Boat Rentals

Lake of the Ozarks: What to Know About Boat Rentals

Two people on a boat speeding across the water, Lake of the Ozarks boat rental concept.

Lake of the Ozarks is a popular vacation destination known for its plenty of things to do and fun on or around the water. It’s an excellent spot for families and friends to enjoy the sun, especially during the spring and summer prime boating months.

The area is also home to plenty of people who live and work there, providing easy access to boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and other activities in a beautiful location.

However, not every visitor or resident has a boat to take out on the water! So, what can you do?

You don’t want to miss out on what the lake has to offer. It’s a popular and well-maintained boating destination with plenty of paved boat ramps, but you don’t have to own a boat to enjoy it. Renting a boat is a popular option for many vacationers who visit for a few days, weeks, or months. It’s also an excellent option for locals who want to enjoy the lake (but not the responsibility and costs of owning a boat).

If you’re planning a water adventure at Lake of the Ozarks, keep reading for our insights into boat rentals in the area!

A man and woman fishing from a boat, boat rental MO concept.

Know What Type of Boat to Rent

If you’re planning a leisurely day on the lake, you probably don’t need a speed boat.

So, the first step to renting a boat at Lake of the Ozarks is determining the type of boat that best suits your needs.

For leisure or fishing, consider a pontoon boat. These boats are flat-bottom and ideal for enjoying the sun with friends and family while taking a few dips in the water to cool off.

However, if you plan to waterski or pull the kids in a raft behind the boat, something more like a jet boat could be your ideal watercraft. And if you’re feeling fancy and plan to spend more time on the water than on land, consider a yacht!

Determining the best boat for your lake activities can help you find a boat within your budget and stay safe on the water.

Check Rental Regulations and Requirements

Boats are big water toys. Naturally, they come with regulations and requirements before “just anyone” can take one out on the water.

Whether you rent a boat through a company or from an individual, make sure you understand the rules and responsibilities of operating a rented water vessel on the lake. The boat’s owner may have specific rules to ensure your safety and the boat’s safe operation. Additionally, the State of Missouri has requirements for renting boats.

Missouri requires boat renters to obtain a temporary boating license or permit before taking a boat out on the water. Taking the Missouri State-Approved Boat Rental Course through Boat-Ed meets this requirement, and you can take the course online at your convenience.

The course only costs $4.50 and requires that you review the handbook for Missouri Boating Laws and Responsibilities and then pass a test. It is simple yet crucial for your safety and for legally renting a boat when visiting the Lake of the Ozarks.

A person operating a boat on the water, Lake of the Ozarks concept.

Understand How Boat Renting Works

With information about regulations for a boat rentals, MO, and your short-term safety certificate, the next step is understanding how boat renting works.

First, you’re responsible for the boat’s condition upon return of the boat. A damaged watercraft could lead to hefty fees from the boat’s owner to repair the damage.

So, before signing a contract or paying for the boat’s use, walk around the boat and inspect it thoroughly to make sure it’s in excellent condition before you take temporary possession of it. If it’s in bad shape with visible damage or parts that don’t work before renting it, walk away.

You don’t want to be responsible for damage you didn’t cause or the potential for that damage to cause unsafe conditions for you on the water.

A reputable boat rental company or individual will only offer well-maintained and clean boats for renters.

Review the Fees and the Fine Print

Next, review the fees, including any refueling or late fees for returning the boat beyond its scheduled date and time. Depending on the boat, the owner, and your plans, boat rentals could be by the hour, half- or full-day, or for several days.

Some boat rental operators may also require you to purchase short-term insurance and pay a deposit to reserve the boat.

You’ll also want to read the fine print and expectations for taking the vessel, including any places you shouldn’t take the boat or requirements for cleaning the boat upon return.

Before taking the boat out on the water, make sure you understand the total cost of using it for the days you plan to use it and know the requirements for returning it in the same condition it was in.

A woman checks safety equipment on a boat, boat rentals MO concept.

Check for Safety Equipment

Even though it’s not your boat, it should come equipped with all essential safety equipment to keep you and others safe on the water.

These items include:

  • Lifejackets (in good working condition) for everyone onboard
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Throwable flotation devices
  • Visual distress signals
  • Sound signaling devices
  • A VHF marine radio
  • Navigation lights (that work)

If the boat is missing any of these items, ask the owner to provide them – or walk away and choose a boat from an owner who prioritizes safety for everyone using their boats.

Plan Your Boating Adventure

Renting a boat for your time at Lake of the Ozarks means you'll have plenty of fun on the water!

Research popular destinations on the lake based on your activities, like fishing, swimming, or waterskiing. Also, be aware that this lake is extremely popular during the boating season. Look into the most crowded or busy times on the lake and plan accordingly.

A busy lake increases the potential for danger when navigating around other boats, jet skis, kayakers, and others enjoying the water. If you have flexibility in your schedule, consider planning your vacation at an off-time that won’t have as much activity on the lake.

Lastly, look into the potential risks or dangers of boating at Lake of the Ozarks. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, take time to research known hazards and plan your trip to avoid them.

You’ll also want to consider the weather. Even if it’s one of the days you planned to be out on the lake – but the weather is bad – consider choosing another day for the lake adventure to avoid dangerous conditions on the water.

No matter your plans, leave a float plan with someone staying on shore before you head out! This keeps someone informed about where you and the boat could be to send help if you don’t return to your hotel or Airbnb at the scheduled time.

People on a pontoon boat on a lake, Lake of the Ozarks concept.

Stay Safe When Renting a Boat at Lake of the Ozarks

We hope you have a wonderful time at Lake of the Ozarks this season! When looking for that boat rentals, MO, and planning your trip, don’t forget to take the short (yet essential) Boat Rental Course for Missouri.

This course from Boat-Ed helps you get up to speed on Missouri’s boating regulations and can help you boat safely (and more enjoyably) during your stay at the lake.

Make safety your priority, and enjoy the water this season!