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Powerboats are very popular because of their speed and "point & shoot" ease of navigation. There are plenty of options available for a beginner.
Electric - Toy-class
Go to any well-stocked toy store and you will see some RC boats on the shelves. Most come in safe, reliable mono-hull designs. You can get toy-class RC boats in any size from around two inches to two feet. For the most fun, look for ones that promise high speeds and that use rechargable battery packs.
Electric - Hobby-level
These can quickly get expensive, so it's important to know your budget ahead of time and stick to it. The easiest way to start out is with a Hobbico Reef Racer or Hobby Zone Zig Zag Racer. These lil' buggers are small, but have good speed and excellent agility. They're almost impossible to sink and are perfect for running in pools & ponds. If you want something larger, look into the Traxxas Blast and Villain or Villain EX.
Nitro-powered boats ard hard to recommend for a beginner. It takes a lot more knowledge to get them running well and keep them running well, and if something goes wrong, you can cause a lot of damage or lose your boat with uncomfortable ease. They are, however, quite fast and amazingly exciting. Check out some of the models offered by Pro Boat.
RC sailboats are definitely an area where the saying "you get what you pay for" applies! For under $100 US you can get a boat from Nikko or Nkok, but these only have rudder control for steering. There is no control of the sails, so you're very limited in what you can do.
By spending a bit more money, you can get a fine start in RC sailboating. The Hobbico Paradise and Megatech Nirvana come fully ready to launch and allow you to control the "sheeting" of the sails separately from the rudder. Beyond this, you start to get into the truly professional level with more control, more refined racing designs, and more expensive materials.
Yes, believe it or not, you can buy RC submarines that will actually dive underwater! If you really want to treat yourself, look into the 20" long Nikko Sea Wolf. The Sea Wolf has separate controls for diving & surfacing versus moving forward/back/left/right. It even comes with weights to allow you to balance it specifically for the density of water you're going to run it in, and it will automatically resurface if it goes too deep or gets out of radio range. If you want something smaller and more economical, Nikko makes a 7" one called the Sea Tiger. This will only dive while going forward and will automatically float up if you don't touch the controls. However, with some practice, you can learn to keep it in a small area underwater by moving in a slow circle. Want something smaller still, but with the Sea Wolf's separate diving control? Try the Hobbico Sea Scout or one of the cheaper clones. Can you get something smaller still? You bet! Check this out -- it's under 4" long; I have two, myself, and yes, they really work (even better if you add a little weight). You can often find these and similar models on eBay.