How Much To Rent A Pontoon Boat? (Cost)

How Much To Rent A Pontoon Boat? (Cost) | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

January 25, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • A pontoon rental will cost around $250 - $400 for a full day (more in tourist locations). Half-day rentals are also available.
  • Most states require boat owners to have passed a boater safety course.
  • You should be prepared to pay additional expenses like insurance and gasoline.
  • Most pontoon rentals require individuals to be at least 21 years of age to rent a pontoon boat.
  • Pontoon boat parties of more than ten will want to consider hiring a Captain to handle the operation of the boat.

You are planning to spend a beautiful weekend cruising around the lake, but you need a boat. How much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat?

The average pontoon boat will cost about $250 - $400 a day, depending on the size and the area you vacation (some tourist destinations charge more). Pontoon boats are the perfect watercraft for entertaining families, having a party, fishing, tubing, skiing, or just catching some sun.

More and more Americans are turning to pontoon boats for their leisure activities (the sales of pontoons are outpacing all other kinds of watercraft). But even though you do not own one of these beautiful watercraft, it doesn’t mean you can’t rent one for the day. Renting a boat means enjoying the festivities on the water without worrying about the expense of maintaining a pontoon boat. But what should you know before signing your name on the rental contract? How much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat? This article will discuss the viability of pontoon boat rentals and prepare you for a full day of fun on the water.


Table of contents

What is a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a uniquely designed watercraft buoyed by two or three aluminum tubes (pontoons). A pontoon supports a flat decking, allowing more passengers to be on board and more deck space for festivities. These boats are made for cruising rather than speed and, as such, are more stable and secure than many typical V-hulled boats. They are primarily intended for freshwater applications, rather than the open sea where yachts and other commercial excursion boats operate.

Pontoons are loosely based on a cataraman and first appeared in the United States in the 1950s. A local farmer welded several 55-gallon oil drums and then attached them to a flat deck. The boat floated on the water and was the start of what is currently a 2.1 billion-dollar industry. (The market is only expected to continue to grow in the years ahead).

Currently, pontoon boats come in many different sizes, from smaller personal watercraft that seat three or four to those that can handle 15 or more passengers. Some users rent a double-decker pontoon boat, with the top deck providing open space for sunbathing. The rental company can discuss your needs and various rental rates.

What Does a Pontoon Rental Cost?

A pontoon boat rental will cost you about $250 - $400 a day, depending on the size of the boat, the time you use it (half-day rentals are available), and the area you plan to cruise around. Most tourist destinations charge much more, as the prices increase during summer. So, if you vacation somewhere exotic, plan on spending more money.

Most states require you to be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and have a form of payment (credit card) to rent a motorized personal watercraft. In addition, many states require the driver to have completed a boat safety course and will issue a card that drivers must carry on their person at all times.

How Do I Rent a Pontoon Boat?

Call the local marina a few days before you wish to take the boat out on the water. (Remember that weekends and the holiday season are busy, so act accordingly). Your local marina can discuss the daily rates and help you know what to expect. Most boat rental agencies will ask for a deposit to hold the reservation and guard against no-shows.

Like renting a car, the marina will ask you to sign a lease contract, offer you an inspection of the boat, and force you to take their insurance. (Some states do not require it). Insurance is always a good idea, especially if you are new to the boating experience.

If your group is sizable (over 8 - 10), you should discuss the costs of having a Captain to operate the boat. Hiring a captain can allow all participants to have a great time, enjoy the party atmosphere, and ensure that the vessel is operated safely.

Does the Boat Come With Life Jackets?

All rental companies are required to provide life jackets for your passengers regardless of the size of the passenger. State boating laws will require that all occupants on board the boat wear a life jacket. It is the Captain’s responsibility to ensure that all boating regulations are followed, so be prepared to insist that everyone protect themselves by wearing a floatation device.

Does Fuel Come With The Rental?

The marina will likely charge you for the gas you consume while on the water. Since most pontoon boats use premium non-ethanol fuel, the cost will be higher than what you might put in your car. Depending on how fast you cruise around the lake, you should plan on gasoline costing you around $50 bucks a day.

How Many People Can I Load on a Pontoon Boat?

Pontoon boats are regulated by the amount of weight that they can carry. You want to ensure that your party stays within those weight limits so the craft can be operated safely on the water. The weight limits refer to the passengers and equipment you take on your trip.

What If Something Breaks on the Boat?

You should call the agency where you rented the boat. Follow the instructions you are given. The rental consultants will likely send a towboat to pull the pontoon back to port. You should also pay for repairs if required (most marinas have a policy that forces renters to pay for repairs if they are the source of the breakdown).

Can I Fish From a Pontoon?

Many pontoon owners like to use their pontoons for fishing boats on a lake and along a river bank. A pontoon is an ideal craft to fish from, and many are equipped with fishing stations, live wells, and trolling motors. You will be responsible for bringing your fishing gear and bait. In addition, most boat rentals involve extra cleaning fees (slimy fish guts and bait residue).

While a fishing voyage is a beautiful way to enjoy a summer afternoon with your family or friends, you should also be prepared to pay extra prices for the privilege.

Can I Use A Pontoon for Water Sports?

Pontoon boats are excellent crafts for water skiing, tubing, and other water sports. You must ensure that the water area you are in has plenty of room to maneuver and is not congested. A reservoir and lake is the perfect place to perform these activities, as long as safety regulations are followed.

If you do not have the equipment, most rental companies have these items available for rent at an additional cost and are happy to provide pricing information. It is always best to discuss your plans with the rental company so that any precautions can be taken. (Additional waivers of liability may need to be signed).

Can My Dog Come Along For the Ride?

Most rental companies have specific policies regarding pets being allowed on a vessel over open water. They are not likely to rent life jackets for your pet, so don’t forget to bring your own. If you are planning on bringing a pet along for the voyage, discuss this with the rental company before you set sail.

How Much To Rent A Pontoon Boat? (Cost)
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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