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Shopping for a New or Used Pontoon? Here's What to Look For

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You’ve done it. You’ve decided that a pontoon boat is the boat for you. Maybe it’s because you want an affordable party boat, or maybe it’s because you want something the whole family can fish off of. Regardless, before you head out to the powersports dealership to start checking out the pontoon boats for sale, there are a few things you may want to consider when finding your dream pontoon.

Boat Capacity

Pontoon boats are designed to hold a larger number of people, but, like any other type of boat, pontoons have a maximum passenger capacity. Pontoon boats 21 to 28 feet long can usually hold up to 10-16 passengers safely, but as the length of the boat gets shorter, the maximum capacity will decrease. Think about what you’ll mostly be using the pontoon for, and how many guests you could possibly have on it at one time. Then, be sure to check for a boat’s capacity plate to ensure you’re shopping for a boat that can handle what you plan to use it for. You may have to consider a bigger boat if you plan to have large parties on board.


Similarly, your pontoon boat of choice will need to have ample seating for your guests. Not only do you need the proper space for your guests, but you’ll also need the proper seating based on what your guests will want to do.

Will they want to fish or would they rather sunbathe? Will they want to swim, or just hang out with some good music and food? If they’ll fish, a pontoon with fishing chairs at the bow will provide a more convenient set-up. If they’ll sunbathe, you may want to look for a pontoon with lounge chairs. If your guests will be in more of partying mood, maybe a pontoon with the most seating possible will be best.

Top Speed

You may not think of speed when you think of pontoons. But an average pontoon boat under ideal conditions with just one person can reach up to 31 mph. You’ll be needing an engine with more horsepower if speed is important to you. Even if you like a more relaxing cruise, be sure to consider the engine’s size when shopping at your local powersports dealership.

Also, if speed is what you want, your boat dealer might have tri-toon boats (rather than twin-pontoon boats) for you to check out. They’re the pontoons that are better for waterskiing and tubing.


Again, you’ll have to think about what you and your guests will most likely be doing on your pontoon, and what amenities you’ll need for those activities. Are you a family of swimmers? Perhaps a changing curtain will do you well. Planning for parties? A table will help you out. More high-end pontoons might even be equipped with a gas grill.

Other boating accessories such as rod holders for fishing, ski storage for waterskiing, or satellite radio for general fun might also be on your list of must-haves. But if you don’t have an exact idea of what your guests will be more into, shopping around at your local powersports dealership will at least give you an idea of the possibilities.  

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