Learning how to buy a pontoon boat can make the difference between buying a party boat that fits your lifestyle or getting a pontoon boat that you immediately hope to upgrade. The flat bottom, wide boats are great for use by a family on a lake or flat body of water but can be a challenge in waves so make sure it's a pontoon boat that you're looking for.
- Know how large you want the pontoon boat to be. Since a pontoon boat screams "party!", make sure you get a boat that's large enough to accommodate your group of friends and family. General guidelines are that two to six people will enjoy an eighteen to twenty foot pontoon boat. But, if you're expecting to carry ten or more people, think about a boat that is at least twenty five feet in length.
- Think about how you want to use it. With it's large, flat surface area, a pontoon boat can be quite suitable to fishing or crabbing so, if that's your preference, purchase a pontoon boat already outfitted with fishing equipment and bolted chairs instead of benches across the back. However, if you want to buy a pontoon boat for use with younger children, check that the boarding ladder(s) are sufficient to allow everyone to pull themselves out of the water and back on the boat.
- Consider engine size. Since pontoon boats have so much surface area on the water, they don't usually move super fast but there are models that can easily pull a tube. For an eighteen to twenty foot pontoon boat, you'll need at least a forty horsepower engine. In this case, more is always better so go with the biggest engine you can afford.
- Consider renting a pontoon boat for a season. Although it might be more expensive to rent, renting a pontoon boat for a season might make you love it or be glad that you didn't purchase. See if it's the type of boat you thought it was.