You don’t need too many supplies to have a good day on the beach—as long as you’ve got some SPF, water, snacks, shade, and a towel, your day should shape up to be a good one. But if you’re looking to up the excitement ante for you and your beach crew, bring along some games.
It can’t be any old game, though—family favorites like Scrabble and Pictionary are all well and good on a cozy Saturday night in, but you need to get beach-friendly ones if you want to play on the sand. We scoured Amazon to find the most popular beach games. Whether you like to go all-out with kickball or prefer a more low-key approach with corn hole, we’ve got the game for you.
1. A compact game so enticing, passersby will want to join you
TidalBall is a game that, according to its manufacturer, has the “competition of corn hole, the ease of bocce ball, and the portability of a turkey sandwich.” That’s a tall order, but Amazon reviewers agree. They say the game delivers on being packable, easy to understand, and fun. In addition to the game pieces, it comes with four drink koozies—because you must stay hydrated while you play.
In this two-to-four player game, players split up onto opposite sides of the sand, about 10 paces from one another, and dig a hole and a trench with a trowel included with the game. A player from each team then attempts to toss a small ball into either the trench or the hole, gaining points for each place it ends up. That said, on TidalBall’s site, it says the only rule of the game is the “have fun,” so make of that what you will.
2. A family-friendly version of a common drinking game
The concept of Bucket Ball may seem familiar—even if playing the very similar game in college remains a distant (and fuzzy) memory. In this G-rated, table-free version of beer pong, the buckets and balls are designed to withstand the wind and commotion that comes with being on the beach. And, best of all, because the cups are not filled with light beer, the whole family can join.
This game can be played anywhere outdoors: the beach, pool, yard, and tailgates (and so on). It comes with 12 buckets and three sets of two balls, with each set designed for those different types of terrain. Two or four players divide into two teams, set up two sets of six buckets in a triangular formation on opposite sides of a 12- to 15-foot long play area, and take turns trying to toss their balls into the opposing team’s sand-and-water-filled buckets—a ball in, and the bucket is removed from play. The team that clears all the opponent’s buckets first wins.
3. A supersized kickball set for when you have the beach to yourself
Relive the best field days of your youth with this giant blow-up kickball set. The 25-inch ball is more than a novelty. According to one reviewer, its size makes it less dense than other kickballs, which also makes it less likely to sting if it hits someone. But the ball isn’t the only thing that’s massive. The game is played like baseball (but with your feet), so you’ll need a large open space for the playing field and at minimum eight people to populate two teams—or a friendly demeanor to convince your beach neighbors to move their stuff and join the fun.
To play, two teams take turns playing the field and coming up to “bat”—i.e., attempting to kick the massive ball as far into the outfield as possible to give time to round the bases and score. It’s easier said than done when your running surface is sand.
4. Foldable corn hole for take-anywhere beanbag battles
Bring a backyard classic to the sandy shores with this portable corn hole set, which folds up into a small, circular carrying case for easy transport. Amazon reviewers like that the game, though not standard “regulation” size (yes, it’s a thing), is still sturdy and ample considering how tiny it gets—about the size of a dinner platter—when it’s folded up. To play, two to four players, split into two teams, lob sandbags at a board with a hole at the top. Points pile up with every bag “sunk.”
5. Spikeball for volleyball with a bouncy twist
Work up a sweat with SpikeBall, a Shark Tank-born game that is, according to reviewers, a compact, fast-paced version of volleyball (sans center net). It’s a great choice for a beach game because it’s simple to break down and transport, the pace can be easygoing or hyper-competitive, and can be played by anyone from age 5 to 65 (at least according to one enthusiastic Amazon review).
It’s a game that’s easier displayed than described—to see how to play it, it’s best to watch this video. The gist: Four players swat a softball-sized ball at a mini trampoline with the goal of making it difficult for opponents to hit it back at them.
It also comes with a lifetime warranty, so, should you get a little overenthusiastic when swiping at the trampoline, you can get any part replaced free of charge.
6. KanJam for frisbee with an upgrade
If you love frisbee but want something a little more high stakes than just tossing one around, you’ll be into KanJam. One Amazon reviewer writes that it's a game the whole family loved, even ones “so uncoordinated that they couldn't hit the Empire State building with a frisbee if they were standing five feet in front of it.”
Two teams of two stand by a “kan,” a half-cylinder-shaped goal, and attempt to throw a frisbee into the other kan on the opposite side of the play space (the instructions recommend standing about 50 feet away from the opposing team). It’s similar to corn hole, but with elements of hockey or soccer—as in those games, teammates can assist on goals, while opponents will attempt to block them. And, though the kans are big when you play, they fold down into flat circles for easy transport and storage.
7. Waterproof playing cards to play games without leaving your seat
Those who prefer to stay prostrate while at the beach—a valid stance to take—may not feel enticed by many beach games, which tend to require a decent amount of movement (or at least standing up on one’s own two feet). But even the most sedentary among us can enjoy these playing cards, which are waterproof so they won’t get ruined by an unexpected wave or spilled beverage. They’re also clear, so you have a quick way to differentiate them from other, non-waterproof cards if you want to pack things up quickly for a day on the beach.
8. Ring toss to keep preschoolers and grandparents entertained
Ring toss is a classic game the whole family can enjoy during a day on the beach—and beyond. In fact, one reviewer wrote that she bought the game for her grandkids, but ended up keeping it for herself so she could practice before they visited her. The function of the game is in its name—players toss the titular ring towards five stakes clustered together, with the goal of landing around one of the stakes. Each post is worth a certain number of points, so whoever has the most points at the end wins.
This particular set is great for the beach because it’s easy to dismantle—and reconstruct—and comes with a carrying case so you can take it with you wherever you go. It also comes with two sets of five rings, one made of plastic and one made of rope, which means you can opt to have “beach” rings and “home” rings (if you, too, want to hone your skills between shore trips).
9. A magnetized game board so you don’t lose your game pieces
Another game that’s friendly towards people who don’t love the (hopefully not literal) blood, sweat, and tears of a physical and demanding game is this multi-game board that allows you to choose between chess, checkers, and backgammon. The board floats (though that’s probably better suited for a pool rather than the ocean) and is magnetized to prevent pieces from being lost in a sea breeze. If errant sand ends up on the board, all you have to do is wipe it clean.
10. Kubb for old-fashioned knock-down fun
Kubb is a Scandinavian game described as being easy to learn, but difficult to master. This makes it great for families and friends to return to every summer. Two teams of up to six people toss wooden batons to topple five wooden blocks (called kubbs) arranged in a line on their opposite side. Once all the opposing team’s kubbs are knocked down, to win the game, you must knock down a larger post in the middle, called the “king”—though, if you knock the king over before all the kubbs, the other team automatically wins.
This set comes with stakes to mark the parameters of the game (an ideal space is five by eight meters, according to the USA Kubb Association—also a thing), plus a carrying case to make transport to and from the beach as easy as possible.
11. Ladder toss for a game you can play as a competition or just for fun
Ladder toss, also known as ladder ball and ladder golf, is great for a quick one-off game or intense multi-round tournament and provides entertainment during some downtime by the shore. Two to four players throw a string with a golf ball on it towards a runged post a few feet away, gaining a certain amount of points for whatever rung the string lands on. Reviewers say the set is sturdy, easy to assemble, simple to take apart, and provides hours of family-friendly fun, at any setting from the beach to a barbecue.
12. Bocce ball for a game you can learn in five minutes and play for a lifetime
Bocce ball is great for any flat-ish outdoor location, but this set, with its smaller-than-regulation size balls that roll without (as many) hitches on the sand, is made for the beach, with a canvas carrying case for storing the pieces. One reviewer wrote that trying to bring a regular bocce set to the beach proved “cumbersome,” but “these are much more manageable and (by design) more suitable for beach play.”
To play, two to four people by roll bocce balls—smooth, heavy spheres that are close in feel to a candlepin bowling ball—toward another, smaller “target” ball, called the jack. The team who comes closest—without being bumped out of the way by an opponent’s ball—wins the round.
13. Waterproof Uno you can take from the house to the car to the beach and back
What’s better than a game of Uno on the beach? A game of Uno on the beach that doesn’t leave your cards soggy and wrinkled. This special edition of the timeless family game does the trick: The cards are water-resistant and hole-punched, so you can hook a keyring (which comes with the set) through them for cardboard-free transport from the car to the pool to the beach.
In case you need the reminder: Uno is a card game in which the goal is to shed all your cards by matching them with other cards in a pile in the middle of the playing space. Other players can sabotage you along the way, serving you with cards that force you to pick up more. When you’re down to one card, you have to announce it, or pay the price of having to scoop up a new hand again.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.