15 Fun and Free Beach Activities for Kids

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My kids love visiting South Padre Island and have come up with several fun activities to do at the beach.

I’m sure if we suggested moving to the beach, they’d be packed and ready to go, in a jiffy!

I still remember the first time we took our then 1-year-old daughter to the beach.

She was thrilled to get her feet wet and three hours later, cried her lungs out because she had still not had enough.

I’m sure your kids are the same way.

And I know the beach is all about getting into the water but there is also a bunch of other fun stuff your kids can do.

Here are 15 Fun and Free Beach Activities for Kids.

1. Play chase the waves with younger kids.

My 3-year-old loves the water but has swallowed his fair share of salty water to know it isn’t always fun.

So we play “chase the waves” with him.

When the waves recede, he ventures forth boldly into the water but as soon as the waves pick up momentum and roll in, he shrieks with glee and runs onto the shore.

My 7-year-old has just as much fun with this game!

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2. Go on a sea-shell hunt.

Bring the shells home and get the kids to paint them or do mosaic artwork using the shells collected.

3. Hunt for little crab holes.

The kids have so much fun watching the tiny crabs scurry in and out of the holes and try in vain to catch at least one!

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4. Turtle Alert!

Most beaches are attached to a Turtle Rescue hotline.

Check your local beaches for the same.

During turtle release season or the nesting period, Turtle Rescue Workers urge the public to walk around beaches and see if they find any turtle eggs, a nest or hatchlings washed up.

This is what a turtle hatchling release looks like.

This can be a fun activity to do as a family.

Comb the shore for turtle nests, eggs, or baby turtles.

5. Build sandcastles!

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6. Write messages in the sand.

And play a game to see whose message lasts the longest before the waves come and wipe them all away.

(Make sure this is done close to the water’s edge and not far away on shore. Else you will be there for a good long while!)

7. Take turns to bury each other in the sand.

(Now I’m not a huge fan of this activity but the kids LOVE it!)

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8. Hunt for sand dollars.

Sand dollars are flattened sea urchins that wash up on shore.

They look like a round, impressed cookie!

9. Seagull-watching.

My son loves doing this!

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10. Fly a kite.

11. Sit in the shallow waters and watch the little fish wash in and out with the waves.

Ask the kids to call out the different colors they see.

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12. Collect seaweed that has washed up on shore.

Get the kids to help you and bring it home to add to the soil.

Seaweed is rich in nutrients that help plants, flowers, veggies, and fruit thrive.

13. If you have an older child, encourage him/her to bring a journal to the beach.

Ask them to jot down unique, fun, and exciting things they find.

Take an exploratory walk along the shore.

You will be amazed with some of the things you will find!

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14. Build moats or your own little pool for your child’s tiny rubber toys (boats, ducky et al) to float.

My kids love running to and from the shore with buckets filled with water, with a mission to fill their pools before the sand absorbs all the water!

15.Encourage your child to unleash his/her creative side on the sand.

Sand molds, rakes, spades, shells, and seaweed are great tools to help create that sand masterpiece!

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What free beach activities do you do with your child?

Talking about the beach, what do you pack for snacks?

Perhaps make a quick breakfast to carry to eat on the drive there or just as you reach the beach?

I have FIFTY breakfast recipes you can whip up in 20 minutes!

These are easy to carry along in the car!

Check out this list of things to make your next beach trip a little easier:

Going to the beach with a baby? 

Read these baby beach hacks!

  • Use a talc-free powder to brush off all the sand on your baby’s body. Make sure to check all those creases.
  • Use a mini inflatable pool, on the sand, to allow little ones to enjoy the beach safely, and keep the sand away from their eyes.

Do you have any baby beach hacks to share?


  1. Great tips! My little two haven’t ever been to a beach. They are asking to go this summer

  2. While as an adult just being at the beach is enough for me, these are great ideas for children!

  3. All of your tips sound like so much fun. My boys haven’t been to the beach before but I’ll try to remember these ideas for when we do visit – hopefully soon!

  4. Our favorite activity is sitting where the waves crash and let them wash me to shore.

  5. No joke, my son asks me every single day of the year if it’s beach day. That’s how much he likes it 🙂
    One of his favorite things to do there is make footprints and then watch the water wash them away.

  6. We used to have so much fun building sand castles when the kids were little.

  7. Decent tips except number two – leave sea creatures at the beach! Those poor little clams… I watch them
    Open at the beach and dig. I’d hate for them
    To be scooped up
    To be temporary decor around a bathtub in water that isn’t right for

    1. I agree Erin. The shells the kids brought home were empty but in retrospect that is mean. Thank you for giving me that prod to remind me. (Mommy fail!!) Updating my 2nd tip to be more sensitive.

      1. Phew! I was panicky! Thank you for clarifying. 🙂 we spend weeks at a time at our favorite beach! We do a lot of these activities. We all come home covered in sand, sweat and salt. Lol.

  8. These ideas are great! My niece loves to chase the waves and build sand castles. I can’t wait until we go to the beach together!

  9. These are some great ideas. Never thought about how fun going to the beach can really be!

  10. Great ideas! I love to take my cousin’s kids to the beach to make sand castles and have a picnic.

  11. Neat post. I’ve never been to a beach, but living your whole life in the midwest will do that to you, haha.

  12. So fun! I hope we can make it back to the beach this year. My little guy loves the ocean and I love laying on those sandy beaches.

  13. We built sandcastles and chased the waves for quite awhile when we were in Florida. We also played a game of “jump the wave”.

  14. There are so many fun things to do at the beach! It’s such a great way to have a good time and not have to spend any money.

  15. We live close to the beach and my kids love it! They like to build things in the sand or dig for whatever they can find.

  16. We love the beach! It’s my happy place, my kids love body surfing in the waves!

  17. All fun ideas. Dig your toes in the sand and have a great time. Great pics

  18. My girls have been begging to go to the beach. They love playing in the sand.

  19. Oh this is fabulous! We are hoping to have a few beach days this summer – IF we get a summer so this will be great!

  20. I love all of your activities! I can’t wait to take my daughter shell hunting this summer. I think she will also love making sand castles too!

  21. We don’t have any children, therefore our beach time usually includes a large tab of adult frozen beverages. Leaving For Puerto Rico in 3 weeks!

  22. Flying a kite is the BEST! WE like to dig a giant hole that we can all stand in, so that when the tide comes in, it creates a little pool.

  23. I love playing at the beach! There are so many fun things you can do that don’t cost money or use electronics!

  24. Sandcastles are a must! We live near the beach and need to go more as a family !

  25. We do most of those! Though mommy doesn’t participate in the burials 🙂

  26. My kids are super weird but they don’t really like the beach, well maybe except for when we go to Jamaica. These are fun ideas

  27. I wish I lived closer to a beach so I could make use of this fantastic list! I’ve been craving the beach and ocean lately so hopefully I’ll be able to go one day soon 🙂

  28. My daughter love to play chicken with the waves! She runs to the edge until her toes get wet and then runs back squealing!

  29. Great list. We spend lots of time at the beach. My kids love to chase the seagulls and dig in the sand.

  30. So cute! Hopefully we can make it to a beach this summer to test this list. 🙂

  31. My kids love to build on the beach. We take all kinds of buckets and shovels and have fun!

  32. We love collecting shells and using them for crafts at home. My kids always love making sandcastles with the sand.

  33. I have done all of these! Great suggestions. my son loved chasing the sea gulls as a baby!

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