25 Different Types of Boats (With Photos)

Boats are different from ships and Yachts, but not everyone knows this. There are over 20 different types of boats that exist today, but most of them are purpose-built – you won’t see them randomly to buy and own. Of course, there are long and short boats, just as there are multi-purpose boats.

Well, it’s quite confusing differentiating ships and yachts from boats, but the simple difference is that a yacht or ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry either of them. Heard of speed boats, fishing boats, and cobles? These are just a few of the many boat types used worldwide.

In this article, we’d be riding through the various types of boats you should know about.

Different Types of Boats

1. Airboats

An airboat or fan boat is a flat-bottomed watercraft powered by an aircraft-type propeller and engine. This type of boat is typically used for fishing, hunting, and ecotourism. You won’t find them everywhere – you’d mostly find airboats in the US state of Florida, used for ecotourism.

Notwithstanding, airboats are used as means of transportation in marshy or shallow areas where boats with a standard inboard or outboard engine and a submerged propeller would be impractical.

2. Banana Boats

These are “fancy” boats built for recreational purposes. They are called banana boats because they are shaped like a banana. A banana boat is also referred to as a water sled, an unpowered, inflatable recreational boat – usually towed into the waters. This boat has different models, capable of carrying three to ten riders.’

3. Bass Boats

Bass boats are a type of small boats built for bass fishing or fishing for other panfish. They are used in rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Usually, bass boats feature a flat front deck, swivel chairs, storage bins for fishing tackles, and a number of other features that could come in handy while fishing.

Mainly, bass boats are propelled by an outboard motor or a trolling motor; the outboard motor models drive faster than the trolling motor models. Because bass boats are pretty small, they can be easily towed or propelled by oars in an emergency.

4. Brigs

Brigs are a type of boat with two square-rigged masts first seen in the mid-18th century and used as smaller merchant vessels or warships. Brig boats are not commonly used; currently, they are commonly used by the Navy for training.

5. Fishing Boats

While there are many types of fishing boats, the term “Fishing Boat” is used for watercraft built specifically for fishing. Traditional fishing boats are usually not powered by any engine but are self-propelled by the sailors.

Fishing boats used in oceans are typically taller and can be used under harsher conditions. Some fishing boats are used on seas for commercial, artisanal, and recreational fishing.

6. Tug Boats

Tugboats are small boats used along with ships – usually in ports. These boats are used to maneuver large ships; you can call them salvage boats; they are small but very powerful.

Traditional tugboats are usually left near harbors, ports, rivers, or on strategic sea routes (canals). As small as they appear, tugboats can push or pull large ships using tow lines. Tugboats are powered by diesel engines and may have deluge gun water jets for firefighting.

7. Bowriders

A bowrider boat is, in many ways, similar to a runabout boat but distinguishes itself by featuring an offset helm and extra forward seating. Usually, bowriders use a stern drive or outboard engine and can accommodate up to ten people at most.

Bowrider boats are different from Bow Riding – a dangerous and often illegal activity done with a bow while a boat is underway. You’d find bow riders go to recreational water sports sites.

8. Runboat

A runabout is a small motorboat that can contain four to eight people, built for cruising the waters. Runboats are typically between 20-inch to 35-inch in length; while they are constructed mainly for pleasure, they can also be used for fishing, racing, and water skiing or as a tender for larger vessels.

Bowriders are actually a type of runboat, along with cuddy boats.

9. Cape Islander

Photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

A Cape Islander is a stylish fishing boat mainly used for lobster fishing. It is commonly found across Atlantic Canada and typically has a single-keeled flat bottom at the stern. Cape Islanders are rounded towards the bow and used as inshore motor fishing boats. The Cape Islander boats are seen in different regions.

10. Center Console (CC)

Photo by Bill Word via Flickr

No. We’re not talking about your vehicle’s center console, hahaha. Center Consoles are a type of single-decked open hull boat with the helm located in the center.

Some models feature a cabin in the bow and small berths for sleeping. You can easily walk around Center Consoles, which helps when fishing, going underway or resting. CCs are powered by outboard motors and often used for cruising freshwaters.

11. Coble

Cobles are open traditional fishing boats first seen in the 18th century. Early Cobles had a flat-bottomed and high-bowed design that made them unique. Fishermen who rode Cobles often required high bows to sail in the North Sea. Newer Cobles are now equipped with diesel engines, eliminating the need for the distinctively shaped lug sail.

12. Rescue Boat

As the name implies, this is a type of boat used in marine rescue missions to rescue crew members or pilots in a crash situation. Rescue boats are high-speed offshore boats used by the US navy and military and also used by the Navy and military of many other countries. Some models are equipped with anti-aircraft guns for self-defense.

13. Cabin Cruiser

Cabin Cruisers are “cruiser” boats used for recreational purposes. It is a type of power boat with accommodation space for its crew and passengers. Some larger cabin cruisers are usually considered yachts; they can be towed with a trailer.

A cabin cruiser typically features a head (toilet), galley, and at least one berth, while some models may also include a small dining area.

14. Motorboat

Motorboats, also called speedboats or powerboats, are exclusive engine-powered boats used for quite different purposes. A motorboat either comes with an inboard or outboard engine paired with a gearbox and propeller in one portable unit.

There are different models of speedboats; some are covered, and others are open. Speedboats are mostly used for racing in the waters.

15. Express Cruiser

An Express Cruiser is a fast cruising boat with a full head, galley, sleeping space, and up to six berths. It is different from Cabin Cruisers and has large open areas near the steering section and on the rear side. Express cruisers may come with one or two powerful engines, typically used as family cruising boats.

16. Fireboat

A fireboat is a special type of boat – not meant for commercial use – equipped with pumps and nozzles for fighting shoreline and shipboard fires. Some multi-purpose watercrafts used today are tagged “fireboats” because of the way they are equipped.

You’d find fireboats near docks and shoreside warehouses where they are used for firefighting. A typical modern fireboat can pump tens of thousands of gallons of water per minute.

17. Felucca

Felucca is a type of boat found in Egypt and Sudan. It is a traditional wooden sailing boat with a rig consisting of one or two lateen sails. This type of boat can contain a total of thirteen people, up to ten passengers onboard, and about three crew members. Felucca is not a world-famous boat type.

18. Gondola

The gondola is a flat-bottomed rowing boat commonly used as a means of transportation in Venice. It is propelled by a gondolier using a rowing oar. The gondola boats look asymmetrical along the length; they have remained a major means of transportation within Venice and are sometimes referred to as traghetti (small ferries).

19. Sailboat

Sailboats, or sail boats, have been around for ages. The term “sailor” was used to refer to the person controlling a sailboat. This type of boat is propelled by sails; there are many variations of sailboats – varying by region and maritime culture. However, sailboats look pretty similar in appearance.

20. Houseboat

As the name implies, this is a type of boat built or modified to serve as a home to the owner. This type of boat is moored in specific locations and varies vastly in size. Most houseboats are not equipped with a motor because they are not moved. In some countries, houseboats are rented to holiday/vacation seekers or owned privately.

21. Hovercraft

A hovercraft or an air-cushion vehicle (ACV) is a unique boat type that can travel across many surfaces: land, mud, water, ice, and other surfaces. It is mostly used for racing purposes and use blowers to produce large volumes of air for fun and recreational purposes. There are different types and models of hovercrafts.

22. Inflatable Boat

An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat made of flexible tubes that are inflated with pressurized gas. This type of boat is owned by individuals to put in their swimming pools; you can also see them when you go to beaches. Inflatable boats can be deflated and disassembled when not in use.

23. Jetboats

Jetboats can come in different sizes, are highly maneuverable, and differ from powerboats. This type of boat is propelled by a jet of water ejected from the back of the craft; a jetboat is designed to draw water from beneath through an intake into a pump-jet inside the boat, then expel the water through a nozzle at the stern.

24. Personal Watercraft

A personal watercraft (PWC), also called jet skis, is a recreational boat where the rider has to sit or stand while controlling the craft. Mainly, jet skis can contain only two individuals, but some models have enough space for more people. PWCs are used in water-based competitions and fun racing.

25. Kayak

You either call it a kayak or Sea Kayak, whichever you choose to call it; this is a small and narrow boat typically propelled using double-bladed paddles.

The traditional models have a closed deck with one or more cockpits for the paddler(s). There have been several modernizations to the actual design of Kayaks, but they are still propelled the same way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ship a Type Of Boat?

The difference between ships and boats has been argued over and again. Ships are bigger vessels than boats; they can contain much more passengers and be taken to sea. On the other hand, boats are smaller and typically used in smaller sea bodies.

What Is The Most Popular Boat Type?

The most popular boat type depends mainly on your region. However, runboats, motorboats, tugboats, and fishing boats are among the most popular types seen in many countries globally.

Do Boats Have Engines Or Motors?

Boaters call them “Motors,” but they function just like regular engines. Some boats are powered by motors, which can also be called engines, because some of these boat motors use petrol or diesel-like other automobiles.


So, these are the different types of boats seen in different regions across the globe. They are pretty unique, and some of them serve multiple purposes. Boats are used for fishing, racing, and recreation purposes.

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