If a deck boat is the ideal type of boat for you and your family - and your budget has some room in it, you’re doubtlessly wondering which are the five best deck boats of 2021, right? Perhaps you're asking yourself, "what model deck boat should I choose and why does it stand out from the crowd?" Never fear folks, we’re here to help!

Below we’ve sorted through the 2021 marketplace and come up with these top five picks for ideal family-friendly boats that are worthy of your consideration when buying a boat.

1. 2021 Bayliner Element M15

Bayliner Element M15 Bowrider Boat

Above: 2021 Bayliner Element M15 Deck Boat. Photo by Bayliner Boats.

It’s fitting to start off our list with the M15 because it’s the least expensive new deck boat - not only in this roundup, but perhaps in the entire marketplace. With a sticker price starting at a mere $13,999 (or about $125 a month) the M15 is eminently affordable by virtually anyone, especially when you consider the myriad of boat financing companies and various types of boat loan options available today.

That price tag gets you the entire 15’2” long, 6’7” wide boat with a 40-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard and it also includes a single-axle trailer with a swing-away tongue. That's a lot of equipment for the price. The complete package requires just 17’5” by 7’7” to store and weighs under 2,000 pounds, so this is a garage-ready boat-motor-trailer rig that you can keep right at home and easily trailer with the smallest of tow vehicles. And even if you load this boat up with all the optional features available, you’ll find it just about impossible to break the $20K mark.

Aside from the easy affordability, the M15 is unlike the average deckboat in that it rides on Bayliner’s M-Hull hull design. This has a V-shape in the middle with secondary Vs to either side (thus viewed head-on or from the rear, has an appearance like the outline of the letter M). Its highlight feature is that it provides tremendous stability both at rest and while running. Like most deck boats the interior design maximizes seating, and there’s room for five aboard with a cushioned bow compartment, seating in front of the starboard-side helm, seating down the port side, and seating along the transom. It also has a swim platform that’s larger than expected on a boat of this size, with a swing-down telescopic boarding ladder and curves molded into the back of the transom for comfort while sitting down and facing aft.

If you don’t need a large boat and you don’t want to break the bank, you’ll have a tough time finding a competitor that can match up with the M15.

See Bayliner Element M15 boats for sale on boats.com right now.

Visit Bayliner Boats for more information.

2. 2021 Crownline E 305 XS

2021 Crownline E 305 XS

Above: 2021 Crownline E 305 XS Bowrider Deck Boat. Photo by Crownline.

At the diametric opposite end of the deck boat spectrum from the M15 sits the big and bodacious Crownline E 305 XS. This is a monster of a deck boat, with an LOA stretching the tape to 30’1”, a beam of 9’2”, and the ability to carry up to 700 horsepower on the transom. It also comes with big-ticket perks like joystick steering, an anchor windlass, and a Wet Sounds stereo system with 10 speakers.

Beyond sheer size the E 305 X sets itself apart from the crowded field of deck boats with a level of luxury that’s off the charts. It has goodies like a drawer refrigerator, a freshwater shower, snap-in woven cockpit mats, an enclosed head compartment with sink and vanity, and an aluminum hard top with a pull-out SureShade canvass extension. But beyond that, merely sitting in the seats is a luxury experience. In the bow cockpit each side is designed to serve as a full-length chaise lounge with headrests and fold-down arm rests, and the transom seats have flip-back backrests that can face forward, face aft, or convert into a huge tanning pad. If you’re in the market for a deck boat that feels like a yacht, this one will be a top contender.

See Crownline E 305 XS boats for sale now on boats.com.

Visit Crownline Boats for more information.

3. 2021 Hurricane Sundeck 187

2021 Hurricane Sundeck 187 IO

Above: 2021 Hurricane Sundeck 187 IO deck boat. Photo by Hurricane Boats.

Hurricane is known for building deck boats, and with one glance at the 187 you’ll realize that years of experience have been poured into this model’s design. You’ll also notice that the option carrying an “IO” demarcation means it’s available with a stern-drive. While some deckboat builders have shifted to outboard-powered lineups, Hurricane keeps your outdrive options open by offering both the 187 IO and the 187 OB (outboard version). And while modern outboard deck boats have plenty of great advantages to rave about, the 187 IO has something that none of them can match: A full-beam swim platform with no big powerplant invading its space. Added bonus: it also means you get a big fold-out sunpad across the transom, sitting atop the engine box.

Other highlights of the 187 models include wrap-around seating in both the bow and stern, a chaise lounge with stowage compartment behind the passenger’s console, and a bow swim platform with a telescopic ladder that makes getting on and off the boat a piece of cake when you beach it. Anglers will also appreciate the fact that you can add a fishing package (with fishing seats, rod stowage, and trolling motor pre-wiring) and/or a fishfinder, for those times when you and the kids would rather cast a line than lounge around or pull tow-toys.

See Hurricane Sundeck 187 boats for sale now on boats.com.

Visit Hurricane Boats for more information.

4. 2021 Sea Ray SDX 250

2021 Sea Ray SDX 250

Above: 2021 Sea Ray SDX 250 deck boat. Photo by Sea Ray.

A couple of years ago Sea Ray expanded their SDX deck boat lineup by adding the SDX 250, and for the 2021 model year this offering represents a great option for families who want a mid-size deck boat with high-end fit, finish, and features. This is another model offered with either outboard or stern drive power, and in either case can attain speeds into the mid- to upper-40s.

There’s plenty to banter about regarding the SDX 250’s creature comforts, ranging from the huge flip-back aft seat/lounger/sunpad to the unusual port-side walkthrough bow cockpit. But in truth, what really makes this boat unique is Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride. Quiet Ride incorporates a number of measures to reduce vibrations and sound levels aboard the boat, to enhance the passenger’s experience. Doors and hatches have compression latches to eliminate rattles, acoustic insulation is added to dampen sound levels, and gaps or angles that whistle in the wind are eliminated. Perhaps most impressive, fabrics which absorb vibration and convert the energy into heat are added to the hull laminate. The net result in your experience on the water is akin to the difference between driving down the highway in a 70s vintage station wagon, versus a modern sedan.

See Sea Ray SDX 250 boats for sale on boats.com today.

Visit Sea Ray Boats for more information.

5. Starcraft SCX 231 Surf

Starcraft SCX 231 Surf

Above: Starcraft SCX 231 Surf deck boat. Photo by Starcraft Marine.

Watersports lovers will be drawn to a deck boat like the Starcraft SCX 231 Surf, which comes ready for serious action right out of the box. This model comes with a 1,385-pound ballast system and surf tabs so you can throw monster wakes for surfing, and a Volvo Penta Forward Drive that locates the propeller well forward of the boat’s transom. You can also upgrade its sporting attitude with an optional wake tower, wakeboard racks, tower speakers, and touchscreen control at the helm with programmable surf modes.

The SCX 231 Surf is also unusual in its interior layout, which incorporates a single console for the helm on the starboard side and remains wide-open elsewhere. This maximizes seating and maintains a feeling of extra space throughout the boat. The back deck is spacious as well, with a wide swim platform below an aft-facing lounger; adding the extended swim platform gets you a third level to relax on and also makes it easier to re-board after a long workout surfing.

See Starcraft 231 SCX Surf boats for sale on boats.com today.

Visit Starcraft Marine for more information.

Which of these five best deck boats for 2021 will be ideal for you? That’s a call we can’t make. And we’ll be the first to note that there are plenty of other options on the market that may well be an even better fit your wants and needs. But if you’re looking for a new deck boat this year, one or more of these top five picks surely belong in the running.

View all deck boats for sale on boats.com today.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.