Beach games

Beach Games: 29 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!

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.

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.

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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TidalBall

If you want to get the beach party games for adults going early in the day then nothing beats adding a TidalBall set to your beach bag. Complete with 4 koozies (one for each competitor), this simple beach game combines bocce ball and cornhole, and is the ideal for adding some drinking game silliness to your afternoon at the beach. Dig a couple of holes and a couple of trenches, attempt to chuck balls into them, and drink when you fail! (Or something like that.)

It can also be enjoyed as a civilised family game.

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Tug of War

Tug of war

The beach is the perfect place for tug of war. Aside from anything else, it’s an ideal opportunity for the lads to prove that their beach bods are more than just for show! And when everyone collapses into the sand at the end there’ll be no nasty injuries (hopefully!). As much as it’s just a bit of fun, a good old tug of war is also one of the best beach games for team building. If you don’t have a rope to hand you can always tie a few beach towels together. But good luck trying to untie them after the battle!


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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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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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

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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Nighttime Bocce Ball

Nighttime Bocce Ball

Start your evening at the beach with the all-time class beach game of Bocce Ball. This simple game of accuracy and precision can be as ruthless as is it fun, and once you get into it you can be at it for hours! But that competitive fun doesn’t have to stop after the sun sets. Grab yourself a Bocce Ball set with lights in and you’ve got yourself one of the few beach party games for adults that can be as good after dark as during daylight hours.

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The best beach games for kids

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!


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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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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Kids playing cricket at the beach

Cricket

A civilised round of cricket is one of the best games to play at the beach with friends. The bowler aims to knock down the wickets with the ball, and the batter tries to hit the ball away. The further they hit the ball the better to enable the batter to have enough time to run to a post and back. The fielders must try to catch or stump the batter out, and if there are loads of kids in the group the batter will be replaced quickly making everyone happy! (Unless you get caught out on the first hit!)

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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!


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.


Beach Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunt

Beach games for kids don’t all need to be supervised by adults. Set them off on a scavenger hunt. It’s the perfect way to get them out of your hair for a bit, and they’ll love the freedom of exploring the beach with their buddies, but with a purpose. Plus, the promise of ice cream as a reward for finding every single item ought to keep them entertained for at least as long as it takes you to read a chapter or two!

To make it super easy take a couple of copies of this printable scavenger hunt listwith you to the beach.


Drawing in the sand

Sand Pictionary

For tired parents looking for less physical beach activity ideas that will keep the kids out of mischief, sand Pictionary is a win, win for everyone. Find a nice shady spot, some soft sand and a little creativity.

Here’s how to play:

  • Write down a list of beach objects on separate scraps of paper (sand castle, ice cream, crab etc)
  • Fold them up and put them in a bucket.
  • Set a timer for 1 minute.
  • One child picks out a piece of paper from the bucket and has to draw in the sand the object that is written on it.
  • The other kids have to guess what is being drawn.
  • After each correct guess the drawer then picks another bit of paper and keeps drawing as many objects as they can in 1 minute
  • The drawer scores a point for each drawing that was correctly guessed by the other kids
  • Another child then becomes the drawer and does the same thing
  • This can also be done in teams of 2 or more – the drawer from each team reads the same bit of paper and tries to get only their teammate to guess, racing against the other team.

The best beach games for couples

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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Squap

This award winning pop and catch game is one of the best beach games for couples wanting to spice up their games of throw and catch. I mean there’s only so much fun to be had chucking a tennis ball at each other right? Grab yourself a Squap set and hit the sand or the shallow water for some proper beach action. Catch the ball like a you would if you were wearing a baseball mitt and immediately pop it right back at your partner, challenging them to heroic dives and trick catches.

This also a superb beach game for kids to help them develop hand-eye coordination.

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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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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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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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Jazzminton

Jazzminton

Badminton seems like it should be the ideal beach game: it’s light to carry, super fun, loads of diving around, and anyone can join in. But the problem with life at the beach is that it’s usually windy. Too windy for Badminton. So the folks at Jazzminton were really onto something when they came up with the oh-so-simple variation of the age old game we all know and love. Instead of racquets and shuttlecocks, Jazzminton is played with wooden paddles and feathered birdies. Each set comes with two red birdies whose long feathers slow the game down a little making it a great for beginners and kids. But if you want to up the tempo and get competitive then there are also two yellow birdies that fly with a bit more purpose!

But the best bit? You can buy replacement birdies with LED lights in, making this one of the best beach games for couples who don’t want the fun to end after sunset!

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Beach activities

There are times at the seaside when competitive beach games just aren’t what’s wanted. Thankfully, for those who prefer whiling away the hours playing instead of competing, there are a load of great beach activities that will keep kids and adults entertained for hours.

Sand castle

Sand castle building

Sand castle building is one those beach activities that can stretch on throughout a whole day. You can keep coming back to it between dips in the sea (and other beach games!), and it’s a great way for the whole family to play together with a common goal rather than competing against each other. Make sure you come armed with a variety of buckets and spades and other sand decorating paraphernalia, and of course you can always turn sand castle building into a competition, if the mood takes you!


Build a tunnel town

There’s nothing kids love more than digging. So digging in sand at the beach is something like heaven for most kids, and adults for that matter! And what better way to work up an appetite for ice cream than by digging a network of miniature tunnels in the sand? Make the tunnels the width of your hand or a small spade – that way their roofs won’t collapse in with the weight of the sand. It’s surprisingly satisfying, especially when you can get them all to connect. Build your tunnel town on a sloping beach and design it so that a ball can run from the top entrance and pop out somewhere at the bottom. Hours of fun!


Rock pooling

For those who like time to explore at the beach, tip-toeing your way through rock pools is a delightful way to spend time at the beach. Grab your water shoes, a bucket of water and a net, and see what curiosities you can find lurking in the shallows of the rock pools. Watch your fingers for those peskie crabs, and be sure to return things back where they came from once you’ve gently studied your alien-like findings.


Kite

Kite flying

There’s something mesmerizingly simple about flying a kite. There’s nothing to be achieved other than getting it airborne, and hopefully keeping it there until you get bored or tired! Make a craft activity out of kite flying by making your own. Or up the ante by getting out a 5ft stunt kite in high winds to show off your newly learned tricks. Just be sure that you have a big beach with few people on it!

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Dam building

Fun beach games don’t all involve skill and agility. Dam building is one of those beach activities that will challenge the brain as much as the body. So if you’re looking to add some beach games for team building into your day then get a group together and build a dam! You’ll need to plan, think, dig and build your way to a successful dam that will keep the sea at bay for as long as possible as the tide comes in. Much more tricky than it sounds!


Water fight in the sea

Water fight

The best water fights are usually the ones that start spontaneously. But what’s to say you can’t prepare yourself? You know, just in case the need to dowse your friends and family with freezing cold water should arise?! Hit the beach with a sneaky handheld water gun in your beach bag. And bring a few water balloons ready to fill with sea water and bomb on the unsuspecting sunbathers in your group. Just don’t forget that if you’ve come armed for a fight then others may have too!


Stone skimming/skipping

For successful stone skimming at the beach you’ll need a calm day with few waves. Find a flat, round stone, the flatter the better, and use a side-arm action to throw the stone at the water. The key is to get as low to the water as possible and make sure you have lots of spin on the stone as it leaves your hand by whipping your wrist on release.

Don’t expect to get anywhere near the current record for the number of skips, which is 88! Incredible. You’ll be doing well if you manage more than 3 or 4!


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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