Freshwater vs. Saltwater Boating Basics

As a boater, one of the most important questions you’ll need to ask yourself is, “Where can I go boating?” Now, the answer to that question may rely heavily on where you live, and geographically how close you are to the water (and if you do need help figuring that out, be sure to read our blog, Find Places to Go Boating Near You).

If you live near the coast, then the Intracoastal, bays, inlets, or the open ocean may be your playground. On the flipside, if you’re an inland boater, your go-to waterway may be a nearby lake or river.

Depending on where you go boating the most, you may often get asked by other boaters: are you Team #SaltLife, or Team #LakeLife? Of course, the rivalry between freshwater boaters and saltwater boaters is all in good fun, but it does raise some good questions for boaters who may still be on the fence about what type of waterways they prefer.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and key differences between the freshwater vs. saltwater boating experience.


The Difference Between Freshwater vs. Saltwater Boating Activities


While there’s a long list of overlapping boating activities that can be done in both saltwater and freshwater, there are some important distinctions.

For example, fishing is popular in all bodies of water, but when you start to dig into the details, you’ll find that most anglers prefer either freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing. These preferences may be swayed by what kind of species you enjoy reeling in. Big game fish like marlin, swordfish, mahi mahi, and tarpon are popular saltwater species, while largemouth bass, trout, salmon, and walleye are favorites for freshwater.

Likewise, when it comes to watersports like wake surfing, wakeboarding, waterskiing and others, freshwater tends to come out on top simply based on the fact that the water is typically less rough with fewer waves. Therefore, it makes it a lot easier to get up on a board, especially for beginners.

If you’re interested in pure day cruising, dock-and-dining, or just soaking up the sunshine while onboard, both freshwater and saltwater boating can suit your needs. One small difference may be whether you’ll enjoy a sandbar party (more likely in saltwater), or a raft-up party (more likely in freshwater environments). Either way, you can find all the popular hot spots for dockside dining, sandbars, and raft-ups in your KnowWake app.

Maintenance and Boat Types

It’s no secret that boats used and even stored in freshwater are generally much easier to maintain than boats that spend the majority of their time in saltwater; however, that obviously doesn’t deter the thousands of saltwater boaters that continue to return to the coastal waterways season after season. The key to success when boating in saltwater? Always remember to give your boat and your engine the TLC it deserves.

Finally, if you happen to be in the market for a new boat, you may want to take into account where you’ll be boating to help you decide what type of boat you’ll buy.

Aluminum fishing boats, fish-and-skis, pontoons, bowriders, jet boats, and deck boats are all great crafts for freshwater adventures. On the other hand, center consoles, walkarounds, bay boats, cabin cruisers, sportfishing yachts, trawlers, and power catamarans are each well-suited for saltwater excursions.

So, are you Team #SaltLife or Team #LakeLife? Whatever side you fall on, be sure to download the KnowWake app to explore all the awesome waterways across North America.