How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Actually Cost? (By Size)

So you’re thinking about joining the 11.9 million recreational boating enthusiasts in the U.S., and a pontoon boat has caught your eye? You’re in good company! But before you set sail, let’s talk numbers. The cost of a pontoon boat can range from $15,000 to a staggering $175,000, depending on various factors.

The average cost of a pontoon boat ranges from $15,000 to $175,000, with prices fluctuating based on factors such as size, new vs. used condition, and customization options. Smaller, basic models can start as low as $5,000 when purchased used, while high-end, new models with luxury amenities can exceed $175,000. Additional costs to consider include maintenance fees, which can add an extra $2,000 annually, and optional accessories that can range from $50 to $3,500. Pontoon boats offer versatility for activities like fishing, entertaining, and water sports, each affecting the overall cost.

Ready to dive into the world of pontoon boats but puzzled by the price tags? Stick around as we unravel the true costs and what you can do to get the most bang for your buck.

Expense CategoryLow-End Cost ($)Average Cost ($)High-End Cost ($)
Initial Purchase Price5,00030,000175,000
Maintenance Fees5002,0005,000
Boat Insurance100200300
Boating License556065
Marina/Storage Fees5002,0004,000
Optional Accessories501,7503,500

New or Used: The Initial Decision That Shapes Your Budget

When it comes to pontoon boats, the first fork in the road is deciding between a new or used vessel. A shiny, new pontoon boat straight from the dealership comes with its perks, such as a manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty can be a lifesaver, sparing you from the financial burden of unexpected repairs and maintenance. On the flip side, opting for a used pontoon boat can be lighter on the wallet, with prices dipping as low as $5,000. However, tread carefully; a used boat might lack a warranty, leaving you vulnerable to costly repairs.

The decision between new and used isn’t just about upfront costs; it’s also about long-term financial sustainability. Dealerships often throw in safety gear and additional equipment as part of the package when you buy new, adding value to your purchase. In contrast, a used boat might require immediate upgrades or repairs, pushing your budget closer to the edge.

In essence, buying new offers peace of mind and less hassle, while going used can be a gamble that either saves you money upfront or costs you more in the long run.

Size Matters: Choosing the Right Boat for Your Need

The size of your pontoon boat is a pivotal factor that directly influences its cost. In the United States, the average leisure pontoon boat stretches around 20 feet in length. However, you’ll find smaller models starting at 17 feet and larger, more luxurious options extending up to 28 feet. The size of the boat you choose will significantly affect the overall cost, with every two-foot increase in length adding approximately $1,000 to $1,500 to the price tag.

But size isn’t just about cost; it’s also about functionality and comfort. A smaller boat might be easier to maneuver and less expensive to maintain, but it will also limit your passenger capacity. On the other hand, larger models can accommodate up to 15 people or more, making them ideal for those who love hosting big gatherings or have large families.

Your choice in size also impacts the boat’s versatility. Smaller pontoons are generally more agile and easier to dock, making them suitable for fishing or simple leisure activities. Larger boats, with their increased passenger capacity and additional features, are better suited for entertaining and more elaborate water activities.

Purpose and Usage: More Than Just Floating

So, you’ve got your eye on a pontoon boat, but what exactly do you plan to do with it? The purpose and usage of your boat are key factors that can significantly influence its cost. If you’re envisioning lazy days of lounging and fishing, a basic model with minimal horsepower might suffice. However, if you’re keen on water sports like waterskiing or wakeboarding, you’ll need a boat with a more powerful engine, which will naturally drive up the price.

For instance, a modest pontoon boat priced at $15,000 can quickly escalate in cost with an engine upgrade. A mid-sized, 22-foot pontoon boat with a 90hp engine averages around $30,000. If you’re looking for high horsepower boats designed for longer distances or even twin-engine models, be prepared for an even steeper price.

Pontoon boats come in various styles, each catering to specific activities. Some are designed for pure entertainment, complete with bar tops and plush seating, while others are tailored for fishing, equipped with features like a depth/fish finder and tackle holder. Specialized features can add hundreds, if not thousands, to your overall cost.

Maintenance Costs: The Hidden Expenses

Owning a pontoon boat isn’t just a one-time purchase; it’s a long-term commitment that comes with ongoing expenses. Maintenance costs often fly under the radar but can quickly add up, turning your dream boat into a financial burden if you’re not prepared.

Fuel is a recurring expense, the cost of which can fluctuate based on current market prices and your boat’s fuel efficiency. Then there’s boat insurance, which can range between $100 to $300 annually. Don’t forget the boating license, which will set you back around $55 to $65.

If you don’t have the luxury of living on the water, you’ll also need to consider marina and storage fees. These can tack on an extra $2,000 or more per year. While these costs may seem daunting, remember that a well-maintained pontoon boat can last for 20 years or more, offering long-term value.

Customization and Accessories: Personalizing Your Experience

One of the most appealing aspects of owning a pontoon boat is the ability to tailor it to your specific needs and tastes. Customization and accessories can significantly enhance your boating experience but come with their own set of costs. For example, boat trailers for easy transportation can cost around $2,000, while boat covers to protect your investment range from $200 to $500.

If you’re an angler at heart, you might opt for specialized fishing features like a depth/fish finder and a tackle holder. These alone can add over $400 to your overall cost. For those who prioritize entertainment, lounge models with bar tops and ample seating are available but generally run more expensive than those designed for fishing.

Sound systems, reclining chairs, luxury lighting, and even attachable water slides are among the myriad of extras you can add. These can easily inflate the base cost by a couple of grand. And let’s not forget smaller aesthetic touches like cushions and martini glasses, which, while not essential, add a personal flair to your boating experience.

Materials for customization also vary in cost. For instance, decking options include marine-grade plywood, aluminum, vinyl, and composite wood. Each material has its pros and cons, affecting both the boat’s functionality and your wallet.

Material Choices: Aluminum vs. Fiberglass

The type of material used in the construction of your pontoon boat is another crucial factor that impacts its cost. While all pontoons have an aluminum base, you can opt for fiberglass siding for a sleeker look. Fiberglass doesn’t rust and offers a more modern aesthetic, but it comes at a higher price point compared to traditional aluminum.

Decking materials also offer a range of options, each with its own cost implications. Marine-grade plywood and composite wood are generally cheaper but may require additional covering materials like carpet, turf, or vinyl flooring. These additional materials can bump up your overall cost.

In summary, material choices not only affect the boat’s appearance but also its durability and maintenance requirements. Opting for pricier materials like fiberglass and high-quality decking can add to your initial investment but may offer long-term benefits.+

Conclusion: Navigating the True Costs of a Pontoon Boat

The cost of owning a pontoon boat extends beyond the initial price, which can range from $15,000 to $175,000. Factors like size, new vs. used condition, and customization significantly influence the overall expense. Additionally, maintenance and optional accessories can add to your annual costs. Make an informed choice to ensure your pontoon boat is a worthwhile long-term investment.