6 fun beach games for kids

Instead of the usual bat and ball games or building sandcastles, here’s 6 alternative beach games to keep the kids entertained for hours. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!) By Tammy Jacks


There’s no doubt that South Africa is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. And with most of the country experiencing warm, sunny days throughout the year, it’s no surprise that many families flock to the beach for the holidays.

When it comes to keeping the kids entertained, we know that if you offer children the chance to play with sand and water, it often unleashes hours of imaginative, active play. But if you really want to turn those fun beach days into something a little more special and make your next family holiday unforgettable, try these 6 fun beach games for kids!

These activities are ideal for both large and small families and will be fun for ‘only children’ or those with siblings. You can also join in for some quality bonding time with your children.

ALSO SEE: How often should you apply your child’s sunscreen?

The game: Beach obstacle course

How to play:

If your kids love the idea of obstacle courses at home, a beach obstacle course is just as fun and it’s an ideal opportunity for your children to enhance their gross motor skills, says Roxanne Harrison, mom of three girls, aged 8, 6 and 4. “You just need to think out the box a little and create a circuit of activities/obstacles for your kids to complete in one go.”

The mini obstacle course can be as small or as big as you want it to be, depending on your child’s age, energy level and space on the beach.

Some ideas include:

  • Draw a circle in the sand that your kids have to run around
  • Build sandcastles your kids must jump over
  • Draw 3 squares in a row (like hopscotch) that your kids need to hop across with one leg
  • Build a tall sandcastle to bash down
  • Leave spades on the ground which your kids need to use to dig a large hole
  • Use buckets to run with and fill with water, sand, and so on.

Why it’s great:

This game offers a great alternative to swimming in the sea and will encourage your children to be active and use up plenty of energy.

The game: Colour collecting

How to play:  

Choose a few colours, such as white, green, brown and/or yellow and draw a few large circles on the beach with a stick. Then, ask your children to collect as many objects in that particular colour as possible and put them into the various circles.

You could turn this into a race for older children and time them. Whoever collects the most objects in a set amount of time, wins!

Why it’s great:

Children of all ages can play this game as it encourages colour recognition and counting and concentration.

The game: A beach treasure hunt

How to play:

Bring a few of your children’s toys to the beach in various sizes (or you could use natural elements such as seaweed, shells and sticks) and spend some time burying them in a section of the sand. Older children might also like the idea of searching for ‘treasures’ among the rock pools. Once your children have found all the treasures, reward them with something special such as a swim in the sea, a delicious snack or ‘prize’ which might be a small toy you’ve bought.

TIP: If you have some time to plan for this game, you could even draw a small map with clues and help your children follow the clues to find the hidden treasure.

Why it’s great:

This game is not only exciting, it also encourages problem solving, concentration and determination – depending on how hard/easy you make the hunt. And, of course, there’s nothing better than winning a prize for finding the treasure.

The game: Beanbag ‘shot put’

How to play:

Bring bean bags or a few balls from home and use the space on the beach to see how far you can throw the items. The person who throws the furthest, wins the game. Another idea is to create a target – either by using a small rock, bunch of seaweed or group of shells and encourage your child to aim and hit the target with the balls or beanbags.

Why it’s great:

Games that focus on aiming and throwing are ideal for promoting hand-eye coordination. They’re also great for improving posture, building strength in the arms and shoulders, and helping your kids experience the difference between using the left and right hand.

ALSO SEE: 3 fun games your toddler can play with bean bags

The game: Dumbing and building

How to play:

Bring your kids’ construction vehicles, such as diggers, tractors and trucks, to the beach and let them use them to dump beach sand into the buckets to help build sandcastles. Rather than simply using a spade which can get boring after a while, this takes ‘building sandcastles’ to a whole new level! You can also show your kids how to build mini ramps out of sand and let the vehicles slide down the ramps and into puddles of sea water.

Why it’s great:

This game is a real hit with boys and girls, as well as babies and toddlers who aren’t walking yet. It also allows you some time to sit and just watch your child under the umbrella as it’s a relatively quiet activity which doesn’t require too much running around.

The game: Shaving cream fun

How to play:

All you need is a bottle of shaving cream and some beach sand and you’re good to go with this one. When you arrive at the beach, collect some beach sand in a bucket (fine, dry beach sand works well for this), and let your child mix the shaving cream with the beach sand. It’ll form a type of squishy putty/playdough which kids adore.

Candice Tehini Blignaut, mom of twin boys aged 3, discovered this game when her boys were younger and it’s remained a firm beach favourite, even as the boys have gotten older. “They love the feeling of the putty and can make shapes out of it quite easily using their buckets and spades,” she adds. It’s a great beach activity because it’s a little different and as the parent, you don’t need to stress as much about the mess!

Why it’s great:

This game scores an A+ for being one of the best sensory activities your child could do. As the sand and shaving foam squishes and squelches together, it engages most of the senses all at once including sight, smell, touch and sound.

For rainy days:

Collect plenty of shells with your little ones when the weather is good and make certain you save them for the rainy days at home. Candice uses all the shells she collects with her boys as playdough moulds for days at home when the weather isn’t great. Or they collect white shells and spend time painting them and/or sticking them onto paper to make special shapes or patterns.

scroll to top
Send this to a friend