Planning a beach day?
Read our guide on what to bring, how to spend your day, and even how to celebrate National Beach Day in late August. You don't even need a sunny day at the beach to have fun.
What To Take To The Beach
Riding a donkey might be a traditional beach day activity, but you shouldn't need to hire one to carry all your stuff! Packing light will make things easier for everyone. That said, there are number of beach necessities that should be on a beach day packing list.
Sunscreen is perhaps the most important. Even on cloudy days, prolonged exposure can be dangerous. Remember to reapply sunscreen after taking a swim or paddling in the water.
Drinking water is the other big essential. Sitting in the sun, or shade, can be thirsty work on a hot day, all the more so if the kids are running around our frolicking in the sea.
The traditional bucket and spade are another must-have item; not just for making sandcastles, but also for collecting shells and other beach collectibles.
A towel or three is also essential. You'll want to lie on them, use them to dry off, and they're also useful for brushing down sandy limbs.
You'll probably want to take along some food. Most beach resorts will have refreshment stands, but you can avoid queues and costs by bringing your own picnic. Select foods that are easy to eat without the benefit of tables or cutlery, like pastries, fruit and corn snacks.
Those are the absolute essentials. Other popular items to take include:
Wet wipes and hand sanitiser are invaluable for cleaning up mucky paws ahead of eating.
A sun shade or wind break to protect you from the elements. These can be heavy, so you could alternatively seek a naturally shady beach (e.g. below cliffs).
A play tent to offer shade (and beach fun) to smaller children.
Water inflatables for messing about in the sea (under supervision!).
Come prepared with a trash bag, so you don't have to trek off to a bin every time baby soils a nappy or junior eats a snack.
The usual suspects, such as swimming costumes, sunglasses, sandals, a book, hats, beach chairs, etc.
The Best Beach Activities
Your idea of the perfect beach day might be to laze around reading a good book. That might not be your kids' top choice for a day on the beach. They'll want to explore, splash around and look for sea creatures. Here are six ideas for things to do at the beach with kids.
Sandcastles: the absolute classic beach day activity. With good quality sand, you don't even need a bucket and spade. Simply pile and sculpt, then decorate with shells and seaweed.
King Canute: Pretend to be the king who ordered the tide to recede. In this popular game, you have to see how far out you can scamper before the waves touch your feet. Place a stick or other marker as far out as you can, then try to beat it.
Under siege: This is a fun game to play if the tide is coming in. Build a sandcastle close to the water's edge, then try to protect it from the incoming ocean with a series of trenches and dams. You won't win, of course, but you'll have fun trying.
Rockpooling: Many beaches have rocky areas where water can pool and trap sea creatures. If you pack a small net, you can have fun fishing in the pools to see what you can catch. (Handle animals with care and place them back afterwards.)
Bury mum or dad: Not a universally popular game, but the kids seem to like it. Can they pile enough sand onto your body so just your head is visible?
Beach day games: If you have several children or are on the beach with friends, you could set up a kind of 'beach Olympics', where the kids compete in various races. You could set up a simple sprint race, a balance-the-shell-on-your-nose race, a swim or paddle race, or a gruelling endurance race over dunes. Long jump is another one to enjoy on the beach.
Can You Do A Rainy Day At The Beach?
Beaches are normally associated with hot summer days and endless August afternoons. In truth, though, a hot day at the beach is sometimes too much for children, and cooler times might be more manageable. Children don't crave the sun, but enjoy visiting for the change of scene, to look for interesting shells, and for a paddle in the surf. You can do these at any time of year. A walk along the coast in the rain can be rather magical, plus you'll have the benefit of having it almost to yourselves.
How To Take The Best Family Beach Pictures
Some of our best childhood memories are from perfect beach days, and most of those memories are backed up with a good beach photo. The coastal environment offers infinite scope for creative photos, but here are a few fun ideas to get you started:
If mum or dad has been buried up to their neck (see above), then you'll obviously want to get a photo!
Use seaweed to give yourself a comedy hair style or beard.
See if you can get your kids to walk on water by asking them to jump into the air close to the ocean and taking your snap at just the right moment.
The soft beach is a good place to practice (and photograph) handstands and other gymnastics.
Use a spade to cut out a message in the wet sand, such as "We love you daddy". You could adorn it with shells and seaweed. Then photograph the kids lying in front of it.
Did You Know There's A National Beach Day?
National Beach Day was set up in 2014 by Colleen Paige, both as a way to celebrate these beautiful environments, but also to encourage people to help clean up coastal locations. It takes place on August 30th each year and, despite the name, is intended as a worldwide event. Perhaps you could plan an August trip to the beach with the kids specifically to go litter picking. You'll probably have plenty of fun, while improving the environment and getting your kids into the habit of caring for our beaches.
What Are The Best Beach Hacks?
Wonderful as beaches are, they also come with their fair share of challenges, from keeping the sand out of your food to keeping a baby out of trouble. To help, we've put together 15 simple beach tips to help you get the most out of a day at the beach.
See Other Articles About Beaches
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.