Cheap jet skis make for cheap thrills — and yes, they are seriously thrilling. Jumping the waves, feeling the wind and spray in your face, and zooming across the water at top speed will give you a shot of adrenaline and put an ear-to-ear grin on your face, guaranteed.
If you have tried it, you’re probably reading this right now because you decided these watercraft are so much fun you want one. But, which jet skis, wave runners, and PWCs are most affordable? Here are seven PWCs the average American family will have no problem buying:
- Sea Doo Spark
- Sea Doo Spark Trixx
- Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R 160
- Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160
- Yamaha WaveRunner EX
- Yamaha WaveRunner EX Sport
- Yamaha WaveRunner EX Delux
1. Sea Doo Spark
The Sea Doo Spark was initially conceived to be the most affordable PWC on the water, and years later, it retains that mantle. Starting under the $8,000 mark it’s built with Sea Doo’s proprietary Polytec material rather than fiberglass and is powered by a Rotax 900 ACE 60-hp engine.
The base model is a two-seater but a $1,200 upgrade gets you a three-seat model and an engine with 30 more horses. Although this is Sea Doo’s starter model, it comes with its iBC intelligent throttle control system, a tow hook for pulling water toys, and a 1.6L dry stowage box. Like all Sea Doos, it’s also compatible with their LinQ attachment system.
- Estimated MSRP range: $5,999
2. Sea Doo Spark Trixx
The Trixx versions of the Spark comes with the more potent 90-hp Rotax and is upgraded with a variable trim system. That means you can direct the propulsion to lift or drop the bow, and it’s even possible to stand the Trixx nearly straight up in the water. Net result? You can do all sorts of fun tricks on the Trixx. Yet it still costs less than $9000 and if you opt for the three-seater, is under the $10,000 barrier.
- Estimated MSRP range: $8,199
Visit Sea Doo to learn more.
3. Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R 160
There’s no such thing as a cheap jet ski if you use the $10,000 mark as your ceiling, but the MSRP for the SX-R 160 only goes past that bar by $1,599. This is one of the few standup models on the market today!
It’s a potent speed machine, too, with a 1,490cc four-stroke engine that blasts water through a 148mm axial-flow single-stage jet pump to produce 957 pounds of thrust. In other words, when you hit the throttle you’d better hold on tight — the top end will vary with the rider but speeds in the 65-mph range are possible.
- Estimated MSRP range: $11,599
READ MORE: How to Drive a Jet Ski
4. Kawasaki Jet Ski STX 160
Kawasaki’s most affordable jet ski in a sit-down version is the Jet Ski STX 160, which also goes past $10K but only by $1,399 at MSRP. This is 3 passenger waterbike with a 1,498cc engine, lots of extra stowage space (35 gallons in total) including under the rear seat, and standard electronic cruise control. It’s a bit larger than other jet skis in it’s range, with a curb weight of 864.4 pounds (and a hair over 10 feet).
- Estimated MSRP range: $11,399
Visit Kawasaki to learn more.
5. Yamaha WaveRunner EX
The WaveRunner EX is Yamaha’s version of an affordable PWC, with an MSRP well under $8,000. Even in the base form, it can handle up to three riders, and it’s powered by Yamaha’s three-cylinder, 1,049cc, dual-overhead-cam TR-1 engine.
The EX has stowage compartments in the bow and in a helm glovebox, a tow eye, two-tone deck mats, and an automatic bilge pump, and even though it’s just over 10 feet long its weight is a mere 578 pounds.
- Estimated MSRP range: $7,599
6. Yamaha WaveRunner EX Sport
The EX Sport adds mechanical reverse, a reboarding step, and side view mirrors into the EX mix. Price goes up by around $1,300 but these additions make the EX Sport ideal for pulling tow toys or wakeboards around the lake.
- Estimated MSRP range: $8,899
7. Yamaha WaveRunner EX Delux
Jumping up to the Delux model the MSRP just barely squeaks in under the $10,000 mark, but this version gets you some high-end features not seen on most affordable PWCs.
On top of everything the EX and EX Sport delivers the Delux has an integrated digital instrumentation display, plus WaveRunner’s RiDE single-switch neutral to reverse system to ease docking and slow-speed maneuvering.
- Estimated MSRP range: $9,999
Visit Yamaha WaveRunners to learn more.
“There are plenty of jet skis, wave runners, and PWCs that don’t break the bank. You just got to know where to look.” – Boatsetter Expert
Can you find jet skis for less than the mix of PWCs above?
Yes, but used! These seven jet skis, waveRunners, and PWCs are at the bottom of the totem pole, price-wise, but at the top of the heap when it comes to cheap thrills.
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With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.