How Fast Do Pontoon Boats Go

Pontoon boats can be used for various activities, including fishing, cruising, towing skiers, etc. This makes these boats a fantastic purchase as there is a wide range of usage scenarios rather than only suiting a few areas. Two or three hulls are the most common number of hulls for pontoon boat designs.

Catamarans are boats with two hulls, and trimarans or tritoon boats are those with three hulls. This kind of boat may go on oceans close to the coast and the rivers and lakes where it is frequently employed. Watersports enthusiasts can also use pontoons for wake boarding, waterskiing, and fishing.

Although pontoon boats are not made for fast speeds, more recent models might satisfy your craving for speed. In our guide, you can learn more about how fast does a pontoon boat go and whether is it enough to meet your needs?

By the end, you’ll see typical pontoon boat can reach speeds of around 25 mph based on the type of boat and the gear you have on board. You’ll also see how new boats increase speed through design and engine size. An excellent example of design changes is the Tritoon 150 HP top speed which can still offer a smooth ride. (Read Steelhead Trout Vs Salmon)

Pontoon Boat Speed

What Is A Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a type of leisure boat that stays afloat with the help of pontoons or tubes.

The design of the existing boat was made for fishing, cruising, and sometimes parties.

Pontoon boats have airtight hollow tubes, which are almost impossible to sink.

Most pontoon boats come with two tubes or more, so they float effortlessly. Because of this, even with heavier boats, as they offer more features and better interiors, most boat owners don’t mind.

You’ll find an old pontoon boat slow, yet thanks to changes in technology, many pontoon boats move faster, and also, some pontoon boats turn as tight as fiberglass boats.

Pontoon Boat Speed Chart

There are a lot of reasons why someone might want large engine power. Some need it for the thrill of going fast, pulling kids on a tube, or wakeboarding.

Many individuals are unaware that you don’t need to go top speed when pulling skiers or wakeboarders.

Speeds for these pastimes are around 18-22 mph, and for anyone who likes to slalom, the boat needs to be around 25 and 36 mph.

Miles Per Hour and Engine Size for Pontoon

  • 16ft Bass Buggy: 40hp & 15mph
  • 18ft Bass Buggy: 60hp & 17mph
  • 24ft Sweetwater: 90hp & 18mph
  • 30ft Gigantic: 115hp & 21mph
  • 18ft Party Barge: 75hp & 24mph
  • 23ft Sweetwater 2386: 115hp & 25mph
  • 21ft Tritoon: 90hp & 27mph
  • 24ft Excursion 255RFX: 115hp & 27mph
  • 23ft Manitou 373: 250hp & 45mph

The pontoons you typically see cruising the water have a speed of 17 to 28 miles per hour. Pontoon boats that reach a maximum speed of over 50 mph can be expensive. (Read Red Flag With Diagonal White Stripe)

Pontoon Boats For Water Sports

If you’re buying a new pontoon boat for water sports, you may think speed is critical, yet you don’t need to prioritize higher speeds.

Considering Pontoon Boats For Water Sports

Water Sport Speed

  • Inflatable tubes 5-10 miles per hour for small kids and a
  • Maximum of 25 miles per hour for teens and adults
  • Slalom skiing 22 miles per hour
  • Wakeboarding 13-18 miles per hour
  • Water skiing (two skis) 15-26 miles per hour (An average 115 Hp pontoon boat can cater for this).

The list above will help you determine which pontoon model to acquire based on the water sport you plan to use it for.

Water sports require a 22mph pontoon boat. This speed is average for most pontoon boats, but there are high-performance variants that cost more.

One thing to note is that your pontoon engine size falls under specific regulations. So check restrictions before purchasing a new engine.

Factors Affecting Your Pontoon Boat’s Speed

The sample chart above shows that a pontoon boat’s speed and performance can be affected by its size and horsepower. But besides that, let’s look at some other things.

Boat Load:

As we’ve seen, a boat’s performance and speed are affected by how much they weigh.

You’ll need to know load capacity before buying. Think about your boat’s weight, such as the dry weight with no gas in the fuel tank.

The less fuel, the faster you go, and any speed enthusiast may run with half a gas tank instead of a full gas tank.


You might not reach top speed because of the propellers that came with your pontoon. You can, however, always change these to get more RPM and thus more speed.

The type of prop affects speed, and you’ll need an aftermarket for any particular motor to reach optimal speed on fast pontoon boats.

A stock prop is to make a pontoon boat motor operate in easy conditions.

Algae and Dirt Deposit

If you always leave your pontoon in the water, dirt and algae can grow on it.

Dirty pontoons affect speed when this happens. To avoid this, it’s best not to leave your pontoon on the water for long periods and to wash it down often.


Corrosion can happen to your boat over time, mainly if you use it in salt water. This can affect the boat’s electrical wiring and engine, as well as the boat’s power and speed.

How to Make A Pontoon Boat Faster

If you are not satisfied with your pontoon’s speed, there are ways to improve and make it faster.

Install Lifting Strakes

If you already have a pontoon or are looking for one, get a boat that already has lifting stakes.

If there aren’t any, lifting strakes can always be added. Strakes help pontoons or a tritoon boat float higher from the water surface, making them easier to maneuver and faster. Another benefit of installing lifting stakes is that it will make your vehicle use less gas. (Read What Should You Do If A Pfd Has A Tear In The Outer Fabric)

Trim the Engine

With the help of the hydraulic motor, your engine will tilt up a bit more when you trim it. If you raise the front of your boat above the water’s surface, your speed and performance will improve.

You need to trim your engine when there is a lot of splashing water under the boat and between the tubes.

Dump Your Load

If you want to use your pontoon boat to pull water skiers, lighten the maximum load capacity to make it easier and faster.

When pulling wakeboarders or water skiers, most pontoon boat captains will tell other people on the boat to get off first.

During water sports, most of the time, only the captain and the spotter are left on the boat.

Converting Pontoon to a Tri-Toon Boat

Convert Your Pontoon to a Tri-Toon Boat

Adding a center tube to your pontoon is all you need to do to turn it into a tri-toon. The boat of Tritoon boat has three tubes.

By adding a third tube, the pontoon boat speed will increase by a lot and skim across the water’s surface like a fiberglass boat.

Don’t Run With A Full Tank

Again, weight affects how fast boats go. A medium load can affect a boat’s maximum capacity. If your tank is complete, it can weigh down your pontoon. Fill your tank at least 50% to reduce water drag on your new boat.

While high-speed pontoons are more fun, always drive inside any legal limits. Pontoon boats can be as fast as speed or fiberglass boats with proper upkeep and improvements. However, how fast can a Pontoon boat go depends on your actions and optimizations.

How Fast Is Fast Enough?

The following are good average speeds for several water sports.

  • Tubing with very young kids: 5 to 10 mph.
  • Tubing for kids 8 – 10: No faster than 15 or 20 mph.
  • Tubing with adults: More than 25 mph can be dangerous unless traveling in a straight line. At 20 mph, it’s easy to get good air, but even at this speed, it’s dangerous with more than one rider.
  • A good average speed of 21 mph makes a nice watersports rig a pretty adventurous ride and will easily knock off riders if you turn sharp.
  • Wakeboarding: 13 mph to 18 mph delivers a pretty average ride. Wakeboarding isn’t as fast as other water sports, so it doesn’t need such high speeds.

If you’re new to boating, the average pontoon boat speed might surprise you. You might have thought you needed as much speed as you could get.

One pontoon boat captain reported he increased his average pontoon boat speed by folding his bimini top.

How Fast Do Pontoon Boats Go

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