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Best Jet Ski

Best Budget Choice
Sea-Doo Spark

Sea-Doo Spark

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Best Overall Choice
Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160

Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160

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Best Premium Choice
The Taiga Motors Orca Jet Ski

Coming in 2021: The Taiga Motors Orca Jet Ski

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 by Updated on October 15, 2020. In Boats

You have made it to the jet ski corner of the internet, and we are so glad you’re here! We understand how overwhelming it can be to purchase the best jet ski, so we are here to help. There are different sizes, different prices, and different features that each jet ski comes in, so it can be difficult to choose the right one when comparing all of the choices.

We have done the hard part of taking the best jet skis and organizing them into this simple fact sheet and buying guide. In the end, you will be able to pick out the best jet ski for you without any second-guessing.

The big three power brands of jet skis are Yamaha, Sea-Doo, and Kawasaki. In the past, Honda, Arctic Cat, and Bombardier made competitive personal watercraft, but Yamaha, Sea-Doo, and Kawasaki outranked the competition.

1. Yamaha Waverunner EX

Yamaha Waverunner EX

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The Yamaha Waverunner EX is one of the most tried-and-true jet skis ever made. They are great for beginners or those looking to enjoy an easy ride on the lake or sea. The Waverunner EX is affordable, durable, and made of quality material, which is what makes it so successful throughout the years.

The Waverunner EX is available in 1, 2, or 3 person capacities. This is great because it allows you to carry two additional passengers if someone in your party doesn’t have their own jet ski or had rather ride in tandem instead of drive.

The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons, giving you a long drive time while on the water.

The Waverunner EX model is lightweight, making loading, unloading, and transporting easy. Plus, it glides through the water and can be easily steered. The engine is a 3-cylinder, 4-stroke TR-1 engine that has 110hp.

There is an assortment of accessories and options you can add to the Waverunner EX when you build it.

MSRP: $6,999.00

Best Budget Choice

2. Sea-Doo Spark

Sea-Doo Spark

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The Sea-Doo Spark jet ski has a smaller engine and fuel tank than some of the comparable models, but it doesn’t lose anything in size as it can seat 1, 2, or 3 riders.

The engine is available in either 60 or 90hp models. Both models have a fuel capacity of 7.9 gallons.

You can choose a variety of colors, including licorice and mango (orange and black), vanilla and blueberry (white and blue), or blue raspberry and pear (blue and green).

You can add the following options to the Sea-Doo Spark when building it:

  • Intelligent Brake and Reverse (iBR) and Convenience Package Plus
  • BRP Audio-Portable System (Optional with SPARK 3up Convenience Package Plus)
  • Sport Mode – 90hp model only
  • Closed-Loop Cooling System (CLCS)
  • Robust and Scratch-Resistant Polytech GEN 2 Hull Material
  • Handle grip with Palm Rests
  • 3up only: Added stability with Platform Extension, Longer Seat with a place for two adults and one child, and Tow Sports Capability

While the Sea-Doo Spark has a smaller engine and fuel capacity, it is also one of the more affordable base-model options.

MSRP: $5,499.00

Best Overall Choice

3. Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160

Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160

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If you’re looking for a jet ski with lots of power, look no further than the Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160. It has a large 4-stroke, 4-cylinder inline engine that gives way to 160 horsepower. That’s as much horsepower as a small car!

The fuel tank has a large storage capacity of 20.6 gallons, which means you can stay on the water longer without having to stop for fuel. There is also electronic cruise control, which can help with fuel economy while cruising the open water.

Three people can be seated comfortably on the STX 160, which gives you the option to seat one or two passengers if you choose. The rear seat slides and can be lifted for storage.

The Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160 is the base model of the 160 models. If you want additional features and options, you can upgrade to the STX 160X or the STX 160 XL.

STX 160X Additional Features

  • Comfortable riding position
  • Reverse lever positioned on left side
  • Slide & lift seat rear storage
  • Electronic cruise control (adjustable)
  • Comfort handle grip
  • Premium painted deck

STX 160XL Additional Features

  • Comfortable riding position
  • Reverse lever positioned on left side
  • Slide & lift seat rear storage
  • Electronic cruise control (adjustable)
  • Comfort handle grip
  • JETSOUND® Bluetooth® audio system
  • Two-toned LX deck mat and LXury seat
  • Premium painted deck & full graphics

STX 160 MSRP: $9,599.00

STX 160X MSRP: $9,999.00

STX 160XL MSRP: $11,699.00

4. Yamaha GP1800-R HO

Yamaha GP1800-R HO

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The GP1800-R HO by Yamaha is designed with the thrill-seeking enthusiast in mind.

The engine is a 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, supercharged high-output motor that has 350 horsepower and yields a top speed of 86mph. The GP1800-R HO is definitely one that needs to be used on the large, open waters.

The body comes in red and white or red and black and can sit up to 3 people comfortably. You can add a sound system and speakers, storage bags, and an inflatable cooler to your options.

The upgrade to the GP1800-R HO is the GP1800-R SVHO. The main difference between the two is that the GP1800-R SVHO comes with an audio and speaker system preinstalled from the factory, so you don’t have to worry about adding this feature in at a later time.

GP1800-R HO MSRP: $12,549.00

GP1800-R SVHO MSRP: $14,749.00

5. Sea-Doo GTI

Sea-Doo GTI

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One of the best models available today is the Sea-Doo GTI. It has been around for years and has always proven to be a family favorite. It is one of the best recreational models you can choose.

You can choose a 90 or 130hp model. The 900 Ace engine is 90hp, and the 1630 Ace engine is 130hp. It can hold three riders comfortably, which makes it great for families. The fuel capacity of the tank is low, only holding 15.9 gallons of fuel. This is better than the Sea-Doo Spark that only holds 7.9 gallons.

The dashboard features a 4.5” display that shows the speedometer, tachometer, clock, vehicle hour display, a sport mode, and an eco-mode.

Sea-Doo has patented what they call closed-loop cooling technology. This keeps saltwater from entering the engine and corroding or damaging it.

The iBR system is an intelligent brake and reverse system that allows you to stop quicker than before. You can also reverse more efficiently with this technology.

There is a watertight phone compartment for you to safely secure your phone while on the water without worrying if it will get wet. You can also add a USB port as an accessory so that your phone always stays charged.

The Sea-Doo GTI has the largest front storage compartment in models of similar sizes. It can hold over 40 gallons of gear, equipment, or supplies.

MSRP: $8,999.00

6. Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R (The Original Stand-Up Watercraft)

Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R (The Original Stand-Up Watercraft)

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The Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R is a standup jet ski. Because it is a standup jetski, it can only hold one person.

Standup jet skis are often preferred because of their small size and transportability. They take up less room in storage and are easier to load and unload. They also have a simpler system that makes them easier to maintain. Some people feel more secure in a stand-up jet ski, as they feel they have more control of the watercraft.

The 4-cylinder, 4-stroke engine produces 160hp for quick acceleration and a fast ride. There is a large deck that makes it easy to stand on as you ride. The handlebars are adjustable for your right height.

There is a large storage area that is sealed to keep water out for you to keep personal items safe, like cell phones and identification.

When the fuel is low, or there is an issue with the engine, a warning light will notify you by lighting up and indicating what the problem is.

MSRP: $9,999.00

7. Yamaha FX HO

Yamaha FX HO

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The Yamaha FX HO is a luxury jet ski because it gives the most comfortable and high-performance ride out of all the models.

We’ll start with the engine first. It has a 1.8L supercharged engine that is the same engine in the Waverunn SVHO model, giving it 350hp. The engine has NanoXcel technology that maximizes the power-to-weight ratio and fuel efficiency.

There is a large storage bin that holds 44 gallons of storage, so you don’t have to worry about going out on the water without everything you need for the day. There are also self-draining footwells that prevent water from pooling up on the side of the jet ski.

You can add features to the jet ski to include a sound system, a Garmin GPS, a Garmin fishfinder (for those who want to do some fishing while cruising), and a Bluetooth remote, just to name a few.

MSRP: $13,799.00

Best Premium Choice

8. Coming in 2021: The Taiga Motors Orca Jet Ski

The Taiga Motors Orca Jet Ski

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Taiga Motors has created an electric jet ski called the Orca.

The Orca is fully chargeable and requires no gas, no oil, and no maintenance. All you have to do is plug up to charge and unplug to play. The fully charged Orca can be used for 2 hours before needing to be recharged.

There is a large interface on the dashboard between the handlebars that show GPS location, speed, and other notifications that are displayed on the large interface. It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

There are two models currently available for preorder: the sport model and the performance model.

Sport Model Specs

  • 120hp
  • 2 rider capacity
  • 55mph maximum speed
  • Brake and reverse system
  • Adjustable power modes
  • 20 minute to 3-hour charging time, depending on the type
  • 7” HD color display screen on the center console
  • GPS speed and mapping
  • LTE & Wi-Fi updates
  • Waterproof phone compartment
  • 15-gallon storage area

Optional Features to Add to the Sport Model

  • Boarding step
  • Fishfinder

Performance Model Specs

  • 180hp
  • 2 or 3 rider capacity
  • 65mph maximum speed
  • Brake and reverse system
  • Adjustable power modes
  • Trim adjustment
  • 20 minute to 3-hour charging time, depending on the type
  • 7” HD color display screen on the center console
  • LTE & Wi-Fi updates
  • Waterproof phone compartment
  • 15-gallon storage area

Optional Features to Add to the Performance Model

  • Boarding step
  • Fishfinder
  • Tow package

MSRP: $15,000

Things You Must Know and Do Before Getting Started

Jet skis are a great way to enjoy a day on the water with friends and family, but it can quickly turn deadly if you are not prepared.

Before getting started, it is imperative that you know, understand, and, most importantly, follow the rules and regulations of the water.

1. Always Wear Life Jackets

Life jackets should be worn by every rider on the jet ski. No matter how careful you are, things can happen in an instant to cause you to suddenly find yourself in the water. Life jackets should always be worn by every passenger on the jet ski, no matter how experienced or old they may be.

2. Keep an Air Horn or Whistle on Deck

Jet skis are man-made, which means they can unexpectedly break down for any reason, and it will likely happen when you are in the middle of the lake or ocean. Having an air horn or whistle on hand will allow you to signal for help to boaters or people nearby. This will help you get towed to safety and not be a sitting duck in the middle of the water.

3. Registration

Most jet skis in most states will have to be registered with the state. Failing to register your jet ski with the state on a body of water that requires it means you are illegally operating your watercraft. This will usually result in a fine.

If your local ordinances require personal watercraft to have registration to be used on that body of water, you will need to register the watercraft with the state. The state will then issue you a set of specific numbers that are associated with your watercraft.

You will need to place number stickers on the watercraft so it can be easily identifiable by the local coast guard or park ranger when on the water. A copy of your current registration should be kept in the jet ski at all times.

4. Jet Ski Lanyard

Believe it or not, it’s easy to get separated from your jet ski if you fall off, especially if you are traveling at a high rate of speed. Your jet ski will continue moving through the water with forwarding momentum, even if you are no longer on the throttle. This can make it difficult to get to your jet ski after falling off.

To keep this from happening, you can connect a lanyard to your jet ski so that you don’t get separated if falling off. The safety lanyard will switch off the engine.

The lanyard will connect to the dash of the jet ski and then secured to your life jacket. If it is unable to connect to your life jacket, it should be secured to your wrist.

5. Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers should be on board of every watercraft, big or small. Because jet skis have an engine with gas, oil, and heat, a fire is always a possibility and should never be ruled out. You should keep a fire extinguisher on your jet ski at all times in case a fire was to start while on the water.

What are No Wake Zones?

If you’re new to any kind of boating, you must follow the rules, and one of the most important rules are no-wake zones.

No wake zones are designated areas in the water that you must go a low speed so that you don’t create a wake. No wake zones are typically around boat docks, marinas, or other recreational fishing or swimming areas.

No wake zones are important to keep everyone safe, and this includes property, too. No wake zones that are near a marina will keep the boats that are docked in the water safely. If waves are created in a no-wake zone at a marina, the boats can easily become tossed and bang against one another or the storage dock in which they are stored, causing them to become damaged.

No wake zones are also important in fishing and swimming areas so that those who are enjoying the areas stay safe.

Jet skis are not exempt from this rule and must abide by all no-wake zones that are posted in the water.

Choosing the Best Jet Ski: The Ultimate Guide

Now that you know what you need to be safe and legal on the water, it’s time to choose your jet ski! This is the fun part. You get to think about the conditions of the water, the number of people you will be with, and the activities you will be doing while on your jet ski.

Location

Will your jet ski be on freshwater or saltwater? This is important because you may want to look at how the engine will be protected from saltwater corrosion.

An engine that is protected from saltwater corrosion will be easier to maintain than a jet ski that is not saltwater compatible.

If you will be using the jet ski on a freshwater lake, this feature should not matter.

Seating Capacity

How many people will you likely be seating on your jet ski? Most jet skis can accommodate three riders, but some models only accommodate two. It is important to know which models will allow three riders and which will only allow two.

Standup jet skis will only allow one rider to occupy the jet ski, so keep this in mind if you are interested in purchasing a standup jet ski.

Speed

Not all jet skis will have the same engine specs, as you have seen in our list above. Some engines may only have a 60hp motor while others may go all the way up to 450hp. So it’s important to think about how you will be spending your time on the water.

Will you be racing your buddies at a high rate of speed that requires quick acceleration? If so, you will want a jet ski that has torque with high horsepower.

If you just plan on cruising around with the family, you can opt for a smaller engine with lower horsepower.

The good news is that the jet skis with smaller engines and lower horsepower are often substantially cheaper than the high-performance models.

Towing Features

Jet skis can be used to tow tubing rafts for a fun day of tubing on the water. To do this, you will the jet ski to have a tow package included. This will allow a tow rope to be attached so that you can pull a tube or a raft.

Other Optional Features

Audio systems, speakers, GPS, and fishfinders are all additional accessories and options you can add to your jet ski, as long as the model of the jet ski can accommodate them.

Most of the 2020 models can accommodate these optional features, whereas years ago, these may not be available in all models.

Before you make your purchase, check out the options you can add to the jet ski to make your day on the water the best it can be.

Conclusion

Jet skis are fun, easy to use, and can provide hours of fun each day for many years. Jet skis will abide by the same rules as boats, so you must brush up on the rules of the water before your maiden voyage. Not only will doing this keep you safe, but it will also keep other boaters safe as well.

There are many models of jet skis to choose from, so think about where you will be using the jet ski most. If you will be accommodating multiple passengers, you will likely want to choose a 3-person option, rather than a 2-person option. And if the single-rider option is what you choose, you can’t go wrong with the standup model.

No matter what option you choose, stay safe, and enjoy your new jet ski!

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