WaveRunner vs Jet Ski vs Sea-Doo

WaveRunner vs Jet Ski vs Sea-Doo: What Is the Difference (GUIDE)

You’re contemplating buying a personal watercraft, and you’ve narrowed it down to three brands. Those are WaveRunner, Jet Ski, and Sea-Doo. You’re not sure how to choose between the three of them. What are their differences? I did extensive research to bring you the answer.

The differences between WaveRunner, Jet Ski, and Sea-Doo watercrafts include:

  • ​​Jet Ski watercrafts tend to cost more money
  • WaveRunner watercrafts often have more safety features
  • SeaDoo is designed for pull sports and fun, exciting tricks on the water
  • WaveRunner has better fuel efficiency and easier maintenance
  • WaveRunner has more models to choose from

Want to know more about these three personal watercraft brands? If so, then you won’t want to miss this article. I’ll also expand on the differences I just mentioned, explaining them in more detail. Keep reading!

What is a WaveRunner

Yamaha Motor Company produces the watercraft known as WaveRunner. These vehicles have the distinction of a rear water spout that releases water when riding. The first WaveRunner appeared in 1986. It was the WaveRunner 500, or Marine Jet 500T. Since then, Yamaha has produced some line of WaveRunner watercraft almost every year.

The most current models include the 2019 WaveRunner GP 1800R and the 2019 WaveRunner EXR. The WaveRunner also has several series of vehicles. These are the SuperJet, Performance Race Series, FX Series, VX Series, and EX Series.

What is a Jet Ski

Although it’s a common word today for a PWC, Jet Ski is also a brand. Kawasaki produces this line of watercraft, which can fit up to three passengers. They sit motorcycle style. These vehicles have existed since before the WaveRunner, as they were first founded in 1972.

For decades, the Jet Ski ruled the waters until Sea-Doo came onto the scene in the late 1980s. We’ll talk more about Sea-Doo in the next section. Kawasaki, besides being the creators of the Jet Ski, also had a part in establishing the United States Jet Ski Boating Association. Today, the organization goes by the name International Jet Sports Boating Association.

The most recent Jet Skis rolled out in 2019. These include the Jet Ski SX-R, the Jet Ski STX-15F, the Jet Ski Ultra LX, the Jet Ski Ultra 310X, and the Jet Ski Ultra 310R. Before that, there was the 2018 Jet Ski SX-R and then, in 2017, the stand-up Jet Ski SX-R 1500. This watercraft weighs more than 550 pounds and measures eight feet, nine inches.

What is a Sea-Doo

We also have to talk about Sea-Doo. Created and manufactured through Bombardier Recreational Products, the vehicle has a lengthy history. The first version of Sea-Doo debuted in the late 1960s. It was the Bombardier Sea-Doo, a personal creation from Joseph-Armand Bombardier himself. Laurent Beaudoin and Clayton Jacobson II also assisted in its invention. Jacobson had a hand in the early Jet Skis from Kawasaki as well.

Originally nicknamed a “Jet-powered Aqua Scooter”, Sea-Doo had a unique shape in its early iteration. It also featured a length of 7.5 feet and a width of five feet at that time. By 1968, it got an engine improvement that boosted its speed. However, people weren’t fond of its stainless steel handlebars, which had little padding. They also didn’t like the flat seat.

After some retooling, Sea-Doo came back in 1988. Since then, the brand has grown steadily. Today, you can choose from six Sea-Doo models. These include the Performance, Sport Fishing, Touring, Fish Sport, Tow Sports, Recreation, and Rec Lite.

What is the Difference Between a WaveRunner, a Jet Ski and a Sea-Doo

Now that we’ve talked about the history of each of the three watercraft brands, it’s time to cover the differences between them.


If you want to buy a new watercraft, then you’re going to have to do some extensive research into pricing. You will spend the most money for a brand-new 2019 vehicle compared to one from several years back. Also, new watercrafts will always cost more than used.

When it comes to the most expensive brand of watercraft between the three we covered, it’s Kawasaki all the way. Their Jet Ski models may cost you significantly more than a Sea-Doo and slightly more than a WaveRunner. That’s due, in part, to the amazingly strong engine that comes outfitted in each Jet Ski. You can also enjoy heat-resistant seating as well as speakers included in your watercraft. You won’t find those amenities in either WaveRunners or Sea-Doos.

Safety Features

Speedy watercrafts and safety might not be synonymous in your mind, but there’s no way manufacturers can fail to include safety features. We have to give the credit to Yamaha and its WaveRunner in this instance. These vehicles come with several features that give them exemplary safety marks.

For instance, with top-notch braking, you can bring your WaveRunner to a sudden stop almost immediately. Thanks to this braking system, you’ll enjoy smoother stops rather than jerky ones that can throw less experienced riders off the watercraft. You can also make turns without accelerating. You won’t find that with the other two brands.

That’s because most watercrafts lack rudders, so to turn, you often need to have the vehicle running. Yamaha found a workaround, though, and that’s one key difference between them and Jet Ski and Sea-Doo.

Pull Sports 

If you’re into pull sports and you want a watercraft for fun activities, you’ll need a Sea-Doo to do it. The other two manufacturers don’t make watercrafts adept at doing tricks. One Sea-Doo, the Spark Trixx, is your best bet.

Sea-Doo designed this watercraft specifically for impressing your friends and family with cool tricks and stunts. Oh, and did I mention that Sea-Doo promotes the Spark Trixx as an affordable watercraft as well? It’s a one-of-a-kind pick for certain.

Fuel Efficiency 

Like all other boats and watercraft, you will have to fill up your WaveRunner, Jet Ski, or Sea-Doo with gas at some point. How often you need to refill and how much money you’ll spend doing it varies by brand.

Yamaha and their WaveRunner excel in fuel efficiency. Compared to a Jet Ski or a Sea-Doo, you should get more hours on the water without having to stop and refill the tank. Considering doing so can really ruin an exciting day, it helps to know which vehicle has the best fuel efficiency of the three brands.

Maintenance Costs

At some point, you’re going to have to sit down and do some maintenance on your personal watercraft. This keeps it looking and running its best for years to come. However, too much maintenance can drain your money fast.

Sea-Doos may not cost that much, but that’s because these vehicles come bare-bones. You’ll likely have to upgrade parts and accessories over the years to get a fuller-fledged watercraft. Those costs add up.

For easy maintenance, once again, you should go with the WaveRunner. These hardy vehicles often include engines made for years of performance and durability. If you decide to do any work on the engine, you’ll find it more accessible compared to a Sea-Doo or Jet Ski.

Although you’ll initially spend more money on a WaveRunner, you can curb costs with less maintenance. The opposite is true with a Sea-Doo.

Related Article: How Much Does Jet Skiing Cost

Engine Performance 

Admittedly, you’ll find similar engine performance between WaveRunners, Jet Skis, and Sea-Doos. Not all three watercraft brands perform exactly the same, of course. You’ll see fluctuations from model to model and series to series.

No one brand of the three suffers from lack of speed, though. Whatever your speed needs, I’m certain one of these watercrafts can meet and surpass it. That just means you should keep the other factors in mind that I’ve covered when choosing between the three brands. You’ll get speed no matter which one you pick.

Model Options

If you’re the type who prefers variety, then you’ll want a watercraft brand with a lot of models. When it comes to vehicle selection, Yamaha takes the lead. It’s a narrow victory, though, with Sea-Doo trailing close behind.

Yamaha has the Performance Race Series, the FX Series, the VX Series, and the EX Series, as I talked about. Each series has several watercraft models. These include:

  • Performance Race Series: Superjet, GP1800R, and VXR
  • FX Series: FX HO, FX Cruiser HO, FX SVHO, FX Cruiser SVHO, and the FX Limited SVHO
  • VX Series: VX, VX-C, VX Deluxe, VX Cruiser, VX Cruiser HO, and the VX Limited
  • EX Series: EX, EX Sport, EX Deluxe, and the EXR

For more options, check this article I wrote about all the jet ski models available and respective prices.


The Yamaha WaveRunner, Kawasaki Jet Ski, and the Bombardier Recreational Products’ Sea-Doo are three of the top names in watersports. These three vehicles have plenty of differences between them. Some cost more, others less. Certain models focus more on fuel efficiency, others on doing tricks and stunts.

If you’re debating between a WaveRunner, a Jet Ski, and a Sea-Doo, here’s what I recommend. Read through this article. Pick out the factors that matter most to you when choosing a watercraft. Then, see which of the three brands has the most features you need. That’ll help you find a watercraft that suits your lifestyle. Good luck!

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