Boat parties are the best parties, and there’s nothing like rockin’ the boat and making some waves with your friends. So grab your flip flops, swim trunks and sunscreen 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 and then take a look at some of the best gear, food and accessories you can buy for partying on a boat.
Comfortable Boat Seating and Loungers
A three-day weekend (or just any 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.
Of course 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 may be forced to get creative. Perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to do this is to move the party to the water! Grab a few tubes or floats, or even take advantage of the Life Jacket Water Chair from our Top 6 Boating Hacks.
If you have a bit bigger budget, you may want to create the ultimate seating arrangement with some awesome water toys that could be worth every penny! Below are some options for great boat seating:
- 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
Boat Grills and Boat Party Snacks
The obvious go-to when it comes to party food usually starts with firing up the onboard grill. Some boats come equipped with a grill on the stern of the vessel, or another convenient aft location. If you’re lucky enough to one of these built-in boat grills onboard your boat, then you’re good to go! However, if you have one, it doesn’t mean you’re out of options – you’ll just have to be a little more resourceful!
Check out these boat grilling gadgets if you’re looking to spice things up and add a grill to your boat:
- 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
Good Boating Food – On The Water Cuisine
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.
Boat Lighting Options – Underwater and Ambient 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 boat 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
Boat Sound Systems – From Premium Audio to Portable Floating
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 on a premium marine audio system! But if that’s out of your price range, as an alternative, you can always consider bringing along a waterproof bluetooth speaker for your boat, or even add one of Fusion’s Signature Speakers or Kenwood’s Digital Media Receivers 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, Jacket H20—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.
Setting The Tone: Party Playlists and Themes
Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to set the mood by providing a party theme and putting together a party playlist for your listening pleasure.
Some song awesome boat music 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 Boat Trader
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 practice safe boating procedures 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 originally appeared on boats.com. Edited by Ryan McVinney and reprinted by permission on 9/19/2019.
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