5 Family Friendly Boats

The water beckons. Few locations or outdoor activities are greeted with more enthusiasm from every family member, including teenagers and grandparents, than boating. Boating can take a multitude of forms, from water skiing to lake cruises to evening parties and fishing excursions. No one boat can fulfill every enjoyable form of recreation. Whatever type of boating is best for your family, there is one thing we all know for sure—we need to get out of the house and down to the water to celebrate and to enjoy a different kind of togetherness.

As families dream of the recreational possibilities of the coming year, boat builders have been creating exciting variations of traditional boats. Here are some of the best family boats including five different styles for you to consider.

No one style of boat is appropriate for every possible watersport your family may enjoy. There is a world of difference in the purposes and capabilities of all the new boats out there. Here we’ve made a list of one of the best new models for five different types of powerboats. There were a couple of common types of vessels we omitted—the ski boat, the bass boat, and the sailboat—not because they aren’t excellent, but because they aren’t as family-friendly as the five types we chose.

Bowriders

While these boats can be used for skiing, tubing, and even fishing, they are wonderful for the simple relaxation of day cruises around the lake. The cockpit and captain’s chair in a bowrider is situated in the middle of the boat, leaving seating for four or more passengers near the prow. Ideally, everyone in the boat is out in the sunshine. However, folding canopies that shield the seats from inclement weather are almost always included.

One of our top picks for best new bowriders in 2020 is the 270 Formula Bowrider. The 2020 model is 27 feet long with a swimming platform that extends another couple of feet off the back. With a fuel capacity of 101 gallons, this sleek, beautiful craft can cruise endlessly. Complete with many contemporary amenities, the boat has an optional 14-gallon freshwater tank and a 13-gallon gray water tank. With just a 40-inch draft, the 270 Formula glides across the surface.

Cabin Cruisers

When that cruise around the lake becomes a sleepover, the cabin cruiser is the ideal vessel. With interior sleeping space and other facilities, these boats are meant to accommodate human necessities on longer trips. Somehow, the rocking of the waves and the proximity of people you love together in a finely appointed cabin is never claustrophobic.

When checking out cabin cruisers, make sure to take a close look at one of our top choices for the best cabin cruisers of 2020 – the Regal 28 Express. This make of cruiser has been around for years and continues to add new features and refinement. It’s strange to find that a boat with this much capacity can be towed on a trailer behind the family’s SUV. You can stand up in the cabin, which offers six feet of headroom and four bunks. The best new feature is the Ultra Lounge sun pad on the transom that can be adjusted for seating or sunbathing.

Jet Boats

This is a wonderful niche boat that has come a long way from its formative days when it was primarily a military shallow watercraft. Jet boats today come in a great variety of designs, like cruisers, walkarounds, or ski boats. The feature that sets this type of craft apart is its propulsion system that does not require a prop. These tend to be extremely versatile boats, known for handling well in close quarters in shallower waters, as well as skimming effortlessly across the deep water.

Yamaha models are among the finest jet boats, and one of our favorite picks for 2020’s best is the Yamaha SX250. Powered by twin 1.8-liter engines, this vessel is fuel-efficient and powerful. It has many of the storage features of larger vessels, even though it’s only 25 feet long. Just about every feature on the boat is changeable and intended for multiple uses.

Pontoon Boats

If the term pontoon boat makes you think of a fusty old floating barge, you haven’t kept up with what’s been going on with these boats in recent years. Yes, pontoon boats tend to be flat-surface boats that float upon the water rather than settling into it. Today’s pontoons, however, are well powered enough to pull skiers and are incredibly unique and versatile in their design. This is still the ideal boat for the water-reluctant landlubber. However, these new models are beautiful and comfortable as they glide across the waves.

We’re particularly enthusiastic about the Cypress Cay Seabreeze 232. The light-weight 23-foot pontoon platform comes with either a 25 or 27-foot platform that can be customized in an amazing number of ways and is suited for a dozen riders. Passengers can sit comfortably for cruises across the water or stand and walk along the railing to enjoy sunsets. The canopy is always present when needed and the 150-horse engine provides plenty of power.

Walkaround Boats

If you’re not familiar with the term “walkaround,” just imagine a private, deep-sea fishing boat with sleeves for a dozen fishing poles, an enclosed cockpit, and rear-facing individual seats. While that design has been around for a century, today’s walkarounds are much more family-friendly. And though this is the ideal craft for fishing, you’ll find the walkaround is incredibly flexible and capable. Skiing, overnight cruises, and lengthy voyages are all within the domain of this amazing boat. Most walkarounds have cuddies—small cabins—among their many modern amenities.

One of our top picks for 2020’s best new walkarounds is the Scout 300 LXF. Outfitted with a cuddy berth and removable center console, the 300 LXF has many family-friendly accessories, such as the amazing six-speaker sound system. With a 212-gallon capacity tank, this 30-foot vessel can handle open seas, Great Lakes, and giddy guests. All the while, the captain and passenger will be traveling in well-appointed comfort.

2020 Scout 300 LXF. Photo by Scout via MarineMax. 2020 Scout 300 LXF. Photo by Scout via MarineMax.

Summary

The water excursions you and your family dreamed of all during the isolation of 2020 can soon come to pass. The lakes, rivers, and seas are still there, waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Regardless of what type of activities you prefer, there is a boat and a glorious day waiting just around the calendar.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to boats.com, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.

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