If your weekend beach trip involves bringing the kids, it is unlikely to involve long naps on the beach, relaxing dips in the ocean, or settling down into a good book. The kids want to do stuff. As long as you prepare ahead of time and bring a fun attitude, you’ll find it’s easy to have fun things to do at the beach with family and friends.
What activities can you do at the beach?
- Make a sandcastle. Off course no beach trip is worth its salt (sorry) without making a sand castle!
- Why limit yourself to castles? Get creative and try making: sand cities, sand volcanoes, sand families (trace outline of the family, then dress up the outlines), or sand ‘snowmen’. To make this more exciting, do it at the waters edge and try to fortify your creation for as long as possible.
- Create themed play areas in the sand. For example bring some toy diggers and trucks along so you can create a quarry/construction site, or dolls/figurines to sit in the beach castle
- Search for interesting items like seashells, rocks, drift wood etc. Depending on the collector’s personality, they may also enjoy categorising or identifying them.
- Put some of the seashells and pebbles collected, along with some sand, in a jar to create a memento of the trip. Just make sure you have a secure lid to avoid a car full of sand
- Create sand angels
- Have a water-gun battle
- Teach your kids to be good people and to value the environment – pick up rubbish on the beach together as a family
- People leave items on the beach everyday. Undertake a treasure hunt as a family using a metal detector
- Build a sundial on the beach. Use some driftwood, toy, pole or other upright object to be the center
- If you have very young ones, they may find the waves too rough. Create your own lagoon for them by bringing a small inflatable paddling pool and fill with sea water
- Have a walk along the beach
- Listen to the ocean by holding a sea shell to your ear
- Explore rock pools and the waterline to find sea critters
- Dig the deepest hole known to humanity. Make sure you fill it in when you are done though
- Spell everyone’s names in the sand
- Bury someone in the sand. This will inevitably be a Dad.
- Enjoy a wave-infused adrenaline rush by surfing or body boarding
- Harness the wind by sailing, wind-surfing, or kite-boarding
- Take it a little bit more chill with a stand-up paddle (SUP) board or kayak
- Stick to the shallows and do some skim-boarding
- Just relax on an inflatable with drink in hand
- Throw a ball or Frisbee
- Fly a kite
- Sit around a beach fire pit (check beach regulations)
- Jump over the waves as they come crashing in
- If you can, finish the day taking in the sunset together
Games to play at the beach
Here is a list of classic beach games, and also some that you probably haven’t heard of before:
- Beach golf: dig a hole and try to roll a ball into it, with the winner recording the least number of attempts. You can also do this with a Frisbee, either trying to land it in holes, or aim it at targets like chairs, canopies etc.
- Beach tenpin bowling: Fill bottles with sand or water, line them up, and knock ’em down.
- Break ’em: find some shallow water just within the wave zone. Everyone sits holding their knees while getting buffeted by waves; the winner is the last person to ‘break’ and release their legs.
- Beach archery: draw rings into the sand like an oversized target. Everyone gets a chance to ‘shoot’ from a baseline and accumulate points. The center is worth the most points, and decreases as you move further away from the center.
- Channel race: Carve two flat parallel trenches in the sand, scoop some sea water in a bucket and pour down each groove. Float a light ball (eg. ping pong ball, golf ball) in each one, and have one person in each trench try to blow the ball to the finish line.
- Musical chairs – if you don’t have enough beach chairs, add anything you can sit on, eg. towels, mats
- Classic catches: A thrower will send a ball high into the air and call out a number between 1 and 500. The rest of the crew competes to catch the ball, with the winner getting the number of points that was announced. The first person to accumulate 500 points is the winner.
- Play limbo with any height marker you have available, like a suitable tree branch, sign, or even just a towel.
- Force-them-backs: establish two goal lines a few meters apart, and stick a blow-up beach ball in the middle. Two opposing teams will use water-guns to “force” the other team back and drive the ball over their goal line. If you don’t have water-guns, you can just throw a ball (tends to make the pitch very big)
- Play ‘I spy’ and ‘Marco Polo’
- Classic ball games that can be easily adapted to the beach: Volleyball, soccer, badminton, touch rugby/football, T-ball/baseball, cricket or spike-ball (a newer arrival using a trampoline)
Further resources for fun things to do at the beach with family and friends
Find more beach games to play with the family in books like Beach Games for Kids! by Dan DeFigio, or Best Beach Games by Barry Coleman.