Pontoon ladders are ladders attached to pontoon boats that allow people to climb into and out of the water with relative ease. They are usually necessary because the decks of pontoon boats are often several feet above the water, so boarding from the water can be difficult. Such ladders come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes and can attach to the side of the pontoon boat in several different places. Some are intended to be attached permanently to a boat while others are meant to be attached only when one wants to get off the boat and into the water.
There are several locations on the deck of a pontoon boat that can facilitate a pontoon ladder. Most pontoon boats have gates on either side that allow passengers to climb from the boat to a dock. Such gates can be opened to provide space for pontoon ladders, allowing passengers to climb into and out of the water. Many pontoon boats have spaces in the front and back that are not gated in or blocked by seats, and pontoon ladders can also be fitted to these spaces.
Pontoon ladders can be mounted to the sides, front, or back of a pontoon boat through a variety of different permanent and temporary means. Permanent ladders are often mounted to a joint of some form that allows the ladder to be folded up onto or beneath the deck when the boat is in motion. A temporary pontoon ladder, on the other hand, is designed to be easily attached and detached from the same location on the boat. When the boat is in motion, the ladder can be kept on the boat's deck, and when no one intends to leave the boat, it can be left on shore. Those who use their boats primarily for swimming tend to prefer permanent ladders while those who mostly take boat rides or who have boats with little space often prefer temporary ladders.
Some pontoon ladders are vertical with narrow rungs, providing only the bare minimum needed to get into and out of the water. Some are angled and can have six or more wide rungs that are more like steps. Small ladders, while generally less expensive and more space-efficient, tend to be difficult for those with mobility problems or physical handicaps to use. Larger pontoon ladders with wide steps, on the other hand, tend to be little more difficult to climb than normal stairs.