Make the most of your time at the beach this year with these fun family games & activities for all ages
It’s undeniable that our family loves to take trips to the beach, and we greatly enjoy helping others create enjoyable and memorable experiences as well. The least stressful beach outing is a combination of organization, prep, and several essential beach items for both you and your bubs.
A day of fun in the sand and sun wouldn’t be complete without a variety of fun beach games. We always suggest having a selection in your back pocket because when you have young children in tow, you don’t have the option of simply turning them loose in the water and hoping for the best.
We’ve organized a list of Fun Games to Play at the Beach that is tailored to a wide range of ages. Whether you have toddlers, preschoolers, or older children, these activities for beach play are ways to keep everyone entertained and build memories to cherish for years to come.
This post is part of our Beach Vacation series – everything you need from packing lists, and essential gear to the best beaches around the world!
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Best games to play at the beach
We’ve chosen the best beach games for your family, and many of them require very little in the way of extra items you must bring. These are easy and healthy green games to play with the kids.
To make it easier, we’ve categorized them by type of activity, with a few sections specifically for younger children and toddlers.
Best Beach Ball Games
One or two inflatable beach balls are all you need for hours of beach play. They’re an inexpensive and lightweight toy that children of all ages can enjoy (and even the adults!).
Beach Ball Volleyball (Ages 4+)
You don’t need a special net for this simple volleyball game. You can create a net out of two beach chairs connected with a beach towel. Grab a plastic beach ball and see how many times you and your kids can bounce it back and forth over the net. You can customize the rules to make the game age-appropriate for every member of your family. You can even use a stick to create your own mini beach volleyball court in the sand!
Don’t Touch the Sand! (Ages 3+)
This is similar to beach ball volleyball, but the objective for Don’t Touch the Sand is – quite obviously – not to let the beach ball hit the ground! Keep the ball in the air by hitting it with your arms, knees, or feet. Rather than keeping score, try playing the game in rounds. See how many times you can hit the ball before it touches the ground.
Beach Towel Parachute (Ages 3+)
Beach Towel Parachute is one of our favorite family beach games because it can quickly get hilariously out of hand! Grab a few beach towels and overlap them with each other. Have a person on each end of the towel hold them up, then toss a beach ball or two in the middle. See how hard you and your kids can snap the towels to send the balls flying into the air. The more balls there are, the wilder it gets!
Beach Ball Simon Says (Ages 3+)
Simon Says pairs very well with beach play, and it also helps them learn how to follow directions. Hand each child a beach ball. All of the rules of the game apply, except your child has to complete the actions with the beach ball. Some examples include:
- Jump on your right foot and hold the ball over your head
- Pass the ball in between your legs
- Wave the ball over your head
Don’t forget to say, “Simon says”!
Beach Ball Balance Race (Ages 4+)
For this game, you can use either a plastic cup large enough to balance your beach ball on or an ice cream cone. Just make sure that you keep an eye on younger children who may be tempted to eat theirs! Have each child balance their beach ball on their cup or cone and race to the finish line! If they lose their beach ball, they have to stop and re-balance it before starting again.
Some fun beach balls to invest in this summer!
Best Beach Sand Games
BULZiBUCKET (Ages 5+)
This beach game is like a waterproof version of cornhole, and it’s sure to be a hit! The buckets are incredibly lightweight, and the game comes with a carrying case to make transportation convenient. There are three ways to play so that you can adapt it to the number and ages of your players. If you really want to make it interesting, play it in the water–it floats!
Frisbee (Ages 4+)
This is an iconic family beach game, and these frisbees are specially designed for younger children in mind. Frisbee is a highly versatile activity, and you can easily create fun and entertaining games. Draw circles in the sand and see if your kids can land their frisbees inside them for different points. If you have enough players, divide into two teams and have a frisbee relay. If you have older children, play a game of water frisbee. The possibilities are endless.
Bocce Ball (Ages 3+)
If you’re looking for simple summer beach games that every member of your family can enjoy, Bocce Ball should be on your list. The game is played with two teams, and there can be 1-4 players on each team. Each team’s goal is to get their ball closer to the Pallino than the other team’s. It can get competitive, but it’s all in good fun!
Roundnet (Ages 12+)
An easily portable and high-energy alternative to volleyball, Roundnet is the perfect game if you have older children and teenagers. Roundnet comes with both beginner and advanced balls that each team tries to spike back and forth into the net. This game is both highly entertaining and great exercise!
Fill the Hole (Ages 2+)
Some of the best beach games are fueled solely by your children’s energy, and you get to reap the benefits during naptime! You only need beach buckets, shovels, and sand for this one. Have each person dig holes of roughly the same size in the sand, then turn them loose to fill their hole with water. The first one to fill theirs up wins!
Best Beach Water Games
Bucket Race Relay (Ages 3+)
This is one of those family beach games where it’s entirely acceptable to accidentally splash your teammate with water. Divide into teams of two or three. Give each person a bucket. On the count of three, the first person on each team fills their bucket with water and empties it into the next person’s. The goal is to fill up a larger bucket (5-gallon buckets work great) with water before the other team does.
Marco Polo (Ages 4+)
The minimum age varies for this game, depending on whether or not all of your children know how to swim. Regardless, you’ll want to make sure they’re wearing life jackets in the water to be on the safe side. Have one person close their eyes and yell, “Marco!” while the others yell, “Polo!” Once the person who’s “it” tags someone else, the one who is tagged is now “it.”
Dodge Ball (Ages 5+)
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create fun beach games. In fact, try a few old-fashioned rounds of dodge ball. Playing it in the water adds an extra challenge level for everyone involved.
Spray Tag (Ages 3+)
Summer beach games wouldn’t be complete without spray tag, and it’s one of our favorite activities for younger children to participate in. The rules are pretty simple: instead of physically tagging the person you’re chasing, you have to spray them instead. On extra toasty days, you may find yourself intentionally slowing down!
Snorkeling (Ages 5+)
If you have older children, a day of beach play should unquestionably include snorkeling. Snorkeling is a fantastic way to help your child experience the wondrous world underneath the water. Have an underwater exploration adventure or scavenger hunt. Who knows what you’ll find?
Find our complete guide to the best kids snorkel sets & other essentials snorkeling gear to invest in here – plus we have this super guide to the best worldwide beaches for kids to learn how to snorkel
Boogie Board Races
If you’re looking for family beach games that offer a little friendly competition, how about a boogie board race? Boogie boards are a beach-time essential for us, and for a good reason. They’re lightweight, durable, and support your beginner and intermediate swimmers. The last one to shore is a rotten egg!
We have a super guide here for the best types of boogie boards to invest in, depending on your child’s age and confidence in the water
Best Beach Activities for Preschoolers
Sandcastles are a timeless beachgoing activity that helps your child work on problem-solving and building skills. You can certainly help your child build a sandcastle from scratch, but using sandcastle molds are a fun way for them to create their own masterpiece.
Beach Scavenger Hunt
Help your preschooler work on their picture and word associations with this fun and engaging beach game. You can create your own scavenger hunt cards tailored to your specific location or use this free printable. Your preschooler will love being able to check off each item on the list.
The only item you need for this preschooler beach activity is an inflatable beach ball or rubber ball and a stick to draw large circles in the sand. For this version of the game, trace three to four large circles in the sand and write different point values in each one. Have your child roll the ball and see which circle the ball lands in, then add the points together.
We love creating fun activities out of what we can find in our surroundings, which is why this activity is perfect for beach play. Not only will you and your preschooler enjoy discovering the most intriguing shells, but you can also use them for a larger-than-life Tic-Tac-Toe board in the sand.
Best Beach Activities for Toddlers
One of the best things about toddlers is that they are generally quite happy with a few beach toys and independent playtime. Shovels, buckets, and water toys can keep them occupied for a whole afternoon, and these also help them develop fine motor skills.
Create Sand “Cookies”
All you need for this beach activity for toddlers is a selection of cookie cutters from home. Help your toddler create “cookies” by pressing different shapes into the sand. You can even bring a small cutting board to press wet sand on for your toddler to use as a “cookie sheet.”
Make a Sandman
Celebrate Christmas in July by creating a “sandman” instead of a snowman! This works best with damp sand that you and your toddler can form into balls. Once you’re finished, look around for seashells, pebbles, seaweed, and twigs to complete the look!
We love creating mementos from our trips to the beach, and this toddler beach activity has always been a hit. All you need is a package of washable markers or Sharpies (in the interest of clothes preservation, I recommend the washable ones) and a selection of seashells your toddler has gathered from the beach. Get comfy on a beach blanket and color away!
We talk more about the best outdoorsy toys and games for toddlers in our guide to toddler camping toys.
Don’t forget toddlers can get chilly at the beach long before older kids and grown-ups. Keep your little one warm with a toddler wetsuit.
We hope this guide to beach games has given you some new ideas to try next time you’re at the beach! Got another idea? Drop it in the comments below; we love adding to our beach games repertoire!
Found this family beach guide useful? You may also like:
- Best Baby Sun Hats – keeping babies head protected, don’t head out into the water without a sun hat on your tot too.
- Best Pop-Up Beach Tents – when you’re finished in the water it’s great to have a shaded spot to retreat to out of the UV rays.
- Best Family-sized Beach blankets – idea sand-free options for your next big day at the beach.
- Best Floatation Vests for Toddlers – learning to swim and gaining confidence in the water, these will keep them safe until they’re a confident, independent swimmer!
- Kids underwater cameras – whether it’s learning to snorkel or simply taking some fun snaps while you play in the water, kids will love these inexpensive & waterproof action cameras.
- Gifts for the beach-loving Mama – pretty and practical, give s beach-loving mom something she can actually use!
- Ultimate Beach Packing List – don’t forget a thing next time you head to the beach with our essentials packing list (downloadable if you sign up here!)
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