How to Plan the Perfect Boat Picnic

Boating offers a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, and sometimes, finding a good spot to eat on land can be tricky. Between crowded beaches and limited restaurant options, planning a stress-free meal can take away from the fun. 
But have you considered planning a boat picnic? We love them because they offer a fun and unique way to enjoy your next outing – without all the hassle. Simply pack a delicious spread of food and drinks and enjoy a relaxing meal on the open water. There are no reservations or limited menus here. With a waterside feast, you're in charge! 

Keep reading for our top tips and boat picnic ideas to make your next event successful.

How to Plan a Boat Picnic in 4 Simple Steps

1. Create Your Boat Picnic Ambiance

The first step in planning any gathering is setting the mood. The beauty of coming up with fun boat picnic ideas is that the decorating possibilities are endless! You can easily find nautical-themed decorations at most online or local party supply stores.


Think anchors, mermaids, flags, miniature boats, or even a mini ship wheel – anything that screams "Ahoy, matey!" (Or maybe you're feeling more Captain Jack Sparrow vibes – that works too.)

Additionally, string lights are a foolproof way to create a charming and inviting atmosphere, especially as the day winds down. Plus, adding speakers or a portable sound system lets you set the vibe with relaxing music.

2. Choose the Menu Wisely

Now, let's talk food. When it comes to boat picnics, finger foods are your best friends. Forget fancy silverware – choppy waves and tiny plates don't exactly mix. Mini sandwiches, charcuterie boards with crackers, and chips and dip are all winners on the water. Even a delicious spread of appetizers will keep everyone happy.

And here's the thing many boaters forget: Food safety matters out on the water! So, try to bring things that won't spoil quickly. If you need to keep things chilled, a cooler with ice is your saving grace.  

best boat coolers image

Also, remember to bring hand sanitizer and plenty of napkins. Spills happen, and keeping everyone's hands clean is essential—especially when sharing snacks. Of course, you'll need plates, cups, and utensils.

Drinks? Think nautical-themed cocktails or mocktails. Easy-to-make options are also a win. Remember, safety first – always have a sober captain (and skipper) at the helm.

Explore our Boating Safety Guide

3. Have Entertainment Planned (Just in Case)

You may spend the entire day talking when you gather a group of your loved ones for a boat picnic. But when you want a bit of extra entertainment, having a few options in your back pocket can be a lifesaver.

Simple Boat Games

The best boat activities are simple and don't require a lot of setup or loose pieces. Think classics like Uno, Jenga, Pictionary, charades, or even a deck of cards that everyone can enjoy. These games are perfect for passing the time without taking away from the beautiful scenery.

Read Next: The Top Boat Games

Stargazing With a Twist

As the sun sets, you can always break out a stargazing app and transform your boat into a mini observatory! Take turns identifying constellations, learn fun facts about the night sky, or simply enjoy the view together.

4. Consider Other Boat Picnic Essentials

Even though it may seem obvious, don't forget the everyday things you need. Sun protection is a must, whether with sunscreen, hats, or a portable umbrella or canopy. If seating on board is limited, pack picnic blankets or mats to ensure everyone has a comfortable spot to enjoy the meal. 

Pro tip: Pack extra trash bags and dispose of everything responsibly. Remember, "leave no trace" applies on the water, too! Consider using reusable containers and utensils whenever possible.

Want to add a touch of fun? Make personalized seating cards for your guests, and bring portable chargers to keep everyone's phones happy. (And capture those funny moments!)
From our perspective, there's no better way to celebrate National Picnic Day than a stunning sunset cruise picnic. Pack battery-powered lights or lanterns for when the sun dips below the horizon.

Read Next: 10 Fun Things to Do on a Boat

The Best Way to Celebrate National Picnic Day: On the Water!

We may be biased as avid sailors, but boat picnics offer a top-tier way to experience the outdoors. And we hope this guide provides some helpful tips for hosting National Picnic Day on your vessel.
 Our most important piece of advice? Have a great time, and celebrate safely!

Day Cruising