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How Many People Can Ride a Jet Ski – Legally and Comfortably?

The standard jet ski seating capacity is 3 people. There do exist watercraft that can fit 1, 2, or even 4 people.

When it comes to seating capacity I often see people confuse 3 seaters for 2 seaters or 2 seaters for a 1 seater.

There are other confusing aspects of jet ski seating capacity that I’ve noticed people have. Like is it 3 adults or 2 adults and one child? Also, the gear you carry will have a play in how many people can ride on your jet ski. Let me explain.

3 Person Capacity Is The Normal

It’s more common to see a 3 person jet ski than it is for 1, 2, or even 4. Even all the way back to the ’90s, 3 seaters were mostly what sold. And when 4-stroke PWCs came in (2002-ish) 3 seaters were about the only thing you could buy.

The next most common jet ski seating capacity will be 2, but you’ll only find them on REC-LITE watercraft or the musclecraft. To save cost, the REC-LITE watercraft will often have a two-seater option while the musclecraft do it to save weight.

Then you get to the 1 person seating capacity which is only stand up jet skis. I know, ironic to say it has a 1 person “seating” capacity, but you get the idea.

There was a time in the late ’90s to early 2000s that both Sea-Doo and Yamaha had 4-Seaters. These were never that popular mostly due to costing more, weighing more, and needing specialized trailers. If you’re wondering, Sea-Doo called it the LRV or “big LRRRRVVVVVV” as I call it.

But It Looks Like A 2-Seater?!

I would get this all the time…

  • So this is a two-person watercraft?
  • All you have is two-seaters?
  • How am I supposed to fit three people on this?

It’s time to be honest. If you come across a 3 seater watercraft it fits 2 people comfortably, and 3 people are cramped. That third person is more for the pull sports where you need to get them to the spot to pull them. It’s not meant for 3 people to cruise the afternoon away. Unless it’s two adults and their small child, then they could get away with it.

Next time you see jet ski advertisements notice the 3 people on the jet ski are often two adults and a small child and never 3 regular looking dudes.

This gets a little more complicated when you start looking at the more affordable jet skis. When you buy a Luxury or even some Performance models, having 3 people on the PWC is not too crazy. It’s when you get to the Recreation or especially the REC-LITE (The cheapest models) that 3 average size people won’t fit comfortably.

Jet Ski Seating Capacity, The Truth

When talking about Recreation or REC-LITE watercraft, I consider a 3 seater really a 2 seater and a 2 seater is a 1 seater. This is if you want to be comfortable.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a Yamaha, Sea-Doo, or Kawasaki as they all suffer the same seating capacity problem.

The recreation watercraft are your

  • Sea-Doo GTI
  • Sea-Doo GTS
  • Yamaha VX
  • Yamaha VXR
  • Kawasaki STX-15F

Read more about the Recreation Model of Jet Skis as well as the other current year model’s here.

Where the seating capacity gets the most confusing is on the REC-LITE category. This is your Sea-Doo Spark and Yamaha EX models. While yes, you can fit 3 small people on their 3 seaters it’s going to be the tightest out of all watercraft.

I have a 3-UP Sea-Doo Spark. I’m also 240 pounds, and I don’t feel comfortable having another person my size on the craft; It gets a bit tipsy at low speeds. Having someone 150 pounds behind me is no big deal, but add a 3rd person of 150 pounds, and it’s not fun anymore.

3 Person Max – It’s The Law

This is an important one.

If your watercraft is rated for 3 people, you must not go over that. Same goes for 2 seaters and the few “1 seaters”. Many watercraft manufacturers put a sticker on the watercraft to let you know the maximum seating capacity and going over this not only gets you in trouble with the cops but could put people’s lives at risk.

Jet skis are rated for a certain weight. They take the “average” weight of a person and use that to determine how many can sit safely on the jet ski.

This is why it’s crucial to consider gear weight too as it’s apart of the overall weight. Your watercraft will have a label for its maximum weight capacity, and you should not go over that.

I have a post on jet ski weight limit here to give you a better idea.

What If You Want More Seating Capacity?

The highest seating capacity for modern jet skis is going to be 3 people.

You can NOT have 3 people on the PWC and towing 2 other people on a tube at the same time. I repeat, this is a big no-no.

The reason why we have these rules is if someone gets hurt they’ll have room to get back to safety.

The only way to increase seating capacity is to get another jet ski. Since the Sea-Doo Spark came out, this has become a very attractive thing. The Sparks and EX models are priced very affordable, and you find many families opting to get the GTI for mom and dad and the kids getting the EX or Spark.

While getting a new jet ski to be able to bring more people is not always the ideal answer people want to hear, it’s still often cheaper than getting a boat.

Tow Sport Seating Capacity

If your watercraft is rated for 3 people that means…

  • One person driving.
  • One person acting as the spotter.
  • One person on the Tube or Wakeboard.

Some states allow 2 people to be towed only if your PWC has mirrors.

If you go over the max seating capacity you will get fined by the local water police. We have these rules for the “just in case” someone gets hurt they have enough room on the PWC to get back on and to safety.

Please be sure to follow your local laws for jet skis especially the rules they have for seating capacity!

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