Rain or shine, never fret! There are always things to do on the water when there’s a pontoon involved.
With players of one or more, and for kids of all ages—since we’re all kids at heart—here’s a list of 16 fun games to can play on your pontoon boat.
With or without getting wet, you can hold a summer pontoon party and invite friends and neighbors over for match or two. My crazy family’s favorite combines jousting and water chicken. (Play at your own risk!)
Games to Play on Your Pontoon Boat
On hotter summer days, it’s to keep refreshed by staying in the cool waters. But for those of us who need a bit more than just lazing about on floats and climbing up and down pontoon water slides, here are five games for more entertaining water sports.
- BASKETBALL HOOP KIT: this hoop set allows your kids to learn and play a basketball game at home or in the backyard with friends and family
- KIT COMPONENTS: this basketball hoop set includes an oversized hoop, a durable ball, door hooks, and a clamp set. You can easily assemble and disassemble the hoop, making it a portable playing hoop set
- QUICK SET-UP: easy setup and quick assembly of this over the door basketball hoop allows practicing dunks anytime, anywhere as the impulse strikes you.
- MOUNTING OPTIONS: you can clamp it easily with the help of door hooks and clamps on any horizontal pole like a trampoline, pop-up tent, flag pole or an RV ladder.
- SPECIFICATIONS: This mini indoor basketball hoop is available in XL size with 6 in. basketball, 24 in. x 16 in. backboard. You can use this outdoor basketball hoop with - 1-1.5 in. diameter poles.
Leave your sneakers on land for this basketball game. Versahoop Basketball Hoop (check price on Amazon) is made to be hooked on a pontoon’s gunwale railings and create marine courts.
Although it may be hard to tell players apart if there are two teams of skins, be sure to get close, VIP courtside seats on your pontoon’s benches and root for them.
One really smart feature of this basketball hoop is the ability to remove the hoop and lay it out flat for compact storage. And when not using it on your pontoon, the hoop can be clamped on anywhere!
- The dimensions are 94" x 25" x 36"
- Comes with an inflatable volleyball and the pole bases are grommeted to add anchor weights of desired
- Includes a repair kit
- Also has a shelf box
- Made from sturdy 10-gauge vinyl with a 7-gauge vinyl ball.
This Intex Pool Volleyball Net (check price on Amazon) can be used for more than a pool. If you’re a competitive volleyball player, you might be annoyed there aren’t exactly rules for “ball out” in the middle of open waters. But for the sake of an easy game, this is a lot of fun.
And I know what you’re thinking: You’ll probably have to tie it up with a line to your pontoon because it’s inflatable, but you’d be happy to know the pole bases come with anchor weights. Even if the weights are far above the water’s depth, it will still prevent the inflatable from being blown downstream by the wind.
- Classic floating "cornhole" game will test your skill and luck at sinking the Blobs in the 10 in. hole
- Constructed of heavy gauge PVC with the Speed Safety Valve
- Grommets on all four corners for tethering
- Includes: 4 green blobs
- 4 blue blobs and 1 target
Cornhole has become a very popular game for backyard barbecues and park picnics. But what about us water bugs?
Well, luckily Airhead’s Lob the Blob Inflatable Cornhole game (check price on Amazon) is just for us. Unlike the volleyball net, I don’t believe it comes with weights so you might need to rig your own. And don’t take the point system too seriously—the floating cornhole bags will bounce more than slide.
4. Noodle Joust
- MULTI USE: Use as a toy, extra floatation, or as a swim training aid
- MULTICOLOR: 18 pool noodles in an assortment of colors. Contains colors of red, blue, green, purple, and yellow
- LENGTH AND WIDTH: Noodles are 55" long (about 4.5 feet) with a 2 3/8" diameter
- ENJOY: unleash your summer fun by the pool with a SwimWays noodle.
- RECOMMENDED: for both kids and adults!
This one is easy if you already own foam noodles, as most boaters do. Of course, if you need more, you can always buy a whole bunch on Amazon. Only a two-player game, it’s perfect if you don’t have enough players—or people willing to get wet—for team sports.
Step One: Mount your steed. On land, take a PFD life vest—which you already require on board—and place your legs where arms normally go. (Yes, it should appear like you’re wearing a diaper. Sorry). Now grab a noodle and hop in the water.
Step Two: Now joust! Once in the water, face off with your opponent. Each knight/player straightens their noodle—as best they can, mind you—and swims toward each other—aiming to knock the other sideways into the water.
Don’t be super aggressive with this game! I can tell you from experience these foam noodles can really hurt when you’re smacked in the face. Aim for the chest instead, or somebody will come away with red cheeks—and it won’t be from sunburn!
5. Water Chicken
Most are familiar with this classic water sport. In fact, it only really works in water because, well, that’s a long fall for the person sitting on someone else’s shoulders.
Water chicken is a team player game of four or more players. Breaking off into multiple teams of two, one teammate sits on the shoulders of the other going head to head and neck to neck with the opposing team, attempting to knock them over. Whoever’s still standing wins!
Now, it’s possible to do more than two teams of two, but don’t go too crazy.
Board Games to Play on Deck
If you find yourself taking cover and waiting out a rainstorm or even pontoon camping, grab a board game to beat boredom. Just gather around beneath the bimini or pontoon enclosure and pass the time till the sun is out again!
6. Checkers Rug
- Great for all ages
- 3" diameter pieces
- Safe for young children
- Machine washable rug
- Synthetic and natural fiber rug
This oversized checkers rug (check price on Amazon) is great for storing on your pontoon all year round! With a two-foot by two-foot reversible woven rug, you fold it away for a rainy day along with the giant black and red chess pieces. And if checkers is a bit advanced for youngsters—no worries! Flip it over for a game of tic-tac-toe.
I had a very similar style checkers rug growing up and we carried it everywhere: Picnics, camping, the beach. And since it’s cloth, you can shake out the sand after use. Easy cleanup!
- CLASSIC BATTLESHIP GAME: Kids ages 7 and up can enjoy playing this classic game of naval combat
- INCLUDES 2 PORTABLE BATTLE CASES: This Battleship board game is easy to store and take on the go
- HEAD-TO-HEAD COMBAT: In this classic Battleship game for 2 players, sink an opponent's ships for the win
- OPTION FOR ADVANCED PLAY: The Battleship board game comes with a Salvo feature that lets advanced players launch multiple attacks
- PACKAGING MAY VARY. SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY.
- GAMES ON-THE-GO: Portable, magnetic, travel size board game. Perfect for your back pocket, backpack and travel case
- NEW YEAR, NEW GAMES: great for starting the new year with learning strategy and transforming game time into an engaging, hands on activity
- FUN FOR KIDS AND ADULTS: this classic strategy game can be played with both kids and adults. This is a game for two players. Use it to engage in hours of play time, whether you’re traveling, on a plane, or in the car
- PORTABLE, EDUCATIONAL, FUN: The Purple Cow games are designed to keep kids and adults engaged in the real world without gadgets. This is why our games are easy to carry, educational and fun
- ALL TIME ENGAGEMENT: Play this game any time your kids need a boost of strategic thinking, one on one quality time and fun
You sunk my battleship!
Okay, now I know in today’s modern age you can just download and play this game on electronic devices, but I’m old enough to remember the classic battleship game (check price on Amazon) with the red and white pegs you have to press down manually (instead of tap a screen).
So if you’re a parent who refuses to let their kid stare at a screen all day or just need to save your battery for more important things—like finding fish or navigating your way back home—consider this old-school game. With portable cases, you’ll never lose the pegs or ships. Alternatively, you can opt for the magnetic version of Battleship (check price on Amazon), free of tiny pegs.
- Scattergories game challenges you to come up with items fast
- You score points when you come up with items that nobody else does
- Play in teams for tons of fun
- Includes timer, die, Scattergories cards, score sheets and instructions. Ages 13 and up
Although not boating-related, Scattergories (check price on Amazon) is one of my all-time favorite board games. It’s mostly about writing in notebooks, so there aren’t many pieces you can lose overboard.
The idea is to roll a dice with letters on it and come up with most unique item beginning with that letter. For example, if it lands on “S”, you set the timer and each player tries to come up with unique items on a set list: Ice cream flavor? Strawberry cheesecake. Type of bird? Seagull.
To make it a more nautical-themed game, you can create your own lists like fish, boat part and body of water, for example.
9. Yahtzee (or Yacht-Sea)
- Two ways to play: classic or battle
- Custom dice
- Custom game board with ship tokens
You might be familiar with the standard Yahtzee game, but have you ever heard of Yacht-Sea? This play on words is the perfect substitute for rolling dice games on deck. It’s just like Yahtzee but with added maritime-themed rules.
Just keep a few extra dice on board in case some roll overboard during an exciting round.
10. Merchants & Marauders
- Pirate theme
- For 2-4 players
- Takes about 3 hours to play
- Made in Germany
I’ve not played the Merchants and Marauders (check price on Amazon) game myself, but it’s sure to please kids who love anything pirate-themed. The game is set in the Caribbean and you find fortunes as pirates would once have—mostly through plundering—to build impressive tallship vessels and be able to fend off your enemies and add ship crew.
Fair warning: This game says it takes about three hours to play. So tie up your pontoon, get comfortable for the long haul and grab some fruit snacks to stave off scurvy.
If you’ve ever played a card game outdoors, you know the wind is your enemy as much as the opposing poker-faced players around you. But did you know there’s such a thing as magnetic playing cards (check price on Amazon)?
Once you’ve got those secured, here are several card games you can play solo or with multiple players.
If you’re like me and sometimes enjoy a little peace and quiet down on the pontoon dock, you can always play a game of solitaire. Most card players know how to play solitaire, but there are actually several versions out there. Find your favorite card layout!
12. Go Fish / UNO
- Play the special Splash edition of UNO
- Durable, waterproof plastic cards.
- Handy clip keeps all the cards together and attaches to a beach bag, backpack, or camping gear.
- Play by matching color or number, or play an action card against your opponent.
- Score points by being the first to get rid of all the cards in your hand.
This one’s for the anglers: A game of Go Fish (go figure). Most know this game. You can play with a simple deck of cards or get yourself a waterproof set of UNO cards (check price on Amazon) and make it more interesting between the four colors and Wild, Draw Two’s and Reverse cards.
Rummy is considered one of the great classic card games. Click here for a good explanation of how to play. It’s the perfect game for multiple players and uses a standard deck of cards.
14. Marco Polo Blind Tag
Any kid who’s learned to swim has played the game of Marco Polo. The designated Marco yells “Marco!” and everyone else responds “Polo!” But the catch is that the Marco player closes his eyes or uses a blindfold, trying to catch fellow swimmers by using only the sounds of splashes and their voices.
15. Cannonball Contests
Contest or no contest, cannonballs are quintessential to water living. But add a long dock runway or pier to it, and you can make a much bigger splash. Pontoons can be great for this, with the proper safety precautions.
Gain a longer running pad and crash those waters hard! Of course, you need judges—but make sure they’re okay with getting drenched.
16. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts can be played both onboard your pontoon deck and in the water. Just find some common objects onboard like sunglasses, sandals and soft fishing lures (hookless, of course) and hide them in nooks and crannies around the boat. Make sure to remember where you hid the items, or make a map!
If you’re ordering board games online, check to see how many players they suggest and if the whole family can join in on the fun.
And if you have very young children, please be sure to check the age-appropriate levels, as some can have very small pieces which can become choking hazards. I should add if you’re playing in the water, maybe avoid sharp edges and pontoon engines.
Don’t get overly competitive. Remember: It’s just a game.
And have a good time!