Jet skis come in three basic types – one seat/standing, two seats and three seats and they serve different purposes. Three-seaters are more stable in rougher water, and so are better for going out for longer trips and out on water that's likely to be a bit choppier. If you're buying a jet ski for your family, definitely get a three seats like the SeaDoo GTX or another cruiser, as this will make for much more enjoyable and reliable ride. With these craft, you can take the kids out knowing that they will be safer and more secure, not to mention having the extra room to throw around by yourself.
A three-seater jet ski is necessary for towing water-skiers and tube tires. When towing, you have to have a spotter along with the driver, someone who sits at the back of the jet ski and monitors the water skier or the person in the towed tube, and that person has to have an available seat as well. If you're planning to tow in the water, a three seats is essential. These watercraft have a larger turning circle and are often heavier, but if you're looking for a family craft, this is it. Examples of three seats jet skis are the SeaDoo GTX-series, the SeaDoo RXT-Series, and the SeaDoo GTI series.
A two seats jet ski is more of a sports model, with a much harder turning path and lighter bounce on the water, and is designed for a different purpose – namely, going really fast! They are lighter, and so are better for individual jet skiing activities and competitions. Jumping, racing, slalom... the range of activities match only your imagination.
Two seats, such as the Seadoo RXP, aren't as stable in the water as three seats like the SeaDoo GTX are, so they're not as family orientated, and not really suitable for transporting children or towing skiers and tubes. Even so, you can transport a single passenger on the back of a two seats without difficulty, so they're perfect for taking a single guest out with you on the water.
When you go to purchase your jet ski, think about how much power you need and want your craft to have. They go from 110 horsepower to the supercharged rate of 260 horsepower – and you can get these stroke rates in either three or two-seater models. Some jet skis, like SeaDoo's RXT and GTX range have cruise assistance, meaning that you can set the engine to a reduced output. Because you can control the performance, getting a lower horsepower jet ski isn't necessarily what you need to do when you're buying your first. You can get a high-power model with cruise assistance or engine power controls, and pace yourself to learn how to operate at higher and higher max speeds over time. Cruise Assisted PWCs are also good for touring – they reduce throttle fatigue, save you energy, and increase the comfort of long trips and tours.
Jet skis are made by a whole range of manufacturers, which include SeaDoo, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha. The motorbikes of the sea, they are made by the same people, with the same attention to quality. Who you go with and what brand you buy is really decided by personal preference, and what you need it for. Of them all, SeaDoo has the most unique array, with a different engine position to other makes and a very different 'feel' in the water – but you have to try it out to know the difference!
The most important thing when you're choosing your personal watercraft is figuring out what you want to use it for – so bear in mind your basic concepts, which are size, seating and power, and decide according to what you want to do with it. Do you need a stable craft for riding the big swells at surf beaches, or a little racer to turn back flips on? Are you looking at touring or riding frequently for short periods?