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Essential Boat Show Guide: 7 Must-know Tips for Attending a Boat Show

Make the most of your next boat show adventure with these helpful tips.

  • aerial view of the miami boat show
Whether you plan to attend a local show or make a vacation out of visiting one, a boat show is a great place to see the newest boat and yacht models, the latest electronics, and shop for gear. However, with all the vessels, activities, and festivities happening during these shows, it’s always best to plan ahead and save time to get the most out of what you want to see.

If you’re new to boating, shopping for your first boat, or looking for an upgrade, a boat show is a fantastic place to see many different brands, styles, and features to help you narrow your interest list. We’ve compiled some of the best boat show tips to help you get the most out of your boat show experience.
  • sea ray boats in an interior boat show display

1. Find the Best Boat Shows Near You

You may not even know where these boat shows take place. You can find the full list of upcoming boat shows on our events page, but some of the larger boat shows that people travel from all over the country for include:

2. What to Wear to a Boat Show

The right shoes can make all the difference. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes for lots of walking, and ones that slip on and off easily will make it easier to visit multiple boats, as many vendors request shoe removal before boarding boats. Many boat shows can be indoors and outdoors. Ensure you have the proper attire for the weather, that may mean the right sunglasses, sunblock and extra water in case of excess heat, or come dressed in layers when it’s cooler outside so you're comfortable being inside and outside. You can never be too prepared. 

3. Avoid Crowds with Boat Show Previews

Take advantage of the preview or VIP access on the first day, if offered. Admission might be a little more, but you’ll get to see the show with smaller crowds, and shorter wait times. Quickly getting aboard the boats on your list will be worth the upcharge.

  • rendering map of the miami boat show

4. Identify and Map Out the Brands You Want to See

Boat shows can be massive and it can get overwhelming to decide which booths are worth a stop and how long you want to spend there. It’s best to get an idea of what boats, brands, or dealers you’d like to visit while at the show. An easy way to narrow down the brands and models best for you is with our Boat Finder quiz. This helpful tool asks a few quick questions about your boating preferences to provide you with a uniquely curated list of boats that match your needs. Then you can focus on those brands and models at the show.

Look for the booth or slip details of vendors to target in advance and save hours of wandering the aisles or docks at the show. Better yet, check online in advance for a map to download and see if you can plan an optimal route that allows you to see everything on your list.

5. Decide What’s Important to You on a Boat

Identify what is most important to know once you’re at your preferred boat or yacht. If quality is your first choice, don't be shy! It’s the norm at a boat show to inspect all aspects of the vessel—step into the shower, open hatches and doors, look in engine service ports, nooks, crannies, etc. You can even lie down in the berths to be sure they fit your frame.

If you plan to captain the boat, consider how it may feel if it were in motion. Sit or stand at the helm and visualize taking it out on the water. If you need some guidance on what to look for, be sure to check out our New to Boating guide. 

  • couple talking to a sales consultant on the bow of a boat

6. Ask About the Details

You’ve found the perfect boat and looked at every nook and port hole, it’s time to talk contract. Many vendors are standing by ready to help go through the details of the terms of purchasing a boat, if they haven’t already been giving you a grand tour of your favorite vessels on display.

To avoid getting lost in non-essentials, make sure you read the fine print about a boat that genuinely interests you. Ask about incentives, included features, and what features on the demo boat are considered an upgrade. Demo boats usually are equipped with upgraded power and all options, so before you sign on the dotted line, be sure what you see is what you get.

If you’re feeling unsure, there’s always an option to schedule a post-boat show appointment at your local MarineMax for a more personal and one-on-one experience.

7. Don’t Miss Out on the Fun

While we hope you’ll find the boat or yacht of your dreams, boat shows can also be lots of fun to just explore, relax, and take part in the festivities. Grab some food, explore vendor tents, and take in all the gorgeous boats one venue can handle.

We hope you’ll take these tips and find your nearest show to explore!

Want to learn more about a show near you? Lets talk!

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