After more than three decades, the personal watercraft market has matured with a collection of “luxury-niche” craft. From the original one-size-fits-all the makers are now targeting offshore anglers who troll for trophy fish from a pint-sized battlewagon, or adventure riders who long to way beyond the boundaries of gas and food stops. There are even multiple embracers of electric motors.
Livewells, fishfinders, rear racks, and even windshields have changed the missions of these watercraft, giving them potential that nobody had ever envisioned just five years ago. Here are nine models that break from the status quo.
Yamaha FX Limited SVHO w/RecDeck
The flagship FX Limited SVHO already sports a chop-busting hull, 65-mph-plus top speed and bells and whistles like a 7-inch touchscreen control, GPS mapping and geofencing capability, Bluetooth audio system with text notifications and hands-free calling potential, and Garmin GPS/Fishfinder. Add the 6-inch-square RecDeck to its aft platform and increase its versatility even more. Anglers can use the RecDeck as a casting platform, while adding a cooler and rodholders. Another option is a “Lounging” package that adds a 25-inch-wide seat. That means you can grab a cold one from the attached saddlebags and just kick back at the sandbar. Starting at $21,121.
It’s sexy, handcrafted in Austria, features a turbocharged 320hp engine under the saddle…and only available in Europe (at least for now). But the Burrasca is definitely making waves. It won a coveted Red Dot design award in 2021, added a BIG SEE Product Design win in ’22, and was Newcomer Brand of the Year at the German Brand Awards. Below all that highly customizable style is lots of lightweight carbon fiber. It’s in the engine access hood, deck, rear spoiler and exhaust covers. It’s in the muffler—except for those blingy double-chromed exhaust tips of course—and reverse flaps. Up top, carbon even graces the handlebars and seat base. And check out the dual dash displays. The second includes an actual G-Force meter—which will prove that the Burrasca’s hull and oversized aluminum sponsons really did just produce a turn that brutal. Starting at $46,000.
Kawasaki Ultra 310LX
Kawasaki has been slow to embrace tech, but the Ultra 310LX makes up for it in spades. Those glowing “eyes” at the bow are actually LED daytime running lights that greatly increase the craft’s on-water visibility. Launch Control mode lets the ECU determine the perfect trim in acceleration scenarios. Settle into the saddle and note not just abundant screens of info on the 7-inch display, but also the fact that some are locked out when under way to avoid distracted driving. The Bluetooth sound system also doubles the norm with not just two, but four speakers. Kudos to Kawasaki for also finally embracing electronic reverse and deceleration. The most “I can’t believe they did that” feature, however, is an automatic backup camera—it comes in pretty handy when reversing at a crowded marina or launch ramp. Starting at $20,299.
Sea-Doo Explorer Pro 170
Aimed at adventurers who want to head off into uncharted waters without fear of weather or water conditions, the Explorer Pro is the first production PWC to feature a windshield. Like those on touring motorcycles and snowmobiles, it offers protection but also funnels air over the rider to lessen fatigue caused by the endless noise and wind pressure encountered on extended journeys. The windshield is nice, but the Explorer’s massive cargo potential is the real game changer. A cargo-rack plate and extended aft deck feature six pairs of Sea-Doo’s LinQ accessory cleats. Load them up with gear bags and boxes and it’s realistic to take a weekend’s worth of camping gear and food. Or fill up five fuel caddies and double the craft’s range. Starting at $16,799.
Taiga Orca Carbon
Taiga’s Orca can be had in carbon-fiber, the de facto standard in most electric-motor models, but its price tag is surprisingly down to earth. It’s also, to borrow a phrase, the bird in hand. The Orca is currently the only electric personal watercraft readily available in North America. The Orca comes on the heels of Taiga’s electric snowmobile. The two-seater craft features a 160hp (120kW) motor and 24kWh lithium-ion battery system. Top speed peaks at 65 mph. Expect about two hours at a tamer, midrange cruising speed and lower power setting. With an electric motor’s instant acceleration, it’s all a lot of buyers really need. Charge via standard 120-volt outlet in about 14 hours. Fast charge at 240V and this whale is 80 percent ready as quick as 30 minutes. Starting at $26,000.
Maverick T3mp3st GT
A truly “bespoke” PWC, the Maverick Temp3st GT is custom-built to order with elaborate colors and materials, carbon-fiber construction and an electric motor that cranks out 550 horsepower. Its 100 kWh battery offers a four-hour runtime. It has the potential to recharge to 80 percent power in 60 minutes. Maverick is currently producing T3mp3st models for private owners, and recently inked a military contract. Extras? Try an iOS operating system; sonar, radar and lidar; 360-degree perimeter view via four cameras; and the option to dock the craft in its own Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). Oh, while you’re at it, throw in the armored, Road Warrior-esque enclosed trailer. Starting at $150,000.
Sea-Doo Fish Pro Trophy 170
Take a closer look at that photo. Sea-Doo’s FishPro Trophy sports an actual raised, pedestal fishing chair on its aft platform, quickly fashioned from the aft portion of the saddle and a plug-n-play riser. That cooler you’ll inevitably want to kick your feet up on? It’s actually a legit livewell. The water supply is fed via a hose from the craft’s electric pump. Detach that hose from the livewell and the hose becomes a convenient raw-water washdown. Other fishy features include a 7-inch Garmin touchscreen GPS/Fishfinder, a quickly deployable grapnel anchor and dual-battery system to power the livewell pump—as well as keep the Bluetooth audio system’s tunes pumping. Starting at $19,599.
Sea-Doo Spark Trixx 2-Up
Sea-Doo’s Spark upended the cost of early four-stroke PWC, initially coming in at a paltry $4,999. Part of the reason was construction. A proprietary composite shed significant pounds from both hull and deck and produced adequate performance with a mere 90hp engine. Not a barnburner for sure, but it’s a craft that could spin out and powerslide with old-school abandon. Then Sea-Doo got the idea to change the game by adding extendable handlebars, footwell chocks and the pièce de résistance, a pump nozzle with extreme trim range. The result is not only a dramatic increase in the craft’s playfulness but the lone PWC on the market that can actually pull a true, bow-to-the-sky wheelie. Showoffs rejoice! Starting at $8,199.
Yamaha’s JetBlaster also doesn’t feature heady horsepower or a big-ticket price tag. What it does offer, however, is an advantageous power-to-weight ratio and a thrust nozzle that can be trimmed above the norm. Max out the latter and the craft transforms into what handles like a lighter, more agile personality. Punch the throttle and get a little extra “blast” off waves. Tweak things midair and that Insta photo goes viral. Or crank the bars at speed and hold on tight as the Blaster’s stern kicks out and kicks up the spray. Like the Spark, wider handlebars and angled footwell chocks add leverage and control when things get wet and wild. Starting at $10,699.