Playing in the Sand



It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there’s a lovely breeze. You have nowhere to be and nothing to do. It’s your day off, your home is clean and all chores have been completed.

You decide to go to the beach. You pack sunscreen, lunch and a towel. You get there and find a spot. You plop down in your beach chair and stare off into the great blue horizon.

Now what? Many choose to unwind by reading, listening to music or sipping a favorite beverage. Others prefer something a little more active. Here are a few beach games and activities worth trying.


A version of beer pong without the table, using oversized cups and a ball. A set of 12 buckets and two balls costs around $70. Each team sets up a triangle of six buckets opposite of one another. The object is to eliminate the other team’s buckets buy throwing or bouncing the ball into them. Filling the buckets with alcohol is not advised.


This combines the fun of washers with the precision of playing Frisbee. You need two empty cans, two PVC pipes about four feet tall and one Frisbee. Post the PVC pipes in the sand about eight feet apart. Place an empty aluminum can on top of each pipe. The goal is to knock the can off the pole. You get 2 points for hitting the pole and knocking the can to the ground and 3 points for hitting the can and knocking it to the ground. The other team gets points if they catch the can before it hits the ground. This game is best played with the Frisbee one hand and a beverage in the other.


A beach classic best played when the tide is out. Sets cost around $25 and come with eight colored balls and a smaller white ball (real bocce players call it a jack or a boccino). Once the white ball is thrown, points are given for each of one team’s balls that are closer than the other team’s closest ball. The first team to 13 points wins. Watch out for unleashed dogs. They are notorious for making off with boccinos.


A game played with a flying disc and two slotted trash cans. The object of the game is to score points by throwing and deflecting the flying disc and hitting or entering the goal. The game ends when a team scores exactly 21 points or "chogs" the disc for an instant win. Players must get exactly 21, if you go over it reverts back to 17 points.


Dig three holes in the sand — small, medium and large. Roll a ball toward the holes, awarding the most points for the smallest hole. Use a heavy ball that won’t blow away, something like a tennis ball. For the sake of beach joggers, don’t forget to fill the holes back up when you are done “bowling.”


A popular beach game known by many names, including tailgate, bean bag toss, doghouse or simply bags. Sets range from $30 to more than $200. Players take turns throwing bags of corn or beans at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points while landing on the platform scores 1 point. Play continues until a team reaches 21. Never play for money with an Ohioan.

flipfloptossFLIP-FLOP TOSS

The ultimate game for the laziest of all beachgoers. Throw one of your flip-flops as far as you can. Have at least one other person do the same. The weakest throw buys the next round of drinks at the Tiki Hut, Pool Bar Jim’s or Jamaica Joe’z.


A paddleball beach sport that looks a bit like pingpong without the table. The paddles are smaller and the ball is larger. Sets range from $30 to more than $300. Two players face one another with the objective of hitting the ball back and forth without the ball hitting the ground. Hilton Head’s longstanding frescobol record is five hits.


Divide players into two teams. Each team has a person sit cross-legged with an empty plastic bottle on their head. Line up the rest of the team and give the first a small plastic cup and a large bucket of water. Teammates pass the cup of water down the line and empty it into the plastic bottle. The first team to fill the bottle wins. The sitting person always loses.

laddertossLADDER TOSS

Two balls connected to a string are called bolas. Each team has three sets of bolas. Each ladder has three rungs, each with a different point value, and players try to toss the bolas so they hang from a ladder rung. The top is worth 3, the middle is 2 and the bottom is 1. Points are tallied at the end of each round. Collect 21 points to win. Sets range from $32 to more than $150. Try not to hit other beachgoers with the bolas.


Bring your putter and a few golf balls. Create an elaborate mini sand course complete with hazards, slopes and “greens.” For the sake of other beachgoers, leave the sand wedge at home. We have practice ranges for that.


This requires skill and precision with a bucket and spade. Local beaches have seen incredible sculptures of sea monsters, mermaids and even Lionel Richie’s head. Find inspiration from part-time Hilton Head Island sand sculptor Mark Anderson online at Send us a photo of your masterpiece and we will run it in an upcoming issue. Pick up a super deluxe sand sculpting kit for around $45.


A volleyball-like team sport played by two teams of two players. Opposing teams line up across from each other with the Spikeball net in the center. The ball is put in play with a service — a hit by the server from behind the service boundary into the net to an opposing player. Once the ball is served players can move anywhere they want. The object of the game is to hit the ball into the net so that the opposing team cannot return it. Sets cost around $50.


The soft playing surface leads to a totally different style of play with a much greater degree of improvisation. The compact field, much smaller than a normal soccer field, allows players to score from anywhere on the sand. Good footwork is key.


A blend between cornhole, bocce ball and horseshoes. A set costs around $20 and comes with four small balls and a shovel used to dig two holes and trenches behind each hole. Get the ball in the hole for 3 points or the trench for 1 point. Teammates on opposing sides alternate tosses. Invented here in the Palmetto State, TidalBall is quickly gaining popularity on beaches all over the East Coast.


Next time you see the Bermuda shorts-wearing metal detector dude headed your direction, make his day by burying something of value in his path. After miles of aimlessly wandering the beach, he would love nothing more than to “discover” whatever watch, ring or necklace you are willing to part with. It’s good karma. Just make sure to reclaim your “treasure” if he doesn’t take the bait.


A non-contact, self-refereed team sport played with a flying disc. Two teams compete on a playing field with an end zone at each end. A goal is scored by catching the disc in the opposite end zone. The thrower may not run with the disc. Instead, players move the disc up the “field” by passing to teammates in any direction. Popular team names include “Disc in a Box” and “Game of Throws.”


Looking for other fun activities? Try tug-of-war, scavenger hunt, obstacle course, hula hoop-a-thon, sand darts, water balloon toss, human pyramid, relay races, buried alive contest, limbo, washers and badminton.