Two people playing one of the best beach games - bat and ball

Beach Games: 14 Cheap or Free Ways to Have Fun on the Sand

For many, beach holidays follow a simple regime of sunbathing, reading, sleeping, drinking, sunbathing some more and an occasional saunter to the sea for a float around in the shallows. An appealing way to recover from the stress of everyday life. But surely there is only so much of it you can do before you turn into a sun-baked beach-couch potato? Well thank goodness for beach games, as for the rest of us, time at the beach means endless hours of competitive fun that can be equally as stress relieving as all that relaxation!

Summer beach games offer the perfect opportunity to show off your sporting prowess to your overly competitive siblings, friends and partners. And the childish appeal for taking down your opponents through both sportsmanlike game play and physical brute force seems to only heighten with age! Aside from the rivalry that comes with the hot competition, there is also endless variety in the fun that can be had on soft sand and in shallow water. The chance to throw your body around on cushioned landings with (mostly) no repercussions is what makes beach holidays so attractive to aficionados of great beach games.

And thankfully, for those who like to play it cool at the beach, there are some less animated options that are no less competitive and can be enjoyed by all. Having many, many hours of beach time under our belts, choosing the best beach games for adults and kids alike, was a tough challenge. But after much deliberation, here’s our top pick of the best beach games that are guaranteed to keep you and the rest of the beach entertained for hours.

The 14 best beach games for your summer vacation

How to play Spikeball

Spikeball

For a high energy beach game that is super competitive, requires cat-like reactions, quick thinking, agility, strategy, athleticism and is basically just plain awesome, try Spikeball – you won’t be disappointed. Two teams battle to outplay their opponents by bouncing a ball off the trampoline-like net that sits between them. Horizontal dives and spectacular spikes make this trampoline beach game perfect for people with time on their hands – you will be hooked for hours. Check out Spikeball.com for details of how to play.

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Waboba Ball

If your idea of a great beach game involves diving around in the sea until water starts pouring out of your nose, then the Waboba ball is for you. There are loads of games you can play with this awesome little ball, but the best way to show off your aquabatics to the onlooking beach is a simple game of catch. Remember, this ain’t no ordinary ball – this one bounces on water! Throw it with plenty of spin, as if you were skimming a stone, to heighten the degree of catching difficulty that your partner will have to face.

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Aerobie

The Guinness World Record for the farthest throw was set with an Aerobie – an incredible 406 meters. But before enjoying the thrill of throwing this awesome flying ring further than you’ve ever thrown anything before, make sure you assess your surroundings. It’s just not going to work out well on a crowded beach. There’s also a high chance that you may lose your Aerobie to the sea – they don’t float. So choose a big beach with an onshore wind if possible.

The best beaches for games are big and quiet, with lots of space, so once you’ve found your sandy arena and have warmed up your throwing arm, just launch the disc and watch on whilst it soars into the open arms of your friend – or catches a breeze and sails way past them.

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Flick ‘n’ Sticks

There’s not always enough room for a good chuck of a frisbee on a crowded beach. Unless you’re amongst throwers with pinpoint accuracy, an innocent game can often turn sour when wayward discs get over-friendly with the heads of oblivious sunbathers – never good. So instead, find yourself a little space on the beach, grab three pals and focus your discs towards the balancing cups of your opponents:

Scoring
  • 2 points if the disc flies through the poles without knocking off the cups
  • 1 point for each cup that hits the ground
  • No points if the defence catches the disc once it has passed through the poles without touching them
  • No points if the defence catches the cups before they hit the ground

Double Plop

This is a game for the less serious players out there. Double Plop requires no equipment, just a bunch of stones or pebbles and the sea to throw them into. A good grasp of the effects of gravity and an affinity for absurd games also helps. It can be played with two or more people, with the silliness rating soaring as more people get involved.

At the edge of the water, player 1 (the leader) lobs his stone the sea. Once the stone is airborne, the other players (the followers) then throw their stone into the sea aiming for it to hit the water at the same time as the leaders’ stone – causing a singular audible splash and thus avoiding the dreaded ‘double plop’.

The thrower who best synchronises their plop with the lead stone, gains a point and becomes the leader. There are various ways to gauge whose stone is the most synchronised. Honesty; a keen eye for following stones through the air; good judgement. But we like to heckle our way to victory, claiming superior synchronicity at every attempt, with bonus points awarded for ambitious trajectories!


Volleyball at sunset

Volleyball

For a bit of casual sporting fun, get the whole family involved. Volleyball is a great leveller for all ages and abilities, especially if you play with three or more on each team. But for those who appreciate the serious side of beach games, two versus two battles of agility, skill and tactical prowess will keep you hungry for the win for hours. Check out some more info to find out why it’s such a great way to spend time at the beach.

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How to play Kan Jam

Kan Jam

Another way to enjoy beach frisbee when space is limited is to add a Kan Jam bin to your beach games bag. Hone your accuracy levels by working with your buddy to slam the disc in the bin, or even better, shoot it straight into the post box for an instant win. Kan Jam oozes high fives and chest bumps, but the tables can turn at the flick of a disc, so keep that bravado under wraps before your ego gets slammed in the trash too.

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Scatch

There’s nothing more reminiscent of childhood beach holidays than the grating tearing sound of a tennis ball being ripped from a velcro Scatch pad. This fun fad of the early 90s is sadly no longer a common sight on family beaches. But every now and then, it rears its fuzzy head, taking you right back to the good old days of sandy corned-beef sandwiches and thermo flasks of warm tea!

You may have known the simple catch and throw game as Super Grip Ball, Magic Mitts or Katch-a-Roo – and thankfully, you can still get hold of it. A top hit on the best beach games for kids list and suitable for all ages. Scatch is especially well suited to those who aren’t quite up to scratch in the catching department but still want to join in the fun.

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Couple playing bat and ball on the beach

Bat and Ball

No explanation is needed for this age old classic. It can be played either as a slow paced controlled game, simply for pleasure and meditation, or embarked upon as a serious competition of coordination, focus and agility. Start a tournament that lasts the whole holiday – with the playing couple who can reach the highest number of hits without the ball touching the ground reigning glorious in their quest for beach bum status.

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Musical Towels

Just like musical chairs but with towels laid out on the sand instead of chairs. Put some great summer classics on the boom box to really get the beach party games going, and this simple game will please a group of adults just as easily as a bunch of kids – and it can be played with both! However, it is worth noting that no matter your age, the primal urge to get your butt onto that empty towel at all costs, is unavoidable. The soft sandy landing encourages heroic dives and american football style tackles, so don’t be surprised if your lazy day at the beach turns into a full-scale testosterone-fuelled brawl!


Nerf ball

Nerf Vortex Mega Howler

Not the one that makes that really annoying whistling sound that haunts the whole beach? Oh yes, that’s the one! But it’s only annoying if you’re not playing with it. Otherwise, this football shaped foam rocket is good for hours of fun on the sand or in the water. It’s aerodynamic design makes for increased throwing accuracy, which is a plus on crowded beaches. A word of warning though: the triple integrated whistles are guaranteed to draw the attention of anyone within a half mile vicinity to you, so it’s probably worthwhile scrubbing up on your silky skills before testing the patience of your audience even further.

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Gritz

There are a few prerequisites needed to really enjoy playing this game; the ability to throw and catch a Frisbee and the ability to do so in one swift movement when both feet are off the ground! Easy really. You also need access to a volleyball net and a basic understanding of the rules of volleyball – then you’re good to go. Invented at the University of Oregon, the Ultimate playing pioneers make it look much easier than it really is. So, brush up on your disc skills and then give it a go. If nothing else, you’ll get some good laughs out of watching each other attempt the essential jump-catch-throw-land manoeuvre.

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Sand Darts

Switch the board for hand-drawn rings in the sand, the darts for pebbles or pretty shells, and the mandatory pint of beer for a cooling lemonade – then you’ll have all that is needed for an afternoon of quick math and hot competition. Customise the board by drawing whatever shapes you like in the sand, with points set for each target. The simplicity of the game makes it one of the best beach games for kids to play without them ruining your own game, and you can set their throwing line a little closer to prevent any accusations of highway robbery from heckling spectators.


Bulzibucket

Bulzibucket is the perfect beach game for all rounders to show off all aspects of their sporting finesse. Go for the simple version of throwing your bag into the buckets aiming for the bullseye, and you can practise you accuracy ready for the Cornhole season. Or let your hacky sack skills really kick in for some assisted team scoring. Whichever way you choose to play, this multi-skilled collapsible bucket beach game is highly addictive and great fun for all the family to practise and master.

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So if you’re looking for some games to play at the beach with friends, some beach activity ideas for the family or even some ways to turn innocent and fun beach games into beach drinking games, then look no further. And if you get bored of this set of beach games, then you could always adapt some of these camping games to make them suitable for the beach.

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