Bowriders Guide

Table of Contents

What are Bowrider Boats?

In some boats, it’s all in the name, and bowriders are no different. This popular boat style has two seating sections, one aft, or behind the helm, and one in front of the driver. The seating area in the boat's bow is how the bowrider got its name. That means that bowriders have ample seating and storage space, making them perfect for anyone who travels with a lot of cargo.

What are Bowriders Good For? (3 Reasons to Buy One in 2024)

With so much on-board storage space, there are plenty of reasons why these boats are so popular. The versatility of the bowrider is one reason why it’s one of the most popular boat styles today. Here are some of the different ways boaters love to outfit their bowriders.

For Fishing

With two seating areas, many anglers look to bowriders as their go-to fishing vessels. The forward seating area is perfect for looking ahead of the boat and searching for fish in shallow water. However, some bowriders aren’t made for fishing right from the dealership, so you might need to make some adaptations to make them perfect for fishing.

Fishing can be a dirty job. From cleaning fish to stepping up to try and get the best leverage for landing the big one, it can be a messy job that can soil the inside of a boat. One thing that many fishermen do is mess-proof the interior of their boats. This means removing some seat cushions and any carpeting, so that the interior is easier to clean in case of messes.

If you’re interested in fishing for fluke or other slow-moving fish, you might need a trolling motor. Since bowriders are made for comfort, they normally have expansive transoms, which might not be ideal for installing a trolling motor. This customization may require extensive changes to the boat so it’s best to hire a professional to help you out with this to make sure you get a perfect job.

Finally, while bowriders provide a great casting area ahead of the helm, you might find that some sit heavy in the water, meaning they aren’t ideal for stalking fish in the shallows. If you are a freshwater fisherman who wants to cruise in shallow water, make sure you buy a lightweight model, perhaps with a jet engine like a Yamaha SX. These boats don’t have a low-hanging outboard, meaning you can get very shallow on the hunt for fish.

For Watersports

When you’re waterskiing, wake boarding or wake surfing, you want to make sure you have plenty of friends around to share the experience with (and record your awesome tricks). Some of the most popular watersport boats take their styling from popular bowriders, so you have room for all your friends.

With aggressive styling and smooth sailing, bowriders are great for watersports. Many boat makers outfit them with aggressive arches that have elevated tow points, and even ballast tanks that can carve the perfect wake. Malibu in particular is a line of bowriders designed for cruising through the water and sitting low, so they build the perfect wake for skiing and wakeboarding.

These vessels are built for comfort, not for speed. But that doesn’t mean they’re slow. The fastest bowriders can cruise at over 50 miles per hour, so they provide an exhilarating ride, whether you’re in the boat, or being towed behind it.

For Cruising and Camping

Bowriders are some of the most popular boats used for camping out at the sandbar, or reaching exclusive locations for a private night out. Since these boats are compact, they're perfect for trailering to a campsite, so you can enjoy the water while you spend time camping on the beach.

These boats come in a wide range of sizes, from short 15 foot runabouts to comfortable 40 foot yachts. That means that you can find the right vessel for your needs. If you want to sleep at the marina while having a great boat for cruising during the day, you find one that seemingly does it all. Even small bowriders can come packed with amenities, including bathrooms or showers, so you can spend your time away from shore comfortably, without needing to find a marina or beach with amenities.

Since bowriders often have a deep v-shaped hull, they often cut through waves and wakes with ease. That means they stay balanced and stable while cruising, which reduces bow rise under power. That same construction means that they’re great for beaching at the sandbar. Boaters who spend a lot of time beaching their boat often invest in a protective coating or padding on the bottom of their hulls to avoid any scratches or damage from unseen rocks that might be hiding in the sand.

Are Bowriders Dangerous?

Bowriders often get a bad reputation as dangerous boats because they’re incredibly popular among new boaters. Since they have a seating area in the front of the boat, they can have poor balance, especially in rough seas. However, in inland bays and sweetwater areas, bowriders are no more dangerous than any other vessel.

One thing that makes bowriders seem more dangerous than they are is that they’re very popular with inexperienced or new boaters. Bowriders are economical, which makes them an excellent entry-level vessel. Most mistakes that occur in boats often come from people overestimating their skill, or from poor decision making resulting in dangerous situations. To ensure that you’re always prepared for success on the water, it’s best to ease into boat ownership. Take a boating safety course before buying your first boat, and only go out on good-weather days as you get used to operating and handling the boat. In no time, you’ll know the limits of yourself and your vessel, so you can learn good habits and stay safe on the water.

Having the right support network is also important to boating safely, especially with a bowrider. Before you sail, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment, including a radio that you can use to contact other boaters or the coast guard in case of emergency. It’s also beneficial to have a membership to a boating safety service like TowBoatU.S. or SeaTow to make sure you can get help when you’re out on the water.

Are Bowriders Seaworthy?

Since bowriders carry a lot of weight in the front of the boat, they generally aren’t considered seaworthy. Larger vessels can handle rolling waves of the open ocean better than smaller ones, especially if the passengers on board sit in the rear of the boat, which can help keep it balanced. However, it’s important to remember a boat is only as safe and as capable as its captain. Inexperienced drivers should not take their bowriders out to sea if they’re uncomfortable with handling unpredictable conditions. Staying in inland bays and waterways means that it's easier to get help in case of emergencies, so keep your family and passengers in mind when you take your boat out.

What Are The Best Bowrider Brands?

Now that you know the pros and cons of bowriders, here’s some of the most popular brands, and what makes them stand out. Remember, bowriders are some of the most popular boat shapes and styles currently available, so there’s likely a bowrider out there that’s perfect for you and your price range.


As the largest manufacturer of recreational boats, Bayliner has a boat for almost everyone. Their bowrider line starts with the ultra-compact and affordable 160, which is 16 feet long and perfect for anyone looking to get on the water. They also have the ultra-luxurious VR6, which maximizes interior space with a 22 foot length and even an optional outboard motor. Since Bayliner makes so many boats, they normally come in at a lower price point compared to other brands, making them ideal for new boaters.

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If you want an affordable bowrider with comfortable amenities, Chaparral might be the boat manufacturer for you. Chaparral’s line of bow riders include options with onboard and outboard motors, and range between 21 and 33 feet in length. The pinnacle of their fleet is the Surf line, which includes an aggressive tow arch and plenty of features to make your day on the water exhilarating.


With a 50-year history making bowriders, Cobalt boats are a mainstay in this segment. They combine luxury with classical lines and amenities, making a long-lasting vessel that will keep its value for years to come. Cobalts R35 tops out at 35 feet long and features a comfortable cabin below-deck, meaning that it’s excellent for long weekends on board, whether you’re looking to spend your time camping or enjoying luxurious nights at new marinas.

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With a wide range of bowriders and deck boats, Crownline knows how important it is to have ample seating and amenities onboard. The company’s unique Finseeker line combines the comfort of a bowrider, with the aggressive styling of a center console boat, making it perfect for anglers who are looking to bring the whole family on their offshore hunts for game fish.

Four Winns

As a premier manufacturer of bowrider boats, Four Winns is known for innovating on a classic platform. That means that when you invest in a Four Winns bowrider, you’re getting plenty of unique and exciting features. One is the Stable Vee hull, which is meant to make riding on board more comfortable and safer, so you can enjoy your time on the water without worry.

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If you want fun and excitement on the water, you need to get yourself in a Malibu bowrider. This boatmaker specializes in sport wake boats, meaning that they have everything you need for performance wake surfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding. These boats come with plenty of storage and seating area, and special wake-transforming features to make sure you get the best thrills when on the water.

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Sea Ray

If you read our article about power yachts, you’re already familiar with Sea Ray’s options for comfortable cruising offshore. Sea Ray brings that same comfort and refinery and drops it into an exciting runabout platform. The SLX series features both outboard and inboard options with aggressive styling, and comes in between 25 and 40 feet, meaning there’s a perfect sea ray out there for you.


Closing out our list of luxury bowriders, Monterey has four distinct lines of boats, so you can find the one right for you. They feature the Sport and Super Sport boats which offer aggressive handling and refined lines. The Outboard line maximizes interior space for those who want to fish, or bring a lot of friends on board. Finally, there’s the aggressive M line, which is designed for water sports. These boats have excellent fit and finish, so you can get exactly what you need in a boat that will hold its value for a long time.

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While all of the vessels above have standard motors, we had to mention Yamaha in this listing because it offers a different driving experience. Yamaha’s series of bowriders start at 19 foot long and go all the way up to 27 feet, making them excellent for new boaters. The unique part of this economical line is Yamaha’s jet-powered drive, which is known for longevity and maneuverability. These are an excellent choice for families, as they don’t have a dangerous propeller on the back of the boat, which can tangle lines or pose a danger to people or sea life.

Whatever bowrider you choose, there’s one for you out there. Whether you want to land a prized fish, or just spend the day away with family, you’ll find the bowrider for you at After reading this article, you know that these boats are popular and sell fast, so take a look today!