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Best beach toys for summer 2023 - as recommended by Mumsnetters

Heading to the beach with your family this summer? Banish those dreaded “I’m bored” moments with this fab range of must-have beach toys, as recommended by parents.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Jun 29, 2023

best beach toys

During a heatwave like the one we're currently experiencing, lots of UK families head to the nearest beach. However, without some forward planning and preparation, what should be a fun afternoon at the seaside can quickly turn into a somewhat stressful experience with children in tow.

Whether you’re visiting a stunning Cornish coastline, a beautiful beach in the Balearics or chilling in a hammock while your kids splash around in the paddling pool, fear not, we’ve tapped into the experienced Mumsnet hive mind to research the best beach toys and games to pop into your suitcase this summer.

When it comes to family holidays, Mumsnet users certainly know their stuff. We sought out their tried and tested recommendations to learn more about the beach toys and games that their kids rated and enjoyed. We also looked for beach toys and games that offered good value for money and where possible, take up limited space, ensuring you’ve plenty of room left to pack your holiday essentials.

From classic beach toys such as a bucket and spade to games and shared experiences that can encourage some friendly inter-family competition, here’s our pick of the best beach toys to help make memories and have fun with your family, wherever your travels may take you.

Best beach toys - at a glance:

1. Best overall beach toy: ThinkMax Kids Beach toys with Folding Bucket and Spade Set

ThinkMax Kids Beach toys with Folding Bucket and Spade Set

RRP: £14.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 1 year+ | Material: Plastic | Size: 26.1 x 24.9 x 12.4 cm

What we like:

  • Buckets compress for easy storage

  • Four piece set ideal for siblings to share

  • Durable and high quality

What we don’t like:

  • The larger bucket can become heavy when full, so young children may need help to carry

What Mumsnet users say:

“All ages love a decent bucket and spade in my opinion.” (Type of beach toy suggested by Mumsnet user Caspianberg)

“Bucket and spade so they can dig...anything” (Type of beach toy recommended by Mumsnet user wineandsun)

Our verdict

A classic beach toy that can be enjoyed for many years to come, this high-quality bucket and spade set takes our top spot for a beach day must-have, making it a budget-friendly yet entertaining option for children of all ages. From sandcastle competitions and raking out moats to collecting pebbles and water from the sea, the opportunities for creative play are endless.

While many bucket and spade sets can take up valuable space in your suitcase or car boot, this ThinkMax pack comes with two fully collapsible beach buckets, allowing you to conveniently fold them down flat when it’s time to head home. Made from high-quality, durable plastic with no sharp corners in sight, the set also includes a handy shovel and rake to help bring their sand creations to life.

Read next: The best cabin bags to buy for your next family holiday

2. Best budget beach toy: Bestway 31021 Inflatable Panel Beach Ball

Bestway 31021 Inflatable Panel Beach Ball

RRP: £2.71 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: PVC | Size: ‎36.07 x 36.07 x 36.07 cm

What we like:

  • Suitable for use on both sand and sea

  • Low price point

  • Easy to inflate and deflate as required for easy transportation

  • Encourages physical activity

What we don’t like:

  • On windy days these lightweight balls can be lost easily

What Mumsnet users say:

“Giant inflatable beach ball (very cheap on Amazon)”  Tried and tested by Mumsnet user moreismore

Blow up beach ball”  Type of beach toy suggested by Mumsnet user AtillatheHun

Our verdict

Heading on holiday can already be eye-wateringly expensive, so it’s worth remembering that you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a fun beach toy for your children. This brightly coloured inflatable giant beach ball will set you back less than your morning coffee, but it is super easy to pack in your beach bag along with your best sun tan lotion and beach towels.

When you’ve located your perfect spot on the beach, this beach ball can be quickly and easily inflated and be ready to play within minutes. It also provides great encouragement for your children to get up and active, whether that’s a game of catch on the sand or a volleyball-style battle across the waves in the sea.

A word of caution, however, on a particularly windy day you may find yourself racing down the beach to retrieve it, particularly if your children’s aim is questionable. Consider that all part of the fun!

Related: Best beach tents for a sun-safe summer holiday

3. Best beach toy for toddlers: Large Beach Sand Toys Watering Can

Large Beach Sand Toys Watering Can

RRP: £9.98 for two | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: Unspecified | Material: Plastic | Size: 27 x 21 x 12.2 cm

What we like:

  • Pack of two ideal for siblings to share

  • Doubles up as a fun bath toy

  • Perfect for collecting water from the sea for sandcastles

What we don’t like:

  • Water flow is relatively slow due to small holes

What Mumsnet users say:

“Mini paddling pool, stacking cups, bath toys & watering can.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user whenwillthetwitchstrike)

“Watering can. My 2-year-old had literally days of fun with his on our recent holiday, barely touched anything else” (Recommended by Mumsnet user MrsHsGirl)

Our verdict

Toddlers and water play make a great combination, so bringing a watering can along on holiday can provide hours of multi-purpose entertainment, providing fun at the beach as well as in the bath or swimming pool.

Toddlers will love collecting water as they paddle on the shore before bringing it back and pouring it into buckets, sand moats or even over an unsuspecting parent!

This pack of two child-friendly watering cans is ideal for children to share with siblings or new friends. Each has a large water inlet and easy-grip handle making them easy for small hands to fill and carry. The water outlets offer a slow but steady stream, which may feel slow for some, but is well suited to a younger child.

Read next: The best sand and water tables for kids

4. Best beach toy for 4-year-olds: Hape Monster Digger

Hape Monster Digger

RRP: £16.67 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Material: Plastic | Size: 23 x 13.5 x 13 cm

What we like:

  • UV resistant fabric

  • Fun to roll, push and dig in the sand

  • Robust and durable

What we don’t like:

  • Costly

  • Less portable than some other beach toys due to size

What Mumsnet users say:

“Sunsuit. Pop up tent. Talc and loads of toys like diggers.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user SometimesIFeedTheSparrows)

Sand toys are always good - quality bucket and spade, dump truck, set of small diggers or dinosaurs for playing in the sand.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user NameChange30)

Our verdict

As well as being great fun for your sandpit at home, monster trucks and diggers make a great alternative beach toy, providing the perfect combination of imaginative play and construction in one.

Children will love pushing this Hape Monster Digger across the beach, digging out moats or creating circuits and watching the fun tracks and imprints it creates in the sand. With a large, easy grip handle, the digger also makes an excellent sand scoop, with the ability to collect impressive amounts of sand up before rolling it back to their sandcastle.

Related: The best pool toys for summer 2023

5. Best beach toy for 10-year-olds: Aerobie 10'' Sprint Ring

Aerobie 10'' Sprint Ring

RRP: £9.98 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Material: Plastic and rubber | Size: ‎25.4 x 25.4 x 0.64 cm

What we like:

  • High energy fun

  • Very portable, compact and lightweight

  • Encourages fun competition between family members

What we don’t like:

  • Has the potential to get lost quite easily

What Mumsnet users say:

“We usually take a Frisbee, beach ball/football, badminton etc if we're going to the beach/park.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Unattainablepeace)

“Frisbee or Aerobee” (Recommended by Mumsnet user parietal)

Our verdict

If you’re looking for a beach toy that’ll entertain even the most reluctant of tweens or teenagers, this re-imagination of the traditional frisbee is sure to have them up on their feet in no time.

Thin and compact, the Aerobie Sprint Ring has a 10-inch diameter that can easily fit into your backpack or beach bag. Claiming to fly twice as far as a conventional flying disk, the Aerobie transforms a traditional game of catch into a high-energy, fast-based battle on the beach between family and friends.

Easy to throw and with soft edges that are painless to catch, this beach toy encourages children to burn off some excess energy whilst mastering their signature moves!

Related: The best trampolines, as recommended by Mumsnetters

6. Best beach ball toy: Waboba Surf Water Bouncing Ball

Waboba Surf Water Bouncing Ball

RRP: £7.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: All ages | Material: TPR, Lycra and SBR | Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 cm

What we like:

  • A lightweight ball that bounces and floats on water

  • A fun twist on a game of catch

  • Affordable price tag

What we don’t like:

  • Best suited to use in water

What Mumsnet users say:

Waboba do neoprene-covered little balls that bounce and float”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user moreismore)

Our verdict

Taking a game of throw and catch to another level, these smart Waboba palm-sized waterproof balls can actually bounce on water, making them a fun and engaging beach toy to throw or skim to each other as you paddle in the sea.

Small enough to fit into your pocket, these portable, lightweight balls come in a variety of colours and are made from a three-layer design consisting of lycra and gel. These brightly coloured Waboba Balls also float on water - meaning you won’t have to dive down under the salty waves to retrieve them, no matter how far they may bounce!

Read next: The best packing cubes to keep the family organised on your next trip

7. Best beach toy for the whole family: KandyToys 8 Piece Boules Set

KandyToys 8 Piece Boules Set

RRP: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Plastic | Size: 18 x 7 x 28 cm

What we like:

  • A classic game suitable for the whole family

  • Can be enjoyed in a variety of settings including the beach, garden and park

  • Creates some friendly competition

  • Helps improve hand-to-eye coordination as players judge the distance and accuracy of their throw.

What we don’t like:

  • Closing the carry case can be a bit fiddly

  • Heavier to carry than some other beach toys

What Mumsnet users say:

“We always take the kid's boules set (the plastic colourful ones). They’re good on sand and the kids like playing and I don’t mind because it doesn’t involve any running about.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Mumtumwobble)

“They are never too young for Pétanque (boule), you can take those plastic coloured sets that work on the beach, but we bought a decent set in France of the weighty metal balls and used them for years.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Milliways)

Our verdict

A classic toy many of us may remember from our own childhood, boules (otherwise known as pentaque) provides hours of family fun both at home and away. Whilst it’s heavier than some beach toys due to the weighted balls, this carry-along Boules Set makes an enjoyable, portable beach game to both watch and play, creating a shared experience for the entire family from young children to grandparents.

The rules are really simple, pop out these brightly coloured weighted balls from the handy carry case and roll the small white jack. The aim is to get your coloured balls as close to the jack as possible, carefully judging the distance and location to ensure accuracy.

In a game of skill and concentration, you can expect some fun camaraderie between players, but don’t get complacent, even when you’re in the lead, a forceful roll from your competition can quickly knock you off the top spot.

Related: The best outdoor toys for your garden

8. Best throwing game for the beach: Toyrific Toys Catch Ball Set

Toyrific Toys Catch Ball Set

RRP: £6.20 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Plastic and velcro | Size: ‎23.3 x 22.6 x 6.3 cm

What we like:

  • Twist on a game of throw and catch

  • Takes up limited luggage space

  • Suitable for the whole family

What we don’t like:

  • We’d love to have seen a spare ball included with the set

  • Balls can be a bit tricky to pull off the velcro for younger children, especially when the set is new

What Mumsnet users say:

We have a velcro ball and handbat set. The type that catches on the mat. We've had hours of fun with it, and it takes very little space”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Almostthere15)

“My nine-year-old likes kites, building increasingly intricate sand castles, body boarding, swimming, exploring rockpools with a guide to identify things and playing with those velcro ball and catcher things.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Stompythedinosaur)

Our verdict

If your children love playing catch but are yet to master their technique, this Velcro catch set is great for improving their confidence.

An easy-to-play catch game suitable for the whole family, the set includes two large velcro paddles and a ball. Strapping the paddle over one hand, you simply throw the brightly coloured tennis ball to your opponent, who will aim to catch the ball with their sticky paddle, before pulling the ball away from the velcro and throwing it back.

Whilst the ball can be a little tricky to pull off the pad when new, this becomes easier over time.

9. Best beach toy for windy days: ZoomSky 2 Pack Kites

ZoomSky 2 Pack Kites

RRP: £14.77 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Nylon | Size: ‎44.2 x 11.6 x 4 cm

What we like:

  • Easy grip handles

  • Pack of two ideal for siblings

  • Bright engaging design

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers found the Delta kite trickier to assemble and fly than the Octopus

What Mumsnet users say:

“A very small kite went down well”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user PandaOrLion)

“There's a deep joy to be had at holding the string of a thing that's flying high!!! It cannot be explained. Like..... Nope, nothing is similar.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user SummerHouse)

Our verdict

Do not underestimate the enjoyment that can be achieved from flying a kite on the beach on a windy day. If you’re heading to the coat with your kids, you can certainly make the most of the refreshing breeze with this easy-to-use kite set.

This ZoomSky Kite set is ideal for siblings to share, including two kites with unique designs - a large rainbow delta kite and a red octopus kite with a bright, colourful tail. Both kites are made from strong nylon, are easy to assemble and come with an easy grip handle, helping even young children control the kite with ease.

With over 100 meters of string, your children will be watching in awe as these brightly coloured designs swoop up high above the horizon. It’s worth noting however that reviewers found the octopus much easier to use when getting started, whilst the delta kite is certainly a case of practice makes perfect.

Related: The best garden hoses for a lush, green lawn

10. Best beach toy set: Quut 170969 Beach Set-Triplet

Quut 170969 Beach Set-Triplet

RRP: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Plastic | Size: 18.3 x 17.2 x 24.5 cm

What we like:

  • 4-in-1 set including shovel, sieve, rake and water/sand funnel

  • Doubles up as a fun bath toy

  • Made from recycled plastic

  • Comes in a handy net storage bag

What we don’t like:

  • Costly

Our verdict

Belgian brand Quut certainly knows how to make beach toys with a difference, and if you’re looking for a multipurpose beach set that offers a great variety of play, you’ll love this set which can keep your kids calm and content for hours.

This Quut Beach Set includes a triplet, ring toss and magic sand shaper, all housed within a portable net drawstring bag, making a versatile beach toy for building fun sand constructions and playing games.

Children will love using the magic shaper to create unique patterns in the sand, while the uniquely designed triplet can be used as a shovel, sand sifter or water/ sand funnel, helping bring even the most creative of sand castles to life. When it’s time for a game, the triplet funnel also becomes the target for a fun-throwing game of ringo with friends.

This doesn’t come cheap, but made from durable recycled plastic that’s easy to clean and store, we feel this makes a versatile choice for children of all ages.

Things to consider when buying a beach toy

With so many beach toys to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, here are some things to consider when selecting the right beach toy for you and your family:

  • Age appropriateness - Most beach toys are suitable for children aged three plus, so if you’re buying for a younger child, pay close attention to the recommended age to ensure there are no small parts or choking hazards for babies and toddlers who may be prone to putting toys (and sand!) in their mouth. For older children, it’s worth considering how long the toy will hold their attention. Games and more active toys tend to work well for juniors, tweens and teens.

  • Portability - How big is the toy? Is it lightweight and easy to carry? Does it fold flat? How much space will it take up in your luggage or car boot? Consider not only how easy the beach toy is to transport, but how easy it is to carry down to the beach on your arrival.

  • Safety - Is the beach toy made from non-toxic BPA plastic? Are there any sharp edges? Does it need adult assembly or supervision during use?

  • Durability - Children aren’t always gentle with toys, especially when digging or playing in the sand. How durable and hard wearing is the beach toy? Can it withstand some rough handling or will it snap or break on first use? Some beach toys whilst fun to play with in the sand, aren’t robust enough to withstand the pressure of being used as a spade.

  • Shared experiences - Is the toy suitable for the whole family to play together? Toys and games that encourage shared experiences are a great way to make memories with your family during your trip to the beach, so look out for toys that offer simple and easy-to-understand gameplay.

  • Cost - How much are you willing to spend? Some beach toys are available at a very budget-friendly price, whilst other more involved sets come with a higher price tag. Consider how long your child will play with it compared to the price and whether the toy can be shared with siblings or other family members.

What’s the best beach toy to buy?

Whilst the best beach toy for you will depend upon your children’s age and preferences, we feel you can’t beat the classic bucket and spade set when visiting the beach with your family.

Unlike the bulky and rigid buckets of days gone by, these collapsable buckets from ThinkMax can be flattened down for easy transportation when not in use. The set also comes with a rake and shovel for hours of endless fun in the sand.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

Mumsnet users love nothing more than a family holiday, so when it comes to having fun at the beach, they have plenty of first-hand experience of beach toys that have helped entertain their children all day long.

First, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users, to get their feedback on the beach toys that had proved to be a hit with their children and that they would recommend to others.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, difficult to transport or simply failed to bring the fun factor.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best beach toys on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Argos and John Lewis to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a mum of two and Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in baby/child and lifestyle product reviews and round-ups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of baby products, scrutinising reviews and consumer feedback to help parents make confident purchases that benefit their families.

Originally from a HR background with a degree in Business Studies, Lucy developed a real passion for blogging and writing when her children were young, going on to write for several online publications including US parenting site Pregistry and the Evening Standard. When she’s not manically tapping the keys of her laptop, Lucy loves nothing more than to cosy up with her Kindle and enjoy the latest thriller, or compete in Nintendo Switch rallies with her daughters aged six and 10.