How Many People Can Ride on a Jet Ski?


You have probably seen jet skis flying by on the water during a day at the beach or the lake. You may have seen a happy couple heading out to an island for a picnic, or even three people riding at once. That may have you wondering, just how many people can fit on one of those things?

A jet ski can safely fit anywhere from one to four people. This limit depends on both the size of the jet ski itself and what it is being used for at the time.

When considering purchasing a jet ski, how many people it fits is an important factor to consider. The size and type of jet ski will determine its use, which we will look at in this article.

Play it Safe, Stick to Capacity

It goes without saying that the point of going out on a jet ski is to have a wild and good time. Jet skis are known for their speed and ability to perform tricks on. However, that does not mean that you should act in unsafe ways while operating the machine. Thrill seekers and leisurely riders alike should always practice safe riding habits.

When asking the question of how many people can fit on this jet ski, the goal should not be to pile on so many people that the jet ski can barely function.

All jet skis(and any other watercraft) have capacity and/or weight limits that should always be adhered to no matter what. The manufacturers of the jet skis have tested their products over and over again, so they know what they can handle.

Jet skis and boats are tested in similar ways to other vehicles for the same reasons. Just like trucks have a max towing capacity and sedans have a max number of passengers, jet skis have defined limits that when adhered to, ensure the highest performance of the machine and the highest level of safety for the operator and passengers.

As long as you follow the guidelines that are provided, there will be little risk of something going wrong. And if something does go wrong, it will have the best(or maybe just least bad) outcome possible.

Sizes of Jet Skis

You might be wondering why there are so many different types of jet skis. The only reason to get one is to go really fast on the water, right? Well, jet skis can actually be used for a variety of activities.

Something that should be clarified is the term jet ski. A jet ski is actually a brand of personal watercraft made by Kawasaki. A personal watercraft is a jet-drive boat, less than 13 feet in length, as defined by the United States Coast Guard.

So, what can you do with the different sizes of personal watercraft? Just like different kinds of boats have different ideal uses, different kinds of personal watercraft have different ideal uses.

If your idea of a perfect day of fun is being able to do your own thing, going fast, and maybe throwing in some tricks like wave jumping, then a single rider stand-up model could be the best choice for you. This type of model is made to have the best maneuverability, which is one of the reasons that they are popular for racing.

If you do not see yourself entering any tournaments in the near future and you just want to have fun and take it easy at times, a larger, sit-down model would be more for you.

Thanks to their size, the larger personal watercraft models have a much wider range of use than their single rider stand-up companions.

These are ideal for people who want to share in the fun of gliding over the surface of the water. Sure you can bring two or three single riders out, but some find it more enjoyable to share the seat with others. Of course having multiple people on does mean that tricks are off the table, as that would present a greater safety hazard.

A very popular multi-person activity on any watercraft is towing. While not every personal watercraft has a tow hook, many of the sit-down models do. This makes towing easy and safe. Activities such as tubing, wakeboarding, and water skiing can be enjoyed without having to purchase a much larger, more expensive boat.

If you are going to tow, you need to make sure that your rope is an appropriate length. The Water Sports Industry Association, or WSIA, says that ropes for tubing should be at least 50 feet long but not longer than 65 feet.

For towing wakeboarders the lengths increase a little. Beginners are recommended to use a length of about 65 feet, while more advanced riders ride with a rope up to 85 feet long. The recommended length for water skiing is similar, with the standard being 70 to 75 feet.

Another activity that is becoming more popular among jet ski owners is fishing. It may not seem like it, but there is plenty of room to sit and cast to your heart’s content. Some jet skis actually have a space where you can fit a cooler on the back to keep your fish in.

There are even non-recreational uses for jet skis. Since they are small, fast, and easy to control, they can be put to great use in water rescue situations. The Navy also uses them for some types of training.

Single Rider Jet Skis

Single rider stand-up jet skis have been around for a long time. The very first model was invented in the mid-1950s. They have come a long way since then, and are capable of some pretty amazing things.

We can take a look at a couple different models to compare them and get an idea of what they can do.

The first is the 2019 Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R. Some of its stats are listed in the table below.

Engine 4-stroke, DOHC, four valves
per cylinder,4-cylinder inline
Displacement1,498cc
Thrust957 lb
Length104.5 in
Width30.1 in
Height33.1 in
Weight551.3 lb
Rider Capacity1

The numbers are impressive on this model, and it can reach speeds of about 60 miles per hour. Its MSRP is $9,999,

Another great model to look at is the Yamaha Superjet.

Engine2-cylinder, 2-stroke,
Yamaha Marine Engine
Displacement701cc
Length88.2 in
Width26.8 in
Height26 in
Weight306 lb
Rider Capacity1

This model is obviously a little smaller than the Jet Ski SX-R and a bit less powerful. Its speed tops out closer to 45 miles per hour, but its handling is not any less impressive. Its MSRP is $8,499.

Something important to note is that single rider stand-up models take a little more getting used to than the sit-down versions. More practice is required to ensure competent and safe operation.

Stand-up models are less common to see than sit-down models, but they are starting to grow in popularity.

Just remember, one person at a time on these! And even if you figure out a way to rig a rope for towing, it should not be done. Towing is for the larger models that are actually built for that.

Multiple Rider Jet Skis

The very first sit-down personal watercraft was the 1968 Sea-Doo. Like the stand-up models, they have come a long way in performance and design.

Sit-down jet skis are made to be comfortable so that they can be enjoyed for hours at a time. Whether you want to tow kids on a tube or just spend an afternoon fishing, you can find a model to fit your needs.

We can take a look at the specs of a couple more models, staring with the Yamaha Waverunner VX-C.

Engine3-cylinder, 4-stroke TR-1 High
Output Yamaha Marine Engine
Displacement1049cc
Length131.9 in
Width48 in
Height46.9 in
Weight692 lb
Rider Capacity1 to 3

Right away you will notice type of personal watercraft is much larger than the stand-up variation. This is to be expected so that the rider capacity can be increased.

The VX-C has other useful features like a tow hook, watertight storage, and cupholders. These are just some of the features that make this and similar models ideal for taking out more than one rider.

There is also an option to install waterproof wireless speakers, which can add a lot of fun to time on the water.

The VX-C has an MSRP of $8,999. That’s a pretty good deal, considering everything it includes.

A comparable model made by Kawasaki is the Jet Ski STX-15F.

Engine4-stroke, DOHC, four valves per
cylinder, 4-cylinder inline
Displacement1,498cc
Thrust957 lb
Length122.8 in
Width46.5 in
Height41.3 in
Weight844.5 lb
Rider Capacity1 to 3

The Jet Ski STX-15F is a little smaller and more powerful than the Yamaha VX-C, meaning that it may be a better fit for those who want a bit more speed. But its smaller size makes it a little less suited for something like fishing.

Something else to note is that this model does not come with a tow hook.

The MSRP of the Jet Ski STX-15F is $9,699.

How Big Do They Get?

One of the largest types of personal watercraft available is the FX series by Yamaha. These models measure 140.9 inches long, 50 inches wide, and 48.4 inches high. That makes them 3 feet longer than the Jet Ski SX-R and almost 4 and a half feet longer than the Yamaha Superjet.

That is quite a wide range of size. The FX series can easily fit 3 people, and can fit 4 as long as a couple of the riders can fit comfortable in a seat.

That extra size does not mean that you will be going any slower on these machines. Here are the specs for the FX Limited SVHO.

EngineSupercharged 4-cylinder, 4-stroke,
Super Vortex High Output Yamaha
Marine Engine
Displacement 1812cc
Length140.9 in
Width50 in
Height48.4 in
Weight822 lb

Beefed up specs like these come at a higher price, though. The MSRP for this particular model is $17,399.

Why You Should Follow the Guidelines

Jet skiing s a fun activity that can be enjoyed by people of practically any age. But just like any other activity, there are risks involved. The limits provided by the manufacturers of the vehicles are made to keep riders safe. Just like you would not try to tow a heavy load with a Honda Civic, you should learn and be familiar with the limitations of your personal watercraft.

Besides keeping you physically safe, there are rules to follow to not get into trouble with the law. While each state likely has differences in their laws regarding personal watercraft use, you will be subject to similar regulations wherever you ride.

Operating a jet ski under sub optimal conditions can land you a warning, a fine, revocation of your driving privileges, and even jail time. For example, in the state of Texas towing a skier too fast or in a dangerous manor is punishable by a fine up to $2000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 180 days.

While riding with more than the predetermined limit of passengers is not exactly the same as riding erratically or riding while intoxicated, it is still not the best way to ride and poses a safety risk to everyone on board.

Even if you think you will not get caught, remind yourself of the potential outcome. The more people you have on board, the more difficult it is to operate the jet ski properly, which means that now even more people are at risk of being injured.

Have Fun But Don’t Get Carried Away

Remember, the point of having a jet ski is to have fun! I have never talked to anyone who has ridden one and did not enjoy it. Jet skis can provide endless entertainment in a variety of ways. To make sure that all that fun lasts as long as possible, you just have to follow the rules.

If you are ever tempted to pile a bunch of people onto a jet ski, think about what would happen in the event of an accident. As long as everyone does their best to avoid that, there will be nothing to worry about and the government will not feel the need to create more restrictions.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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