Pontoon boat Vs Bowrider – What’s The Difference In 2023?

Reviewed By Boatsbuilding Expert

Looking for the perfect boat to suit your needs? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned boater,

it’s essential to know the differences between a pontoon boat and a bowrider. Pontoon boats are known for their stability, spaciousness, and low cost.

Bowriders are known for their speed, maneuverability, and sleek design. Both boats have advantages and disadvantages, so weighing your options is crucial to determine which is correct.

I’ll provide a side-by-side comparison of pontoon boats and bowriders to help you make an informed decision. From construction, performance, and price to storage, safety, and comfort.

I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the right pick.

What is a Bowrider & Pontoon Boat?

What is a Bowrider & Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a large, flat-bottomed vessel equipped with a deckhouse and seating. It is designed to be stabilized by water-filled pontoons.

A bowrider is a small to midsize recreational boat with a large open deck at the bow, a smaller cabin, and a stern with an outboard motor mounting.

Also known as bow- or push-boats, they are especially popular with fishermen and others who want to move quickly to different places.

Bowriders are also a type of pontoon boat with a cabin towards the bow (front).

Despite this, most bowriders aren’t designed to be used as pontoons.

Pontoon boats are commonly used for fishing, lounging, watersports, and general recreation.

A pontoon boat comprises a deck, a cabin, and two pontoons.

The pontoons are the large, round, rubberized hulls that keep the boat afloat.

These can be removed to allow for better access to shallow waters.

Pontoon Boat Vs Bowrider




Pontoon boats are typically built with a fiberglass hull with aluminum pontoons. They have a flat deck with a low freeboard that makes them easy to board from the water’s edge.

An open bow gives way to a cabin that can accommodate a small engine and a short console, making the overall design sleek and modern.

The pontoons are generally made from a rubberized material resistant to punctures and abrasions from underwater debris.

Because the pontoons are separate from the hull, they can be customized to your specific needs.




A bowrider’s design is typically 3-decked, with the upper deck being large enough to accommodate a small table and chairs.

The mid-deck usually has a small seating area that is ideal for lounging. The lower deck houses the engine and can be customized to fit your needs.

The bowrider’s sleek design makes it ideal for fishing, watersports, and general recreation. The bowrider’s design is attractive and eye-catching.

The bowrider’s sizeable open deck makes loading and unloading guests easy.

The bowrider’s mid-deck is often large enough to accommodate a small table, chairs, and possibly a cooler. The bowrider’s lower deck houses the engine.




A pontoon boat’s low freeboard and large pontoons make it easy to navigate in shallow waters and around obstacles.

The pontoons can be removed for better access to shallow waters, making it the ideal boat for fishing and exploring.

The bowrider’s sleek design, large open deck, and mid-deck seating area make it ideal for watersports.

With a small engine, the bowrider can reach high speeds, making it ideal for fishing excursions.




A pontoon boat is designed to be stable and easy to control, making it ideal for beginners and seasoned boaters.

The bowrider’s sleek design and large open deck make it easy to navigate, but the bowrider can be unstable if loaded with passengers.




Pontoon boats are generally less expensive than bowriders.

The pontoon boat’s low cost makes it ideal for first-time boaters or those on a budget.

A bowrider’s sleek design and large open deck make it ideal for fishing and watersports.

Because bowriders are designed for performance, they are more expensive than pontoon boats.




Pontoon boats have limited storage options.

The bowrider’s large open deck, mid-deck seating area, and lower deck house offer ample storage space for coolers, fishing gear, and other items.




A pontoon boat’s low freeboard, pontoons, and fiberglass hull make it less stable than the bowrider.

Because the pontoon boat’s low freeboard makes it harder to board, it could be better for younger guests.

The bowrider’s sleek design makes it ideal for safety.

The bowrider’s large open deck, mid-deck seating area, and lower deck house offer ample space to move around.




A pontoon boat’s low freeboard and large pontoons make it less comfortable than the bowrider.

The bowrider’s sleek design offers ample seating areas, making it ideal for lounging.

Conclusion: Which is the Right Boat for You?

When picking the right boat for you and your needs, it’s essential to consider your preferences and lifestyle.

A pontoon boat is ideal for those looking for a low-cost option that is easy to navigate in shallow waters.

A bowrider’s sleek design and large open deck make it ideal for watersports, fishing, and general recreation.

Depending on your needs and budget, a pontoon boat or bowrider could be the right boat for you.

Is bowrider worth buying?

Yes, a bowrider is worth buying! Bowriders are stylish and versatile boats that offer great value. They are usually made of fiberglass and have an open bow seating area at the front of the ship, making them perfect for family outings and entertaining. Bowriders are also incredibly easy to use and maintain, making them an excellent choice for first-time boat owners.
Bowriders come in various sizes so that you can find one perfect for your needs. They are also relatively affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to get into boating. The great thing about bowriders is that they can handle a variety of activities, from fishing and wakeboarding to tubing and cruising. You can even take a bowrider out into the ocean if you feel adventurous!
Bowriders are incredibly durable, so you can count on your boat lasting many years to come. They also offer plenty of storage space, making them great for extended trips.
Overall, buying a bowrider is an excellent decision for anyone who wants to get into boating without spending a fortune. They offer great value and plenty of fun, making them a perfect choice for families and individuals.

Do bowrider boats do well in rough water?

Absolutely! Bowriders are perfect for rough water conditions. They are designed with a deep V hull that allows them to cut through waves and chop more easily. Plus, they have a wide beam that helps to provide better stability. So whether you’re heading out into the ocean or cruising around a lake, bowriders are an excellent choice for rough water.
That said, there are a few things you should keep in mind when navigating rough waters with a bowrider. Ensure you have the proper safety equipment, such as life jackets, flares, and a fire extinguisher. It’s also important to know the weather conditions before you set out and adjust your speed accordingly. Finally, it’s best to avoid particularly choppy areas where the waves are more intense; if you need to cross them, make sure you’re going at a slow and steady pace.
Overall, bowriders are excellent boats for rough water. Make sure you take all the necessary safety precautions and use your best judgment while on the water.

Fred Apstein
Fred Apstein is a man of many talents. He studied at Sustainable Community Development and Royal Roads University, but what he loves to do is sailing, building boats, cooking seafood, and picking up the pieces when things go wrong! He's been in business for over 40 years with no refrigeration on his sailboats - that means food drying and pickling became necessary skills