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Personal Cruise: 12 Pontoon Boats Perfect for Water Play

At some point, some designer, a hero amongst us, took a look at the sad little pontoon boat and declared that it would not do. S/he considered these floating party barges that puttered around, going nowhere fast but providing luxurious ways to drink and relax out on the water and said “I can make these better. I can make these true seafaring vessels that allow you to party and can pull a water skier. I can make them dance across the waves with power, or rest easy for leisure.” And so they did.

The modern pontoon boat mixes together the best of both watery worlds. They have the playfulness of the sport boat, made for tight turns, hopping over chop, and facilitating every kind of aquatic pastime, but they retain their roots as barges of decadence, where lazing in the sun, imbibing, dancing, and general revelry hold sway. Floating along, straddling these two worlds, here’s the 12 best pontoon boats for partiers who want power in their play.

Harris Omni 160


A compact option that aspires to be more than its diminutive size would project, the clean walk-through design has a natural feel which makes access to the swimming or sitting area simple and straightforward. Though the max 50 horsepower engine isn’t enough to give you a lot of power, the list of additional amenities allow you to outfit it to suit your personality. MSRP: $14,000+

Sylvan Mirage Fish 820 4-PT


Should you be looking for a sly little fishing boat that is small enough to slip into back channels where bass like to hide, but big enough to give you quadruple posts, a live well, and an 8.5-foot Bimini top for beating away the sun’s hurtful rays, then Sylvan has drummed up the answer. With seats for 9 people and torque for 90 horsepower, it’s the light middleweight champ for the smart angler. MSRP: $18,000+

Premier Sunsation 270


A pleasure and party barge that uses its double-decker build to utmost effect, the surprise here isn’t in how well it drifts along for leisure, but that you can crank it up to nearly 55 mph should you feel like really putting the throttle down. Despite the size and upper floor, taking it out at max speed while doing hairy cut-away turns will only prove how solid it feels, rather than showing the flaws. There’s also a waterslide should your prayers not already have been answered. LEARN MORE

Bennington 2250 GSR


To start off, the 2250 GSR has a patio lounge quality to its pillow-topped seats and soft upholstery that invite you to sit down and maybe take a nap. Though rigged to be a mid-priced pontoon, the range of options is deep and wide, allowing you to keep the price low or primp the luxury to the absolute top. Either way, the console is made of molded fiberglass, not plastic, giving you utility where it counts. MSRP: $37,000+

Tahoe Vista Funship​


Though we hate the name, the Funship overcomes its odious moniker by providing full lounge chairs in the forward seating area, and a massive rear mat, both of which beg to be lain upon for sunbathing or napping. Tack on the upper deck with waterslide for the mewling brood, a standard tow bar, optional live well, grill, fridge, and wine rack, and you’re ready to set sail. MSRP

SunChaser Eclipse 8523 LR DH​


Perhaps one of the best outfitted family options on the list, there’s a little something to suit every taste. A changing room and optional toilet make for convenience while a tow bar and ladder can be easily added should you want to put more sport into the mix. The wide transom will accommodate swimmers with ease, and broad seating under the 10-foot Bimini lets the lazy rest in peace. LEARN MORE

Avalon Ambassador Windshield


The retro molding might seem a bit boxy, but to our eye it looked too much like Luke’s X-34 landspeeder to be anything but exceptional. Seeing how easily it drifted along chop and breaks while providing a smooth ride to everyone on board, it is clearly not as vintage as its easygoing appearance broadcasts. Each aluminum seat is welded to the frame, a feature that makes a life at sea easier to enjoy and to maintain than cheaper alternatives. MSRP: $68,000+

Harris Grand Mariner SL 250


Looking luxurious, the Grand Mariner doesn’t disappoint in operation. Spinning backrests allow for focusing on the swim platform or the cockpit so you’ll never need to leave your seat whether cruising or relaxing, but the real tale is beneath the waves. If you so design, upgrading to the sport package will give you a triple pontoon setup for fast turns and much more maneuverability, which will make your speedboat heart sing. MSRP: $95,000+

Aqua Patio 250 XP


Molded fiberglass surrounds the seating area fore and aft for a decidedly funky style that looks built to run rather than merely drift along. Rumble seats in the rear provide easy viewing of watersports shows, which stands in line with the brash tow tower that is built like a mercurial accessory rather than an operational add-on. The entire piece is clearly ready to roam, romp, and get rowdy. MSRP: $100,000+




Cobalt Marker One M7


New to the pontoon boat world in the last few years, the Marker One is already splashing down to great acclaim. One glance at the body should tell you why, as it uses molded fiberglass topsides rather than the more traditional furniture and fencing. This sleek, speedy design bears the ultimate in craftsmanship right down the leather-wrapped steering wheel, but the novelty will cost you. MSRP: $107,000+

Premier Dodici 310


While most of our choices are geared more toward the smaller options for mixed or family users, we can’t overlook the top shelf Dodici, which comes in either pub or club options for the aquatic entertainer. Triple Evinrude E-Tec G2 engines with 300 horsepower per impress even discerning guests as they enjoy the full bar complete with stools or spacious lounge area. LEARN MORE

Manitou Legacy SHP


V-Hull devotees might need to change their tune once they try out the handling on the Legacy. On the outside are a pair of 23″ pontoons that are cut by a lowered 27″ floater in the middle. The result is hard-carving turns and whip-smart handling that feel more like a speed or sport choice. To go along with that cornering ability, there’s 250 horses under the hood that can give you ramming speed should the need arise. MSRP: $135,000+