A day at the beach seems like fun and games until you realise that children are not as content to lay down with a book as us adults. Entertaining children while enjoying a day at the beach does not require momentous planning. Sometimes something as simple as a bucket and spade will keep little ones occupied for hours on end.
When planning for a day in the sand and sea, there are a few other hefty items to consider, such as a beach tent, cooler box, snacks etc, so ideally, you want the entertainment to take up the least space as possible.
Here is our list of the best beach toys this summer - from super-compact squashable buckets to portable beach toy sets all way through to a disk ball. Whether you are looking for toys to keep your little ones happy or keeping your older active kids from becoming bored, there is something for everyone.
Best beach toys for kids and toddlers this summer:
Best for family game
Families and friends have played this iconic game for generations. Whether you are camping or spending the day at the beach, this colourful 8-piece Boules set will keep your kids entertained. The rules are easy to follow, so it would be an excellent activity for your older and younger children to play together. The set also comes in a carrier, so you can easily collect the pieces and keep them safely all together.
Review: "The balls have a nice weight that is good for adults but also that younger kids can handle, too. The carry case is super handy to keep everything together."
Age 10 months +
This unique beach toy from the Belgian brand Quut is cleverly designed for children playing in the water. The bucket is made so that the water you have collected remains even when it is carried back by a wobbly toddler. This soft bucket is a sphere shape which makes it easier for small hands to fill it with water and bring it back to the beach to build sandcastles and other water games.
Promising parent review: "My little girl will love this! It is strong and sturdy, like all of Quut's toys, and great for carrying sand, water, pebbles and shells... as well as dirt and flowers from the garden. The "cylinder" in the middle where the rope passes through may get in the way, so you wouldn't be able to carry big items or toys. Great that you can easily swing it without a plastic handle breaking, and the bright colours are terrific."
Best sandcastle building set
Balnore is a team made up of several early childhood teachers and full-time mums, so you know you are in good hands. The balnore 21-pieces beach toy set has everything you need for playing in the sand on the beach. It includes one beach bucket, one swimming ring; one watering can, four beach castles, two beach tool kits, ten beach animals and a mesh bag.
Mum review: "This is a lovely set; it comes with lots of different shapes, buckets and spades. They all feel sturdy and well made."
Best for windy days on the beach
This is the perfect beginner kite as it is made for children from the age of 3 years old. It is designed with a classic diamond shape and a light frame. The kite can be flown in light wind, and the colourful loop tail stabilizes the kite in stronger wind. The maximum length of the kite line is 100m.
Review: "Amazing kites! I bought them for my son to use at the beach today, and he loved them! They were so easy for him to use; he could do it all by himself (he is five years old) and was doing tricks and dances and thoroughly enjoyed himself with the kites. Not only that, but all of us adults loved the kids too, and there were 11 of us! Even his grandparents were doing tricks with them and running around the beach."
Best lightweight game
This fun toy transforms from a disk into a ball when you throw it in the air and is suitable for playing in the pool, beach, or park. Just lightly squeeze the ball to transform it back into a disk again. The frisbee ball is made of soft and flexible plastic, so you can play with it without worrying about it breaking.
Review: "My two boys (3 & 5) love playing with this indoors and outside. They have had so much fun the past few weeks and say it's the best toy ever. They always laugh so hard when it pops into a ball. Little stiff at first, but now they can flatten it with ease. Brilliant!"
Best sustainable toy
Age 6 months+
If you are not keen on buying another plastic toy that your kids will eventually get sick of, then these toys are an excellent investment for both you and your children. This Green Toys ocean set is exclusively made of 100 per cent recycled plastic - meaning no more harmful plastic going into the ocean. The set itself comes in six different shells - from squid to scallop, abalone to jellyfish, so your kids can learn about the wonders of the sea while playing in the water. Not to mention, when summer is over, they make excellent bath toys.
Mum review: "Each toy drips water differently, and the carrying case makes lots of 'rain'! We highly recommend this quality water toy and all Green Toys!"
Best for playing in the waves
Does your child love to play in the waves? If they do, they will love this inflatable 'joy rider' board where you lie down and try to catch the waves without needing to stand up. They need to be inflated by breathing air into the board, but it packs up small when deflated. It also comes with an adhesive patch to repair any punctures.
Review: "Great quality, comes with an adhesive patch to repair punctures which we haven't needed yet. It takes some inflating, and as we didn't have a pump with us, it took a while. Once done, though, it helped up well and didn't require any topping up. Little one loved it; the plastic handles providing much-needed stability."
Best for creative sand play
This sea-inspired lovely baking set from Melissa & Doug has seven pieces: an octopus-shaped whisk, crab-shaped mixing spoon, and shell-shaped measuring cups. So your little budding bakers can play on the beach, during bathtime, or their pretend kitchen.
Review: "Very robust and can tell will last a long time bought for a bday present for a sandpit but could take on holiday or to seaside/ worth the extra money as it will last for a long time. My three year old loved it and a good bath toy to hours of fun baking cakes with her big sister."
Best portable beach toy set
This beach toy set comes in a clear, reusable storage bag with a zip and handles so you can keep all the items together when playtime is over. The beach toys can also be used in pools or out in the garden. The set includes two sandcastle moulds, five cute animal moulds (turtle, bunny, dinosaur, alligator, and crocodile), a castle wall mould, sand sifter, watering can, rake, and a shovel.
Grandparent review: "Bought this for our granddaughter to use in her new sandpit this summer. Delivery was on time, and the item was as described. There is a good selection of moulds, spades, sieves, and a mini watering can in bright colours. The pieces seem adequately robust to last the length of time they will be needed and offer good value for money."
Best portable bucket
Age 12 months+
This innovative Scrunch Bucket can be squashed, folded and rolled without ever losing its shape. It is also made from non-toxic, food-grade silicone, so it is soft to the touch with no sharp or hard edges - the perfect beach toy for toddlers and busy mamas. You can also pick up a scrunch spade, disk or watering can made from the same silicone material.
Review: "Best beach bucket we have purchased, we take it on holidays with us. It’s a very good quality"
Best for capturing memories
Get your little ones to capture memories at the beach with this Underwater Camera from Sunnylife. This 35mm camera features a toggle adjusted wrist strap so that camera will stay safe, a thumb wheel film system and a detachable waterproof casing. As this camera is waterproof it can capture photos both under and above water; just remember to buy the 35mm film before you head for the beach as that’s not included with the camera.
Best for older children
This small yet powerful ball can bounce long distances at speed on the water and can fit in your pocket. It is the ideal toy to play with in the pool or beach and will take up no room in your bag. Whether you're throwing or skimming the ball, it's shockingly easy to catch, even when wet. Also, due to its three-layer design with a lycra fabric outer and gel core, the ball floats on water so you won't lose it while playing.
Review: "This is great for the beach, sea or a pool. It's easy to catch even when wet. It's a good weight and goes a long way even when used on the open sea. Fits in your beach shorts pockets. The bounce on the water is amazing, better than skimming a stone."
Best two player game
Playing frisbee on the beach can be unpredictable due to the wind, but this frisbee is designed in a square shape with a precision weighted design for throwing and soft rubberised corners for easy catching. So there will be no complaints or excuses when you can't throw.