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Here’s an interesting statistic for you. Did you know that 95 percent of all Americans live near a navigable water body? And, that 72 percent of boat owners in the country are predominantly from middle-class households with an average annual income of less than $100,000?
Makes you think, doesn’t it? What’s your excuse? Why aren’t you part of that 72 percent?
If you’re wondering what a great first-boat to buy is, you can’t go wrong with a bowrider. They are highly-functional, versatile, and cost considerably less than many other high-performance boats that are hot on the market right now.
We’ve reviewed the 10 best bowriders worth exploring.
The Boston Whaler 320 Vantage is our top pick for a reason. It is easily the most versatile bowrider we’ve come across. This boat is so amazing that it was crowned the winner of the NMMA Innovation Award. Now, if that’s not the stamp of approval you need to know that you’re looking at a true gem of a vessel; we don’t know what is.
Whether you need to entertain your posse, take your family out for a fun day on the water, or simply slip away to your favorite fishing spot and zone-out as you reel in those big catches, the 320 Vantage is designed to do it all.
Standard features include stainless steel grab rails, drink holders, coaming bolsters, as well as bow and stern eyes. It also has comfortable portside seating in various configurations, a spacious open bow, and many more marvelous features.
● Built for comfort and convenience
● Made with high-quality components
If you’re looking for a premium-level bowrider, the Bryant Calandra 27 might just be up your alley. Its sleek look and unmatched attention to detail are worth every penny. It is designed with lots of luxurious amenities that appeal to every kind of boater there is.
You can cruise, entertain, cruise while entertaining, and even engage in your favorite watersports, all in first-class-comfort.
Standard features of this bowrider include a digital shift and throttle, aft-facing camera, wireless phone charging capability, and four cleats. It also has a premium steering wheel, a power-activated engine cover, and a swim platform ladder.
● Packed with loads of amazing features
● Easy to drive
You don’t have to break the bank to become the newest boat owner in town. There are several affordable bowrider options in the market you can choose from.
Take the Bayliner VR6, for instance. First impressions: She’s gorgeous, an absolute beauty. The VR6 adopts several innovative design technologies developed by Bayliner, including the AftAdvantage™ concept that enhances the self-draining mechanism of the cockpit’s seating area.
It has a maximum passenger capacity of 10 people and is powered by a 250hp engine. The best part is – it costs under $39,000.
Standard features include a forward beam with high gunnels, a spacious cockpit, and a U-lounge with filler cushions. It also has a built-in enclosed changing room with an optional porta-potty, integrated swim platform, and several other outstanding features you won’t ordinarily find in other bowriders in its class.
● Sleek and stylish design
● Large passenger capacity
● Great value for money
Yes, you read right. Bowriders can indeed be used for fishing. The Grady White Fisherman 216 is the perfect example of a fishing bowrider. This 21-ft.-long center console boat is specially designed for inshore and offshore fishing.
It has plenty of room to move about the deck when trying to reel in a big catch. It also has spacious sitting at the bow and aft and even has a dockside boarding and swim platform. It has plenty of fishing-friendly features, including fish boxes, rod holders, a live well, and a casting platform insert.
● Has lots of fishing-friendly features
● It is quite spacious thanks to its center-console design
● Suited to inshore and offshore fishing
The Cobalt R7 has been crowned the king of the rough waters. Its deep-V hull design allows it to cut through choppy waters for smooth sailing the entire way.
It has a stunning interior with double French-stitching and ample seating space, which is ideally what you want in a great bowrider. The R7 also has a yacht-certified seating capacity with a spacious cockpit, expansive bow area, and wrap-around seating, making it perfect for entertaining.
● Swanky interiors
● Built to handle rough waters
● The seating layout makes it ideal for entertaining
The Four Winns Horizon 350 embodies freedom and adventure. Its unique design combines style and functionality to give you one of the most versatile lake bowriders we’ve encountered so far. The Horizon 350 is more than just a bowrider. It is designed to give you the creature comforts of home, away from home.
It is 35 ft. long and comes with a pretty swanky cabin with overnighting capability and allows you to host friends and loved ones above or below deck. The galley has a built-in microwave to heat any food you brought on board and a small sink in case you need to clean your catch of the day before cooking it on the cockpit grill.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
● Has overnighting capability
● Sleek and attractive design
● Super spacious
If you’re looking to spend a nice relaxing afternoon on the water with friends or loved ones, the Formula 290 Bowrider was designed to deliver maximum enjoyment from your day cruising adventures. This 29-foot vessel comes with an aft-facing sun lounge with dual backrests that convert to sun pads when you need them to.
The bow section of the boat is one to behold. It features a modular seating area that comes with removable seat bottoms. If you want to convert the area from a lounge to a dining space, there’s a dual-height cockpit table present to do just that. To sunbathe on the bow, simply center the backrest, add the filler cushions, and you’re good to go.
● Ample seating area
● Perfect for entertaining
The Centurion 2021 Fi25 is the ultimate wakeboarding bowrider. It has a 16-person seating capacity and 5,050 lbs. total ballast. Its Opti-V hull shape has 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom, which allows it to displace more water without as much weight. It does this while preserving the magnificent wake it produces.
Standard features include a plush interior, silent stinger wake plate for a quieter ride, Quick Surf Pro to change wake characteristics, and a Maximus Tow Tower. All in all, if wakeboarding is your thing, the Fi25 is what you need.
● Has several customization options
● Relatively quiet operation
● Perfect for wakeboarding
The Chaparral 19 SSI Ski & Fish bowrider is the perfect complement to your love for water skiing, recreational boating, and fishing. It brings a whole new dimension to versatility. The expert workmanship used in the crafting of this vessel shines through every inch of this beauty.
From the well-thought-out dash ergonomics to the spacious interior and ample storage, the 19 SSI oozes comfort and luxury. This bowrider’s ski-friendly features include a 3-step boarding ladder, ski-eye, and arch tower board racks, although the latter is optional.
● Stunning interior and exterior
● Has lots of skiing-friendly features
If you’re looking for a great beginner bowrider, the Campion Allante is the perfect vessel to get your feet wet. It is designed with a proprietary Apex hull shape to allow for safer handling, smoother rides, better fuel economy, and faster planning even at high speeds.
The high impact areas of the boat are reinforced with Kevlar for added strength and protection against any potential bumps and knocks that may occur as you hone your piloting skills.
The Allante is renowned for the exceptional versatility it offers, which is evident in its flexible seating areas and innovative onboard storage solutions. This is the boat you want if you’re a bowrider newbie.
So, you’ve decided that a bowrider is the best vessel for you. That’s only one part of the task. Now, you need to figure out which one to get. With so many different options available on the market right now and so many manufacturers to choose from, how do you pick the right one for your needs?
We’ve put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide to make the decision-making process a little easier. Here’s what you need to consider.
The first step involves figuring out what features you want in your dream bowrider. Once they’re clear in your mind based on what matters the most to you, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices significantly. Here are the main features you need to think about.
Regardless of what you intend to use your bowrider for, you’re going to want to get one with ample seating. The passenger capacity will depend largely on the anticipated number of people you’ll be hosting on your boat. Most bowriders have seating in the bow and aft decks. The precise layout, however, may differ from one model to the next.
That being said, if you only intend to host your family and perhaps a few friends from time to time, then a small bowrider will suffice. Shoot for models with a six-passenger capacity on average.
If, however, you plan to host several family members or your entire 12-member posse, then you need to get a bowrider, whose aft and deck can comfortably accommodate large parties. Just make sure your decision is based on an actual and not “imagined” need, if you catch the drift…
When picking the best bowrider for your needs, an important question you need to ask is where you’ll store everything you bring on board. If you plan to go on a fishing expedition, do you have enough room to stow all your fishing gear and accessories? Do you have somewhere to store your live catch?
If you plan to take your family for a nice weekend cruise on the lake or entertain your friends, will the boat in question have enough room to store all the life jackets, snacks, drinks, and anything else you may need to bring onboard? This is something you need to look into when comparing different bowrider models.
Let’s be honest for a moment. When choosing the best bowriders, the cockpit usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when deciding on the features you need your ideal boat to have.
However, given that you’re about to spend a truck-load of money on a shiny new boat that you’ll use primarily for leisure and relaxing activities, you need to make sure you’ll be comfortable driving it. A few critical questions you need to consider include:
How comfortable is the helm seat? Does it have a seat bolster to give additional support to your back and arms while you drive the boat?
Does the model come with angled foot braces?
What does the dashboard finish look like?
Are there any phone holders, charging ports, and cup holders available? Are they all within reach?
Is the dash matte? Is it tinted? Will you be able to see the controls clearly in bright sunlight?
Is the windscreen an ideal height? Can it shield you from the wind blowing in all directions?
These are a few cockpit features you need to think about when narrowing down your choices.
Regardless of the model you choose to go with, every bowrider should come with grab rails. These come in handy to provide additional support when cruising at high speeds through the water, maneuvering turns, and even when slowing down.
You and your passengers may need something to hold on to, so no one ends up falling over and getting hurt in the process. That would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Most standard bowriders come with some sort of sports package. Manufacturers that don’t include it in the vessel’s standard features usually have it as an optional add-on that you can get as part of the customizations.
If, for instance, you want a boat that supports water skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing, some of the questions you’ll need to ask include:
Does the boat have enough horsepower to cruise at the desired speeds with a fully-loaded ballast tank – in the case of wakeboarding? Or do you need to get a more powerful engine?
Does it have a tower that you can connect your tow rope to when skiing or tubing?
Does it have somewhere to store your wakeboards and skis?
If you come across a boat with all these features included in the standard package, she’s a keeper.
If you plan to turn your bowrider into party-central, ensure you get a boat with the features that support your vision. You might want to look into things like LED deck lights, marine audio speakers, cup holders, comfortable seating, and ample storage.
These are the key ingredients to holding successful parties on your boat. The idea is for your guests to have a great time. And they can only do this if they are comfortable without feeling like they’re too cramped.
Look out for models that come with a small table as well. After all, you’re going to need somewhere to put the drinks and snacks!
You want to get your boat from a manufacturing company that’s financially stable. Companies that are struggling financially or marred by impending bankruptcy are more likely to start cutting corners in the production process. You want to steer clear of those.
When it comes to dealers, do your homework on them to ensure that you’re transacting with a legit business you can trust. Some of the indicators to look out for include the number of years they’ve been in business and their overall reputation in the boating industry. If they’re clean, then you can talk to them about buying a boat.
Search Before You Settle
Buying a boat is no small feat. There are several moving parts to the entire process that you need to iron out before settling on a particular vessel.
We hope the tips we’ve detailed in this guide will help narrow down your choices. The 10 best bowriders we’ve reviewed here are worth checking out.
In the meantime, are you in the market for a new bass boat? We’ve reviewed the best bass boats that you might want to consider.