Renting a Boat: Boat Rentals Guide

Maybe you haven’t decided what type of boat to buy despite spending hours on apps for renting boats, maybe the cost of boat ownership is forcing you to wait before buying, or maybe you’re just not ready to have your own boat yet and you want to rent one to get a taste of the boating lifestyle—whatever the reason may be, a boat rental will allow you to get your feet wet without taking the plunge.

Fortunately, you can find a boat rental service just about anywhere you find boats. Whether you’re thinking about a speed boat rental, an electric boat rental, or anything in-between, you’ll want to make sure you find the boat and the waterway that can offer the experience you’re looking for.

How Boat Rentals Work

There are hundreds of different boat brands and manufacturers, making countless different styles and sizes of pleasure boats. Which will be the right boat rental for you? That depends entirely on what activities you’d like to try out.

If you think water skiing looks like a blast, then ski boat rentals should top your list. But if you’ve always wanted to try fishing from a boat, then you probably need to ask yourself “where will I find fishing boat rentals near me?” Remember that some types of boats, like fish-and-ski models, are great for multiple uses.

But some others, such as trawlers, are a bit more specific in what they’re used for.

One important factor you should consider prior to renting a boat is its condition and the rental company’s reputation. Rental boats are known to be used hard and if you rent from an outfit that doesn’t stay on top of issues like maintenance and repairs, your day on the water could be ruined by mechanical breakdowns or sub-par gear.

This is often less of an issue with lake boat rentals as opposed to renting boats that live in a saltwater environment, but you should still do a bit of investigating prior to making any decisions.

Boat rental by owner, also known as peer-to-peer boat rental, is another option some people may want to consider. Again, note that you may encounter boats in varying conditions and take the time to read user reviews, which are available on the web sites of most peer-to-peer boat rental services.

In most cases, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to consider power boat rentals. In some others you may need to be 21 or even 25; the rental companies set their own policies and they may vary a bit from one to the next. Age requirements may be more flexible for a charter boat rental, since charters generally come with a captain who’s responsible for running the boat.

Boat Rental Pricing

A motor boat rental tends to cost more than a sailboat; larger boats rent for more than smaller ones; fishing boat rentals cost less than renting luxury cruisers; and geography also plays a role. You’ll find that vacation boat rentals cost significantly more in popular tourist destinations than in less-traveled waterways.

You can save a bit on hourly rates by renting over a longer period of time. Renting by the hour is the most expensive option when you look at per-hour cost. Full day rates bring that down, weekend boat rentals result paying even less per hour, and when you look at the big picture, on an hourly basis, comparatively a weekly boat rental is often the best deal.

What You Need For Your Boat Rental

Food & Drinks

Water Toys

Fishing Rods


When it comes to food and drinks, remember that more is better. Especially when it comes to hydrating fluids, if you don’t pack enough it can ruin a day on the water. And of course, you’ll want to bring along whatever extra equipment you want whether that means hauling a wakeboard along for that pontoon boat rental, or taking fishing rods to go with your bass boat rental.

Fortunately, fuel is one thing you don’t have to worry about since rental services generally supply the boat fully tanked up and ready to go. You may, however, need to be prepared to re-fuel the boat at the end of the rental period. Some outfits consider refills (and paying for them) to be part of the renter’s responsibility.

Learning to Drive the Boat

What if you’re not an accomplished boater? Some rental outfits will give you on-the-spot instruction. In most states you need to have passed a basic boating or boating safety program prior to operating any type of boat, so before you even consider renting a boat you should have been exposed to the basics.

Frequently asked questions about renting a boat

How much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat?

The pontoon boat rental will vary depending on the size and geography of the boat. If the rental location is a popular tourist destination, you should expect to pay more. But the amount of competition also affects pricing. In some areas, you can find a pontoon boat rental for only a few hundred dollars a day, but in high-priced tourist cities, expect to pay over $ 500 a day.

How much do boat rentals cost?

Pricing covers the range. You can find small, open skiffs located on lakes that rent for only $ 30 or $ 40 an hour, and you can find cruise cabins or motor yachts that go for 10 or 20 times that amount.