10 Types Of Jet Skis: What To Buy

Many people new to jet skis are often surprised to find out that there are multiple types and categories on the market.

PWCs do more and have features that most don’t realize, from the simple to the more interesting ones like BRAKES and tow sport accessories.

In this post, I want to go over the many types of jet skis and even future jet skis types.


Let’s list off the types of jet skis and then go into each one in their own section below.

  1. Rec-Lite
  2. Free-Style
  3. Recreation
  4. Tow Sport
  5. Performance
  6. Sport Fishing
  7. Luxury
  8. Adventure
  9. Stand-up
  10. Electric

As you can see, there are quite many different options for jet skis. While they all may seem similar, there are numerous things you need to consider when buying a jet ski.

Let me go over each type, so you can find the type that fits your needs.

1. Rec-Lite

The Rec-Lite category of watercraft came around 2014 when Sea-Doo released the Spark.

From 2002, skis were, and still are, getting bigger and bigger. The fun and nimble watercraft of the 90s were fading away, and so were many customers. So Sea-Doo brought it back, along with an unheard of price of $4,999, before the Spark, the cheapest skis of the time were almost double that, the Sea-Doo Spark was a huge hit! Not only that, but Sea-Doo had 5 color options at the time, which is not common for one type.

Yamaha soon followed in 2017 with the EX models, and a whole new category of waverunner was created. I cover both the Spark and EX here.

The Rec-Lite type of watercraft was so popular that it spun off another category called “Free-Style” that I cover next.

2. Free-Style

The Free-Style type of watercraft is a spin-off from the Rec-Lite due to the popularity of the Spark and EX.

People loved the fact the Spark and EX were so nimble, so much so that Sea-Doo and Yamaha both made a model that was even more playful.

Sea-Doo started with the TRIXX, which elongated the VTS (trim) and gave you a foot rest to support you when you “wheelie” the watercraft.

Yamaha quickly followed with the EXR and then later JetBlaster. I compare the Trixx and JetBlaster here.

You may notice a trend, Sea-Doo does something, then Yamaha soon after. I covered this in my post about Sea-Doo and Yamaha reliability.

3. Recreation

The Recreation category of watercraft is a step-up in comfort, features, and stability compared to the Rec-Lite and Free-Style.

The Recreation of watercraft used to be the bottom, the cheapest and most basic until the Spark came around. The Sparks and EX are great machines, but I don’t consider them to be the best PWCs for beginners, and instead often push people to the Recreation category of watercraft.

Perks Of Recreational

  1. Just right for a family, not too much power, but not lacking.
  2. 110 to 180 HP engine options, overkill for most pull sports.
  3. Lots of storage, sometimes more than the more expensive options.
  4. Brakes and reverse are on most models. Brakes and reverse are not on every Rec-Lite model.
  5. Simpler, while they lack some tech they make up for, reliability.
  6. The category rental companies use because this type of watercraft tends to be the most reliable.

I find the Recreational watercraft to be the “Goldie Locks” of most watercraft. They’re just right, and if you’re not sure where to start, I would start with them.

Recreational Watercraft

Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki all have a model in the Recreational category.

  1. Sea-Doo GTI
  2. Yamaha VX
  3. Kawasaki STX-160

4. Tow Sport

Tow Sport watercraft are unique in the features they give you from the factory that are geared towards pull sports.

Pull sports are tubing, wakeboarding, skiing and more.

All jetskis can pull a tube or wakeboards, but the Tow Sport types have more things like SKI-Mode and a SKI-Pylon that makes it easier. Check out these features below.

It’s mostly Sea-Doo in the Tow Sport category, with the WAKE and WAKE Pro. Yamaha has Limited models that include a towable tube, rope, and other towing accessories. The Yamaha models don’t have a SKI-Mode, but do have a cruise control that is very similar.

Perks Of Tow-Sports

  1. Made for pull sports.
  2. SKI-Mode.
  3. Pylons and tow points.
  4. Bold colors.
  5. Best value if you want the most features.
  6. Wakeboard holders on some models.
  7. General tow sport accessories.

The biggest downside of any watercaft in the Tow-Sport category is that it’s not a replacement for a Wake boat. A PWC will never have enough weight for a bigger wake. Sea-Doo tried to have ballast tanks in 2008, but even then, it still was not enough weight.

5. Performance

The Performance type of watercraft has to be the oldest, they’ve always been a fast “sport bike” of the water.

What is different these days is that Performance watercraft are stupid powerful. We’re talking 300 HP in something that weighs under 800 pounds.

Sea-Doos were getting so fast that the main 3 manufacturers agreed to cap them around 70 MPH. So, it’s now been about who can get to 70 MPH the fastest. We’re reaching zero to sixties that are often only found in super cars, but jet skis are a fraction of the price.

Perks Of Performance Jet Skis

  1. The fastest and quickest jet skis you can buy.
  2. The models racers use.
  3. Has the most modification options, like RIVA.
  4. Still has many of the features the other models have.

The performance jet skis are made to move, and are not made for everyone. For example, the RXP-X is small and made for racing. The hull doesn’t like to go slow and will get mad around 30 MPH, so it’s not ideal pull sports as it can’t find its line. Many new owners make this mistake, thinking they need or want the most powerful model and then use it for mundane tasks like tow sports to only find out it’s not as stable compared to other models. These watercraft want to go at top speed all the time.

Also, the Performance models need the most maintenances, as most have superchargers. Not only that, but they also use the most gas.

These things are so fast and nimble that I don’t suggest new riders get on them. Even if you have ridden dirt bikes and motorcycles all your life, it’s different.

Performance Watercraft

  1. Sea-Doo RXP-X 325
  2. Sea-Doo RXT-X 325
  3. Yamaha GP1800R HO
  4. Yamaha GP1800R SVHO
  5. Kawasaki Ultra 310X

6. Sport Fishing

Yes, they make watercraft that are geared towards fishing, and the segment is growing very fast.

It started with Sea-Doo, once again, with the FISH PRO, and it’s cooler, fish finder and rod holders. Today, Sea-Doo is flexing with the FISH PRO Trophy, this thing is nuts!

Yamaha has accessories you can add to make your FX into a fishing PWC, but they don’t have anything like what Sea-Doo has going on.

There are plenty of features for each model of Fish Pro:

Fish Pro Scout Features

  • iDF – To unclog debris that gets stuck in the pump.
  • Ergolock fishing seat.
  • 130HP.
  • 3 Fishing rod holders.
  • 6 inch Garmin GPS and fish finder.
  • 13.5 Gallon LinQ cooler.
  • Trolling Mode.
  • Front storage lid organizer.
  • 2 LinQ front supports.
  • Cupholder.

Fish Pro Sport Features

  • 170HP.
  • Bigger, more stable body.
  • iDF.
  • Extended rear platform with more LinQ attachments.
  • 6 inch Garmin GPS and fish finder.
  • 13.5 Gallon LinQ cooler.
  • Trolling Mode.
  • 5 fishing rod holders.
  • Angled gunwale footrests.
  • Bin organizer.
  • Has the direct-access front storage like the GTX and RXT models.
  • An option to add a sound system, but does not come with it.
  • Cupholder.
  • A more bench-style fishing seat.
  • Fiberglass hull.
  • USB Port.
  • Tilt Steering.

Fish Pro Trophy Features

  • Everything you get in the Fish Pro Sport plus…
  • Modular swivel seat.
  • Advanced battery system (2 batteries and a more powerful generator).
  • Live well.
  • Upgraded to the 7-inch touchscreen Garmin GPS and fish finder.
  • Anchoring system.
  • An option to upgrade to the Tech Package, which gives you a full-color 7.8 dual-screen and sound system.

Learn more about the Fish Pro here.

7. Luxury

The Luxury category of watercraft tends to have all the features and often the biggest engine that the manufacturer makes.

If you want it all, and all the power, with tons of comfort, the Luxury models are for you.

To give you a taste of the Luxury models, watch the videos below to understand how you’re getting a lot with these models.

Luxury Watercraft

The top of the line luxury watercraft are as follows.

  1. Sea-Doo GTX line-up, including the Limited 300 model.
  2. Yamaha FX line-up, including their Limited SVHO model.
  3. Kawasaki Ultra-LX.

8. Adventure

The Adventure category of watercraft is the newest one, with Sea-Doo releasing the Explorer Pro.

You’re seeing more and more PWC owners explore and go places on jet skis that many boats won’t go. This new category of watercraft is opening up the sport to new adventures that people never think of, it keeps jet skis from getting boring, that is for sure.

9. Stand-up

Stand up jet skis is what many think of when it comes to jet skis, but the truth is that it’s a dying breed.

Sure, there is a market, but it’s small, and mostly racers or people who love stand-ups.

Jet skis have been going away from small, nimble, and playful to large and fun for the whole family.

It’s only Yamaha and Kawasaki that have standup models.

For most, a stand-up jet ski is not the ideal jet ski, for more information, I compare the two in this post.

Even the stand-up jet skis of today are a shadow of their former selves because they had to move to 4-strokes. A 4-stroke engine is bigger and thus makes the stand-ups bigger and less playful.

10. Electric

Electric watercraft are not here yet, but they soon will be.

I’ve covered electric jet skis here, and think they have their place in the market.

With electric jet skis will come many new types and categories, we even have Sea-Doo pushing out an electric hydrofoil.

What has me the most certain that electric jet skis will be here soon, besides the push from electric cars, is that Sea-Doo already has the working prototype e-GTI and had it for years.

You can read more about the electric Sea-Doo here.

The biggest problem with electric jet skis is the run time, but it’s fine if you keep your jet ski on the lake and charge on your dock. We have several electric jet ski brands coming into the market too, so it’s only a matter of time that all the big names in the PWC world move to electric.

It’s not the first time such a move happened, jet skis used to be 2-stroke and slowly transferred to 4-strokes starting around 2002. The next transition is happening, slowly, but it’s happening.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

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