If you want to take to the waters with some serious power beneath you but you don’t have the space or budget for a full-scaled motor boat or you’re simply looking for something more thrilling, then personal watercraft might be just the thing for you.

These are vehicles that are designed to be operated by one rider, but many of them have additional seats and space for more people.

Here, we’re going to look at the most common types of PWC, what separates them and what you might use each for.

Types of Personal Watercraft

Jet Skis

jet ski

While jet skis are one of the most common names for a particular style of PWC, or water scooter, the truth is that it’s a brand name, referring in particular to a model of Kawasaki.

Jet skis are turned using the handlebars while the rider uses a throttle to control the acceleration. Some, but not all jet skis have a braking system, too. 

Jet skis are primarily used for recreational riding, offering plenty of speed on the water compared to other craft. They can also be used for sports like water skiing.

Sea Doo

This family of personal watercraft comes from Bombardier. There are many types of Sea Doo, just as there are many different types of jet ski. However, the largest personal watercraft currently available is the Sea Doo LRV.

This water scooter is 13-feet long, with much more storage space than the average PWC and the largest fuel tank. It’s built with enough power to pull three water skiers.

Most Sea Doos are of the sit-down variety.


Often used interchangeably with Jet Ski or Sea Doo, Waverunner refers to PWCs manufactured by Yamaha. Just like the Sea Doo and Jet Ski, there are different types designed for one rider and either no, one, or multiple passengers.

However, Waverunner is distinct for being the first sit-down model of PWC.


A sit-down model with a single-seat, these PWCs are designed for speed and performance above all else.

They turn more sharply than larger models and, as such, are less stable and can difficult to board again if you fall off in deep water. 

As such, they require a little more practice to handle effectively and aren’t best suited to newcomers.


These are the most common kind of personal watercraft, offering a nice balance between handling and acceleration. They make for a good option for water scooter beginners.

They have nearly the same performance of a one-seater, but the added weight makes for a more stable ride. 

What’s more, they’re great for having a romantic high-speed cruise or exploring the coast with friends and family.

Three and four-seaters

These models tend to be considerably larger than both one-seaters and two-seaters.

Solo riders can still enjoy a decent speed on them, but they have the versatility to enjoy a slightly slower family cruise, as well as the power and stability to pull water skiers, wakeboarders, banana boats, and the like.


Though sit-down models might be more common today, stand-up water scooters were once the only kind of personal watercraft available.

Many riders still enjoy them today for the unique sensation of skating across the water while standing on your two feet. 

These models have a narrower hull than the other types, which means they require even more practice to master than a sit-down one-seater model.

However, besides being perfect for high-speed riding along the coast, this type of water scooter also allows the most practiced riders to pull off aerial stunts and advanced manoeuvres.

Advanced features

While the majority of personal watercraft once ran on two stroke engines, most modern models have been updated with a cleaner burning four stroke engine, though you can still find older two stroke vehicles around.

More modern features have been added with time, depending on whether or not you have the budget for them.

These features include braking or deceleration systems, electronic reverse features, no-wake modes, cruise control, and theft-prevention systems.

The truth is that even in choosing between types of Jet Ski, Sea Doo, and Waverunner, you have a wide variety of options.

The primary difference is how many people you want riding and what you want to use them for, so bear those two primary factors in mind when making your decision.

That said, from stand-up to four-seater sit-down models, all types have models designed to fit a wide range of budgets. 

From those suited for simple, smooth family fun to high-horsepower performance-driven machines for practiced thrill seekers.