Yachtsman moors his motor boat at jetty.
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States with the most boat owners

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December 5, 2023
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States with the most boat owners

The strong bond between humans and water has been portrayed in literature, music, and paintings for centuries. Owning a boat and living close to water is the ultimate life goal of many.

The United States has unparalleled bodies of water that allow inhabitants of each of the 50 states to have, if they wish, a close connection with oceans, lakes, lagoons, waterfalls, or rivers. From Niagara Falls to the picture-perfect beaches of Hawaii, and from the majesty of the Great Lakes to the melody-inspiring banks of the Mississippi River, Americans enjoy a privileged geography when it comes to their proximity to iconic bodies of water.

GetMyBoat ranked states by their concentrations of registered boats per 100 residents, using data from a 2018 RTI International survey. The survey, which was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard, is the most recent and most comprehensive look at recreational boat ownership in the country.

On average nationwide, there are only 11 registered boats per 100 residents. But in some states, there are many more. It may come as a surprise that Florida, California, and Hawaii are nowhere near the top 10 of the ranking. States on the East Coast, and some in the South and Midwest, rank higher. But the Sunshine State is second only to Michigan in terms of how many boats its residents have registered.

Read on to find out where boating and boat ownership are most common.

Honokohau Marina and Small Boat Harbor.
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Billy McDonald // Shutterstock

#51. Hawaii

- Concentration of boats: 2.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 36,000 (rank: #51)

Luxury boat is docked at the Thunderbird Lodge in Incline Village.
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thetahoeguy // Shutterstock

#50. Nevada

- Concentration of boats: 2.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 93,000 (rank: #46)

Corpus Christi skyline on the bay in the day.
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#49. Texas

- Concentration of boats: 3.1 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 922,000 (rank: #8)

Boats docked at Oceanside Harbor.
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Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

#48. California

- Concentration of boats: 3.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.3 million (rank: #4)

Navajo Lake Marina in the Southwestern New Mexico Desert.
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Brenda Landdeck // Shutterstock

#47. New Mexico

- Concentration of boats: 3.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 70,000 (rank: #49)

House boats and pleasure boats moored in Lake Powell.
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PHOTOSHOOT1 // Shutterstock

#46. Arizona

- Concentration of boats: 3.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 260,000 (rank: #35)

Aerial of boats in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
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FotosForTheFuture // Shutterstock

#45. New Jersey

- Concentration of boats: 3.6 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 334,000 (rank: #31)

Chicago skyline with boats on the water.
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blewisphotography // Shutterstock

#44. Illinois

- Concentration of boats: 4.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 566,000 (rank: #15)

Cedar Point boats at dock.
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buyhighsellcheap // Shutterstock

#43. Ohio

- Concentration of boats: 4.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 573,000 (rank: #14)

Lake Powell in Utah with houseboats and canyons.
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Fotoluminate LLC // Shutterstock

#42. Utah

- Concentration of boats: 5.0 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 169,000 (rank: #41)

Fishing boat launching at Kaw Point ramp with a cityscape of Kansas City.
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marekuliasz // Shutterstock

#41. Kansas

- Concentration of boats: 5.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 172,000 (rank: #40)

New Bedford Harbor with boats on the water.
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Matthew Botelho // Shutterstock

#40. Massachusetts

- Concentration of boats: 6.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 442,000 (rank: #24)

Boats docked along the Monongahela River on a sunny day.
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Georgina Burrows // Shutterstock

#39. Pennsylvania

- Concentration of boats: 6.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 842,000 (rank: #9)

Boats docked at a marina next to the Dunkirk City Pier.
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woodsnorthphoto // Shutterstock

#38. New York

- Concentration of boats: 6.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.3 million (rank: #3)

Autumn on the Tennessee River with boats docked and the Henley Street Bridge.
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Marcus E Jones // Shutterstock

#37. Tennessee

- Concentration of boats: 6.8 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 476,000 (rank: #22)

Norfolk downtown cityscape over the Elizabeth River.
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#36. Virginia

- Concentration of boats: 6.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 595,000 (rank: #12)

Boats and yachts docked and sailing in the marina on Lake Lanier.
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Marcus E Jones // Shutterstock

#35. Georgia

- Concentration of boats: 7.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 783,000 (rank: #11)

Seattle downtown waterfront buildings.
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SvetlanaSF // Shutterstock

#34. Washington

- Concentration of boats: 7.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 560,000 (rank: #18)

Sailboat marina on the bank of the Ohio River.
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Angela N Perryman // Shutterstock

#33. Kentucky

- Concentration of boats: 7.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 327,000 (rank: #33)

A harbor in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Sabrina Janelle Gordon // Shutterstock

#32. Mississippi

- Concentration of boats: 7.4 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 217,000 (rank: #38)

Aerial view of condos and a marina with boats in Morehead City.
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Kyle J Little // Shutterstock

#31. North Carolina

- Concentration of boats: 7.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 799,000 (rank: #10)

Boats docked at Millennium Plaza.
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Lewis Photo Studio // Shutterstock

#30. Indiana

- Concentration of boats: 7.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 523,000 (rank: #19)

Biscayne Bay water by residential homes with private boat docks.
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Andriy Blokhin // Shutterstock

#29. Florida

- Concentration of boats: 7.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.7 million (rank: #2)

Harbor Area of Annapolis on a cloudy spring day with sail boats.
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Christian Hinkle // Shutterstock

#28. Maryland

- Concentration of boats: 8.0 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 491,000 (rank: #21)

People on a boat on Lake Thunderbird.
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Alonzo J. Adams // Shutterstock

#27. Oklahoma

- Concentration of boats: 8.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 330,000 (rank: #32)

Boats sitting in a marina.
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Darryl Vest // Shutterstock

#26. Alabama

- Concentration of boats: 8.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 419,000 (rank: #26)

Boat owner only sign on a Marina Dock.
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Kristilee Jones // Shutterstock

#25. Colorado

- Concentration of boats: 8.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 507,000 (rank: #20)

Poolside view of boats docked at lakeside condo on a sunny day at Lake of the Ozarks.
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Water Street // Shutterstock

#24. Missouri

- Concentration of boats: 9.1 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 561,000 (rank: #17)

Boats on a lake at sunset in Colter Bay with Grand Teton Mountains.
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JFunk // Shutterstock

#23. Wyoming

- Concentration of boats: 9.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 54,000 (rank: #50)

Boats docked in Greenwich Harbor.
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James Andrews1 // Shutterstock

#22. Connecticut

- Concentration of boats: 9.3 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 339,000 (rank: #30)

Marina with anchored boats.
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l i g h t p o e t // Shutterstock

#21. Louisiana

- Concentration of boats: 9.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 446,000 (rank: #23)

Aerial top picture of a dock basin with moorings and supplies for yachts and small boats.
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GLF Media // Shutterstock

#20. South Dakota

- Concentration of boats: 9.8 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 89,000 (rank: #47)

Harbor of Newport Rhode Island with Trinity Church.
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Mary Terriberry // Shutterstock

#19. Rhode Island

- Concentration of boats: 10.6 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 116,000 (rank: #45)

Aerial view of Lake Okoboji.
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Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#18. Iowa

- Concentration of boats: 10.6 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 340,000 (rank: #29)

Berth with motorboat.
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FOTOGRIN // Shutterstock

#17. North Dakota

- Concentration of boats: 10.8 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 84,000 (rank: #48)

Mooring rope and bollard on water and yachts in background.
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i_photos // Shutterstock

#16. Arkansas

- Concentration of boats: 11.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 342,000 (rank: #28)

View from the Tubbs Hill hiking trail of the Sanders Beach lakefront community of homes.
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Kirk Fisher // Shutterstock

#15. Idaho

- Concentration of boats: 12.8 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 249,000 (rank: #36)

View of waterfront homes with boat docks.
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Khairil Azhar Junos // Shutterstock

#14. Delaware

- Concentration of boats: 13.4 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 136,000 (rank: #42)

Depoe Bay Harbor on the Oregon Coast with boats tied up.
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Ian Dewar Photography // Shutterstock

#13. Oregon

- Concentration of boats: 13.6 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 577,000 (rank: #13)

Bee Run Recreational Area and its marina in Braxton County.
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Malachi Jacobs // Shutterstock

#12. West Virginia

- Concentration of boats: 14.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 264,000 (rank: #34)

Aerial view of Traverse City marina in Michigan.
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SNEHIT PHOTO // Shutterstock

#11. Michigan

- Concentration of boats: 17.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.7 million (rank: #1)

Small boat piers and docking slots on greenish Resurrection Bay water.
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Claudine Van Massenhove // Shutterstock

#10. Alaska

- Concentration of boats: 17.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 131,000 (rank: #43)

Boats in a marina in Minnesota.
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gmstockstudio // Shutterstock

#9. Minnesota

- Concentration of boats: 17.9 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.0 million (rank: #7)

The marina at Gate of the Mountains.
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Butler Stock Photography // Shutterstock

#8. Montana

- Concentration of boats: 18.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 204,000 (rank: #39)

People gather to watch boats along the water at the Burlington Marina.
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Erika J Mitchell // Shutterstock

#7. Vermont

- Concentration of boats: 18.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 118,000 (rank: #44)

Boats docked at Fish Creek in Door County.
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John Touscany // Shutterstock

#6. Wisconsin

- Concentration of boats: 18.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.1 million (rank: #6)

Harbor Town and boats docked on the water in Hilton Head Island.
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Connor D. Ryan // Shutterstock

#5. South Carolina

- Concentration of boats: 20.7 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 1.1 million (rank: #5)

A wakeboard boat at a wooden dock in the Muskokas.
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Adam Melnyk // Shutterstock

#4. Nebraska

- Concentration of boats: 28.8 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 566,000 (rank: #15)

Yachts docked at Marina in fall in Back Bay.
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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#3. New Hampshire

- Concentration of boats: 29.0 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 405,000 (rank: #27)

Fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove.
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haveseen // Shutterstock

#2. Maine

- Concentration of boats: 31.5 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 436,000 (rank: #25)

Boats docked at a jutting pier at the Southwest Waterfront.
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RaksyBH // Shutterstock

#1. Washington D.C.

- Concentration of boats: 36.2 registered boats per 100 residents
- Number of boats: 243,000 (rank: #37)

Data reporting by Paxtyn Merten. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on GetMyBoat and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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