Buying Guide for Beach Games
Why buy beach games?
If you take trips to any type of beach with regularity, even if it’s only once or twice a year, buying a few beach games can be a beneficial, fun, and (generally) low-cost investment. Many are aimed at kids, preteens, and teenagers to prevent them from becoming bored during family beach days, which parents will appreciate; not every child likes to swim or jump around in the waves or build sandcastles. But there are also plenty of beach games that are fun for adults, should you ever grow tired of kicking back in a beach chair and reading or want something more active to do. Even better, some beach games can be played and enjoyed by all ages, young and old. The latter, in particular, is excellent for family bonding time and making memories everyone will look back on fondly.
What should you look for in beach games?
- Age Range: Are you buying a beach game to keep young children entertained? Teenagers? Just you and your significant other? A group of adult friends? Some beach games are universal or near-universal, but some will be aimed at specific age groups. For instance, a beach volleyball set isn’t a great choice for toddlers since they don’t yet have the necessary hand-eye coordination; preteens and teenagers probably won’t be very enthralled by a toy for little kids meant to shift sand around. Consider who besides yourself you’re buying the game(s) for and make an age-appropriate choice.
- Number of Players: Different beach games will be suited for different numbers of people, so be sure to account for the ages of whoever goes to the beach with you and how many people are going. Some games don’t have any such restrictions—an almost limitless number of people can play games like frisbee and volleyball at the same time. Others may be limited by how many gloves or cards, or other objects come into the game. Most beach games, like board games, will say the recommended number of players in the listing and on the box, so be sure to keep an eye out, especially if you have a very small or huge group of people coming to the beach with you.
- Land vs. Water: Some beach games are meant to be played only on land, some only in the water, and some can be used in either spot. Land-based games will be a bit more common, but there are plenty of water-based games. If you and your group are big swimmers, you may prefer one of these games; if not, a land-based game may suit your needs better.
Are there any other important factors to consider in beach games?
You’ll want to make sure that its components are made out of durable and waterproof materials regardless of the game in question. At the beach, your belongings will be exposed to direct sunlight, sand, water, and possibly salt for hours and hours on end. You don’t want them to fade or fall apart or get ruined or warped if they get wet. And if the material is capable of flotation and dries out quickly, all the better. Also, consider how easy the game is to assemble and how portable it is. With so many things to pack, you’ll want a game that takes up minimal space in your bag or, at the very least, comes with its carrying bag for easier portability. (Deflatable toys like beach balls are extremely convenient in this regard.) And once you’ve arrived at the beach, you want to relax and enjoy yourself.
Our Picks for the Best Beach Games
Bucket Ball Beach Edition
This larger, pong-style game is perfect for adults of all ages and is one of those beach games that translates well to other get-togethers and locations.
Pros: This beach game is a bigger version of pong, played with buckets instead of cups placed right in the sand instead of on top of a table. And rather than a ping pong ball, this game comes with not one, not two, but six balls in three different styles to suit different environments. The bouncy, heavier hybrid games balls (the yellow-green ones) and the bucket pong game balls (the all-white ones) are waterproof and float so that you can play right next to the water without fear. Or, if you’re playing a bit further from the shoreline or it’s a windy day at the beach, you can use the hackey sack-like tailgate game balls (the white and black ones) instead; there’s an option for every beach environment. It has two other important factors in beach games- a quick setup and portability. Two alternative sizes and versions are available for purchase too.
Cons: This is one of the pricier beach games out there. Also, note that the buckets, while sturdy, don’t come with any rack or other anchor to hold them in place.
Bottom Line: Pong is a classic party game for adults young and old, and this larger version allows you to bring the fun to the beach (and other locations, if desired). And unlike with regular pong, you won’t need a table to play—the buckets are large enough to rest right on the sand.
Jalunth Ball Toss Sticky Mitts Beach Set
This pair of sticky paddles brings a fun twist to a classic game of catch and can be played on the sand or in the water alike.
Pros: This beach game is a game of catch with a twist—instead of using your hands or baseball gloves to catch the ball, you’ll slip a Velcro-laden paddle over your hand, and the ball will stick to it when they come into contact with each other. It requires more focus and hand-eye coordination than a regular game of catch. This set features waterproof paddles with adjustable straps so you can play it on the sand or in the water and a portable carrying case. Zero setup is required to play, and the paddles and balls are available in several colors. A set of four paddles and balls rather than two is also available for purchase if you have a larger family or group.
Cons: Unless you buy multiple sets, this game can only be played by two to four people at once.
Bottom Line: Catch is a popular pastime, both at the beach and elsewhere, and this beach-ready catch set offers a fun, unique interpretation of that classic game. Suitable for use on both land and water, you and your teens and older kids will enjoy the extra concentration and hand-eye coordination required to play this game.
Activ Life Kid's Flying Rings
These ring-like frisbees are gentle on children's fingers and will float, allowing you to toss them about in the water as well as on land.
Pros: These ring-like frisbees were explicitly made for the beach in mind. Unlike regular frisbees, these are waterproof and will float, rather than sink, if they land in the water. And the bright colors, of which there are nine to choose from, are easy to spot in the water. They’re also much more lightweight than classic frisbees due to their material and open center. This means that kids of all ages can throw them around without issue, and the disks are much, much less likely to hurt your child’s fingers when caught—or any other part of their body, should they fumble the catch.
Cons: They don’t fly as far as classic frisbees due to their weight and open ring-like shape. Since they’re so lightweight, they’re much more likely to be thrown off course or blown around on windy days.
Bottom Line: Frisbees are entertaining toys for the beach, but if they land in the water, you’ll be lucky to get it back. This pair of lightweight, ring-like frisbees bring all the fun of the toy to the beach without needing to worry about them sinking in the ocean or lake, never to be seen again.
Melissa & Doug Seaside Sand-and-Water Funnel
This fun little toy will allow your toddler to get the most possible fun out of playing in the water or in the sand.
Pros: This colorful little toy is an excellent alternative to classic sand buckets that toddlers and little kids use to play in the sand and build sandcastles. It’s essentially a bucket and funnel in one and is equally suitable for water and sand alike; if you have a sandbox at home for your toddler, you’ll get plenty of use out of it at home. The unique design and spinning components add a level of creativity that goes beyond typical digging in the sand or sandcastle building, too. And if you so desire, there are two alternate sets available for purchase that come with extra sand-based toys, so your toddler will get even more mileage and playtime out of this product.
Cons: While little kids will love the spinning components of this toy, note that the sand may get stuck in it at times, especially if said sand is damp or extra thick. Too little water or sand may also lead to the components neither spinning or flowing properly, either.
Bottom Line: Playing in the sand is a staple beach activity, one that most kids, especially younger ones, love to take part in. This cute toy aimed at toddlers will stimulate your little one’s creativity beyond just building sandcastles, especially since it’s great for water and sand.
Mattel Games UNO Splash Card Game
A waterproof version of a classic card game that the entire family can play together at the beach without worrying about ruining the cards.
Pros: Unlike some other card games with in-depth rules and scoring system, UNO is a game that can be enjoyed by pretty much all ages, even young child, so it’s fun for the whole family. And this deck of UNO cards was made specifically with the beach in mind; the cards are made of durable, largely clear plastic rather than the usual paper or cardboard. This means that they’re waterproof, much sturdier overall, and are easy to wipe clean of sand or debris. An attachment clip comes included with the packet as well, which is used to hold the cards together and can even clip right onto your beach or tote bag for convenient carrying. Even with all these benefits, this pack of UNO cards is still quite inexpensive, giving you and your loved ones hours of enjoyment at minimal cost.
Cons: While these cards are waterproof, it should be noted that, like regular playing cards, they do tend to stick together when wet. They won’t rip or tear when exposed to water but you’ll want to dry them off sooner rather than later when they get wet to avoid confusion and make shuffling easier.
Bottom Line: Playing cards is an enjoyable pastimes, but one that isn’t often a viable option at the beach; it’s too easy for the cards to get wet and tear, become dirty or scratched by sand, or be blown around by gusts of wind off the water. These waterproof, much sturdier UNO cards pretty much eliminate all of these problems so you can enjoy the classic card game right on the beach.
Whether you make frequent trips to the ocean or nearby lakes or rivers, investing in a couple of fun, entertaining beach games will allow you to make the most out of your day in the sun. Swimming and building sandcastles are not the only activities you or your family can partake in—thanks to such versatility, there is sure to be a beach game for pretty much any family or groups of friends.