Jet Ski vs. Boat: Which One to Choose if You are a Beginner?

Is a jet ski better than a boat? – this is a typical question of buyers and with good reason. Today’s jet skis are so huge that they are already viable alternatives to smaller boats. What’s more, many owners say that jet skis are better than boats as they are cheaper, smaller, and offer more fun. Others argue that boats are the better choice as they are safer and more convenient.

But which one should you buy, a jet ski or a boat? Find out from this detailed comparison post!

Which is Better, a Jet ski or Boat?

The Purpose of Use

If you are hesitating about which to buy, a jet ski or a boat, the most important question is: what do you want to use it for?

Jet skis are great for adrenalin rushes and thrilling tricks. Many of them even offer a seat for up to three passengers, but they are not the best choice if you are planning to spend your time with others on the water.

Simply put, jet skis are the street bikes of the water. Even if they can carry passengers, jet skis offer the best experience if ridden alone.

In contrast, boats offer plenty of space for passengers and gear. They are a good choice for fishing, watersports, or other activities. What’s more, they are far more convenient as well.

If jet skis are like motorcycles, boats are like SUVs or even RVs!

Size and Weight

Let’s face it, jet skis are much smaller and lighter compared to boats, which has many benefits.

You can easily tow the smaller jet skis even with a 4-cylinder car, so you don’t have to invest in a huge truck. Moreover, jet skis easily fit in the average garage, so you can store them at home without any issues.

Moreover, you can move jet skis around even by hand, and launching them is also far easier.

So finally, this round seems to have been won by the jet skis!

Price and Maintenance Costs

If you are on a budget, the good news is that jet skis are much cheaper compared to boats.

The prices of new jet skis range from $6,000 up to $20,000. In contrast, an average bowrider boat may cost you $30,000-$60,000 depending on the model.

Regarding maintenance costs, these are quite difficult to compare as they depend on many factors, like the size and performance of the vessels and so on.

For example, the entry-level jet skis’ fuel consumption is about 2 GPH, while the most powerful models can dry out a 22-gallon fuel tank in less than an hour at full speed. (Yes, really!)

But generally speaking, an average jet ski burns about 3-4 gallons of gas per hour, while bowrider boats use about 5-10 gallons per hour.

Finally, it’s safe to say that you can expect around the same maintenance costs on a smaller boat as a high-end jet ski. But if you choose an entry-level (Rec-Lite) jet ski, its maintenance costs will be much lower compared to a boat’s.

You can read more about jet ski’s maintenance costs in this post.


Let’s face it, compared to boats jet skis have nearly zero capacities. Most of them can carry a maximum of 2-3 riders and offer very limited storage space.

Thus, if you want to use it alone most of the time, a jet ski may be a good choice for you.

But if you want to want to regularly spend your time with others on the water, or want to carry a lot of gear, you should primarily look at boats. They have far better capacities and can accommodate plenty of passengers!


If you are looking for comfort, then there is no question that you will need a boat.

On a jet ski, you sit on a narrow saddle all day, while needing to exert physical effort to operate it. Beware that riding a jet ski hard could be very demanding physically!

Moreover, as you are exposed to water spray, be prepared to be wet on a jet ski. On top of that, you can flip it over accidentally, and reboarding it could be tricky!

Since boats feature much bigger hulls, you are less exposed to the elements. Boats are typically much more convenient as they are equipped with well-paddled seats, windshields, and Bimini tops to protect you from the sun.

You can conveniently store your gear and beverages while you relax on the water!


You shouldn’t overlook safety, as open waters can be dangerous in many ways.

When it comes to the jet ski vs. boat debate, it’s completely clear that boats are much safer compared to jet skis. Why?

This is because jet skis are really fast and require more practice to operate safely. Moreover, on a jet ski there is zero protection for passengers.

Although jet ski riders are required to wear life jackets, helmets or other types of protections are still not required by law.

If you are looking for safety on the water, it’s recommended that you buy a big boat!

Reliability and Durability

Jet skis are well known for having low durability and reliability (especially the supercharged models!).

They are powered with high performance engines that require continuous attention and care. It’s also good to know that the external water seeps into the engine compartment on virtually every ride, which leads to corrosion and electrical issues.

Another problem is that newer models come with many bells and whistles, which are prone to regularly failing.

In contrast, boats are not only more reliable than jet skis, but their engines last much longer as well.

Jet Ski vs. Boat Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the most important factors under one roof to consider.

FactorsJet SkiBoat
Purchase price (USD)$6,000-$20,000$30,000+
Passenger capacity2-34-10+
Weigh limit (lbs)350-6001000+
Length (ft)10-1316+
Weight with trailer (lbs)500-15001500+

Should you Buy a Jet Ski or a Boat for Fishing?

If you are an angler you may be wondering, should you buy a jet ski or a boat for fishing? Simply put, if you are looking for a vessel for inshore fishing, you can’t go wrong with a boat. You can even purchase a very affordable jon boat, which has nearly zero maintenance costs. But when it comes to offshore trips, it’s worth considering buying a jet ski for fishing over a boat.


This is because for offshore fishing you would need a significantly bigger boat. And these fishing boats are pretty expensive and huge.

This is when jet skis come in handy. They are small and more affordable, but unlike small boats they can still ride on the ocean.

However, keep in mind that fishing from a boat is always more convenient and safer than from a jet ski. So, if the budget and the hull size/weight is not an issue, you can’t go wrong with a boat.

Jet ski vs. Boat for Families

Are you hesitating on which would be better for your family, a jet ski, or a boat? As a rule of thumb, boats tend to be a better choice for families in most cases. So, if you are a family man, best practice is to buy a boat, especially if you have smaller children.

Beyond the safety issues, families tend to carry a lot of gear even for a day trip, which can all be conveniently placed in a boat.

Conclusion – Are Jet Skis Better Than Boats?

So finally, which are better, jet skis or boats? Based on the numbers, boats are more popular than jet skis. When it comes to the United States, of the about 12 million registered recreational vessels, only one million are jet skis.

But in the end, it always depends on individual preferences.

If you are on a budget, you should look at Rec-Lite jet skis, as they are far cheaper than boats. Their prices start from $6,000 and go up to $10,000. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find performance and luxury jet skis with price tags of $15,000-$20,000.

Speaking of boats, be prepared to pay about $30,000-$50,000 even for an entry-level bowrider model. Additionally, you need a bigger car or a truck to tow it, while many jet skis can be easily towed with a smaller car.

If you can’t decide, you should take a look at the jet ski to boat converters, as they offer the best of the two worlds!

This is our short jet ski vs. boat comparison. We hope you find it useful!


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