Adding a personal watercraft (PWC) to the equation is one surefire way to turn a regular summer beach trip into a thrilling adventure, one you can’t wait to do all over again. But that’s assuming you got the right model for the job.
Often referred to as jet skis, courtesy of Kawasaki, personal watercrafts are expensive toys selling for thousands of dollars. Shopping for one is not simple, considering the things you need to take into account – including the seating capacity, the engine, the hull design, and the storage capacity, among other important specifications.
We’re going to make things easier for you. With this guide to the best jet skis, you can quickly narrow down your choices. We included different kinds of watercraft in this guide. Some are best suited for racing while others are more ideal for leisure touring. And since not everyone’s willing to pop over $10,000 on a jet ski, we also made sure to include more affordable options.
At just 405 pounds, the Spark is a lightweight PWC capable of seating two or three persons, making it perfect not just for couples and best buddies but also for families. With that weight, the Spark is easy enough for a small car to tow. It’s a sleek and compact jet ski with a relatively easy handle, which translates to a more forgiving learning curve for beginners.
While not exactly the kind of jet ski you’d field for a high-stakes race, the Spark has an impressive, fast-accelerating engine for its price, featuring a Rotax 900 ACE under the hood, with a Rotax 900 HO ACE option. The Spark’s fuel-efficient operation allows for longer sorties, especially when equipped with Sea-Doo’s rear cargo attachment for food and drinks.
Compared to more luxurious models, the Spark has a shorter list of features, but the manufacturer does allow for a customized purchase, with the option to include a waterproof portable audio system, an additional front storage, and a boarding step. For those who want to enjoy a wake jumper but can’t afford the high-end ones, the Spark is the no-brainer pick.
As the model name suggests, the Sea-Doo Spark Trixx is a PWC designed specifically for daredevils and adrenaline junkies. It’s one of the two models under Sea-Doo’s Rec Lite banner, with the regular Spark mentioned above being the other one. On the surface, the Spark Trixx bears a lot of similarities to the Spark, featuring a slim seat for two or three people. It has the same tough and lightweight construction, with a Rotax 900 HO ACE engine for a more fuel-efficient operation.
The Spark Trixx boasts a number of features designed to make pulling off tricks easier and more convenient. It has Sea-Doo’s extended range Variable Trim System (VTS), an adjustable telescopic handlebar for a more personalized handle, and step wedges for more stability during a stand-up riding position. And to top it off, it has Sea-Doo’s exclusive Intelligent Brake and Reverse system for better control and maneuverability.
The Yamaha WaveRunner EX Sport falls in the former category and is in the same mold as the Sea-Doo Spark. And like Sea-Doo’s affordable PWC, this one also sells for less than $10,000, with the price starting at around $7,800. Equipped with Yamaha’s three-cylinder, four-stroke TR-1 marine engine, the EX Sport is a PWC designed to seat up to three persons. It has a tow hook and a boarding step at the rear, the latter of which makes boarding after a quick swim easy.
At 13.2 gallons, the fuel capacity is more than sufficient for casual use, but for long-range touring, it might not be enough. The EX Sport is as sleek and handsome as Yamaha’s motorbikes, featuring a vibrant two-tone coloring and dual mirrors for optimum visibility. Overall, this WaveRunner is as straightforward as it can get, boasting a reliable performance and a great handle with an easy reverse system.
The engine depends on the model. The GTI 90 features a Rotax 900 HO ACE while the GTI 130 comes with a Rotax 1503. Both models feature a closed-loop cooling system, as well as the same fuel capacity at 15.9 gallons. Sea-Doo’s exclusive Intelligent Brake and Reverse system is also onboard for both models, allowing for more stable maneuvering.
What sets the GTI Series apart from most other PWCs in the same price range is the large storage capacity. It has 30 gallons of total storage, allowing you to pack more gear and consumables for extended sorties out in the sun. The GTI Series has an anti-theft security system and includes the option to switch to Eco Mode for even more fuel efficiency. It’s a stylish, feature-rich, three-seater PWC that you can always count on for recreational use.
Of the current Kawasaki watercraft models, one of the very best is the STX-15F, which sells for almost $10,000. It’s a powerful PWC equipped with a four-cylinder, four-stroke engine with an excellent cooling system. It has a well-designed hull, featuring wide-angle dual mirrors, a large storage, and a comfortable seat with a three-person max capacity. It’s got a 16.4-gallon fuel capacity, which means less frequent trips to the gas station.
The STX-15F is an ideal watercraft for beginners, even those who have never touched a motorbike in their lives. It has the Kawasaki Smart Steering system and includes the Smart Learning Operation mode, both of which make the learning curve a lot more forgiving. In all, this fantastic watercraft more than delivers on the promise, combining performance and style in one sweet package for a more exhilarating summer experience.
The VX Limited includes a single-person tube with matching colors, the perfect accessory for adding even more excitement to an already fun afternoon at the beach. When not in use, the tube can be deflated and then stored in the included storage bag. And when needed again, the tube can be quickly inflated by connecting the inflator to the glove box outlet.
Concerning storage, the VX Limited has more than enough storage capacity to carry food and drinks for all three riders. No need to return to the hotel for snacks. Just park at the nearest shore and unpack your consumables. On a related note, the VX Limited includes a matching set of dual bumpers, protecting it from being dented while parked in a crowded space. Powerful and easy enough to handle even for beginners, this WaveRunner is a recommended PWC for families.
The least expensive in the Ultra 310 series, the Ultra 310X has a well-constructed hull, featuring a deep V-shape design for optimum performance in rough waters. It’s got an adjustable handlebar with excellent grips for a more secure control. With the adjustable handlebar, this high-performance PWC can accommodate different riders and riding styles. And like the STX-15F, it has the Kawasaki Smart Steering system and Smart Learning Operation mode for a more forgiving learning curve for newbies.
Other than its 20.6-gallon fuel capacity and cruise control, what makes the Ultra 310X suitable for leisure touring is its fuel economy assistance mode. It’s perfect for beginners who are not yet adept at fuel management. This WaveRunner is also notable for its massive storage, boasting 56 gallons of max storage, allowing you to carry more gear and consumables than usual. That storage capacity is easily one of the largest among the other models included in this guide to the best jet skis.
Marketed as Sea-Doo’s ultimate racing watercraft, the RXP-X 300 packs the powerful Rotax 1630 ACE engine. It’s a supercharged engine that will prove to be a game-changer, featuring an efficient and powerful operation. Like the other Sea-Doo models mentioned above, this one has a closed-loop cooling system.
The RXP-X 300 boasts a deep V-shaped hull for better handling and more precise turns. It has a narrow seat with deep knee pockets for an even more optimized control and features an adjustable telescopic handlebar, which gives different riders the chance to switch to a more personalized driving setup.
Additionally, this Sea-Doo watercraft comes with adjustable rear sponsons, with the option to switch to a setup optimized for sharp turns. Considering all of the above-mentioned racing-specific features, it’s easy to see why the RXP-X 300 is considered one of the best racing watercraft on the market.
Equipped with a four-cylinder, four-stroke Super Vortex High Output (SVHO) Yamaha marine engine, this expensive WaveRunner has a hull made of top-class materials. It has self-draining footwells and a comfortable two-piece seat capable of seating up to three persons. It has a max storage capacity of 44 gallons and a fuel capacity of 18.5 gallons, the latter of which puts the FX Cruiser SVHO in the same neighborhood as the VX Limited.
Unlike most PWCs, this luxurious WaveRunner boasts a touchscreen interface, which features a security mode and an intuitive drive control. This touch-based user interface easily separates this WaveRunner from all the other models on this list. Furthermore, the dash has a multi-mount system, allowing you to mount a portable wireless speaker and a GPS fish finder. Sleek, versatile, and powerful, the FX Cruiser SVHO is the perfect watercraft for those who don’t want to compromise on anything.
The Quadski is equipped with a powerful four-cylinder BMW Motorrad K1300 engine. It can go up to 45 miles per hour on both water and land, which is impressive considering its massive 1,333-pound frame. The hull is designed for optimum performance on both terrains, featuring an excellent suspension system that allows the aforementioned quick transition between land and water modes.
Unlike all the other PWCs included in this guide, the Quadski has room for only one person. But the good news is that Gibbs also offers the Quadski XL, an upsized model capable of seating up to two persons. Regardless of the model you choose, you’ll need to prepare at least $40,000 to get your hands on this two-in-one recreational vehicle.