Baja 34 Islander Review

Fishing the reefs off the southern US coastline involves a lengthy round trip, so sportsfishing boats from this region are commonly based on high-performance hulls powered by dual maxi outboards.

The Baja 34 Islander is one such rig that doesn’t mess around when it comes to making a fast trip out and back, having a hull straight from their performance range.

What’s more it will make that fast trip with a high degree of comfort, powering onwards when others may be easing back.

This is the fisherman’s race boat… and at around $260,000 it’s not for the budget conscious!

Twin Mercury V6 Optimax 225 outboards extract better than 43mph (37knots), doing so with ease and grace. The Islander will cruise at 32mph (27.5 knots) with a tad over 4000 on the tachos.

Plenty of outboard fishing boats will achieve these figures – the difference is that this is a 34ft, 2.75tonne boat, and it is more than capable of holding these speeds in very rough conditions.

I can hear all the purists decrying the unsuitability of performance hulls for serious fishing. But on the Islander 34 you find the flat, walk-round cockpit, plenty of live bait, fish and insulated storage boxes, protected tackle and rod holders, cutting and prep boards etc.

Like top Aussie walk-arounds and centre consoles, the Islander is not solely a fishing boat. Recreational divers will find all the facilities and freedom of movement that they need, and one of the options offered by Baja is an air compressor.

And as a day boat this has all the features to take a load of family and friends. There’s ample space, a huge amount of underfloor and insulated icebox storage, seating for eight, an enclosed vacuflush toilet and a compact vee berth.

The berth would be a little stuffy on balmy nights, but open it up and it may be just the place for the kids to rest.

Like its high-performance siblings, the Islander is a light and easy boat to drive with good response to the wheel. The hull gives a soft ride, though in rough seas you can expect some wind-borne spray to douse the rear seats.

The console offers good front-on protection, while a small bimini shelters it from above. That’s not a lot of shade for the recreational boater, but it means that the bimini doesn’t interfere with the fishing freedom.