14 Types of Boats for Lakes: From Electric to Pontoons

types of boats for lakes

14 Types of Boats for Lakes: From Electric to Pontoons

Key Points

  • Sailboats offer a serene and eco-friendly way to navigate lakes, relying on wind power for a quiet and peaceful experience.
  • Catamarans provide increased stability and ample space for passengers, making them popular for lake use.
  • Dinghies are versatile and easy to maneuver, perfect for short trips, fishing excursions, and exploring narrow waterways.
  • Cabin cruisers offer comfortable overnight stays and extended cruising on lakes, with spacious enclosed cabins and amenities.
  • Jetboats provide quick acceleration and exceptional maneuverability, making them ideal for thrill-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.

You’re in the right place if you want to explore the different types of boats for lakes. Selecting the right boat ensures an enjoyable and safe experience on the lake. Each boat type offers unique features and capabilities that enhance specific activities, such as fishing, cruising, or water sports.

By understanding the different types of boats available for lakes, you can make an informed decision that matches your preferences and activities on the water. So, let’s dive into the details of each boat type and find the perfect match for your lake adventures.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Sailboats

types of boats for lakes

A sailboat relies on the wind for propulsion.


Sailboats are boat types for lakes that use the power of the wind on their sails for propulsion. They have a tall mast and single or multiple sails, capturing the wind to move across the water. Sailboats come in various sizes and designs, from small dinghies to larger cruisers.

Sailboats offer a serene and eco-friendly way to navigate lakes. They rely on wind power, providing a quiet and peaceful experience. Sailboats can ride close to the wind and, based on their draught, explore otherwise hard-to-reach areas. Their maneuverability and responsiveness allow for precise control on the water.

Considerations for sailboat use on lakes include the reliance on wind conditions. Calm or inconsistent winds can limit speed and maneuverability. Additionally, sailboats may require some skill and knowledge to handle effectively, including understanding wind patterns and sail adjustments.


There are several popular sailboat models specifically for lake use. The Catalina 22, known for its versatility and ease of handling, is a popular choice for lake sailing. The Sunfish, a small and affordable option, is ideal for beginners or casual lake sailing.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Catamarans

2 People Standing on Catamaran in the Water

A catamaran has two parallel hulls joined by a deck.


Catamarans are types of boats for lakes that are unique vessels with two parallel hulls which join each other through a spacious deck. They have a wide beam, offering stability and ample space for passengers. Catamarans can range in size from small recreational boats to larger sailing yachts.


Catamarans provide several advantages for lake use. Their design offers increased stability, reducing the rocking motion experienced on traditional monohull boats. The wide deck provides ample space for socializing and enjoying the lake views. Catamarans are also popular for their shallow draft, allowing them to navigate shallow areas with ease.

Considerations for catamaran use on lakes include their size and beam, which may require larger docking spaces and marinas. Additionally, catamarans may require more skill and experience to operate due to their wider turning radius compared to monohull boats.


There are notable catamaran options suitable for lake sailing. The Hobie Cat Wave, a popular choice for recreational sailing, is a compact and easy-to-handle catamaran. The Lagoon 42, a larger cruising catamaran, offers luxurious amenities and comfortable accommodations for extended lake adventures.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Dinghy

Small white boat sailing on the lake on a beautiful sunny day

A dinghy is a small versatile boat perfect for small fishing trips.

©Ivan Smuk/Shutterstock.com

Dinghies are small, lightweight types of boats for lakes that are versatile and easy to maneuver. They typically have an open design with a flat bottom. This allows them to navigate shallow waters. Dinghies can use oars, outboard motors, or sails, depending on the model.

Uses and Advantages

Dinghies serve various practical uses and offer numerous benefits for lake activities. They are perfect for short trips, fishing excursions, and exploring narrow waterways where larger boats cannot venture. Dinghies are easy to transport, launch, and retrieve, making them convenient for lake enthusiasts. Additionally, their compact size and lightweight nature allow for easy storage and maintenance.

The versatility of dinghies also extends to water sports activities such as tubing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Their agile maneuverability makes them ideal for these adrenaline-pumping lake adventures.


Several popular dinghy models are ideal for lake adventures. The Sun Dolphin Water Tender, known for its stability and durability, is a favored choice among lake enthusiasts. The Walker Bay 8, a versatile and lightweight dinghy, is another popular option for lake explorations and fishing.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Cabin Cruisers

Local Detroit area marina gateway to Lake Erie

Cabin cruisers can be used for extended cruising as it has an enclosed cabin.

©Gerald Bernard/Shutterstock.com

Cabin cruisers are types of boats for lakes for comfortable overnight stays and extended cruising. They have a spacious enclosed cabin with sleeping berths, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. Cabin cruisers come in various sizes, from compact models to larger vessels with multiple cabins.


Cabin cruisers offer several features that enhance comfort during lake cruising. They typically have air conditioning and heating systems. This makes for a pleasant onboard environment in different weather conditions. The cabin provides protection from the elements and offers a cozy retreat for relaxation and rest. Many cabin cruisers also have a small outdoor seating area, allowing passengers to enjoy the lake views.

Other features that enhance comfort on cabin cruisers include a galley with cooking facilities, a refrigerator, and a dining area. These amenities allow for onboard meal preparation and dining, making longer lake trips more convenient and enjoyable.


When it comes to cabin cruiser options for lake cruising, there are several notable choices. The Sea Ray Sundancer, known for its luxurious design and performance, is a popular cabin cruiser favored by lake enthusiasts. The Bayliner Ciera, with its comfortable accommodations and user-friendly features, is another excellent option for lake cruising.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Center Consoles

Small open white fishing boat with center console cruising the Florida Intra-Coastal Waterway off Miami Beach.

Center console boats are great for fishing.

©richard pross/Shutterstock.com

Center console boats are versatile types of boats for lakes, known for their open design and centrally located helm console. They have an unobstructed deck space around the console, allowing for easy movement and accessibility. Center console boats typically have an outboard motor mounted at the stern.


Center console boats offer versatility and numerous advantages for lake enthusiasts. Their open layout provides flexibility for various activities such as fishing, water sports, and cruising. The center console location allows for better visibility and control while operating the boat. These boats are very stable. This makes them suitable for lake adventures.

Center console boats have ample storage compartments, allowing for organized storage of fishing gear, water sports equipment, and personal belongings. They often have built-in rod holders, live bait wells, and fish boxes, catering to the needs of anglers on lakes.


Several prominent center console boat models are ideal for lake use. The Boston Whaler Montauk is a popular choice among lake enthusiasts because of its durability and seaworthiness. The Grady-White Fisherman, known for its solid construction and versatile design, is another notable center console boat for lake adventures.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Inflatable Boat

grandfather with grandson together fishing from inflatable boat. Little boy caught fish. Concept of connection between generations

Inflatable boats are portable and easy to transport.


Inflatable boats, among the types of boats for lakes, are lightweight and portable watercraft that can be easily inflated and deflated. They are typically made of durable materials such as PVC or Hypalon and feature inflatable tubes or pontoons along the sides. Inflatable boats come in various sizes, from small dinghies to larger RIBs (rigid inflatable boats).

Uses and Applications

Inflatable boats have practical applications and offer several benefits for lake activities. Due to their inflatable nature, these boats are highly portable and easy to transport, making them suitable for lake enthusiasts who frequently move from one lake to another. They can be quickly inflated and launched, allowing for immediate access to the water.

The lightweight construction of inflatable boats also makes them easy to handle and maneuver, even in shallow areas or tight spaces. Additionally, their buoyant tubes provide stability and make them less susceptible to damage from collisions or impacts.

Inflatable boats are versatile and we can use them for various lake activities such as fishing, leisurely cruising, water sports, and even as tender boats for larger vessels. They can accommodate multiple passengers and usually have oars or outboard motors.


There are several noteworthy inflatable boat choices for lake enthusiasts. The Zodiac Cadet, known for its reliability and performance, is a popular inflatable boat model for lake adventures. The Sea Eagle SE9, with its spacious interior and rugged construction, is another notable option for lake activities.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Johnboats

Small cove with a white house on the hill and two colorful johnboats anchored off the rocky shoreline in cool blue water

Two colorful johnboats anchored off the rocky shoreline of a clear lake.


A johnboat is a flat-bottomed, shallow-draft boat that is popular among lake enthusiasts. It typically has a squared-off bow and stern, providing stability and ample deck space. Johnboats are commonly made of aluminum, making them lightweight and durable for lake use.


Johnboats offer key features that make them ideal for lake fishing and recreational activities. Their flat bottom design allows for easy maneuverability and navigation in shallow waters, perfect for exploring the nooks and crannies of lakes. The open layout of johnboats provides ample room for fishing gear and other equipment.

Many johnboats come with built-in bench seating or can accommodate additional seats, making them suitable for leisurely lake outings with family and friends. Their versatility extends to various fishing techniques, such as casting, trolling, or using a small outboard motor. Johnboats are also compatible with electric trolling motors, which are quieter and more suitable for fishing in calm lake waters.


Several prominent johnboat models are suitable for lake enthusiasts. The Alumacraft 1436, known for its rugged construction and stability, is a popular choice among lake fishermen. The Lowe L1448, with its spacious deck and reliable performance, is another notable option for lake recreation.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Yachts

A luxury private motor yacht under way on tropical sea with bow wave

Yachts are typically larger boats and are very luxurious.

©Paul Vinten/Shutterstock.com

A yacht is a large and luxurious type of boat for lakes, designed for comfort, elegance, and leisure. Yachts are typically privately owned and offer spacious cabins, multiple decks, and luxurious amenities. They are built with high-quality materials and feature advanced navigation and entertainment systems.


Yachts provide unparalleled luxury and offer memorable lake experiences. Their spacious interiors are designed to accommodate guests in utmost comfort, with features like plush seating, elegant furnishings, and well-appointed cabins. Yachts often have multiple decks, including a sun deck for enjoying panoramic views of the lake.

The amenities onboard yachts are designed to enhance the experience of being on the water. They may include gourmet kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, entertainment systems, and even water toys like jet skis or paddleboards. Yachts also offer privacy and exclusivity, allowing passengers to enjoy a serene and opulent lake retreat.


Several notable yacht options cater to those seeking a luxurious lake experience. The Sunseeker Manhattan, known for its sleek design and exceptional craftsmanship, is a popular choice for lake cruising. The Princess Yachts V65, with its spacious layout and cutting-edge technology, is another prominent yacht for lake enthusiasts.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Bowriders

Side view of Bowrider Boat in Gulf of Thailand with Fishing Boat and Another Bowrider in the Background

Bowrider boats can accommodate passengers in the bow area.

©Thitsanu Angkapunyadech/Shutterstock.com

A bowrider is a versatile type of boat for lakes that features an open bow area with seating. It can accommodate passengers in both the bow and cockpit areas, providing a spacious and comfortable layout. Bowriders come in various sizes, from smaller models suitable for a few people to larger ones that can accommodate larger groups.


Bowriders offer several features that make them ideal for lake leisure activities. The open bow area provides a great spot for sunbathing or enjoying the scenic views of the lake. The seating configuration allows for socializing and interaction among passengers, making it suitable for family outings or gatherings with friends.

With their versatile design, bowriders can be used for a range of lake activities such as cruising, water sports, and fishing. Many models come equipped with amenities like swim platforms, boarding ladders, and storage compartments for gear and equipment. Bowriders also offer ease of entry and exit, making them convenient for swimming or water activities.


There are several popular bowrider boat models preferred by lake enthusiasts. The Sea Ray SPX 190, known for its stylish design and comfortable seating, is a popular choice for lake leisure. The Chaparral 21 H2O, with its spacious layout and versatility, is another notable option for lake enthusiasts.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Jetboats

arthurs point, queenstown, jet boating at dart river in new zealand

Jetboats can access shallow water easily.

©Judith Lienert/Shutterstock.com

A jetboat is a dynamic and thrilling type of boat for lakes that is propelled by a jet propulsion system. Instead of a traditional propeller, jetboats use water ejected from a jet nozzle to generate propulsion. This design allows for quick acceleration, exceptional maneuverability, and the ability to operate in shallow waters.

Jetboats typically have a flat or semi-flat hull, allowing them to navigate through rivers, lakes, and even rapids. They are often compact and lightweight, making them agile and responsive on the water. Jetboats come in various sizes, from small recreational models to larger boats suitable for water sports.


Jetboats offer several benefits that make them attractive to lake enthusiasts. Their jet propulsion system provides quick acceleration and the ability to reach high speeds, making them ideal for thrill-seekers and water sports enthusiasts. The absence of a propeller also eliminates the risk of propeller strikes, ensuring safety for swimmers and other water users.

The shallow draft of jetboats allows them to navigate in lakes with shallow waters, reaching areas that may be inaccessible to other types of boats. This feature opens up opportunities for exploring hidden coves, rivers, and other scenic spots. Additionally, the maneuverability of jetboats makes them well-suited for tight turns and navigating around obstacles in the lake.

However, it’s important to consider that jetboats may have a higher fuel consumption compared to other types of boats, due to their powerful engines. They also tend to produce more noise and can create a large spray, which may be a consideration for those seeking a quieter and calmer lake experience.


Several noteworthy jetboat models cater to the needs of lake enthusiasts. The Yamaha AR190, known for its performance and versatility, is a popular choice for water sports activities on lakes. The Scarab 165 G, with its compact size and sporty design, is another notable option for lake adventurers.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Runabouts

A small outboard runabout boat with canopy lies at anchor on a placid lake.

A runabout is perfect for recreational activities.

©Richard Thornton/Shutterstock.com

A runabout is a fast and agile boat for lakes, perfect for recreational activities. It has a small to medium size, an open cockpit, and can seat multiple passengers. Runabouts are known for their sporty appearance and performance, making them popular among lake enthusiasts.

These boats have a sleek and streamlined design with a V-shaped hull that allows for smooth and efficient movement on the water. They are powered by either an outboard or inboard engine. This provides the necessary propulsion for swift navigation.


Runabouts are specifically designed to maximize speed and maneuverability on lakes. They have a lightweight construction that reduces drag and enables quick acceleration. The V-shaped hull provides stability and improves handling, ensuring a comfortable ride even at high speeds.

To enhance their performance on lakes, runabouts often include features such as trim tabs or hydrofoils. These additions help adjust the boat and improve stability during acceleration and turns. The steering systems are responsive and precise, allowing for easy maneuvering and sharp cornering on the water.


There are several noteworthy runabout models available for lake enthusiasts. The Bayliner Bowrider is a popular option known for its style, affordability, and performance. It offers comfortable seating, ample storage, and various engine options to suit different needs.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Motorboats

luxury motor yacht in navigation, aerial view

Motorboats are great for motor sports.


A motorboat is a versatile and efficient type of boat for lakes. It is propelled by an engine, which provides power for smooth and swift navigation on the water. Motorboats come in various sizes, from small recreational vessels to larger cruisers, accommodating different needs and preferences.

These boats feature robust construction, with a hull that can withstand the water’s forces and provide stability. The engines can be either outboard or inboard, with options for different power capacities based on the desired speed and performance.

Uses and Benefits

Motorboats offer a wide range of practical uses and benefits for lake activities. They are ideal for leisurely cruises, allowing you to explore the lake’s surroundings and enjoy scenic views. With their speed and maneuverability, motorboats are also great for engaging in water sports such as water skiing, tubing, or wakeboarding.

Fishing enthusiasts find motorboats advantageous for lake angling. They provide quick access to fishing spots, and some models come equipped with fish-finding technology and storage compartments for fishing gear.

Moreover, motorboats offer the convenience of comfortable seating, storage compartments for belongings, and amenities such as built-in coolers or stereo systems, enhancing the overall experience on the lake.


There are several prominent motorboat models suitable for lake enthusiasts. The Bayliner Element is a popular choice known for its affordability, versatility, and ease of use. It offers a spacious layout, ample seating, and a smooth ride, making it ideal for various lake activities.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience, the Sea Ray Sundancer series provides comfort, elegance, and premium features. These motorboats offer a refined design, spacious cabins, and amenities such as air conditioning, entertainment systems, and a fully equipped galley.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB)

Rigid inflatable boat out on sea near an island on a sunny day

The Rigid Inflatable Boat often has a console or seating area in the center.

©Andrew Angelov/Shutterstock.com

A Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) is a versatile and durable type of boat for lakes. It features a rigid hull made of materials like fiberglass or aluminum, coupled with inflatable tubes that surround the boat’s sides. This design provides enhanced stability, buoyancy, and shock absorption.

RIBs are known for their exceptional maneuverability and speed, thanks to their lightweight construction and powerful engines. They are often equipped with a console or seating area in the center, offering comfort and control for the operator.

Uses and Benefits

RIBs offer several advantages for lake enthusiasts. Their buoyant inflatable tubes provide increased stability and make them virtually unsinkable. The lightweight construction allows for easy transportation and launching into the water, making them convenient for lake activities.

These boats excel in maneuverability, allowing quick turns and precise handling, which is beneficial for navigating narrow channels or avoiding obstacles on the lake. RIBs also have a shallow draft, enabling access to shallow areas where other boats may struggle to venture.

Considerations for lake use include the size and power of the RIB. Smaller RIBs are suitable for recreational purposes, while larger ones can accommodate more passengers and equipment for activities like diving or water sports.


When it comes to notable RIB options for lake enthusiasts, the Zodiac Pro Open series stands out. These RIBs are known for their excellent performance, durability, and versatility. They offer ample seating, storage compartments, and a deep-V hull for stability and smooth rides.

Another popular choice is the Avon Adventure series, which combines performance and comfort. These RIBs feature ergonomic seating, responsive handling, and durable construction, making them ideal for a range of lake activities.

Types of Boats for Lakes: Deck Boats

types of boats for lakes

Deck boats have an ample deck area for seating and entertainment.

©Paul Vinten/Shutterstock.com

Deck boats are versatile types of boats for lakes, known for their spacious and open deck layout. They feature a wide beam that extends to the bow, creating ample seating and socializing areas for passengers. The hull design offers stability and a smooth ride on the water.

Deck boats have a bow area, complete with comfortable seating and storage compartments. This space is for sunbathing, relaxing, or enjoying picnics with family and friends. The open deck design allows for easy movement and accessibility throughout the boat.


One of the main advantages of deck boats is their spaciousness. They provide generous seating capacity, making them ideal for large groups or families looking to enjoy leisurely activities on the lake. The wide deck area allows for various recreational pursuits such as fishing, water sports, or simply cruising and enjoying the scenery.

Deck boats often come with features that enhance lake leisure. These may include swim platforms with ladders. This allows for easy access to the water for swimming or water skiing. Some models offer built-in coolers, stereo systems, and even small cabins or portable toilets for added convenience during extended lake outings.


When it comes to popular deck boat models for lake enthusiasts, the Hurricane SunDeck series stands out. These boats combine comfort, performance, and versatility, offering spacious layouts, ample storage, and optional features like wakeboard towers for water sports enthusiasts.

Another notable choice is the Bayliner Element E-Series, known for its affordability and practical design. These deck boats feature a spacious cockpit, comfortable seating, and a stable hull, making them suitable for a range of lake activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should I consider when choosing a boat for lake activities?

You need to consider the intended use, such as fishing or leisure, the size and capacity needed, budget, ease of maneuverability, and storage options.

Are pontoon boats suitable for various lake activities?

Yes, pontoon boats are versatile and can be used for fishing, cruising, water sports, and socializing due to their spacious decks and stability.

Can electric boats provide enough power for lake excursions?

Absolutely. Electric boats are designed with sufficient power to navigate lakes, offering a quieter and eco-friendly boating experience.

What are the advantages of choosing a center console boat for lake use?

Center console boats provide an open layout, 360-degree access, and are well-suited for fishing, water sports, and cruising in both shallow and deep waters.

Are inflatable boats durable enough for lake activities?

Yes, modern inflatable boats are made from robust materials like PVC or Hypalon, ensuring durability for lake adventures while being lightweight and easy to transport.

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