is whether you want a boat primarily for fishing or one that can also be used for other activities, like cruising or watersports.
Examples include the Boston Whaler Montauk and the Sea Ray Sundancer. These are both superb boats for fishing but can also be used for other activities.
Jon boats are an excellent option for shallow water fishing. They’re lightweight and easy to maneuver, making them perfect for getting into tight spots. Another option is a flat boat, designed for shallow waters and can get into very skinny waters. Check out the Maverick HPX-V or the Pathfinder 2200 TRS for some great options.
You’ll need a boat capable of handling rough waters for offshore fishing. Center console boats are a good option, as they’re stable and have plenty of room for all your gear. However, there are other options, such as sport fishing and convertible boats.
Examples include the Grady-White Canyon and the Bertram 58. You can also try the Hatteras GT70X or the Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht.
We get it. You don’t want to fish, but you plan on experiencing the sea air. If this is the case, then you probably want a cruiser. They design these boats for comfort and often come with features like an onboard kitchen, a spacious cabin, and plenty of storage. Check out the Sunseeker Manhattan or the Princess V52 for some great options.
You want a stable boat with enough power to tow you around for tubing. The MasterCraft X46 is an excellent option for tubing, as it has plenty of power and space. Pontoon boats are a great option, as they’re designed for stability and have plenty of horsepowers.
Other good options include ski boats and wakeboard boats.
Much like tubing, you want a stable boat with enough power to tow you around. Ski and wakeboard boats are excellent options, as they’re designed for watersports. The MasterCraft X46 is a great option for water skiing, as it has plenty of power and space.
If you’re looking to scuba dive, you’ll need a boat that can get you to the dive site and has enough space to store all your gear. A good option is a sports fishing boat, as they often have a large cockpit and plenty of storage. Another option is a convertible boat, which can be used for diving and fishing.
The Hatteras GT70X or the Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht are both great options.
If you’re looking to fish in a river, you’ll need a lightweight and easily maneuverable boat. A Jon boat is a good option, as they’re designed for shallow waters. Another option is a flat boat, which can get into very skinny waters. The Maverick HPX-V or the Pathfinder 2200 TRS are both great options.
For lakes, you’ll want a stable boat with enough power for watersports. Pontoon boats are a great option, as they’re designed for stability and have plenty of horsepowers. Other good options include ski boats and wakeboard boats.
To live on
If you’re looking for a boat to live on, you’ll need one that’s spacious and has all the amenities of the home.
A cruiser is a good option, as they often come with features like an onboard kitchen, a spacious cabin, and plenty of storage. The Sunseeker Manhattan or the Princess V52 are both great options. Overall, for living, you’ll want a larger vessel.
Much like tubing, you want a stable boat with enough power to tow you around. Ski and wakeboard boats are excellent options, as they’re designed for watersports. The MasterCraft X46 is a great option for wakeboarding, as it has plenty of power and space.