33 Fun Things To Do At The Beach with Family
Some of my best memories are days spent at the beach with my son, my family and friends. We would spend the whole day swimming, building sandcastles, and collecting shells.
There are so many fun activities that you can enjoy with your family at the beach this summer.
- Swimming with dolphins
- Dolphin / whale watching
- Dolphin interactions
- Picnic / BBQ
- Write messages in sand
- Build sculptures by the sea
- Make a sandman
- Make rivers in the sand
- Toss pebbles
- Create art with shells and pebbles
- Fly a kite
- Play noughts and crosses
- Treasure hunt
- Running / walking along the beach
- Play I Spy
- Create shell jewellery
- Build a channel to the sea
- Beach bowling
- Play Marco Polo
- Relax and do nothing
- Make a sand sundial
- Ride camels / horses
- Go snorkeling
- Build a flying fox
- Gold panning
- Explore rock formations
- Seahorse races
- Crab races
- Ride a paddle boat
- Make a glass terrarium
- Go metal detecting
- Play hide and seek
1. Swimming with Dolphins
I believe swimming with dolphins should be on everybody’s bucket list. My first experience was in Xcaret, Mexico and I totally fell in love with these beautiful creatures. Since then I have chased dolphins around the world.
There are so many opportunities one can have interacting with dolphins – hand feeding them on the beach at Tangalooma Resort, swimming in the wild while holding onto a boat at Port Stephens or Forster, flying through the water holding onto dolphins’ fins or getting a foot push in Hawaii.
Many places including Sea Life Park Hawaii cater to children as young as 3 years of age.
I can guarantee you will never forget your dolphin interactions.
2. Dolphin / Whale Watching
If swimming with dolphins seems a little too daunting, then going dolphin or whale spotting is the next best option. I am lucky to have a friend who lives right near the beach and whenever dolphins are around, she calls me.
I have flown out the door one shoe in hand just so I wouldn’t miss seeing dolphins playing in the waves. I would then spend hours sitting on the beach watching them swim by or just playing right in front of me.
I was totally mesmerized when my 20 year old son described his experiences of surfing amongst dolphins.
In fact, earlier this year our “kids” took my friend and I 4WD driving on a beach near Forster. We stopped near the shore so the boys could go surfing and that’s when I saw them – a pod of dolphins not too far off the shore. I couldn’t help myself and I borrowed a body board and headed for the waves.
Except that I underestimated the size of the waves and overestimated my ability to navigate the ocean.
As I desperately tried to paddle out I kept getting smashed by the waves and was quickly running out of energy.
I decided to abort operation dolphin and figured I would catch a wave back to the beach. The only problem was I got caught in a rip and was being pulled further from the shore.
I started to panic and felt very anxious.
Suddenly out of the blue a young man appeared on his surf board … he could see I was struggling. He took off his surfboard ankle leash and handed it to me.
He instructed me to hold on tight, jumped back on his board and towed me back to the beach.
Shaken and exhausted, I was relieved to be on solid ground. I thanked him for coming to my rescue…
He just grinned and said “all in a day’s work mum”.
He doesn’t have an easy job keeping me out of trouble, especially when there are dolphins around.
3. Dolphin Interactions
Other than seeing dolphins in the wild or swimming with them, there are many other opportunities to interact with these beautiful creatures.
Tangalooma Resort on Moreton island allows you to feed them by hand directly at the beach.
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park at Coffs Harbour has a pool set up and you can play catch with a dolphin or stand beside the pool window and have them follow your hand as your draw circles and shapes.
4. Picnic / BBQ
There is nothing quite like a beach BBQ or picnic with family and friends, while you watch the sunset.
Many beaches and reserves have electric BBQs available. If you are unsure, check your local council website.
You can also bring a portable BBQ or gas stove available from places such as BCF.
Fishing is one of the healthiest hobbies as it improves your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s a great bonding activity to share with your extended family – kids, parents and grand parents can all get involved.
If you are planning to go fishing regularly, consider investing in good quality fishing gear available from places such as BCF or if you just want to try it out, inexpensive fishing equipment is available from your local Kmart, Target or Big W or online from Amazon.
6. Write Messages in Sand
Write a special message in the sand for your loved ones, take a photo and send it to them or print the photo and hang it on your wall.
7. Build Sculptures by the Sea
Building sculptures is like building sandcastles, but you can let your imagination run wild and build animals, fish, cars, cartoon characters and so much more.
Some tools to bring
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Egg cartons
- Yogurt tubs
- Cake tins
- Cookie cutters
- Water spray bottle
- Serving spoons
If you want to see professional sand sculptures look for sand building competitions and events on a beach near you.
8. Make a Sandman
In Australia, we don’t often get to the snow, so a great alternative to building a snow man is making a sand man. All you need is sand, water, carrot for the nose, shells or pebbles for buttons and eyes and sticks for arms.
The wetter the sand, the easier it is to build with. Give it a go with your kids next time you are at the beach and make sure you share it on Instagram with a hashtag #adventureHQbeach
9. Make Rivers in the Sand
Keep your kids occupied for the whole day. Just make sure you bring buckets and spades and let them build rivers on the beach. Add water and float sticks or plastic boats along the rivers. To make it even more challenging encourage them to build houses or castles along the river’s edge.
10. Toss Pebbles
A simple, fun activity for kids of all ages. Find flat, smooth pebbles then try to make them bounce on the water. Whoever can get them bounce more times wins.
11. Create Art with Shells and Pebbles
So many possibilities to create art on the beach. Collect driftwood, sandglass, shells, rocks and anything you can find, then start your work of art. And don’t forget to take a photo and share it on Instagram with hashtag #adventureHQbeach
12. Fly a Kite
For days when the beach is a little windy, bring a kite and you can keep your kids entertained for long periods of time. The beach is ideal as there are long stretches of sand you can run along.
There are many types of kites and if you have young children, then start with single-stranded string kites.
One word of caution – watch out for power lines if they are near the beach.
You can buy some awesome kites from your local toystore or order them online from Amazon, Kitesmart or even eBay.
13. Play Noughts and Crosses
An oldie, but a goodie. Draw the grid in the sand then either use a stick to mark your noughts and crosses or pebbles and shells.
14. Treasure Hunt
There are so many different ways to do a beach treasure hunt so get creative! It’s a lot of fun for the whole family, no matter whether you are 6 or 86.
You can hide items on the beach or reserve, then give participants clues.
Or you can print out a checklist of things to find on the beach, such as:
- Beach ball
- Plastic pail
- Volleyball net
- Beach chair
- Flip flops
If everyone has a phone or camera, get them to take a photo of each item.
If it’s easter time, do an easter egg hunt.
15. Running / Walking Along the Beach
A great way to get some exercise for the whole family. Make the walk/run even more fun by kicking or bouncing a ball or avoiding waves crashing onto the shore.
16. Play I Spy
A great game which involves turn-taking and talking and helps to develop children’s social and language skills.
The great thing is you don’t need any equipment and can play it anywhere.
17. Create Shell Jewellery
Collect shells while you are at the beach then drill holes in the shells. Your children can then thread the shells on a string or fishing line. Get creative and add beads of different colours between the shells.
18. Build a Channel to the Sea
Help your kids dig a long channel from the beach to the sea. Once the channel is deep enough, get a bucket of water and pour it from the top of the channel and watch the water flow back to the sea. You can even float plastic boats or sticks.
Make sure you bring buckets or containers so kids can keep filling up the channel with water. It will keep them amused for long periods, while you sit on the beach and relax.
19. Beach Bowling
You can buy plastic, wooden or inflatable bowling set from Kmart, Big W or Amazon. Or simply bring a few plastic bottles. You can fill them with a bit of sand or water to make sure they are a bit more stable. Just make sure you don’t forget the ball!
20. Play Marco Polo
A great game to play on the beach or in the water. The rules are simple.
One person is chosen to be “it”.
He/she closes his / her eyes and moves a few meters away from everyone else.
He / she then counts to 10 and shouts “Marco,”
All other participants shout “Polo.”
The one that shouts “Marco” has to try and catch one of the people who shouts “Polo”.
This game is easier if played in a rock pool, rather than the open sea.
21. Relax and Do Nothing
Most of us spend our days rushing around, ticking of things on our to-do list that we forget to stop and do nothing. Bring a comfy beach chair to the beach and spend the day doing nothing, except watching the world go by.
If doing nothing seems too daunting, add it to your “to do” list. And remember, the time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted.
22. Make a Sundial
You can plant a stick in the sand, then every hour mark the location of the sand with pebbles or shells. Make sure you build the sundial in a place which gets full sun exposure all day long.
23. Ride Camels / Horses on the Beach
Find a beach that offers camel or horse rides.
In NSW, Port Stephens and Port Macquarie are great places to go.
The great thing is that children as young as 3 years old can go camel riding, so it’s an incredible experience for the whole family.
24. Go Snorkelling
A brilliant way to explore the underwater world without having to get certified. Make sure you find a well fitted mask, defog your mask with baby shampoo or defogging gel and wear fins to help you preserve energy while swimming.
Find a beach with calm and clear water. If you are only starting out, it’s better to practice from the beach rather than out on the open sea. And it is best to snorkel with a buddy.
You can teach your children when they are as young as 5 years old to go snorkeling. You can pick up snorkels, masks and fins from most sports stores. Other things to consider for children learning to snorkel is a wetsuit or a rashie (UV shirt) to protect them from the sun
Here is a great article which explains how to go snorkeling with children.
25. Build a Flying Fox
We were at a beach reserve recently enjoying a picnic, when I spotted a dad tying a rope from one tree to another.
20 minutes later and the flying fox was built and gave his kids hours of flying fun.
26. Gold Panning
You may need to do a bit of research ahead of time to see which beaches or creeks have gold. There are forums and social media groups dedicated to gold panning, so it’s a good idea to join one to get tips on best places to go. A gold panning kit can be purchased from BCF, Anaconda or Amazon.
Even if you don’t find real gold, you may find other treasures that your children will love. Not to mention it will keep them occupied for long periods of time.
27. Explore Rocks and Rock Pools
There are so many exciting things to see at rock pools – from crabs to star fish. Plants and animals that live in rock pools are fascinating, as they survive an ever changing environment – various water temperatures and long exposures to the sun. When walking on the rocks be very careful as they can be slippery and sharp, so it’s a good idea to wear enclosed shoes. Also supervise your children to ensure they don’t go too close to the edge of the water, as waves can often come unexpectedly.
28. Seahorse Races
A fun activity for all ages. Sit on a noodle and pretend you are riding a seahorse, then race against each other.
29. Crab Races
Find several crabs, draw a circle in the sand, place the crabs in the middle and watch them run. Whichever crab crosses the circle line wins.
30. Ride a Paddleboat
Paddle boats can generally be found for hire on beaches without waves or on lakes. Most paddle boats can safely accommodate two adults to one adult and two small children. They are inexpensive to hire and lots of fun to ride.
31. Make a Glass Terrarium
If you are looking for low maintenance greenery for your home, create a glass terrarium – collect some sand, pebbles and plants that grow on or near the beach.
You can use any glass bowls, vases or buy a terrarium at your local store. Then place several layers of sand – if you can get sand in different colours, it will make your terrarium more interesting. Add a layer of activated charcoal (this helps keep fungus and bacteria down.
Add 3cm of potting mix on top of the charcoal, then place the plants on top and cover roots with a bit of soil and pebbles.
Do not mix succulents with other plants as they have different watering requirements.
32. Metal Detecting
A real treasure hunt! It’s amazing what you can find in the sand. Best times to go metal detecting is after a heavy storm or high seas, as the objects can be found closer to the surface. We have found many treasures including coins and jewellery.
Metal detecting equipment can be purchased from stores such as Anaconda, eBay or BCF.
33. Play Hide and Seek
A fun game for the whole family, although you may have to get creative where to hide on the beach – much depends on the layout of the beach, but some ideas to hide include behind trees at a beach reserve, sand dunes, beach grasses, rocks, in the water (if you can hold your breath long enough).
Ivana Katz is a Sydney based website designer and travel blogger. Having her own business has given her the freedom to explore the world. She believes travel is the best teacher and her passion for adventure, writing and photography has taken her and her son to some amazing places, including Hawaii, Canada, Fiji, Greece and Czech Republic. Ivana’s favourite thing about travelling is learning, discovering hidden gems and creating memories. She loves nothing more than inspiring other women to chase their dreams and explore the world with their families and friends.