Time for Beach Games! Enjoy Fun Family Beach Play at the Jekyll Island Beach of Your Choice

Beach play is a premier activity at Jekyll Island. Swimming, shelling, and just lazing in the sand, reading your book of choice (or dozing, like me!), are a few of the traditional beach games you can participate in on Jekyll Island's wide, flat, uncrowded beaches, but those beaches are also perfect for pursuing creative beach play activities.

When it comes to kids, they're usually happy to entertain themselves on the beach. But sometimes, more organized pursuits are just the thing to top off a great family beach vacation. Of course, make sure any game involving small children and played at the surf line is supervised by a responsible adult. And slather on the sun block often!

Here are some of our favorite beach games for kids of all ages.

These beach games are lots of fun for pre-teens, teens, young adults and adults. Smaller kids ("hatchlings", as they're called by the folks at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center), can participate, with adult supervision (and a planned activity level that takes into account that they are small kids!).

We've had a lot of fun with family and friends playing together, and sometimes with just pick-up games with fellow vacationers.

Beach Touch Football -

  • Use towels, coolers, sand piles, or whatever comes to hand for goals.
  • Ribbons, surveyor's tape, or t-shirts make great flags. Tuck them into your shorts or swim suit, or make a belt with a ribbon, string or rope, and tuck into that
  • Keep the field fairly short (30 yards is good).
  • Divide into teams, and play ball!

Fun Fact - Beach football can get interesting, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Pass into the wind, the ball barely goes anywhere. Pass with the wind behind you, you'll feel like Payton Manning! The ball will travel a mile.

Variations -

  • Play right at the surf line. Makes for great splashing fun, especially with young adults and teens who want to play a more aggressive game (like tackle). We don't recommend tackle because of unforeseen consequences (like injuries, hurt feelings, and sore losers - literally sore losers)

Volleyball -

Volleyball beach play can be as structured or as loosey-goosey as you want to make it.

  • Set up a volleyball net (or a badmitten net in a pinch), or create a chair-and-cooler barrier, or just draw a line in the sand
  • Divide into teams
  • Play till you drop!

Variations -

  • Stack teams. Guys against girls. Parents vs. kids. Humans against dolphins (that would be interesting...)
  • Use a tennis ball and rackets, instead of a volleyball. Or play badmitten.
  • Badmitten should be really weird on the beach. That shuttlecock will be blowing everywhere!

Disk Games -

Flying disk beach play is a lot of fun, great exercise (don't tell the kids they're getting health benefits from beach games!), and great for everyone.

  • Form a large circle, and just throw a Frisbee back and forth
  • Play Frisbee Golf. Lay out a course by drawing circles in the sand.
  • Disk bowling. Set up water bottles or sticks stuck upright in the sand, pace off a short distance, and see who can knock down the most.

Kick Ball -

Played just like regular kickball. Make sure to use a rubber ball, not a soccer ball, as sand and salt water will damage a soccer ball. Of course, an old soccer ball will do.

  • Mark off a field on the sand, use t-shirts or sand piles for bases.
  • If a ball gets past everyone with the wind behind it, be prepared to run a mile to chase it down.

Pirate Treasure Scavenger Hunt -

Most kids can play this game. For hatchlings, limit the playing area, or pair off with an older kid or adult.

  • Tell everyone the boundaries of the search area.
  • Have players dig a hole for their "booty"
  • Give everyone a list of items to search for (the "treasure"), say, a shell larger than a half-dollar; a crab claw, etc.
  • Set a time limit

Variations -

  • Divide the group into teams
  • Make it a little more challenging for teens and adults. Hide items around Jekyll Island, establish GPS coordinates, and make it a geo-caching adventure!

Capture the Flag -

A wonderful team-oriented beach play game.

  • Divide group into two or three teams.
  • Each team builds a sand castle, and tops it with a "flag" (could be an empty water bottle, or a ribbon, or whatever)
  • Teams try to steal one another's flag.
  • If someone on your team tags someone on another team, that player is captured, and must go to a holding area (a circle drawn on the beach. Play continues for everyone else)
  • Team mates can "rescue" captured players by tagging them back, and get them back in the game.
  • Once a flag is captured, it has to be taken back to the capturing teams castle in order to win
  • The winning team is the one who has captured the other team (or teams) flag.

Piranhas -

A delightful beach play game, suitable for all age groups.

  • Draw a really big circle in the sand.
  • Make one person the designated piranha
  • Object of the game: The piranha's mission is to make other piranhas. If the designated piranha tags a friend or family member, that person is turned into a piranha, and must help the first piranha turn others into piranhas.
  • Last one left (not converted into a piranha) is the winner.

Variations -

  • Instead of a piranha, call the designated catcher a shark. Or, as I like to do, call him or her a zombie. If you're "bitten" (tagged) by the zombie, you turn into a zombie, and get to "zombi-tize" others. The zombie gambit seems to create a lot more excitement in the game for some reason.
  • Play the game in the surf for a lot of wet, splashing fun.

Tug-o-war Beach Play -

A test of skill and strength.

  • Divide into teams (teams should be equal in strength, either mixed teams of adults, teens, older and younger kids, or asymmetrically-balanced teams of a few adults vs. twice as many kids, etc.)
  • Get a nylon rope (a sheet from a sail boat, or a climbing rope is good. You'll need a good grip, so a larger diameter rope works best).
  • Draw a line in the sand between the teams.
  • At "Go!", see which team can pull the other across the line first.

Variations -

  • Dig a hole in the sand, fill it with water. First team in the hole loses (and gets soaked!)
  • Play in the surf

We've found that the less structured beach play games are, the more fun they are (Rules? We don' need no stinkin' rules!).

Also, the more water incorporated into your beach play, the better! Anything that can be played on dry sand can be played at the surf line.

Or, for a real challenge, play any of the ball games mentioned above in loose, deep beach sand instead of on the flat, compacted beach. That will give you a workout!

Beach Play for 2 to 4 Folks -

Great for families or a small group of friends.

Tennis -

Just mark off a double line on the beach (with about 5' between the lines) for a net, face off, and play some tennis. Mini-tennis is best, and creates a quicker, more intense game, especially if you're playing doubles.

Kite Flying Challenge -

Get everyone a kite, and square off in a flying competition. See who can do the most tricks (if you're using performance kites), or have a race. Who can be the first to get their kite up, fly it to the end of their string, keep it in the air for 5 minutes, and bring it back down safely.

Sand Castle Competition -

See who can build the best sand castle. Or the biggest. Or create an entire sand castle village.

Marbles -

Can be played several ways, as traditional marbles (where you try to knock other marbles from a circle), or whatever your creative mind can come up with. See who can get the most marbles closest to a line drawn in the sand; see who can roll the most into a hole dug in the sand; etc.); Cherokee Marbles

Bury Dad -

Of course little hatchlings will love this. They get to pile sand on Dad! And Dad will love it, as he gets to lay down and rest on the beach.

Artistic Expression -

Have your kids create sculptures or pictures on the beach. Designate materials, or let their imaginations run wild, using anything they can find to make their most creative beach play art.

Digging Holes -

Little kids love to just dig in the sand. See who can dig the deepest in a set time.

Beach Mini-golf -

Create an abbreviated version of a miniature golf course on the beach. Play just like regular mini-golf. Create hazards (sand traps shouldn't be a problem!), twisting fairways, and "green" areas. Depending on your time and talent, you can make it a short course, or a full 18 hole masterpiece. Good for kids or adults.

You'll need some kind of clubs and balls, whether the real McCoy, or improv stuff (sticks and rubber balls, say, or even rocks). Remember, unstructured is the most fun!

Soak Dad -

This beach play game is good for lots of laughs.

  • First you need a volunteer (by volunteer, I mean poor-old-victim-Dad).
  • Dad sits on the beach with a cup, bucket, or water bottle balanced on his head.
  • Fill a bucket with water, or dig a hole and fill with water, or just play close to the surf
  • Give each participating kid a small cup (or let them use their hands)
  • The object of the game: Kids take turns carefully pouring water from the source into the bucket on Dad's head
  • The game ends when the bucket, cup, or bottle tilts - and soaks poor old Dad!

Beach Survivor -

Create your own Family Survivor Competition beach play game!

Activities -

  • Ball Push - push a tennis ball a set distance on the beach - with your nose!
  • Foot Race - more fun in deep sand
  • Long Jump - the deep sand again
  • Ball (or Shell) Distance Toss - see who can throw a ball the farthest. Hey, make it even. Dad, Mom and older kids have to toss into the wind; smaller kids and hatchlings throw with the wind behind them
  • Frisbee Throw - same rules apply
  • Hole Digging Race
  • Shell Relay - balance a shell on your forehead, travel a set distance, transfer shell to partner (more fun if you transfer it without using hands)

These are just a few of the imaginative, competitive beach play games you can enjoy on the beach. Creativity goes a long way, and unstructured play rules! Plus, anything that has kids vs. Dad will be fun, especially (controlled) rough-house play in the surf! Soak Dad! Dunk Dad! Wrestle Dad! Splash Dad! It's all good. Who would ever guess I raised two boys?

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