There’s one word that sums up jet boat runabouts very succinctly: fun. They’re fun to drive, fun to play on, and, well, just a ton of fun to own. Whether you’re into watersports, cove-hopping, or simply love poking around and exploring, there are plenty of jet boats to suit many different types of boaters.
Jet boats use a stream of high-intensity water directed through a nozzle for propulsion, instead of a propeller (which is what moves most boats). The lack of dangerous running gear at the stern is a distinct advantage for folks who wakeboard, waterski, or tow tubes and water toys. But this type of propulsion also provides thrilling acceleration and handling, both of which are very important to that aforementioned fun factor.
To whet your jet boat appetite we've assembled three extremely popular models from boats.com’s boats for sale listings. When you’re finished, consider some of the 2,000 other jet boats for sale on boats.com by browsing these search results.
Scarab 255 HO: Watersports Wonderland
You may remember the Scarab name from the manufacturer’s high-performance days, when “Miami Vice” type boats were all the rage. Today the manufacturer focuses on incredibly well-made jet boats with a flair for performance, handling, and comfort.
Look at the integral swim platform on the Scarab 255 HO and you’ll immediately see that this boat is all about towing folks on skis, wakeboards, and water toys. Inside the low-slung platform are opposing hatches that open to expose tons of wet gear stowage—large enough even for wakeboards and shorter water skis. That theme continues farther forward, where additional wet gear stowage is integrated both in the cockpit and forward in the bow.
The seating arrangement in the 255 HO is highly modular. At the stern, a pair of hinged seat backs can be tipped fore or aft to create different seating arrangements, while in the cockpit two aft-facing chaise lounges can be formed by flipping up a pair of concealed stowable cushion bases that hide beneath a pair of additional seats. It’s a nifty “there when you need it, gone when you don’t” system. The bow features two forward-facing lounges with wraparound bench seating. Twin captain’s chairs are situated behind the split console.
A pair of three-cylinder Rotax engines producing a total of 400 horsepower is standard, while twin 250-horsepower Rotax power plants are available as an option. The base engines should push the 255 HO to around 50 MPH, while the optional 250-horsepower upgrade should run this boat well into the mid-50-MPH range. Low-end grunt is markedly improved with the optional power plants, something worth considering for hardcore watersports enthusiasts who need the extra get up and go.
The 255 HO ($58,902 MSRP) is the midline model in the 255 range; the 255 ($53,293) is the base, and the 255 HO Impulse ($62,439) is at the top end.
Watch the Scarab 255 HO First Look video.
View Scarab 255 HO listings.
Yamaha SX240 High Output: Infinite Improvements
Yamaha’s 240 Series includes four different models of varying trim and equipment levels. Starting new at around $50,000 with trailer, the SX240 High Output is the base model. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this boat is stripped down or cheap, because it’s not.
A pair of 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 180-horsepower power plants propel the SX240 at speeds up to an exhilarating 50 MPH. Though a bit heavier than the engines they replace, these new engines are much quieter than previous models. Additionally, Yamaha has added an articulated keel extension for 2015 that improves not just slow-speed handling—where jet boats tend to wander—but also in high-speed turns. The keel—a hinged metal tab—is connected to and actuated by the starboard jet nozzle.
The SX240 has comfy accommodations and a clever layout. At the stern is a swim platform with two inset seats that have clever wet gear stowage behind them, huge stereo speakers, and lots of drink holders. Up forward the SX240 has an expansive bow seating area. There's also a U-shaped, wraparound lounge in the main cockpit, and twin swiveling captain’s chairs behind either side of the split console.
Noteworthy at the helm of 2015 and newer models is Yamaha’s new seven-inch, touch-screen Connext panel, which allows you to control many of the SX240’s systems. It also provides engine and performance data. The LCD panel is a clever way to consolidate the typical confusing array of switches, gauges, and dials found on the dashes of many boats.
Looking to up your game? The AR240 model adds a watersports tower and enhanced graphics, while the 242 Limited and 242 Limited S add seating and trim enhancements.
Read the full Yamaha 240 Series review. View Yamaha AR240 and SX240 listings.
Chaparral 243 Vortex VR: Speed and Elegance
One of two different models in the 243 range, the 243 Vortex VR looks as if it’s a cuddy cabin or small express cruiser at first glance; it has more elegant and conservative styling than its Vortex VRX sister, which is aimed at wake-surfers and watersports folks. Don’t worry, though—if you want to wake-surf with this more conservative style you can add Chaparral’s Aerial Surf Package. The option adds an aerial surf platform and three ballast tanks.
Bring along as many as 11 of your friends on the 243 Vortex VR, which has a total capacity of 12 people. You can use the bow seating as two forward-facing chaise lounges, or as a U-shaped seating area for four or five people. Aft in the cockpit is a large U-shaped lounge for around six people, while two additional seats are located at the stern for use when the boat is not underway. A captain’s chair sits aft of the helm console and a single-person bench sits behind the port console, which also happens to house a head.
Twin Rotax 200-horsepower engines are standard on the 243 Vortex VR, good for around 52 MPH of top-end performance. If you crave more low-end grunt and higher top-end speeds, a pair of 250-horsepower Rotax engines is an option. A noteworthy feature with these engines is lateral thrust control, which drops a diverter gate behind each thrust nozzle to direct thrust outboard. This enhances side-to-side steering at maneuvering speeds, such as when pulling into a slip or up to a fuel dock.
Whether happy hour cruising or wake surfing is on your itinerary, the Chaparral 243Vortex VR should be near the top of your jet boat shopping list.
View Chaparral 243 Vortex VR listings.
These are only three of the 2,000 jet boats currently for sale on boats.com, so there's sure to be one that suits your type of boating. Make sure you take a look at all of the jet boat listings before you decide what to buy.