Nothing says fun in the sun like a much needed beach day. Leaving behind work and school to enjoy a break in the sand and surf is a great way to relax, have fun with the family and enjoy the great outdoors — just don't forget the sunscreen! When you're not jumping through waves, building a sandcastle or scoping out the best seashells on the shore, you may be on the lookout for some more exciting activities to keep the whole beach crew entertained and engaged.
Whether you're on vacation with the kids or spending the day with a friend or two, finding the perfect game for everyone at each person's skill level and dexterity can mean hours of active play and entertainment. For little kids, toss and catch games, kites and skip ball can hold their attention for hours and leave you all laughing. As your family gets older, more involved games for adults and teens like TidalBall, Cornhole and Kan Jam will appeal to their more competitive nature. If you're rolling with an all-adult crew, BucketBall and Volleyball will be crowd favorites. No matter your family's style, competitive level or hand-eye coordination, there are dozens of fun games to choose from to turn your slow beach day into a thrilling time you won't soon forget. Before you gather up the beach chairs and pack up the towels, check out some of these exciting beach games.
Grab a set of portable Cornhole boards and beanbags to turn any beach into party central. At only 10 pounds, they're lightweight and compact, and you can simply deconstruct and store them in the convenient travel case. We love how much fun Cornhole is for players with even the worst hand-eye coordination, so don't worry about winning and just focus on having fun. The best part? You can put the whole thing together in less than a minute!
Tidalball's only rule is "to have fun"; everything else is just extra. The set comes with six balls, three for each team, and you can have as many or as few people on each team as you want. To play, dig two holes about 10 paces away from each other and try your best to roll your ball into the hole. Or, make up your own rules along the way!
There's a reason Spikeball has over 10,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and is one of the first games you think of when you think of beach games. It's like beach volleyball only you bounce the ball on a mini trampoline rather than over a net — and you don't have to worry about staying on your side of the court! It's easy to set up anywhere and can be transported in a light drawstring bag.
Bocce ball is a family favorite, and this set comes with a convenient carrying case. The goal of the game is to roll your balls as close to the pallino (small white ball) as possible. We love how fun this set is and the endless hours of play it encourages. It even includes a measuring device so you don't have to fight over the exact distance between your ball and the pallino. Anything to limit arguments between siblings, right?
Flying discs are so last season— pick up a set of Activ Life's Ring Flyers which are lightweight and easy to play with for kids and adults of all ages. These are great for youngsters and those with lower skill levels as they're easy to catch and throw, and almost always fly straight. Kids as young as 3 can join in on the fun and safely participate in this game!
A personal favorite of the Good Housekeeping editors, Kan Jam, is a great team game that's easy to set up, perfect for people of all athletic abilities and sure to inspire many laughs. Although it has a few more rules than some of the other games, it's easy to get a hang of and you'll be sure to be scoring points after a few short rounds. Teams of two stand opposite their partners across the beach while one player at a time throws a flying disc and their teammate does their best to smack the disc into the top of the can. Bonus points if you get it into the slot on the front!
Play a round of UNO Spash, which features all the same rules as traditional UNO in a waterproof package. Now you don't have to worry about ruining your cards with sand or water damage. Plus, it comes on a convenient clip great for keeping track of all of the cards and hooking to your beach bag, belt loop or purse. Pick four, anyone?
If you've ever played beer pong, you'll ace BucketBall. It's like a giant version of the beloved drinking game, only without the alcohol and featuring three different types of balls so you can play on all surfaces. When you're done for the day, the whole set packs up into a carry case that weighs less than ten pounds.
Jazzminton is the beach badminton, tennis and ping pong game you didn't know you needed. Great for kids and adults alike, you can easily adjust your playing speed by choosing to use the paddle ball, slow birdy or fast birdy. No need to carry around a net with you (but you can if you want to) — for this game, the whole beach is your court!
For the youngsters in your life, Toss and Catch will keep them entertained for hours — and help get rid of some of that pent-up energy. It's soft and easy to carry and use. Simply throw the ball at their partner's velcro-covered paddle and watch it stick like magic. You can play as close or as far apart as you want, and the paddles mean more surface area for catching than traditional games of catch.
If you haven't heard of ladder toss before, you're missing out! Each player tosses a set of two rubber balls attached by a string (called a bolo) across 15 feet to land around one of the three rungs on the ladder. The first player (or team) to reach exactly 21 points wins. The tricky parts are not going over 21 points and expertly aiming for each rung since they each have different point values: The top is worth 3 points, the middle is worth 2 and the bottom is worth 1.
For future bakers, this playset offers endless opportunities for imagination in the sand. Kids can sift, measure, stir and play as they bake their beach cake right by the surf. This set encourages exploration and cooking play without the worry about any mess in your kitchen! Plus, kids have the flexibility of creating their own rules and using their creativity to invent new games as they go.
If playing QB is your thing, Wave Runner's waterproof football is the perfect beach accessory to have fun in the sun — and sand. Not only does it feature a special grip pattern that makes it especially good for throwing and catching, but it's double-laced so you can throw that spiral you've been working on acing your whole life. Don't worry about losing it if you're catching skills aren't up to par — it floats!
Let's take it back to the carnival with a classic game of horseshoes. This set has rubber horseshoes so you don't have to worry about them landing painfully on someone's foot when you accidentally miss your throw. The rules are simple, the set is easy to pack up and store and its durable material means you'll be able to play with it for years to come.
Beach volleyball, meet four square. In this unique combo of two of the most fun childhood games, players get to battle it out for the ultimate victory. Fun for 4+ players, the first to reach 11 points is the winner. While this set is definitely a bit bigger to lug around than some of the others, it's still relatively easy to set up, carry and store, so you can take it on the road with you as long as you have a little extra space.
If you're looking for something a little more basic, or can't be bothered with the additional rules of Crossnet, pick up this portable volleyball set to turn any sandy beach into your favorite volleyball court. It comes complete with an easy-to-assemble net, volleyball and convenient canvas travel bag that makes it easy to carry everything wherever you go.
There's nothing quite like flying a kite on the salty surf air, and these colorful octopus ones will be the envy of the beach. The package comes with three kites so you don't need to worry about kids fighting over who gets a turn. Each kite is around 13 feet long but can be rolled down to a fraction of that size — perfect for packing in a suitcase or storing in your beach bag while en route.
Skip Balls seem to fly across the water and are the perfect size for all hands. Don't worry about losing them — if you don't catch the ball it simply bobs back up to the surface. This set features two balls, one skip disc and a travel bag. The best thing about this game is that you can make the rules up as you go and create as complicated or simple a game as you want!
You may not have had much luck with traditional boomerangs in the past, but the Shark Rang is light, easy to catch and even includes an instruction guide on how to successfully throw a boomerang (with illustrations). This four-sided -rang is made of soft foam so it's safe for kids — plus it's one of the only games that you can play completely on your own! Get ready for that solo beach day.
Your little ones will love Melissa & Doug's Crab Toss. This toss and catch game encourages hand-eye coordination and early motor skills for the smallest swimmers. Simply strap the little crabs onto players' hands and throw the velcro balls across a few feet where they'll stick to the soft surface of the crab's belly. The balls are soft enough for little hands and the product holds up pretty well to constant use.
When planning your upcoming beach day your number one priority is probably to have fun, but don't forget about a few other serious factors than can make or break your tropical getaway. When on the lookout for the best games to bring with you to the shore, here are a few things to keep in mind:
✔️Safety: While it's a good idea to keep an eye on your child no matter what or where they're playing, when it comes the beach, that's even more important. Aside from the unpredictability of the ocean, wide-open public beaches can be dangerous if they venture too far away, are not looking where they're going or come across uneven ground.
✔️Age range: While some exciting games may appeal to little kids, they may need to wait a few years for it to be safe to play. Make sure to check the age ranges on each game before bringing them out on family beach day — especially with the addition of fickle waves and uneven terrain.
✔️Swimming skills: Depending on how strong a swimmer your child is, you should pick games that can be played entirely on land with balls that won't accidentally roll into the surf. In general, it's important for any kid that will be spending time around or in a body of water to know how to swim.
✔️Materials: Beach games are meant to take a lot of wear: they're going to be thrown around for years and will encounter the beating sun, salty water and gritty sand. You definitely don't want any part of your game to be less weatherproof than advertised or to fall apart after only a few uses.
The Good Housekeeping Institute provides expert reviews and advice on everything parents and children love, including beach games. In her role as Parenting & Pets Reviews Analyst, Jamie Spain brings years of experience to the GH Institute, having reviewed products for Good Housekeeping and BuzzFeed; she previously worked in the parenting and pets sphere at People, as well.