How Fast Does a Jet Ski Go on Flat Water

Wonder of fast a jet ski actually goes on flat water? We'll take a look at the speeds and some of the factors the speed depends on.

Jet skis are one of those fun vehicles that everyone wants. Your friends go out and get a jet ski, and all of a sudden, everyone has one. Jet skis are a great alternative to buying a boat. They’re easy to haul, manageable for one person, and not nearly as expensive as a boat.

One of the biggest draws to jet skis is the ability to go fast. Seriously fast. However, not all jet skis are made for speed, and some are better suited for slower, more relaxed performance. 

If speed is your goal, then a high-performance racing type ski is your pick. You’ll want to avoid cruising jet skis which are made for the enthusiast that wants a fun day on the water, but not necessarily extra speed.

If going fast is your goal in considering a jet ski, you may be wondering how fast your new jet ski will go on flat water compared to choppy water. It’s a reasonable question, and one that we’re ready to answer.

How fast does the average jet ski go?

Weighing in at only around 800 pounds, the average jet ski is a lightweight alternative to a boat. Many people who are shopping for jet skis assume that light and small mean fast. But, in reality, speed has more to do with the model that you pick.

The maximum speed for most jet skis is between 40 and 70 miles per hour (MPH), with an average maximum speed of around 50 MPH. For most jet ski owners 50 MPH is more than enough speed, however the thrill seekers love the higher 60+ MPH speeds of some jet skis.

It is important to point out that as you’re shopping for a jet ski, the feel of 50 MPH on a jet ski is much different than the feel of 50 MPH in a car. Understanding how this difference feels and how to control your jet ski is the best way to ride safe.

What factors account for how fast a jet ski goes?

As we mentioned the average maximum speed for most jet skis ranges from 40 MPH to 70 MPH. For every jet ski there are factors besides engine size that play into speed. Factors that directly contribute to how fast (or slow) your jet ski will go include: 

  • Water conditions – Flat water will allow for higher speeds than rough choppy water.
  • Passenger weight – Most jet skis are rated for a maximum passenger weight of around 500 pounds. The more weight the ski has to carry the slower it will go. 
  • Wind conditions – Strong winds or head winds will slow your jet ski down. Riding on a calm day with no wind will mean more speed.

What is a safe speed for a jet ski?

Just because your jet ski can go 70 MPH, doesn’t mean that you should go 70 MPH. Prior to 1999, jet ski manufacturers made jet skis that went really fast; and a lot of people got hurt. 

In 1999 personal watercraft makers and the Coast Guard agreed that the top speed of jet skis should be limited to 65 MPH, to reduce injury and deaths caused by high-speed accidents.

With that said, only travel at a speed that you can comfortably and safely control your jet ski. Maybe you won’t be racing around your favorite body of water at 50 MPH, but you’ll live to enjoy another day on the water.

Are faster jet skis more expensive?

Speed and price don’t necessarily go hand in hand when you’re shopping for a jet ski. Jet skis come in a wide range of prices with a wide range of features that influence the price. Speed isn’t the only thing that impacts the price of a jet ski.

You may find in your research that some lower price models, with fewer features for performance or minimal high-end electronics, are made for speed. On the other hand, many high-performance skis used by professionals or experienced riders that like to do tricks, may not go as fast, but have a much larger price tag.

When you’re shopping for your jet ski, know your riding ability, and what you really want to get out of your jet ski. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money for a jet ski that goes fast.

Final thoughts

On flat water, the fastest jet skis can top out at speeds around 70 MPH. These jet skis are great for the thrill seeker, and the jet ski rider that is comfortable with their jet ski and ability to control the machine.

If you’re looking for a jet ski that goes fast, you won’t have to spend a ton of money. Make sure you do your research and find the right combination of power, comfort features, and technology for a great ride experience.

Most of all, make sure that you know your skill and experience level and invest in a jet ski that allows for the maximum amount of fun – and safety.

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Jason Gass

When I'm not working, I spend most of my time camping, hiking, and road-tripping with my wife, my daughter, and my two dogs.