Pontoon boats have a reputation for delivering relaxing days on the water. Often associated with slow speeds and pleasure cruises, they are frequently underestimated in terms of their performance. The truth is, modern pontoon boats are quite fast and can provide a pretty thrilling experience under the right circumstances.

A question we often receive from prospective pontoon buyers centers on the ability to ski, tube, wakeboard, etc. with a pontoon boat.

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is…it depends. At the very minimum, your pontoon boat should have 70 horsepower if you’re considering doing some straightforward skiing or tubing, but with multiple passengers, you may not be able to get enough speed.

At around 100 horsepower, you’ll have a much better chance at getting the speed and power necessary for a skier to get on their skis, but a boat full of people is still going to make for a challenge.

Once you get up to 115-120 horsepower, you’ll start to overcome some of the difficulties posed by a full boat. In general, less weight is going to mean better performance, but the person in tow will have plenty of fun no matter what.

Of course, it’s best to take these horsepower guidelines as just that, guidelines, not a concrete set of rules. Each boat performance differently, so you’ll have to take that into account.

When it comes to speed, you’ll want to get up to around 20-25 miles per hour for an experienced skier, but that could be slower for a beginner. When it comes to other water activities like tubing, wakeboarding, or kneeboarding, 15-25 miles per hour is a good range. Most pontoon boats can pretty easily achieve these speeds.

If you’re considering purchasing a pontoon boat and want to water ski or a similar activity, use these guidelines to help you select the right boat, but be sure to ask your seller about it, particularly if it’s pre-owned.