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Classic family fun beach games include digging holes, building sandcastles, ball games and playing Frisbee. But there are many more beach games to enjoy together. Sometimes all you need are water buckets and shovels for a day of fun in the sun. Other times your family may feel like playing more active beach games, especially if you’re spending an entire day at the beach. Before your next beach vacation, take a look at this ultimate list of best family beach games and find some new ones to share with your family .
When my kids were young, they enjoyed building forts from driftwood and other beach treasures. The beach is a great place to let imaginations run wild or to play team games with family and friends. Basic beach toys, beach towels and beach blankets can be used for many beach activities. The dollar store is a gem for cheap beach toys. And if you’re bringing your dog, pack some tennis balls to play fetch in the water.
Want to do more than dig in the sand? Consider these beach games. There’s something for everyone!
Headed to the shore for vacation? Don’t miss our ultimate beach vacation planning guide.
Best Games Toddlers Will Love
Playing Paleontologists. Bring a bag of plastic dinosaurs and bury them in the sand. Kids 2 – 7 (and older) can pretend they are paleontologists digging up and discovering new species. This fun game is contributed by Catherine Ryan Gregory who shares travel hacks, kid-friendly destinations and tips to make vacations more fun for the family at To & Fro Fam.
Bubble Blowing. What better place to get messy than at the beach? Bring on the bubbles and rinse off in the surf.
Sand Shapes. Bring your favorite Play-Doh shape cutters or old cookie cutters and make shapes in damp sand.
Truckin’ Time. The beach is a perfect place for toy dump trucks, bulldozers and steamrollers. Kids love to dig, load up and dump sand and water.
Friendly Competition Games
Team Games for Young Kids
Mini Golf. Buy a plastic set of golf clubs and balls from the dollar store, dig holes in the sand and set up your own course.
Water Bucket Relay. Give each a child a spoon, shovel or plastic cup and have them run to the water to fill their cup, and then race back to empty it in the bucket without spilling. Play as teams or give each child a bucket.
Beach Treasure Hunt. Give each child a list and a bucket to collect their treasures. They can hunt for shells, rocks, stones, driftwood, feathers, etc.
Beach Hot Potato. Have everyone sit in a circle and start some music (not too loud). Pass a beach ball around. When the music stops, the player holding the ball is out. The last person left is the winner.
Team Games for Older Kids
Beach Obstacle Course. Create a beach obstacle course with whatever you have on hand. An umbrella suspended between two beach chairs to jump over, towels to hop on, a sand castle to run around. Take turns running the obstacle course and see who is the fastest.
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Flick n Sticks. You’ll need 4 sticks or stakes, 4 cups, and a Frisbee. Arrange a pair of sticks at opposite ends like goal posts. Allow just enough space for a Frisbee to pass between. Put plastic cups on the sticks (two different colors if possible. Red vs blue team, etc.). Two people or two teams stand at opposite ends from each other. Throw the Frisbee through your opponents’ sticks. To score, throw the Frisbee between the two sticks for 3 points. If you knock off a cup you get 1 point. No points if your opponents catch the Frisbee.
Beach Musical Towels. Similar to Musical Chairs, this game uses beach towels laid out flat on the sand. Make a line of towels, enough for each player, minus one, and start the music. Players dance around the beach towels until the music stops. Each player must find a beach towel to stand on and the player left without a towel is out. Eliminate a player – and a towel! – and start the music again. The “winner” is the player left at the end of the game.
More Beach Games
Beach Ball Relay. Mark your start and finish lines in the sand. Divide your group into teams of three. Provide each team with a beach ball. Team members take turns running to the finish line and back again holding the beach balls between their knees. If a team member drops the ball, they must return to the start line and begin their turn again.
Limbo Dance. You’ll need a pool noodle, jump rope or boat oar for this beach version of Limbo. Two people hold each end of the pool noodle while players take turns shimmying under with faces upward.
Tug of War. Use a rope or several beach towels tied together. Form teams on the sand or at the water’s edge for a traditional game of tug of war.
Classic Beach Games
Beach Volleyball. If the beach you visit doesn’t have an actual volleyball net, play without one. Just mark a line in the sand for a casual game of beach volleyball.
Beach Frisbee. Sold under various names, soft Frisbees or flying discs are perfect for the beach.
Creative Beach Games
Build a fort. Using sticks, driftwood and other items you find, build a fort. Need more building materials? Use towels, beach chairs – be resourceful.
I Spy. In this classic, low-key game, players take turns being a spy. The spy sees an object and gives players hints. The person who guesses what the object is correctly becomes the next spy.
How to Get Grandma and Grandpa in the Game
Bocce Ball. Bocce ball is a simple and great beach game for all ages. Beach bocce can be played by two single players or by two teams for hours of fun. If you don’t own a bocce set, improvise with rocks or other beach treasures. A “jack” or target is thrown on the sand. Players throw their weighted balls and the one who gets their ball closest to the target wins a point. The game continues until a certain number of points are reached.
Dig Up Beach Treasures. All you need is a bucket, sand and water to find interesting beach gems like shells and crabs. Fun for all ages.
Competitive Castle Building
Think you make an awesome sand castle? Then challenge your kiddos to a competitive sand castle building competition. Winner is the one who builds the best (or highest) castle, as chosen by mom (or, if you’re competing too, ask the family on the next beach blanket to pick a winner).
If you want to take your building skills up a notch, check out professional sand castle instructors, such as Sand Castle University in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Instructors meet your family at your favorite beach in the Gulf Shores area. Two classes cover best tools, tips and tricks. A time lapse video and a list of the best sand castle building tools are provided.
Packaged Beach Games
KanJam. This flying disc game is played with a flying disc and two cans that serve as goals. Partners stand at either end as one person throws the disc and the other deflects it into a can.
Spot It! Splash. A twist on I Spy, Spot It! Splash comes in a waterproof bag with playing discs. The beach and vacation themed cards have two matching symbols. Players compete to discover their matching cards first. Ages 7 and older.
Spikeball. This two-on-two game has similar rules to volleyball. Except players spike the ball down on a trampoline with an adjustable net and folding legs for portability.
Trampoline Paddle Ball. This fun, two-player paddle game is great for hand-eye coordination. Players toss, catch and bounce balls back and forth.
More Fun Beach Games
Tidalball. Played similar to the cornhole game, Tidalball is enjoyed anywhere there is sand. Teams throw or roll balls into a trench. The first team to throw all the balls in the trench wins.
Bulzibucket. The game is played with 2 heavy duty collapsible bucket targets, and 6 hacky sacks (3 for each team). Space the buckets several feet apart. Players take turns throwing the hacky sacks into the buckets. First team to reach 21 points wins.
Sandhole. This game is the beach version of cornhole. Players take turns tossing the filled bags into cups (3 points) or on the target (1 point). The kit includes 2 targets, 8 refillable bags, 8 sand stakes and 2 cups in a pouch.
Starlux Games Capture the Flag. When the sun goes down, play Starlux Games Capture the Flag in the dark. The glow-in-the-dark game includes 25 light-up game pieces, 12-plus hours of batteries, and 12 different ways to play. For ages 8 and older, and 4-20 players (with game variations).
What games does your family enjoy while spending a day at the beach?
Headed to the shore for vacation? Don’t miss our ultimate beach vacation planning guide.
And before you pack, check out this beach packing lists for families.