If you’re new to the world of boating, one of the toughest decisions you’ll have to make from the get-go is – which boat to get. Granted, you want one that’s adorned with all the bells and whistles that add to its appeal. But the one limiting factor you’ll have to contend with is the price.
Boats don’t come cheap. It also doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality either. Otherwise, you might just end up with a lemon you can get rid of.
What most people may not be aware of is the fact that you can become a boat owner with $50,000 or less. That’s right. You don’t have to break the bank to join this exclusive club of water lovers.
This guide explores the 10 best boats under $50,000, as well as some helpful tips you can use to choose the best one.
Four Winns is no stranger to the boating world. If you’re looking for an entry-level bowrider boat that fits within the under-50k price range, you can’t go wrong with the Winns Horizon 190.
The H190 model retails at around $36,000 while the H190 RS goes for around $38,000, which is pretty affordable for a boat with its specs. It can comfortably sit up to nine individuals without feeling too cramped and is pretty stable on the water thanks in large part to its large V-hull. So, you can make some sharp turns at moderately high speeds without losing balance.
Overall, the Winns Horizon offers great value for money and is perfect for a day out on the open water.
● Can comfortably seat a large number of people
● It is pretty stable on the water even when making sharp turns at high speeds
● It is backed by a lifetime structural-hull warranty
● Doesn’t offer sun protection
2. Boston Whaler 280 Outrage (Best Center Console Boat)
Center Console boats, or CCs for short, are excellent multi-purpose crafts. They have wide walkways that surround the cabin, which makes it easy for passengers to get around without obstructing each other.
The Boston Whaler 280 Outrage is an excellent option if you’re looking for a functional CC that delivers on both performance and utility. Although the new 2020 model retails for over $200,000 depending on the custom features you want to be installed, it is possible to find older used models that retail for $50,000 or slightly less.
The cabin can comfortably sleep three adults and comes with standard features like a fridge, lockable storage, toilet, and microwave. The Outrage also has standard amenities that include a 30-gallon Livewell, insulated fish boxes, deck rod holders, transom rod holders, and a bait prep station that comes equipped with a sink.
● Fully customizable
● Designed for anglers
● Ideal for overnight trips
A great deck boat you can get for under $50,000 is the 2017 Hurricane SunDeck 2200 DC OB that costs between $35,000 and $45,000 depending on the features it has. The price of a brand new 2021 SunDeck 2200 DC OB could range anywhere from $61,000 to $80,000 and is fully customizable according to your tastes and preferences.Deck boats look a lot like bowriders except for the seating capacity and the shape of the hull. They can accommodate more people and have a rounded V-hull, which makes them more spacious than bowriders. This makes them perfect for good old-fashioned fishing or entertaining.
Standard features include a half canopy, cup holder, cell phone holder, charging port, keeper netting, helm storage, center-deck bi-fold door, and lots more.
● Large 10-passenger seating capacity
● Features are fully customizable
● The price point of a brand new boat isn’t too bad, either
Fishing boats generally come in two flavors – bass boats and aluminum fishing boats. Both of these are fairly similar, although bass boats have uber-powerful trolling motors that allow them to catch largemouth bass. Another difference is the fact that anglers can cast at the front or back to get just the right angle.
A great bass boat to consider is the Ranger Z175 that retails for around $30,000, although the price can go up depending on the add-on features you want to be installed. While it may not be as powerful as some of the premium bass boat models around, this fiberglass craft still delivers outstanding performance at every turn.
It can comfortably accommodate two to four anglers at a go and comes with pretty swanky onboard Lowrance electronics, in addition to fuel, speed, trim, and tach gauges at the helm. It uses a Minn Kota Edge 70 24V trolling motor and has a high-performance anti-feedback steering wheel.
● Great value for money
● Easy to tow and fits in standard garages
● Has an offset full-featured console for ample legroom
Aluminum fishing boats are generally favored by most anglers because of the stability they offer. If you like the idea of a budget fishing boat, then you’ll like what the Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk brings to the table in terms of performance and functionality. It boasts a roomy casting deck and can comfortably accommodate up to five anglers at any given time.
It has a total of 13 storage compartments and even has a central rod locker that can hold up to 15 rods measuring up to 8 inches in length. You might also like the 28-gallon Livewell to store your catch. The 1750 Bass Hawk retails for around $30,000, although the price can go up depending on the custom features you want to be installed.
The price is inclusive of the boat, the Mercury 115 HP EFI 4-stroke engine, and a Shoreland’r Trailer. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask us.
● Price includes boat, engine, and trailer
● Fully customizable
● Uses less gas than fiberglass models
● Tends to blow around in the wind when not anchored since the aluminum hull makes it quite light
Pontoons are essentially flatboats mounted on top of hollow tubes or “pontoons” to remain afloat. They come in several different versions ranging from catamaran-type crafts to the inflatable kind – although these tend to be less durable in the long term and don’t come with exciting features worth mentioning. They are, however, pretty cheap and are a great option if you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a boat.
If you’re looking for a decent pontoon craft with a host of comfort and convenience features, the Bennington SX24 Swingback is a great choice and retails for around $46,000. It has a well-thought-out floor plan that supports dual seating capability. So, passengers can sit facing forward or backward depending on the furniture position.
Standard features include mood lighting, a weatherproof audio system, $50 HP 4-stroke high thrust 20-inch engine, base furniture with Simtex (SX) upholstery, co-captain seat exchange, rod holders, and lots more.
● Fully customizable
● Ideal for fishing, waterskiing, or cruising
● Designed for comfort
Sailboats are exactly what they sound like – boats that use sails to harness the power of the wind to propel them and maintain their cruising speed. Some often come equipped with motor engines to help them navigate rough waters, or on days when the wind is not sufficient.
These vessels come in several different flavors, each of which brings a little something different to the table. There are cruisers, racing sailboats, and daysailers, each of which may have a mono-hull, dual-hull (catamarans), or a tri-hull (trimarans). The prices for each vary depending on the comfort, convenience, and performance features it offers.
The Catalina 22 Sport is an excellent option for individuals looking for sailboats in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. It not only looks great but also comes fully-loaded with the latest accessories and gear you would expect to find in a cruising sailboat.
It has an open cabin that can comfortably sleep a small family of four, making it ideal for overnight stays. It handles well and is quite stable even in rough waters, making it ideal for racing too. Overall, the Catalina delivers a ton of value for its price.
● Perfect for day cruising, overnight stay, and racing
● Great value for money
● Comfortably accommodates a small family of four
If you’re crazy about water skiing and are looking for a budget ski boat that’s built for speed and handles well, the Gekko Revo 6.7 might interest you. It looks great on the water and has a solid fiberglass hull that’s designed for surfing and riding.
The best part about it is its price tag, with the 2017 model retailing for between $40,000 and $45,000 depending on the specs. Standard features include an infinity sound system, digital dashboard for speed settings, CIPA 360 vision mirror, fast-fold tower, and a Boatmate trailer.
It also comes with Sirius Satellite Radio and an iPad/iPhone control. The Revo 6.7 also delivers a ton of fun in marine sports.
● Great value for money
● Multiple speed settings available
● Fully customizable
Bay boats essentially bridge the gap between small flats boats with shallow drafts and large vessels with deep hulls built for open waters. So, what you end up with is a hybrid boat that can navigate inshore water bodies but stable enough to handle deeper offshore waters.
When looking for the best bay boat, the keyword to remember is versatility. You want a craft that can do just about anything, whether you’re using it inshore or offshore. The Scouts 231 XS bay boat fits the bill perfectly. A brand new one retails for around $78,000, although it is possible to find a used model that costs between $50,000 and $65,000.
Keep in mind that because of the hybrid nature of bay boats, most of them come with a hefty price tag attached. So, finding a new one that costs under $50,000 is nearly impossible. If you can find a used one that’s in great shape and save tens of thousands of bucks in the process, go right ahead!
Standard features of the 231 XS include a self-bailing cockpit, bow storage, flush mount cup, and rod holders, an aerated baitwell, console rod racks, lockable storage boxes, and lots more. The hull is made from 100% hand-laid fiberglass, which makes it one of the most durable bay boats we’ve come across.
● Comes with tons of features
● Fully customizable
● Can be used for fishing, skiing, and a variety of other water sports
As far as basic utilitarian boats go, the most recognizable ones of the bunch are Jon boats. They are typically made of aluminum, although there are few you’ll come across that are made of fiberglass or polyethylene.
They are simple, with most having nothing more than a few built-in bench seats and a motor at the back. Of all the different types of boats that exist, these are the least expensive. This, however, comes at the expense of comfort and convenience.
If you’re not looking to spend more than $10,000 on a boat, the Roughneck 1760 might be just the thing for you. It has a passenger capacity of five people and an outboard HP range of between 15 and 50. It has a tough all-aluminum construction with a Mercury 4-Stroke engine that comes with a factory-installed steering console.
It also comes equipped with a pedestal fishing seat assembly, a Livewell for your catch, and is available in a host of colors ranging from dead grass green to Mossy Oak camouflage. Standard Roughneck 1760 Jon boats retail for $9,800.
● Easy to transport
● Virtually maintenance-free
● Doesn’t have any comfort/convenience features
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Boats
With so many different types of boats out there, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. If you are a first-time buyer, you’ll need to figure out all the different types of vessels that exist, what they are used for, and where you’ll use them.
The type of boat you’ll need to zoom through the open ocean is vastly different from the one you would need to cruise along leisurely on a tranquil lake or harbor. The same applies if you intend to go wakeboarding, or if you plan to find a nice quiet spot to hunt for tuna.
Whatever boating activity you intend to engage in, you’ll need the right vessel for the job. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the popular boat styles you may want to consider.
Bowriders are designed to have a comfortable seating area in front of the cockpit or the “bow” as it is commonly called. It’s exciting to sit up there, particularly when the boat is cruising at high speeds. It almost feels as though you’re flying through the water.
The great thing about them is how versatile they are. So, you can use them for a relaxing afternoon spent catching up with friends over drinks and light snacks, or for water sports.
2. Center Console Boats
Center consoles or “CCs” are designed with the control station at the center of the boat to provide easier access to the sides of the boat, as well as the bow and stern. If you’ve ever hooked a big catch that’s given you quite a bit of trouble when trying to reel it in, then you know – fish don’t care about which side of the boat you prefer to work on.
A boat with a side console will likely get in your way at some point in the process. Center console boats, on the other hand, allow you to move around freely without any hindrance. They also come with plenty of storage for your catch and fishing equipment.
3. Deck Boats
Deck boats look and work a lot like bowriders, except that they have a lot more room in their general layout, thanks in large part to their wide bow design. While you can use them for water sports like water skiing, they likely won’t perform as well as the vessels specifically designed for these activities.
Deck boats are mainly for leisure and entertainment.
4. Bass Boats
Contrary to what you might believe, bass boats have nothing to do with music – if that’s what you were thinking. They are used specifically for bass fishing due to their sleek shape and low profile. This allows them to move through the water with minimal disturbance.
Most models can only hold between two and four people at a time and are built for recreational fishing, high performance, professional/competitive angling, or multi-purpose fishing expeditions.
5. Aluminum Fishing Boats
These are fishing boats that have an all-aluminum hull. They are favored by a wide range of anglers because of how rugged, lightweight, and easy to transport they are.
6. Pontoon Boat
If wide-open deck space and stability matter a great deal to you, then a pontoon boat might be just what you’re looking for. The boat is essentially a deck that sits on top of two cylindrical hollow tubes (pontoons) that give it buoyancy.
They tend to be cheaper than other boats, provide excellent stability, and are great for entertaining. They don’t do well in rough waters, though.
Sailboats have a sail to harness the power of the wind for propulsion. These require a certain level of skill to know which way to point the sail to move the boat in the direction you want. Most of them also have a built-in motor for better handling in rough waters and on low-wind days.
8. Ski and Wakeboard Boats
If water sports are your thing, then ski, and wakeboard boats are what you need. They are purposefully designed to create wakes for the skier and wakeboarder, as they displace water along their path.
Ski boats provide flatter wakes while wakeboard crafts provide larger surfing wakes. These types of boats are generally difficult to use for anything else other than water sports.
9. Bay Boat
Bay boats are hybrids that can be used both inshore and offshore. So, you can use them in the shallow waters of lakes and harbors, as well as in deeper ocean waters. They are suitable for a wide range of waterborne activities like fishing, skiing, and a wide range of water sports.
10. Jon Boat
Legend has it that these boats were once called Jack boats. But, as time went on, people started calling them Jon boats since the name “John” is a common variant to “Jack.”
A Jon boat is the general name for all flat-bottomed boats with a square-cut bow. These boats aren’t stable in choppy waters, so they may not be ideal for use in the ocean. They are designed for calm and shallow waters.
They are usually quite cheap and therefore don’t have all the comfort features you would expect to find in other more luxurious boats. Most people use them for fishing.
Function Trumps Price – Always
There you have it – the best boats under $50,000. While it may sound like a lot of money – it’s not. Not in the boating world anyway.
As much as price plays an important role in your decision, it shouldn’t be the primary reason for buying a particular boat. What you intend to use it for should be the main determinant. Any of the boats discussed in this guide would be a great starting point. Happy boating!