For anyone who is curious about what are the best boats ever made, there are some definite crafts that rise high above the rest.
Depending on your interest, there is probably a boat out there for you, but trying to determine which is going to be best suited for you can be difficult. Boats come in so many styles, trim lines, and price tags, it can be overwhelming to know which ones are the best ever. But don’t worry – this list is going to sum it all up for you.
The best 6 boats ever made are:
- MasterCraft MariStar 280 Speed Boat
- Yamaha AR230 High Output Speed Boat
- Boston Whaler 420 Outrage
- SeaRay SXL400 Output Speed Boat
- Malibu Response TXI
- Blackfin 222 CC Fishing Sport
Deciding which boats are the best ever can be like trying to decide who are the best athletes ever, or which city is the best ever. That said, there are certain factors that will allow certain boats to rise above the best when it comes to quality, reputation, consistency, speed and options available. And, let’s not forget, they need to look good cutting through those waves as well.
I have been an avid boater my whole life, and have grown up on fishing boats, speedboats and even pontoons. I have compiled this list of which boats are constantly ranked as the best by industry standards and am excited to share it with my fellow boat lovers.
What Are the Best Boats Ever?
Boats have played an important role in transportation and commerce for centuries. It is believed that as early as pre-historic times, humans used boats to move themselves and their cargo across bodies of water in order to establish new territories, trade goods with others, and transport livestock and cargo from one area to another, particularly when land crossing was not possible.
And, speaking of land…if it weren’t for boats, most of the world’s land would not have been discovered. From early proof of settlements in Australia over 40,000 years ago, to the Mayflower landing in the New World just over 400 years ago, people have been reliant on boats for their survival and their continued growth for as long as historians can record.
But boats have also been popular for recreational use for centuries as well. As early as the mid-1600s it’s believed that kings, queens and their courts would be seen sailing on waterways for enjoyment purposes, not just for transportation.
By the 1700s, the idea of boating for pleasure became more common, but was still a sport held for the elite. The first yacht clubs were formed in those years and sailing became used for pleasure as well as purpose.
Now, many people regard boating as an activity that can be enjoyed by many and in many different ways. Whether it’s for fishing, sport, or just plain fun, boats are more popular than ever, and the variety seems almost endless.
One thing has stayed constant, however. A boat’s quality, performance, design, and ability to withstand the test of time have all become synonymous characteristics with the makings of some of the best boats ever made. Let’s look more closely at some of the vessels that deserve to be considered the best boats ever and learn why.
1. MasterCraft MariStar 280 Speed Boat
No one who knows boats will deny that MasterCraft is a leader in the boating industry. With hundreds of award-winning designs under its roof, the company has set the bar high for years in what should be the industry standard for quality, design, aesthetics, speed, and reliability.
But the MasterCraft MariStar 280 hits it out of the ballpark, even for MasterCraft standards.
This inboard runabout is as sleek as it is comfortable and from the moment you step on it, you’ll feel that. And MasterCraft knows that comfort is just as important when it comes to building a good boat.
The MasterCraft MariStar 280 is less of a ski boat and more of a cruiser, but a fast one at that. With a 385 horsepower V6 engine, this boat has the power and agility of a speed boat with the comforts of a yacht.
There is seating for up to 15 on this boat, which is more than 28 feet long. The vee – which refers to the sides of the boat – are deep and allow occupants to enjoy the view without getting soaked, regardless of the speed. The bow seating is big enough for eight and is as deep as a hot tub!
Whether you're looking for performance or reliability, the MasterCraft MariStar will not disappoint and has quickly moved up the ranks as being recognized as one of the best boats ever by boating enthusiasts.
This boat is going to be ideal for people who want a vessel that is safe for large groups, easy to board and disembark, gives the feeling of power and speed, and is also known for its reliability.
The MasterCraft MariStar 280 provides all of this, while also giving off a sleek design that will turn heads as she passes others by.
All of this comfort, power, and beauty does come at a price, however. Brand new, the MasterCraft MariStar 280 currently sells for upwards of $100,000 depending on the trim package and what other sorts of bells and whistles you’d like included.
That said, because of the MasterCraft MariStar 280’s strong reputation and quality build, you can often find these beauties for less from boat auctions, trade magazines, and at private sales.
2. Yamaha AR230 High Output Speed Boat
When speed is a top priority, no one will go wrong with choosing a Yamaha.
Similar to MasterCraft, Yamaha has been a well-recognized and respected name in the boating world for many years. Yamaha is known for creating high-end speed boats that are all about performance, agility, and strength as they power through the water with speed and ease.
But the Yamaha AR230 High Output is a speed boat in a class practically by itself.
Chosen as Boat of the Year both in 2007 and in 2011 is no surprise. This speed boat is 23 feet long and houses a 250 horsepower inboard motor which is tucked well away from swimmers or dangling feet.
One of the greatest things about this boat (other than its speed) is its design. Yamaha created the AR230 Output with fun and crowds in mind.
In the aft (back) section of the craft, there is bench seating for up to eight. The seats are deep and the well is wide, providing for plenty of legroom and gear.
The stern (front) of the boat offers more bench seating for up to six and sun loungers as well. Again, Yamaha thoughtfully made the leg room here more expansive than more jet boats allow, knowing that – even though skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding are all an important part of any speedboat, there is also plenty of downtime for lounging, cruising, and just kicking back with friends and family.
In total, thirteen people can comfortably occupy the Yamaha AR230 High Output. And, even when the boat is at max capacity, there is still a feeling of safety as well as comfort, thanks to the deep vee design and wide hull that has been incorporated into this craft.
But – this is a speedboat, so it would be a shame not to talk about what this boat can offer when it comes to performance.
When fully loaded with people and gear, the Yamaha AR230 High Output is capable of speeds as high as 35 miles per hour, and impressive performance, given that the craft alone weighs 3,000 pounds. When there are only two people on the boat and minimal equipment, it is said to be able to reach speeds as high as almost 50 miles per hour. And, just as importantly, it’s still easy to navigate and handle.
The Yamaha AR230 High Output is popular and that popularity isn’t slowing down any time soon. A brand new model with the highest trim line currently sells for around $45,000 but there are often great deals that can be found if you are willing to consider one that is a few years old.
And believe me, even a Yamaha AR230 High Output that’s been on the water for a few years is going to bring you many more years of high performance and family fun.
3. Boston Whaler 420 Outrage
Few companies are more iconic in the boating industry than Boston Whaler and with a craft like this one, it’s easy for anyone to see why.
Boston Whaler began in 1958 with a group of six friends who wanted to make strong and steadfast crafts that would be known the world over. The company quickly grew and Boston Whalers earned the reputation as being “unsinkable.” That reputation stands today.
The Boston Whaler 420 Outrage continues the high-quality standard that this company was built on but has taken it up several notches, winning it Boating Magazine’s Boat of the Year in 2015, a high honor, considering they evaluate more than 150 boats before choosing their best of the year.
There are a number of things that make this boat stand out, but perhaps one of the biggest is its unique design and maneuverability, despite its size.
With a 42-foot span and space for up to twenty people, the Boston Whaler 420 Outrage is as versatile as it is powerful. Whether you are going out for a sunset cruise with family and friends, or a true fishing or whale-watching excursion, this craft can handle it all.
There is a 600 horsepower V6 engine that comes standard on the 420 Outrage, but this can be customized, depending on your needs. With seven feet of headroom in the berth, it’s easy to move around the inside of the cabin and the cockpit offers stunning views and seating for two, though there is also an upper deck where four more can sit comfortably and enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views.
Perhaps one of the most innovative features of this beauty is the revolutionary Whale Watch system that was designed specifically for the Boston Whaler line. This is an iPad-operated engineering system that allows full control of the vessel from an app that monitors everything from the navigation system to any potential alerts that may be problematic onboard the craft.
A boat of this size and power may be intimidating for some, but the Boston Whaler engineers took that into consideration when they designed the craft, making sure that everything from the engines to the commode is easy to use and operate.
The Boston Whaler 420 Outrage is going to set you back a few dollars, but if this is the kind of boat you are looking for, it’s going to be hard to settle for anything less. At a starting price of $650,000 brand new, you will be joining an elite group of boating enthusiasts who are serious about their water adventures and know quality when they see it.
4. SeaRay SXL400 Speed Boat
Being named one of Boating Magazine’s Best Boats of the Year is no small honor. The editors at this prestigious magazine test hundreds of boats each year and rank them not on popularity, but on performance, value, safety, comfort, and innovative design.
So, it’s no wonder that the SeaRay SXL400 ranks as one of the best-ever boats on my list. As the Boating Magazine’s 2015 Boat of the Year, this craft has only continued to improve and blow similar crafts out of the water.
The SeaRay SXL400 is a powerhouse that is as comfortable as it is capable in the water. With a 380 horsepower engine, this outboard-motored craft can handle speeds of up to 65 miles per hour, though this will be significantly less when the boat is at full capacity.
Full capacity for this craft equals up to ten people though there is also ample room for tons of gear, food, drinks, and anything else you may need for a day on the water. There is even space below the front bench seats for a full paddleboard to be stored!
This boat is all about speed, but the comfort is endless as well. The aft (back) swim platform extends out to a full eight-foot deck space, an area the manufacturer refers to as the “swim terrace.” There is also a clever and thoughtful “step down” platform that makes boarding and disembarking a breeze.
There is also ample space to move around and a two-pilot light grill and fridge tucked behind the cockpit.
Underneath the cockpit is a cabin with seven-foot headspace, a flush toilet, shower, and sleeping space for four. A small kitchen completes the dining options, with another fridge and microwave included. And what boat would not be complete without a 42-inch flat-screen television hanging above the dinette area for when the kids get tired of all that water play, or someone wants to take a break and go watch the last quarter of the big game!
All of this ingenuity, style, and safety features come at a price tag of just over $500,000 if you want to invest in a top-of-the-line brand new SeaRay SXL400.
But, thanks to this boat’s popularity, there will surely be new models rolling out regularly, so finding a gently used model (for a substantially lower price!) is not going to be difficult if you keep your eyes out for one.
5. Malibu Response TXI
For those who are new to boating (or just don’t want to mortgage the house and kids for a boat!), there is a great option to get you started that will provide all the safety, speed, and fun that some of the bigger guys do, with way less investment and size concerns.
The Malibu Response TXI will serve as a perfect boat for weekend warriors who want to spend time with family and friends on the lake, a wide river, or even in saltwater areas that are ideal for smaller vessels.
With a seating capacity of five, this boat is small but comfortable. The 360 horsepower motor can be switched out for a 430 horsepower model, giving you even more power if needed. And with a length of just over 20 feet, even though this boat can move quickly, it is easily manageable, even for a boating newbie.
One of the most innovative features of this world-renowned ski boat is the seven-inch touchscreen monitor that allows the captain control over the entire performance of this craft. It also has a built-in GPS and state-of-the-art navigation system that will keep you on course no matter what type of water you are enjoying during your day.
The Malibu Response TXI is widely recognized as one of the world’s best ski boats and has been the vessel of choice for many world record holders when it comes to choosing the best boat to help them perform at their optimal level.
But, because of its smaller size, easily accessible controls, and streamlined manageability, it is often a top choice for beginners and is considered one of the best-ever boats for recreational activities or lounging on the river or lake.
The Malibu Response TXI starts at around $85,000. You can also opt for a slightly larger model that will allow seating for two additional people at the bow, which will retail for closer to $93,000.
As with all the boats on my list, the Malibu Response TXI is such a popular craft that finding one that is gently used won’t be difficult, and can save you substantial dollars. Plus, since the Malibu Response TXI is often seen as a “starter” boat, many people decide to trade theirs in for a larger model, thus freeing up more “gently used” boats for people like you and me to enjoy.
6. Blackfin 222CC Fishing Sport
No best boat list would be complete without one boat that’s designed to be a fishing boat, and no list would be complete without the Blackfin 222 CC added to it.
This boat was 100 percent designed with fishing in mind. Since 1973 this Florida-based company has been creating boats that bring innovation, comfort, and style to the world of fishing, whether you are going into the deep seas, or hanging around the lake.
The Blackfin 222CC is one of the smaller fishing boats that this company manufactures, making it ideal for beginning boaters, or those who have smaller slips or areas they like to fish.
It also means that the price tag won’t be as steep, while still providing you with all the comforts and amenities that some of the larger Blackfin crafts will.
With a 300-horsepower engine, this boat can get you into the deeper waters quickly, while also allowing you to follow a school of fish with ease. The 45-quart cooler can handle all your catches for the day, and there’s a wash basin big enough for even large cleanings and plenty of counter space for gutting as well. There’s also a fiberglass storage area under the hull that can hold extra equipment as well as more cooler space, if needed.
The rod system is excellent on this craft, with four stainless steel rod racks near the cockpit and four in the aft section of the boat. There’s an excellent navigation system that can be manually operated or controlled by an app on your iPhone and synched with the boat’s system, meaning that you can navigate any body of water from even the comforts of the wide bench seating in the rear of the boat.
The Blackfin 222 CC has seating for ten, but maybe a bit cramped if you have a lot of fishing gear or recreation toys on board as well. But, for a casual day trip, 10 people could easily enjoy the deep water excursions. Consider taking a few less folks, though, if you are planning for a serious day of deep sea fishing.
At a starting price tag of $130,000 the Blackfin 222 CC is reasonably priced for a new fishing boat, especially for one that has all the luxuries the Blackfin 222 CC boasts.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson