Many beachgoers enjoy the simplicity of soaking up the sun, sipping a beverage or reading a book. Sometimes we prefer a little friendly competition or just some play time in the surf. And of course, kids are always in motion on the sand. Here are some of the games and toys we love.
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Do you like cornhole but hate lugging the boards? Tidalball is for you. Tidalball can be played anywhere on hard-packed sand. Scoop a hole and U-shaped trench 10 paces apart with the included scoop. Pick teams and start playing just like cornhole. A ball tossed/rolled into the hole is worth 3 points, and a ball tossed/rolled into the trench is worth 1. Scoring is subtractive, just like cornhole. If you score 3 points and your opponent scores 1, you get a total of 2 points for the round. Keep going until one team hits 21. The Tidallball set is compact, affordable and highly rated. It includes a mesh carry bag, six colored balls, a sand scoop, and 4 koozies to help keep your gaming beverages cool. Easy to carry, easy to play. What’s not to love?
We’ve played beach tennis since we were kids. Simple wooden paddles and bouncy PVC balls make for a fun, relaxing game of skill on the beach. How long can you keep the ball aloft? Want to make it a competition without lugging a net? Mark out a rectangular court with a half-court line. One paddler on each half of the court tries to keep the ball from hitting the sand on their side. Balls must be hit upward, and make it higher than the tallest player to count. Make your own variation to keep the fun going. We also enjoy hitting the ball back and forth in shallow surf while we cool down.
Another classic most people are familiar with is Boccce. Up to four competitors. Throw the “jack” (small white ball) 15’ – 20’ away. Teams take turns throwing their balls, trying to land/roll their ball closest to the jack. Knocking competing balls away is allowed. When all balls are tossed, score one point for each ball of the winning team that is closer than the closest ball of the other team. The next team throws the jack to a new location, and more rounds are played until 12 points are scored. Bocce is another relaxing beach game for most kids and all adults. We think a quality Bocce set with nicely weighted balls is important for enjoyment of the game, which is why we like the highly-rated Park & Sun Sports bocce set.
Ladderball is quickly gaining in popularity on the beaches of North and South Carolina. This is a game which is packable, quickly assembled, easy to learn and open to all ages. Ladders are placed about 15 feet apart. Each player takes turns tossing bolas (two rubber balls connected by a string). Landing the bola on the top rung is worth three points. The middle rung is worth 2 points, and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. The first player to reach 21 points exactly wins. If a player goes over 21, their points from that round don’t count and another round is played. Ladderball is simple to learn but challenging to master. This game plays well on the beach, in the back yard or on the driveway. You’ll be surprised how much you improve in just a week!
One of the most popular games since 2000, you’ll see several cornhole sets on a short drive down the beach in Corolla. This is the classic game of angled boards with holes at the top, and tossed bean bags. One member of each team stands behind the boards at each end, and take turns tossing the bags. One point is awarded for a bag that lands on the board and putting a bag through the hole is worth three points. Knocking opponents’ bags off the board is allowed and encouraged. Scoring is subtractive. If you score 5 points in a round and your opponent scores 2, you get 3 total points for the round. Keep playing rounds until one team reaches 21. Rules vary, but we like to play to exactly 21. A team that goes over 21 during a round is knocked back down to 11 and must work their way back up. This makes the game very interesting! We’ve linked a cornhole set from GoSports, which includes lightweight PVC/fabric “boards” that break down to a convenient carry case. Traditionalists will want to find a wooden board set, and several local beach stores carry them. There’s nothing wrong with either approach.
Our favorite beach football is the Nerf Howler. This is smaller and softer than a regulation football, with a finned tail to make nearly any throw fly far and straight. We find this especially helpful on windy beach days. In addition, the Howler contains a built-in whistle that notifies players (and other beachgoers) of an incoming football. We like to find some open beach, space ourselves as far apart as possible, and go for distance records. Or, get the gang together, mark some end zones and play a game of two-hand touch. Simple games of catch are fun and rewarding with the smaller size and added stability. This is a simple, no moving parts fun game of catch on the beach.
We discovered the Waboba series a few years ago. It instantly became our favorite surf activity. Waboba balls are satisfyingly wrighted, soft, squishy floating balls with a water-skimming cover. Fling a Waboba ball and it’ll skim across the water for long distances. You’ll be surprised how slick these are, and how far they bounce in the surf. They really do bounce on water, and the action is especially fun on choppy days. We love that we can play a game of catch while cooling off in the ocean on a hot day. Wabobas are practically indestructible, small, easy to carry and fun to toss. This one is great for all ages. Give them a try and see how much fun it is to bounce a ball across the water.