man flying a kite at the beach

30 Family Beach Games To Keep Your Kids Busy and Entertained

One of the best things to do in Martha’s Vineyard is head to the beach. With approximately 20 beaches on the Vineyard, you will have a choice of where you want to park your chair and umbrella. To keep the kids engaged at the beach for hours, be sure to take some ideas for family beach games that everyone can play. There are so many games to play on a beach with kids. Fun family beach games can be either be a kids-only activity or played with adults. We have some options for beach games for family members that are older that will help them engage with younger children. For many of the things to do at the beach with kids, you don’t need much equipment. Our beach bag always has shovels, buckets and balls.

Let’s face it, a family outing to the beach with kids can be quite the production. You’ll need lots of food, drink, towels, water toys, umbrellas etc. Usually when we go to the beach, we stay for hours because of all the effort the trip involves. Here are some ideas for family beach games that can keep the kids occupied for a few hours.

Family Beach Games: Old Favourites

These family beach games are old favourites for a reason – everyone loves them! These things to do with kid at the beach have stood the test of time and still continue to amuse.

Digging

I am always impressed by the amount of time kids can dig sand at a beach. My kids like to dig as far as they can in order to create a den to sit in. We stopped them from digging too far in order to avoid any collapses and scares.

hole digging at the beach
A lot of games to play on a beach with kids involves digging of some sort.
NB! Please fill up any holes created so that people don’t inadvertently fall into them.

Kite Flying

On a windy day, our children like to fly kites at the beach. It takes skill and patience to get a kite to fly in the sky well.

man flying a kite at the beach
Flying kites are good things to do with kids at the beach.

Sand Sculpture

Take the usual mermaid tails sand sculpture up a notch and make it a creative competition.

pretending to drive a beach car
It might vaguely resemble a mermaid’s tale but this is clearly a race car my son is driving.

Competitive sand sculptures (including in teams) gets the kids creative juices flowing. The winner(s) get to pick the ice cream place we will go to after the beach trip.

Really young children may enjoy doing sand angels instead of sand sculptures.

boy creating a sand angel
Beach games for family members that don’t require supervision include making sand angels.
Fun! Practice for the annual sand sculpture contest held on South Beach in early August.

Feats of Engineering

My son spent an entire summer creating the perfect car tunnel in the sand. He wanted his toy cars to go on a bridge above, and a tunnel below. The tunnel kept collapsing until he got the mechanics of it right.

bridge and tunnel with toy cars and plane in sand
Things to do at the beach with kids can be both educational and fun

My kids have also built a sand castle with a moat that would flood it when the tide came in. It was like a mini-Mont St Michel in France.  With more sand buildings, you can even create a sand city.

city made out of sand
This sand city was a collaborative effort and a fun family beach game

Harder than flooding the moat of the sand castle is building a dam to protect the castle from the ocean waves.

Skip Rope

Take a skipping rope to the beach and kids can come up with all sorts of games to play. We have even used the skip rope for an impromptu game of limbo.

jumping rope at the beach
Jump rope is both an aerobic activity and a fun family beach activity.

Races

You can easily set up a race on the beach such a wheelbarrow race. Recreate a relay race with buckets. The kids use little buckets/spades to fill up a bigger bucket.

wheelbarrow race at the beach
The best family beach games require no equipment and lots of laughter.

Cornhole

Dig a hole in the sand that is deep enough to bury a bucket with the top sticking out.  You need to make sure the bucket can’t move. Then take turns throwing a ball (seashell you find on the beach?) into it in an impromptu game of corn hole.

cornhole on the beach
You can bring a collapsible corn hole toss or make one out of buckets for a fun family beach game

Ball Games

Everyone likes to go to the beach. For me, the combination of sunbathing and reading books is the perfect combination. But when you are on the beach with kids, you can forget all about settling down with that book. Mummy, can we bury you? Will you help us dig the trench for our sandcastle? Will you play tag? And of course making sand angels – ouch!!!! – called me old fashioned but I hate those scratchy sand angels.

When we lived in Oman with kids, Our solution on almost daily visits to the beach was simply to bring a ball with us. In the surf, or for football on the beach, if I can’t be reading, then running around chasing a ball in and out of the water is the next best thing. It keeps me fit and the kids entertained for hours. And it doesn’t seem to matter if you are with one child, or you have a bunch of kids with you, chasing a ball around the beach is great fun.

So next time you are going with kids to the beach, don’t forget to take a ball with you.

– Ania, The Travelling Twins

More to try!  Even without a net, you can play beach volleyball by drawing a line in the sand or creating a “net” with chairs. That’ll make the adults happy.
mom and two kids kicking a ball around on the beach
All you need is a ball to enjoy some of the best family beach games (Image credit: The Travelling Twins)

Frisbee

Frisbee is the ultimate beach game. Easy to transport, cheap and lots of fun. You need a minimum of 2 people to play, but it is most fun with a larger group in a circle or playing various frisbee games. While throwing the frisbee needs a bit of coordination and most kids only master it when they are 5-6 years old, there are quite a few other activities that younger kids can play with frisbees as well.
Here are some ideas
  • Frisbee Golf: You can set up a make-shift frisbee golf tournament on the beach, where you have to land the frisbee on a designated spot (lay down a towel or draw a circle in the sand).
  • Water Carrier: You need at least 2 frisbees for this, but it is a great game for little kids. Fill the frisbees with water and race each other over a distance.
  • One in the middle: If you have three people, put one in the middle, who needs to catch the frisbee from the other two.
No matter what, don’t forget your frisbee on your next beach day!
– Maria Haase, San Diego Explorer
Father and daughter playing frisbee at beach
Frisbee games to play on a beach can provide hours of fun.

Hopscotch

Come rain or shine, hopscotch is one of those easy games you can play on any beach without any equipment brought from home. It’s a great way for younger kids to practice counting and writing their numbers.

Draw a series of squares along a line in the sand – one square, then two together, one square, then two together, etc (although you can mix this up as you wish) – and draw a number in sequence in each square. Next grab a stone and take it in turns to throw it along your grid, then hop and jump along the grid to collect your stone. On a single square you land with one foot, and on a double you straddle. Make sure you don’t lose your balance or step on a line, otherwise you’re out!

Hopscotch can be played alone or with several members. Although with more than four kids, there is a fair bit of hanging around to wait their turn.

– Jenny Lynn, Peak District Kids

hopscotch on the beach
You don’t even need good weather for playing hopscotch on the beach (Image Credit, Jenny Lynn)

Sandcastles

There’s no fixed set of participants nor suitable age for this game, but it’s a joyful game with small kids and more people. Y’all are going to build a monument on the beach sands with your group. Creativity helps, but you don’t have to be a talented sand architect.

Gather as much sand as possible into your bucket or beach bags. With the help of your dream castle’s picture or its image in your mind, set up a solid base. Make sure it won’t crack so easily. Add more spires and walls as you like on the base. Once you’ve built out the body of the castle, decorate the outer surface of it. You might want to curve brick walls, ivy plants, windows and more. Top the castle with little coloured flags too. Your sandcastle is ready for fun family time and even for your Instagram posts.

– Elizabeth Kawamura, 8FramboyantJunkies 8

sandcastle at the beach
Building sandcastles are popular things to do at the beach with kids (Image credit: Elizabeth Kawamura)

Treasure Hunt

Our boys absolutely loved playing a game we called “Treasure Hunt” when they were toddlers. It was so simple and sweet.

On the way to the beach we’d stop at a gas station and exchange a dollar for two fresh rolls of pennies. At the beach, my husband would scatter and bury the pennies all around our beach blanket while I kept our boys busy. Then we’d find one of the pennies and tell them there must be buried treasure near by!

With a bucket and a shovel, they’d search and search for treasure- finding lots of pennies along the way! We always told them they could exchange their treasure for an ice cream cone after we were done at the beach.

This was a simple and fun game our boys loved playing from the time they were two until they were about four or five years old. You can play with just one child or as many children as you’d like!

– Lissa, Roots Wings and Travel Things

two kids at a beach with buckets
Treasure hunts are fun family beach games (Image credit: Roots, Wings and Travel Things)
Try this!  We have improvised on this treasure hunt idea by giving them a list of things to find:  e.g., a smooth flat stone for skipping, a piece of seaglass, a moon jelly etc.

Beach Paddle Ball

There’s nothing like being on the beach and enjoying some fun and healthy beach games for kids to keep them occupied for spending a fun day on the beach. That definitely is good if you can combine a healthy outdoor activity and beach game that your kids can enjoy and what would be more fun than playing paddle boards on the beach or water.

Relatively easy to pick up, paddle boards are wooden or plastic paddles with some soft ball that can be swatted back and forth either as a game or just an easy activity to do outdoors and play casually or if you have more paddles do this in a team effort and play more serious games.

But the gist of doing this is just for easy fun, exchanging hits and reviewing back and forth some some challenging hitting in mind. Who doesn’t love combining some excercise, water fun and being active on the beach.

Your kids will love doing this and if you participate, what a great way to interact and have fun with your children in active play.

– Noel Morata, This Hawaii Life

paddle ball at the beach
Family beach games include paddle ball at the beach

Artistic Beach Activities For Kids

What do you do with all the seashells your kids collect? Artistic beach activities for kids to the rescue! Plus family beach games like sailors valentines and beach mandalas are fun for family members to join who are less mobile.

Stacking rocks

Some beaches like Moshup Beach in Aquinnah have lots of rocks lying around. Stack rocks creatively. You can make this stacking rocks into a contest, too. As you can see, my kids are really competitive.

two girls collecting stones on the beach
Beach activities for kids include collecting rocks to stack

Sailors Valentines

You can still see antique Sailors Valentines in some Edgartown homes. They were created by sailors on long voyages as a way to wile away the time and bring home a gift to their loved ones. Alternatively sailors could also just buy them at port in Barbados and bring them back to New England! Especially if they were to have a girl in every port…

sand craft
This was supposed to be a sailor’s valentine but then the child in question got bored.

Although you will have to create the sailors valentines when you get home, collecting the shells to create a pretty sailors valentines make great beach activities for kids. Traditionally, Sailors Valentines were very complicated and on a octagonal backing. We have just created what we wanted instead.

Beach Mandala

I love collecting shells and interesting pebbles on the beach. However, since learning that removing shells from beaches can damage ecosystems and endanger the organisms that rely on shells for their survival, I prefer to do something a little different with them. Instead, I make a mandala! This is something everyone in the family can join in with, whatever your age.

Mandala’s are symmetrical, usually circular, patterns. They were first made by Buddhists monks over 2,000 years ago as a form of meditation – making them is incredibly relaxing!

To make a beach mandala, start by collecting different coloured pebbles (I like using round one), seashells, even pieces of seaweed that have broken off from where they were growing. Just remember not to disturb anything that has animals on or under it or plants growing on it or any plants still growing. Find a clear area of sand and start in the centre working out. Here, I’ve used tiny stones to create a spiral and then arranged pebbles, seashells and seaweed in a symmetrical pattern around it.

Once I’ve finished, I take a few photos, as once the tide comes in the mandala will be washed away.

– Kathryn Burrington, Mandala Meadow 

beach mandala
Beach mandalas are artistic things to do at the beach with kids (Image credit: Kathryn Burrington)

Seashell Crafts

 

There hasn’t been a trip to the beach when my kids didn’t come home with a collection of miscellaneous seashell souvenirs. They stuff them into the beach bags and pile them into sand pails only to get them home, look at them for a day, and then leave them to collect dust so that the memories fade away.

However, you can preserve the memories of your beach trip and occupy your kids with a cool craft by making souvenir displays out of their collected treasures. Once the kids have collected their stash of shells, they can decide which ‘shell display’ they would like to make. There are seashell crafts for all ages from preschool years and up. Mom and dad can even pitch in and use up some of the shell collection by making a more difficult souvenir craft.

One of my favorites, is a seashell frame. All you need is a flat, blank frame. Your kids can arrange their seashell collection around the frame and it can be glued in place. Insert a photo of your kids at the beach where the shells were collected and you have an instant memorable home-made souvenir!

Visit my long list of ideas for more creative seashell crafts to make with your shell souvenirs from beaches around the world.

– Michelle Moyer, Moyer Memoirs

seashell craft to make a photo frame
A shell photo frame to capture those summer memories at the beach (Image credit: Michelle Moyer)

Family Beach Games From Around The World

Football and wiffleball are fairly popular activities at US beaches.

In Brazil, we saw soccer balls everywhere on the beach. There was some pretty impressive manoeuvres being done with soccer balls as well.

Boules and Petanque, below, are popular in Europe and also an easy game to play with grandparents. What’s the difference between these two you may ask? Apparently in Petanaque, the balls have to be thrown (not rolled) and you can’t have a run up to throw the ball.

Ball games to play on a beach don’t necessarily need specialist equipment. We have played games with whatever we had with us – tennis balls, ping pong balls and golf balls. As Sinead Camplin mentions below, her family used stones instead of balls.

A nice set of equipment would be handy though!

Boules

One of our favourite family beach games is Boules. It is a relaxed, fun game that can be played by all ages and abilities as it does not require aerobic effort or agility.

Boules begins by one player throwing a small ball, or jack. Wherever it lands, the ‘jack’ becomes the target for every player to aim for with their individual ball. Players are also permitted to knock their opponent’s balls away from the jack. When everyone has thrown their ball at the jack, the closest ball to the target is the winner.

It is a short game, ideal for kids limited concentration spans, that can be played over and over amassing individual points. Boules is usually played with a special set of balls but during our family gap year, we found we were able to improvise the game using rocks picked off the beach as the jack and individual ‘balls.’

– Sinead Camplin, Map Made Memories

boules on the beach
Another one of the games from around the world is boules which is popular in Europe.

Beach Cricket

There is nothing more Australian than a game of beach cricket. When we head to our local Adelaide Beach we always pack a cricket bat and ball ready for a game.

The best thing about beach cricket is the traditional cricket rules are relaxed with some players on the beach and others in the water waiting for a catch.

These relaxed rules ensure the game is inclusive, fast paced and enjoyable. Beach cricket is suitable for the whole family including young children. Rules are modified to suit the age of players and beach conditions.

Cricket can be played with a minimum of two players but if you start a game be aware that it will attract all the kids in the vicinity wanting to join in.

After the game if the kids still need the kids to expend some energy, you can send them into the water and hit the ball for a game of catch and splash.

– Natalie, Curious Campers Australia

Australian beach cricket on the beach
Games from around the world such as beach cricket will add a bit of international flair to your beach trip (Image credit: Curious campers)

Pétanque

Pétanque is a great beach game that is popular with kids and adults alike. It’s a game that is similar to other boules style games such as bocce, boule Lyonnaise, and lawn bowls.

The objective, in pétanque, is for each player to get their “boules” closer to the target (a smaller ball around 1½ inches in diameter called a jack or cochonnet) and thus scoring points. They can either roll the boules closer to the target or by hitting the opponents’ boules away from the target. They do this from a standing position, inside a circle. Usually (in singles and doubles), players have three boules each but in triples, each player has two.

The game is normally and best played on hard dirt or gravel but as a family game it is very fun played at the beach!

– Emma Morell, Wanderlust and Wetwipes

 

petanque balls in sand
Petanque is good for beach games for family members who are less mobile to play

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Two kids chasing a ball on the beach

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