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Must-Have Water Toys for Kids and Adults on Boats

Whether cruising to a distant island on a large yacht or meandering down a lazy river on a pontoon boat, having a stockpile of water toys aboard will expand your boating playground beyond the deck of your vessel and entertain the kids of all ages on your boat. Water toys also provide a stellar way to explore your destinations, generate thrills, and make the most of every trip. 

If you need help deciding what toys you should get, we’ve got some suggestions, starting off with a good set of snorkeling masks and fins, as well as comfortable lifejackets for all aboard. That way everyone is ready for the water and, as the captain, you’re looking after them, too. 

What else might you take along? Here are several water toys for boats worth adding to your collection, depending on your crew’s interests and the size of your boat.

 

 

Towable Tubes

Is a boating excursion ever complete without some spontaneous tubing? Tubes are the quintessential water toy, especially if you have a power boat that can reach exciting speeds. You'll typically see boats pulling towable tubes around lakes and rivers, giving youthful riders the thrill of a lifetime.

If you and your boat more often run on the ocean, across bays, and in harbors, don't worry—there are still plenty of good times for tubing. It might be after a refreshing morning dip with a cup of coffee, while trailing off the stern, or on a hot afternoon with the kids, towing in slow motion.

The beauty of tubing is that you can use these toys the way you want. If the kids are ready for it, you can pull your family faster and even give the most adventurous some killer airtime.

Tube designs and sizes vary and can hold single or multiple riders. Layouts include “flat deck,” “wing,” “donut” and “chariot” style. The best of these come with strongly reinforced tow points, padded grab handles, and durable fabrics.

 

Towable tube

 

Hydrofoils

Hydrofoils are like a physics experiment gone right. Hydrofoil bikes and boards were hard to get your hands on a few years ago. But today, they're a cool toy that many boaters would love to try.

The concept is simple. As the bike or board begins to move, the underwater wings deflect the water flow downward, generating a lifting, upward force. Using a manual hydrofoil board can be a good workout; the newer electric models are available, too. Brands like Delta Hydrofoils, Lift Foils, and Fliteboard make toys that entertain adults and kids for hours on the water.

 

Underwater Scooters

Get your hands on the best underwater scooter money can buy, and you can explore the depths to your heart's content. When most people think of water toys, they picture devices that skim along the surface. Underwater scooters give you a brand-new way to enjoy the water.

Scooters come in numerous shapes and designs. However, most are hand-held and relatively portable. Once they're in their element, propulsion systems will move you along with both speed and maneuverability. Fins keep you stable, but you have plenty of freedom to follow whatever course you like. Compare scooters for battery life, speed, and safety features, as well as price.

 

Underwater scooter

 

Tankless Diving System

Snorkeling is a boating mainstay because seeing aquatic life below the surface is fun and a chance to learn. But going deeper can be super exciting. If your crew aren’t SCUBA certified, consider investing in a tankless diving system. Also known as "hookah diving," this unique activity lets you explore without cumbersome air compression tanks weighing you down.

Powered by gas or electric engine, a dedicated air compressor floats on the surface, following you as you swim, delivering air via a hose and mouth regulator. Depending on your chosen system, you can dive as deep as 40 feet and spend up to an hour breathing comfortably. Some models with multiple hoses even let you descend with others.

Either way, tankless diving systems are a unique water toy everyone on your boat will want to try—and for those who don’t regularly pull their boat out on a trailer, these systems come in handy when you’re ready to clean your boat’s bottom.

 

Water Skis and Wakeboards

Designed for smooth gliding across the water’s surface,, both water skiis and wakeboards provide hours of weekend fun. The main difference between the two sports is that wakeboarding requires a board on which you stand with both feet, while water skiing usually requires two skis, one for each foot.

There are many choices in buying a used boat for waterskiing, but for wakeboarding, a fast motorboat with an inboard engine is the norm as they are safer and create a better and even customizable wake.  As captain of your boat, you’ll need some practice maneuvering a boat for water skiers and wakeboarders, and will need to adjust it to their skill level – so there is plenty of fun to be had in learning new skills, whether you’re on the boat or in the water.  

 

Paddleboards

Paddleboards are a hot item these days, building core strength and offering zen-like vibes and relaxation, all of which make them hugely popular the world over. While rigid paddleboards can be space consuming, the latest inflatable boards can easily be tucked into the smallest of boats. And it doesn’t matter what kind of boat you have, making them ideal for everything from RIBS to sailing yachts. Simply inflate and off you go, exploring quiet coves, gentle bays and uncrowded coastlines. For many, these are among the best boating toys on the market. 

 

PWCs (Jet Skis)

If you're a thrill-seeker with a larger yacht, bringing along a PWC (personal watercraft), often called a Jet Ski, is a no-brainer. Built for one rider or two, think of a PWC as a personal cruiser. Jet Ski is a brand made by Kawasaki, with competitors made by Yamaha, Bombardier, and Honda.

These toys work well in most boating environments, offering range and excitement to explore your watery surroundings, sometimes at speeds as high as 70mph. Designed for one or two riders, PWCs allow you to conquer choppy waters, race your friends, or take your kid as a passenge  so you can cut across and through the waves together.

For several decades, PWCs have been gas-powered, with a waterjet propulsion system. Recently, all-electric-powered systems have been developed that you should consider. Keep in mind the hauling and storage requirements for your boat.

 

Jet ski

 

Jet Boards

Want the excitement of a Jet Ski in a more compact package? Jet boards may be the way for you to go. Either powered by gas engines or 11kW (15hp) electric engineers with jet-pump or propeller drives, these compact carbon-fiber toys let you zip through calm waters without the power of a wave that a surfboard usually needs.

They're fast, can carve sharp turns, and even catch some air, providing for a great afternoon of fun once you reach your destination. Be warned: Mastering a jet board can be challenging for some! Imagine having a propulsion system strapped to your surfboard. It may take some time to get into the swing of things. But trust us, the work you put in will be well worth it in the end.

 

Windsurfers and kite surfers

These high adrenaline, wind-powered sports need little introduction and have been entertaining boaters for years. While a windsurf board and sail will take up substantial room on your boat, a kite board and sail are a more compact option if space is at a premium. There is a learning curve, but that’s what makes the challenge such a thrill. Start off slow, take some lessons to ensure you stay safe, and you’ll be a pro in no time at all.

 

Kayaks

Inflatable, ocean-going kayaks are far more than kids beach boating toys, and provide for hours of fun coastal explorations. Sturdy, well-built and tough, these kayaks fit into any space on board and can be easily inflated with a simple foot pump in a few minutes. Some even come equipped with a small sail, allowing you to take a break from paddling and drift along the breeze. 

One-, two-, or three-seater models are available meaning the whole family can enjoy paddling along rocky coasts, or ride on one as a nifty way to get to shore instead of using a motorized tender. If you’ve got room on board for a rigid kayak you can opt for a glass-bottomed model, perfect for tropical locations with great visibility. 

 

Flyboards

Everyone's seen these crazy contraptions on YouTube or at popular beach destinations and vacation hubs. But did you know that you could buy your own? Flyboards have many names, but the concept is all the same—hydroflying! The board takes the water output from a PWC and blasts it through a series of nozzles to create a water-propulsion system.

Strap into the board, and you can fly over 70 feet in the air! If you've ever watched a seasoned flyboarding enthusiast show off, you know the sky's the limit for tricks and stunts. Propel under the water, do flips, and create a spectacle.

 

Flyboard

 

Personal Subs

Believe it or not, you can buy your own personal-sized submarine. Of course, submarines are costly, but relatively speaking they are only a minor add-on for the small superyacht you’ll buy to carry it around. If you're lucky enough to own one of those ships, consider a submarine for your ultimate water toy. Personal submersibles can launch from yacht tender garages, typically using a small crane, and they can dive several hundred meters.

Great for exploring coral reefs and underwater shipwrecks with two or more passengers aboard, these toys have everything you need to enjoy the underwater view in luxury. While a submarine, or some of the other water toys we’ve described may seem a little bit crazy, have some fun thinking about what you can take along to enrich your experience on the water. And at a minimum, don’t forget the snorkels, masks, and fins! 

 

Written By: Toi Williams

Toi grew up in coastal New England, Her parents had a second home on Newfound Lake, in New Hampshire. Because of this, Toi was able to enjoy boating at sea as well as in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Today, she regularly wakeboards and waterskis on her Malibu wake surfing boat. She also sailed at sea in Maine, and taken many trips to the Isles of Shoals.

More from: Toi Williams


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