Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
- Amazon/Business Insider
- Going to the beach is always tons of fun, but sitting there in the sun can get dull after the first hour or two. A selection of great beach toys ensures your waterside outing is exciting and enjoyable all day long.
- Spikeball is our top pick for the best beach toy becomes it’s an engaging, action-packed game that’s easy to learn and that can be played by kids and adults alike.
When you imagine a beach, you probably think of equal parts relaxation and fun. You likely picture kids frolicking about while adults stretch out and relax. In short, the modern conception of the beach is as an idyllic place to be sought out and enjoyed.
But it wasn’t always so. In fact, up until the later decades of the 18th century, beaches were generally avoided when possible, used only as necessary for maritime purposes such as launching or retrieving boats, harvesting seafood, and so forth. A new interest in the restorative benefits of fresh air inspired by the ever-more choked air of industrializing cities paired with the ease of travel offered by trains and improved roadways led to a gradual changing of opinions about the beach. Over the course of the 19th Century, the seaside changed from a vaguely ominous swath of sand to be avoided to the beloved vacation destination we think of today.
What’s better than a day at the beach? A day at the beach with fun stuff to do.
If you showed up to the beach empty handed and sat on the sand staring at the water all day, that wouldn’t be much fun. It’s really the items we bring along with us that makes a beach day a success, and that goes for the basics like a towel and an umbrella to the common diversions like a book or some music to the great beach toys that can make a seaside sojourn truly enjoyable.
Whether it’s you and the kids or you and the crew headed to the beach this summer, we’ve assembled a list of some of the best beach toys for ensuring you have a great time. What you won’t find here is badminton because it’s impossible or those giant inflatable balls you can get inside of because they’re begging for personal injury. What you will find are a few high-energy beach games, an exciting but slow-paced option, the best water gun I’ve ever used, and some things for the kids, too.
Here are the best beach toys you can buy:
- Best beach toy overall: Spikeball
- Best beach toy for kids: Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set
- Best water gun: Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher
- Best low-impact beach game: Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers
- Best flying disc beach game: Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game
- Best beach kite: Singare Octopus Kite
- Best beach toys for the sand: Green Toys Sand Play Set
Updated on 5/24/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting.
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best beach toy overall
- Spiek Ball/Facebook
Spikeball has all the energy and excitement of a game of volleyball without the need for a large net and huge piece of beach real estate.
The first time I played Spikeball, frankly, it wasn’t much fun. But the second time I played, which was about five minutes later, I actually understood the mechanics of the game a bit, and I enjoyed myself. Within a few more rounds, my friends and I were spiking that ball with zeal and having a good ol’ time and a decent workout, no less.
The object of this game is basically the same as that of a volleyball match. One team has to work together using a limited number of touches to get the ball bounced off a circular net and then ideally onto the ground without the other team successfully taking control of the ball and bouncing it right back. Got it? To paraphrase, instead of tapping the ball over a volleyball net, you bounce it off the Spikeball net to shift play to your opponents.
The best thing about Spikeball is the compact, portable nature of the set used in play. You can pack it down small enough to carry under one arm, yet a high-intensity game could see people running far and wide and even making jumping and diving plays. The second best thing about it is that you can also play a more casual, less intense round simply by not hitting the ball so hard.
With more than 200 reviews posted on Amazon at the time of this writing, Spikeball has a 4.4-star average rating. One customer calls it a “reverse/upside-down volleyball” game that’s “super fun for the beach.”
Pros: Compact and portable set, enjoyable way to exercise, great for many ages
Cons: Requires moderate fitness and agility
The best beach toy for kids
- Melissa & Doug
For kids ages 0 to 4 or even a bit older, you really can’t beat a great set of sand toys, and the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set is certainly that.
My son started enjoying sand play when he was 7-months-old. And though the way in which he engages with the sand has changed in the ensuing four years, he still loves using sand toys when playing at the beach. Now he’s trying to create trenches that channel water toward a reservoir instead of idly scooping and dumping, but sand play is sand play.
The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set is a low-cost beach toy set that has all basic elements a kid needs for enjoying the endless supply of play material found there on the beach. It has the different sizes of scoop, a little spoon, a sand whisk, a sifter, and a larger bucket with handles.
Whether pretending to cook, working on a structure, or simply digging and pouring, young kids will love this set. Just make sure they don’t eat too much sand with that spoon.
Hundreds of Amazon customers have reviewed this sand toy set online, and they have given it a 4.5-star average rating. One reviewer calls it “very sturdy” and “absolutely perfect for” younger kids to enjoy at the beach. Others also report their kids using the toys at water tables or in the pool.
Pros: Great variety of toys, good for babies and toddlers alike, low price point
Cons: Sifter lid does not fit bucket well
Buy a Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set on Amazon for $13.99 (originally $40.26)
The best water gun
- Stream Machine
The Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher is a low-cost, high-powered water cannon that blasts water dozens of yards across the beach, pool, or backyard.
The simplest effective design is always the best design possible, and it doesn’t get much simpler than the design of the Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher.
You stick the muzzle of this powerful water gun down into some water – be it a bucket, a pool, the Indian Ocean, or whatever – and pull back on the handle. Then you point the thing at your “foe” and push the handle forward again as hard as you can, blasting that nemesis with a super-powered jet of water. With enough effort and decent arm strength, you can send a stream of water arcing more than 70 feet away.
Unlike with a Super Soaker, these water launchers are quick to load and fire, no prep work of pumping required. And unlike fancier multi-component and/or electric water guns, they are pretty hard to break even when treated roughly. Also, as a Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher costs less than $15, you can always just replace one that finally gives out.
One word of caution: Watch out for kids and for anyone’s eyes, because these water launchers create enough pressure to cause serious discomfort and discontent, if not an actual minor injury.
Pros: Powerful long-range stream, easy to use, cheap yet durable
Cons: Can cause minor eye injuries if used improperly
The best low-impact beach game
- Yard Games
You can play a larger-than-life game of Jenga with the Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers set for tons of fun without too much exercise.
Have you ever noticed that most adult beach toys are basically some variation of tossing or bouncing one object at a different object? Whether it’s cornhole, volleyball, beach football, bocce, and so forth, most beach games involve throwing stuff around, and lots of them require at least moderately intense physical activity. Ah, but not so with Giant Tumbling Timbers from Yard Games.
This is, of course, just Jenga on a much larger scale, but the huge size of this set not only makes it a great outdoor activity, but it also increases both the level of challenge and excitement without making this a physically taxing game.
Kids above the age of seven or eight will love playing with this set as will adults of any age. Just watch out for smaller folks when it looks like the tower will soon tumble down because a wooden block to the head is a surefire way to ruin an otherwise great day at the beach.
The Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers has hundreds of reviews and a fine 4.5-star average rating on Amazon, with a customer calling this a “fun full-sized game… exactly what [she] was looking for” family fun.
Another said it was great for “kids and adults” alike. Others did note the rather steep price tag, but for the record, the Jenga-branded option costs 50 bucks more.
Pros: Low-intensity fun, great for various ages, fun for the beach or use in the yard
Cons: Injury risk for young kids from falling blocks
The best flying disc beach game
- Kan Jam
A good game of Kan Jam involves accurate throws, aggressive defense, and usually a lot of laughs.
Tossing a flying disc back and forth is lots of fun, but simply throwing and catching can get boring after a while, so spice things up with the Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game.
Kan Jam is enjoyable because it still relies on the basics of accurate tossing, yet with the added excitement of playing with a teammate and against opponents.
Your partner can help bounce your tossed disc into the top of the large plastic cylinder (the “kan”) that serves as a goal, or you can earn double points by getting the disc into a slot on the front of the goal. But beware: Your opponents can knock the disc aside, robbing you of your sweet, sweet points but increasing the challenge and excitement. You’re playing what is essentially the sport known as Ultimate.
Or, you can play without the intervention of the other team to make things a bit less challenging. And you can also enjoy a Kan Jam set solo by challenging yourself to improve your accuracy.
I’ve spent hours playing Kan Jam over the years, and my only complaint about the game is that other people seem to get the disc into the goal more often than I do, but that’s probably more my issue than a design thing, come to think of it.
RunnerClick calls Kan Jam a great “family friendly” game that “encourages physical activity.”
Pros: Fun team play game, ideal for the beach or the backyard, made in America
Cons: Frustrating for some less-than-great throwers
The best beach kite
The Singare Octopus Kite is charming to watch up there in the skies with its big googly eyes and colorful streamers, plus, it’s easy to get it aloft and keep it there.
The beach is the perfect place to fly a kite what with the open expanse of terrain for running about and with reliable breezes coming in off the water. Kites are great fun for all ages, too, making them a perfect toy for use during family trips to the shore. But a kite is no fun for anyone of any age if you can’t get the damn thing airborne, which is all too common a problem with all too many kite designs.
The Singare Octopus Kite is ready to use right out of the bag, no assembly required, thus removing the first obstacle many people have to successful kite flight: improper construction. The large, lightweight kites catch the breeze with ease and soar high with minimal need for control input from down below.
Thanks to the 200-foot line included with each kite, you can send your colorful octopus high in the sky. They remain easy to see even at altitude thanks to multiple bright streamers that stretch out nearly eight feet behind the “body” of the kite.
With dozens of reviews posted, Amazon shoppers have awarded the Singare Octopus Kite a high-flying 4.4-star average rating. One buyer says the kite is “super easy to fly” and “not too hard for a 4-year-old” yet still fun for his 8-year-old son, not to mention himself, the adult.
Pros: Easy to launch, two kites come with purchase, long line and handle included
Cons: Cheap materials (but offset by cheap price)
The best beach toys for playing in the sand
- Green Toys
The Green Toys Sand Play Set comes with everything you need to build a sandcastle.
The Green Toys Sand Play Set is small and doesn’t come with a whole lot, but it probably has the best chance of lasting a season out of any plastic beach toy set we could find, and these are, after all, the essentials.
Really, apart from maybe a Kindle what else does a child or an adult really need for entertainment at the beach? Made from BPA-free recycled plastics, the kit includes bucket with a sturdy rope handle that won’t break, a shovel, a rake, and a sandcastle mold, which is all it takes to build the beach fortress of your wildest dreams.
Sure, you could buy a twenty-odd set for the same price, but what’s the point? The plastic will be of low quality, and the small pieces have a good chance of finding their way home. – Owen Burke
Pros: Well made, made from recycled plastic, BPA-free, sandcastle building essentials
Cons: Pricey, not many pieces
Check out our full guide to the best beach gear
Summer is a great time to get outside and hit the beach. We’ve rounded up the best beach gear of all kinds so you don’t have to waste precious time indoors looking for good beach gear.
Click on a link to jump to a topic:
- Best swimsuits and swim trunks
- Best sunglasses and sun hat
- Best beach sandals
- Best sunscreen
- Best beach towels
- Best beach blanket and mat
- Best beach chair
- Best beach umbrella and tent
- Best water bottle, wineskin, canteen, and mug
- Best coolers
- Best picnic baskets
- Best grilling gear
- Best beach toys
- Best beach cart and bag