Ten top family beach activities
The sun is here! We knew it would happen eventually, especially after our many anti-rain dances around the office over the past week or two. You're welcome. So, now that the weather’s picking up, we’ve got our towels, we’ve got our sandwiches, we’ve got our buckets and we’re heading to the beach. If you’ve also got itchy-must-be-sandy feet at the moment, have a look at our best British beaches for a last minute break, or browse through our campsites and caravan parks within 15 miles of a beach.
If you’re going on holiday with the nippers – generally recommended if you have some – you can keep them entertained for aeons on the beach with our ten beach activities below. (And by building a sandman with a carrot for a nose, as detailed in our ‘Keep the kids happy on a budget’ blog last month.) Spades at the ready? Let’s go…
Build a sandcastle: Yes, we know you’re rolling your eyes at the first and most obvious item on the list, but there’s loads more to building a sandcastle than heaping some sand together and waiting for your brother to kick it over and kick sand in your face. This is how you build a sandcastle. Show the kids this first to get them all inspired, then give them an inferiority complex by showing them these.
Oil drilling: If you want a bit of peace for a bit, give the kids each a spade and tell them they have five minutes to dig as deep a hole in the sand as possible – the winner is the one with the deepest. Set the timer for ten minutes and sit back with a beer.
Sandcastle battles: Again a good one if you want to sit back for a bit, although this one is immense fun to join in with until you collapse wheezing to the sand. Get the kids to build two sandcastles a good distance apart, stick a flag on each one, and then make it your life’s mission to capture the rival flag. Simple but effective.
Bucket relay: Give each child or team a bucket and get them to place it near the water, about ten metres away. The game is to run to the water’s edge and fill the bucket with water, using only their hands. Very small people get quite perplexed when they reach the bucket and there’s no water left in their cupped palms, which is of course very amusing.
Sand bullseye: Draw three concentric circles in the sand in the shape of a target, and give the kids stones, pebbles or shells. They throw the stones into the circles, with more points given if they land their marker in the smallest circle. And if you’re of a certain age, you can say things like ‘Keep out of the black and into the red’ and various other Bullseyeisms.
Beach Twister: Draw a large grid on the sand and mark a symbol such as a square, cross or circle in each section. Tell the players to move their left or right hand or foot to a particular square, so you’ll soon have them in knots. If you want to prepare for this in advance, have pieces of card with body parts and symbols written down, then just mix and match from two piles.
Sand sculptures: Channel your kids’ inner artists and make a sand sculpture with them, adding pebbles or shells for decoration. There’s a real art to these and while our lopsided attempts normally come out more Picasso-like than anything, we suspect most people could do better. Get some inspiration here.
Shark and minnows: This game gets very excitable and loud, which is just the way it should be. To play, get everyone into the water and assign one of them as the shark and the rest as minnows. The shark has to catch the minnows – simple. There’ll be lots of splashing, lots of screams and you annoying the kids by constantly humming the theme tune from Jaws.
Get down and boogie: Body-boarding or boogie boarding is something even young kids can try, and boards can be had for around £15. It’s easy to pick up, even for our hapless selves - find some tips on teaching your child to bodyboard here and here. If they master body-boarding quickly and want to try surfing, here’s how you can adapt a longboard for children.
Get down and boogie some more: Limbo dancing is perfect as a beach activity, as the sand is soft enough for you to not hurt yourself when you finally fall over. Have two players hold a stick, or tie a rope between two trees, and keep lowering the height that everyone has to try and boogie under. Ridiculous style dancing/shaking one’s booty etc is encouraged.
Got any favourite free or nearly-free family beach activities of your own? Let us know below!