Looking to buy a not-too-expensive boat this year but aren’t sure how to shop for the best one? We're here to help!
First off: just because you want to save money doesn’t mean you want to skimp on value, and no one wants an unreliable or problematic boat just because it had a lower price tag. One surefire way to save money on a boat purchase is to buy a used boat instead of a new one. This does bring the risk of purchasing a boat that may have mechanical problems in the future, as you can never be sure of how the previous owner treated it, so you should be very discerning in inspecting the boat and learning as much as possible about its history and condition.
If you want to go the route of a new boat, you can still save money while still getting an amazing watercraft. Here are some great options for cheap and affordable boats for different boating and water recreation purposes.
Affordable Boats For Fishing
Considered an ideal entry level fishing boat, the Alumacraft V-series boats are excellent for anglers on a budget who want a fishing experience on the water that won’t break the bank. They're versatile, easy to maneuver and have plenty of deck space for your fishing gear. Prices for Alumacraft V-Series boats start at an exceptionally affordable price point of $4,400 — a fraction of other boats.
The Lowe SF214 is a unique one because it’s fit for fishing, but it’s also a pontoon! It’s a smaller, more compact pontoon design that is easy on the wallet while still offering amazing features and amenities for getting on the water. Go fishing, cruising, or even tow your kids behind it for a fun day of tubing.
Lowe boats are incredible for easy handling for casual boaters, and they have simple and sleek features. The pricing for these pontoons is incredibly affordable when compared to other pontoons on the market, with the MSRP starting around $25,000.
Carolina Skiff 17LS
Carolina Skiff boats are straightforward, simple fishing boats that offer what you need for a great day of fishing. While you won’t find a lot of the extra amenities and all the bells and whistles on these boats, this is what helps keep them so affordable, with current models starting around $20,000, but you can find a used Carolina Skiff starting around $16,000. The Carolina Skiff 17LS has a self-bailing deck, a big cooler, capacity for 6 passengers, and it offers a smooth ride for the whole family to enjoy.
Affordable Boats for Wakeboarding and Water Skiing
Ski boats and wake boats are notorious for their higher price points due to the design elements and features required for generating a wake that riders can enjoy behind the boat. Things like a wakeboard tower, top-of-the-line speakers, and other bells and whistles that can drive the cost to well over the six-figure mark.
While you’re not going to find a great wake boat in the price range of a fishing boat, here are some of our favorite cheap(ish) boats for water sports.
Scarab Jet 255 ID
This fantastic boat is a favorite for people who love a highspeed, fun-filled day on the water. It has a 13-passenger capacity and is a great boat for wake surfing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and other water sports. Pricing for the Scarab Jet 255 ID starts at $68,500 for a used model and ranges up to over $100,000 for models with all the luxury features. It also comes in various color options - choose your favorite to customize the ultimate wake sports vessel.
Chaparral 21 Surf
Starting at around $55,000, the Chaparral 21 Surf is an affordable boat for water sports. It has customizable wake-making modes that you can save on its Medallion Viper II touchscreen display, so you’ll be able to create the waves you want every time you go out. It’s a 21’ long boat that accommodates up to 12 passengers, so all your sporty friends can come with you for a fun day of riding the wake.
The Heyday brand is renowned for creating boats designed for adrenaline-fueled fun at affordable prices, and this particular vessel comes with a foldable wake tower, providing riders with an elevated tow point and a tri-hull to create the best waves. The Heyday WT-2DC will provide both riders and passengers onboard with a fun experience on the water for about $67,000. It has a lot of bow seating, a ski locker for storage, and a swim platform with a transom step so you can easily get geared up for your ride.
Affordable Power Boats for Leisure Cruising
Bayliner Element E18
With an exceptional price tag and versatile design, the Bayliner Element E18 is a great cheap boat choice for families who love to enjoy everything from casual cruising to water sports. Bring your fishing gear onboard or tow your kids around for an exciting time on the waves. Deck boats like this Bayliner are wonderful for small groups who love spending time together on the water. Pricing starts at $27,595.
Bennington 20 SL
Bennington pontoons are known for being some of the best on the market, offering cruising luxury at affordable prices. The Bennington S-Series boats are beloved for the THRU-BOLT technology that secures the toons to the boat hull, making for a smooth ride. It has a lot of comfortable seating and lounging space and is surprisingly lightweight for a pontoon, making it easy to trailer and haul to your favorite lakes and launch points.
Bennington S-Series pontoons start around $21,000, making them the most affordable line that the manufacturer produces.
Another great, affordable pontoon is the Lowe SS210. It accommodates between nine to eleven passengers onboard and offers great features like a dinette table, 14 cup holders, comfortable lounge cushions, and a factory-installed fish finder. Lowe pontoons are also unique from some other manufacturers since they have full-length keels and edge-to-edge cross members on the vessel, which helps provide additional support and durability to these pontoons. Pricing for the this one starts at $31,830 .
Affordable and Awesome Sailboats
Prefer to explore the water by wind power? Since engines can contribute significantly to the overall cost of a boat, skipping the motor and opting for a sailboat can be a very affordable choice! Here are some great, cheaper sailboats that will have you cruising the waves in no time.
Hobie Cat 16
Love a fun day of exploring the water on a catamaran? The Hobie 16 is an iconic model, considered to be one of the most popular catamarans for pleasure cruising in the world. They're easy to rig, making them the obvious choice for people who want to waste no time getting out on the waves. Pricing starts at around $11,000 for used H16 models.
Walker Bay 10 with Sail Kit
Walker Bay boats are rigid dinghies, which are typically used by larger power yachts as a tender, but they can be converted into fun sailboats, too. The Walker Bay 10 with a sail kit has the rigging you’ll need to transform a tender boat into a sailing vessel that will provide you with a fun and exciting sailing experience. Prices for the dinghy and the sail conversion kit will cost around $2,000, about $900 for the dinghy itself, and then another $1,000 or so for the additional sail kit to rig it up — so you're looking at just over $3,000, all in.
Catalina 275 Sport
This boat is where style meets a user-friendly design for sailing enthusiasts who love a casual afternoon of cruising. This is the newest design from Catalina; it has a cabin for a weekend on the water or for sheltering from bad weather, it has a self-tacking jib which makes it very easy to sail, and it’s the perfect middle ground for sailors who don’t want the commitment of owning a big boat but still want a vessel that they can take racing or on a fun day cruise adventures.
Compared to the other sailboats mentioned in this post, the Catalina 275 Sport is much more expensive, starting at $75,000, but it's all relative — this is actually on the affordable end for a sailing vessel of this style and class.
Want to go sailing without committing to buying a sailboat? Check out sailboat rentals and sailing charters on GetMyBoat!
The Best Affordable Kayaks & Canoes
Intex Challenger Kayak
Intex is the most popular brand of inflatable kayaks, thanks to their lightweight durability and ease of use. It weighs 28 pounds and measures 9 ft in length. It holds up to 220 lbs of capacity, so if you need a kayak to accommodate a larger weight, the Challenger 2 model of Intex can hold up to 400 lbs.
The best part? You can order your Intex Challenger Kayak online! No need to go to a dealer or a sporting goods store. Buy your kayak online, and it will ship right to your house, ready to be inflated and taken out on the water. Pricing starts at around $150 for the complete package, including paddles and a lifejacket.
Aquaglide Navarro 145
The Navarro 145 model is a great, affordable kayak that can comfortably fit one or two passengers and is convertible to function as an open-deck or sit-inside kayak. It can hold up to a 500 lb capacity and weighs 36 lbs, coming with an easy-to-pack duffel bag for storage and towing it around.
Pricing for the Aquaglide Navarro 145 starts at around $900, but this price does not include a PFD, pump, or paddles, so that'll all be an additional cost.
Old Town Saranac 146
The Old Town brand has been crafting canoes since 1898 and they make some excellent, built-to-last boats that will have your family paddling together for years. The Saranac 146 model, at about $700, is a great canoe that can accommodate two adults and children or pets onboard. The canoe weighs 79lbs and comes with contoured seats and seatbacks for your comfort, as well as rod holders, making it a particularly good choice for anglers.
Sun Dolphin Mackinaw SS (Square Stern)
This canoe is beloved for being a heavy-duty vessel that can haul a ton of cargo, perfect for backcountry paddling trips and adventures,. It is a heavier canoe, weighing in at 104 lbs, but it comes with great features like an under seat cooler, drink holders, and dry storage containers, all for $600.
Renting different kayaks and canoes is a great way to test-run the style you’d want. Check out kayak rentals and canoe rentals on GetMyBoat!
The Best Affordable Jet Skis
With pricing starting at just under $6,000, the Sea-Doo Spark is known for being the most affordable jet ski model on the market. Not only is it a cheap jet ski to buy initially, but it also is cheap to maintain — the costs associated with routine maintenance for a Sea Doo are typically lower than other manufacturers. It’s lightweight and easy to tow, with the efficient Rotax 900 ACE 60 hp engine.
Yamaha Waverunner EX
The EX series of Waverunners are the most affordable jet skis produced by Yamaha, with pricing starting around $7,500. Despite their low cost, they don’t sacrifice performance, with a 3-cylinder, 4-stroke TR-1 Yamaha Marine Engine. They can seat one to three riders ,and will have you tearing up the waves on your favorite local lake or on the open ocean.
Kawasaki STX 160
Starting at $9,899, the STX 160 is on the cheaper end of Kawasaki PWC models. And it's got multiple trim options you can choose from, seamless acceleration, and agile handling to make for an exciting day flying through the waves.
Want to test drive some jet skis before you buy? Check out all the available jet ski rental options near you on GetMyBoat!
Not sure how to decide which boat best suits your interests and budget? We recommend that before buying, you rent different makes and models to get the full experience of anything you're considering purchasing. Even the more affordable boats are a big investment and a big commitment, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a style of watercraft that works for you.
GetMyBoat has thousands of boat rental options — so you can rent the boat you’re looking to buy so you can test it out first!