Boat parties are the best parties; there's nothing like rockin' the boat and making some waves. Grab your flip flops, swim trunks, sunscreen and a handful of friends, and get ready to party. But first things first: what can you do to transform your boat into the ultimate party barge? Let's start with the basics.
How to party on a boat:
- Invite some friends.
- Pack a cooler with food and drinks.
- Assign a designated driver/captain, if needed.
- Play music—bring along a portable speaker.
- Lastly, be safe and have fun.
Kick your feet up
A three-day holiday weekend, or even just a two-day weekend, means no work and a lot of play. Whether you’re in the water or catching a tan on the deck of your boat, you’ll need to be comfortable. If your boat has a shortage of built-in seating or your party starts to hit max capacity, extra seating options will be crucial.
A simple solution can be found by bringing a few extra folding chairs or large towels to spread around for guests—but sometimes there’s no room for that, so you’ll be forced to get creative. The easiest way to do this? Move the party to the water. Grab a pool noodle, take a seat on top of a tube, or even take advantage of the Life Jacket Water Chair from our Top 6 Boating Hacks.
For the ultimate seating arrangement you may have to spend a little extra cash, but from the look of these awesome water toys, it would be worth every penny:
- Looking for an escape from the sun? Check out the Cabana Islander Lounge by Sports Stuff.
- Ready for a mid-day siesta? Solstice’s SunSoft Mattress is the answer.
- Want a little more room to gather around with some friends? The O'Brien Water Carpet allows you to walk, run or lounge with up to 6 people.
- Time to take a load off? Plop down in West Marine’s Go Anywhere Marine Beanbag Chair.
Good eats and good times
The obvious go-to when it comes to party food usually starts with firing up the grill. If you’re lucky enough to have a built-in grill on board your boat, then you’re good to go. If you don’t happen to have one, it doesn’t mean you’re out of options; you’ll just have to be a little more resourceful.
Step one: prep your favorite grill items ahead of time. Once you’ve pre-cooked them all, wrap them in aluminum foil and pack them into an insulated bag or cooler to bring with you. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, there are plenty of alternatives. Salad, pasta salad or potato salad, sliced fruit, cold cuts, PB&J’s, chips and salsa; there’s almost no end to the kinds of party food that don’t require any cooking. Tupperware, zip-lock baggies, saran wrap, and paper plates will become your new best friends.
Raw snacks are an excellent, if slightly basic go-to. Check out these gadgets if you’re looking to spice things up:
- Portable Grill (West Marine has a great selection that might spark your fancy)
- The infamous Boat Blender
- Yeti Cooler & Accessories (From tie-down kits, rod holsters, and seat cushions, to koozies, bait trays and the cooler itself)
- Docktail custom-mounted bar sets for boaters
Hit the lights
When the sun goes down, the party is just getting started. Since it’s probably not the best idea to light up tiki torches, there are other alternatives to help keep the lights on. For owners with boats like the Sea Ray 280 SLX, the built-in cockpit lighting that extends through the interior all the way to the exterior bilge vents will be sure to set the mood. But fear not, you won’t be left in the dark if you don’t have any built-ins.
For all you avid campers and outdoorsmen, grab your favorite battery-powered lantern and bring it along—it may not be fancy, but it’ll do that trick. And don’t forget about your basic household flashlights or even your iPhone flashlight. To add some color, think about bringing a pack of assorted glow sticks or bracelets.
If you’re really looking to light up the night, take a look at these lighting options that are sure to catch some attention:
- XK Glow’s Flexible Strip LED Lighting Kit (controlled by an iOS or Android application)
- Innovative Lighting Inc.’s Extend-A-Light Manual LED Stern Light
- Seasense’s LED Cup Holder Accent Bezel
- Blue Water LED High Output UV Blacklight Kit
Pump up the jam
Now, let’s talk tunes. If you really want the right kind of sound, you’ve got to have at least 6,000 watts and a sub-woofer. As an alternative, consider adding one of Fusion’s Signature Speakers or Kenwood’s Digital Media Receiver with built-in Bluetooth. If you need help making a decision, check out our 10 Tips for Choosing Marine Stereos.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks, not to worry, there are some cheaper options out there. Instead of installing a new sound system, think about investing in a portable speaker. There are some quality choices on the market, including Altec Lansing’s waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof, Lifejacket XL—oh, and did we mention it floats? There are plenty of other gadgets to choose from as well; take a look at the Top 10 New Stereo Systems, AV Accessories and Electronic Gadgets for Boats to get a sense of what’s out there.
Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to put together a party playlist for your listening pleasure. Some song suggestions might include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet
- When the Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney (featuring Uncle Kracker)
- Redneck Yacht Club by Craig Morgan
- Toes by Zac Brown Band
- Buy Me A Boat by Chris Janson
Those are just our favorites—what are yours? Share them on Facebook (and be prepared for a lively argument with your fellow boaters!)
A little safety reminder from your friends at boats.com
Regardless of what you’re listening to, what you’re drinking, and however you decide to transform your boat into your party platform, don’t forget to stay safe while you’re out on the water. You should always have a designated captain who will stay sober and look out for the passengers. You can never have too much fun, but it’s no fun when someone gets hurt or gets in trouble. Party safe, and party on.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May of 2016 and updated in August 2017.