It’s no secret that pontoon boats were originally designed for freshwater conditions. Developed with a sturdy aluminum double hull and a relatively stable structure, pontoons perform best in calm, inland waterways that don’t get a lot of wind or waves. So for a long time, taking them to the sea was a nothing but a dream.
Well, at least until now. Today, there are pontoon boat models that are specially designed for saltwater conditions. So if you’re an angler or a beach goer that just loves the sun and the salt, here are the 8 best saltwater pontoon boats for your money’s worth.
Our Top 8 Pontoon Boats for Saltwater Conditions
A few years back, boat owners would have to modify their pontoon boats to be able to safely tread salt water. But after manufacturers picked up on the gap, they quickly jumped on the opportunity to cater to these sea-loving pontoon boat enthusiasts.
These days, saltwater pontoon boats grace the polished floors of pontoon boat showrooms everywhere, and you’d be surprised at just how extensive the selection can be.
1. Beachcat 26’ Saltwater Pontoon
Let’s start with one of the big boys, shall we? The Beachcat 26’ Saltwater Pontoon is one of the biggest saltwater picks out there, touting a spacious interior that accommodates up to 15 passengers. Brandishing a maximum horsepower of 300, this powerful pontoon can effortlessly glide through mild to moderately choppy waters that might be more common in saltwater conditions.
Other than its sheer size and power, the Beachcat 26’ also touts carefully designed interiors that max out comfort and convenience. One of its main features is a fully functional bathroom, complete with a toilet, running water, a shower, and a sink. In the seating area, the boat features a removable and spacious UV resistant table that provides lots of room for meals and more.
- Length overall - 25’11”
- Weight - 3,250lbs
- Capacity - 13-15 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - $70,000 to $90,000
2. Fiesta 12’ Sundeck
Maybe you were looking for something a little less extensive in size, and a little more efficient for fishing with a buddy or two. The Fiesta 12’ Sundeck might be for you. This relatively compact pontoon boat is the smallest from Fiesta’s saltwater line, and uses their signature No Wood, No Rot construction to make it more efficient for treading harsh saltwater conditions.
Out of the dealership, these boats come with mold and mildew resistant seating, a Sunbrella bimini top, fiberglass and gelcoat non-skid deck surfaces, USCG approved navigational lighting, anonized fencing and deck trim, and heavy duty cleats on all sides. Optional features include a porta-potty installation, Bluetooth stereo, and interior lighting for added pizazz.
- Length overall - 12’6”
- Weight - 1100lbs
- Capacity - 4 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - $25,000 to $35,000
3. Bennington SX20 Quad Bench
If there was a pontoon manufacturer that’s synonymous with quality, it would have to be Bennington. These guys are one of the leaders in pontoon boat manufacturing, and boast a long list of pontoon boat models for all occasions and preferences. They mainly offer freshwater pontoon boats, but have a few zinc-anode equipped choices like the SX20.
Measuring 22 feet, this premier boat comes in a wide range of layouts and floorplans to match your specific taste and needs. If there’s anything that really makes the Bennington saltwater boat a solid choice, it’s the fact that it incorporates highly resistant interiors that work to retard degradation caused by saltwater conditions.
- Length overall - 22’
- Weight - 2064 lbs
- Capacity - 8-10 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - Starts at $34,818
4. Cypress Cay Seabreeze 252
Capable of handling up to 200hp, this pontoon boat from Cypress Cay features an extensive length that competes closely with the Beachcat 26’. The boat was designed with families in mind, offering features and options that make it the perfect watercraft for watersports and all sorts of high energy sea activities.
Its spacious interiors boast high-quality marine-grade furniture that works to resist the damages associated with saltwater exposure. But more than that, this intuitive choice touts a comfortable captain’s chair and console that makes it a dream to steer and maneuver over the often choppy, churning conditions of the sea.
- Length overall - 25’9”
- Weight - 3035 lbs
- Capacity - 14-15 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - Starts at $72,500
5. Sylvan M5 CRS DC
Okay, so maybe you were looking for something a little more sophisticated. Well, the Sylvan M5 CRS DC is way sophisticated with its beautiful, intuitive, and cutting edge design that just puts those old backwater pontoon boats to shame. This futuristic choice features an extended platform, a starboard galley with a freshwater sink, and ergonomic seat placement to maximize floor area and improve comfort.
The powerful 350hp boat brandishes a tri-toon structure that allows much better stability in often unpredictable saltwater conditions. And while it slices through the waves with excellent efficiency, it also boasts unrivalled style with its crisp colorways and luxurious interiors that just ooze with sophistication and class.
- Length overall - 27’8”
- Weight - 4350lbs
- Capacity - 14 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - Starts at $92,000
6. Premier 230 Sunspree RF Tritoon
Well, they’re not called Premier Pontoons for nothing. This premier choice was built for families, but comes equipped with a range of features that could make any boat enthusiast drool. Its deck stretches to a length of 23’4”, and over that space, the boat boasts not one, not two, not three, but four full sized lounges that max out comfort and capacity.
The boat brandishes a double captain chair layout that lets you navigate and control your boat with your first mate right by your side. It also comes with a tri-toon structure that allows for greater stability and maneuverability over rough sea water. Perfect for large families, the Premier 230 comes straight out of the dealership with a few basic fishing instruments like a fish finder, so it makes a good choice for sea-water anglers.
- Length overall - 23’4”
- Weight - 2900lbs
- Capacity - 14 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - Starts at $88,995
7. Fiesta 22 Family Fisher
You know what they say -- the family that fishes together, stays together. Or something like that. The Fiesta 22 Family Fisher proves to be the perfect boat for a family of anglers, giving you all of the instruments and accessories you might need in order to enjoy a calm day of fishing a few meters offshore from your favorite beach.
Now, what exactly makes it so fishing friendly? Well, straight out of the showroom, this particular saltwater pontoon boat comes equipped with a livewell, rod holders, and a full body spray shield to protect against the elements. The boats are also highly customizable, allowing boat owners to select various add ons to make the fishing experience just that much more comfortable.
- Length overall - 22’6”
- Weight - 2000lbs
- Capacity - 14 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - Starts at $46,700
8. Crest Caribbean LX 230 CP3
Another excellent pontoon boat manufacturer would have to be Crest. These guys develop and sell some of the most polished pontoon boats, offering features that take every need and desire into consideration. Their 230 CP3 is perhaps offers the best value for money, delivering the perfect marriage of comfort and convenience for beach trips with the family.
The boat’s beautiful interiors mirror the aesthetics of a five-star hotel, blending together stylishly muted colors for minimalist comfort. It comes with backlit Bluetooth speakers, tons of on-board storage, and utility features like mobile phone charging ports and even dog-feeding stations. In terms of power, this capable boat touts 300hp that’s more than enough for all sorts of watersports and high speed cruising.
- Length overall - 24’6”
- Weight - 3719lbs
- Capacity - 13 persons
- Recommended Retail Price - ~$119,000
What to Consider When Choosing a Saltwater Pontoon
For the record - any pontoon boat that’s designed for saltwater use will probably perform just fine in those conditions. But even then, there are specific boater preferences that could affect the satisfaction you get out of each model that’s available. So it helps to consider a few factors before you shell out your hard earned cash on a major purchase like a new pontoon.
No, saltwater conditions are nothing like freshwater. Sea water is a lot more corrosive and works more aggressively to degrade the different materials that make up your boat. So the moment you take it out into the waves, you start the process of degradation. That’s why it’s important to choose a boat that’s built for those harsh conditions.
For instance, Fiesta’s range of saltwater pontoon boats use their No Wood, No Rot construction that guarantees absolutely zero wood components. This allows their boats to resist damage by way of fiberglass and composite construction that’s more capable of preventing degradation.
Saltwater pontoon boats by design require much more maintenance simply because of the more demanding conditions they’re used in. So unlike freshwater pontoon boats that can easily go for extended periods of time on the water without too much of a fuss, saltwater pontoon boats are a different story.
For that reason, it’s ideal to find a boat that comes in a protective coat of some sort of protection. Again, Fiesta’s Family Fisher comes with a full-body spray shield that lasts for months to keep your boat well protected against sun and saltwater damage. This won’t only protect against common issues like discoloration and cracks, but should also limit the need for constant wash downs.
Even if they’re designed for saltwater conditions, it’s not ideal to keep a boat floating on the sea for too long. That’s why you have to consider dry docking your boat every so often to prevent the material from deteriorating due to extended exposure to the elements. And you can’t really consider storage without taking a look at size.
Although a boat that measures over 22 feet might be great for accommodating extended family and friends, they can be tough to store in a garage. You also have to take into account the trailer size necessary to tow a boat that big.
The open sea is anything but calm. Even on sunny days, waves can get pretty high, so it’s important to think about stability. In general, pontoon boats are far less prone to capsizing and to being overcome by waves because they sit much higher on the surface of the water compared to most other kinds of boats. But that doesn’t mean they’re entirely immune to such occurrences.
The best way to guarantee stability would be to choose a boat that’s got three tubes. Don’t get this wrong - a two-tube pontoon boat is plenty stable for relatively sunny weather. But if you’re planning to go slightly farther away from shore and you want to really ensure safety, you can’t go wrong with a tritoon.
The sun out on the sea proves to be harsher not only on your boat, but on your passengers as well. Extreme sunburn and irritation are common when sailing out on the sea, so it helps to find a boat that protects you against the elements. Most saltwater pontoons come out of the dealership with a bimini top installed, so that can help keep your passengers shielded.
Aside from that, it would help to find a boat that uses UV resistant upholstery. Anything else might easily deteriorate, discolor, and crack over time. Look for marine-grade UV resistant vinyl upholstery so your boat seats can resist the damage caused by sun exposure on the sea.
It takes a lot more power to safely and efficiently tread over choppy sea water. Generally speaking, sea water will always be relatively rough and churning even when you’re close to shore. And an engine that doesn’t have enough power to push the weight and size of your boat over those conditions might be easily overworked and damaged.
Of course, horsepower will still depend on the size of your boat. But for the most part, you’ll want to look for boats with at least 150hp to efficiently make your way through the water. If you’re interested in sports like water skiing, you can opt for a boat with between 200 to 300 hp.
Out to Sea
Sure, pontoon boats weren’t originally designed for the sea. But times are changing. While you could buy a pontoon boat and just customize it for the sea, there are manufacturers out there that sell boats specifically designed for those salty conditions. So if you were on the prowl for the best saltwater pontoon boats, consider these 8 vetted choices and find the perfect watercraft for your fishing and family fun adventures.