After a somewhat housebound start to the year, families are flocking to the beach to get their dose of vitamin sea.
And while the beach is a playground in itself, it pays to pack plenty of beach clobber too for the kids to make the most out of their time in the sand.
We tested toys galore to find the best in terms of entertainment, cost, child-friendly design and ability to travel from car to sandy shores.
Of course, it depends on who you’re planning on entertaining, because toddlers and pre-schoolers may need more consideration than older children who are simply happy running, swimming and burning off excess energy. We had a five year old and 11 year old tester to help put the toys through the mill.
We have reviewed a mix of products that’ll entertain varying ages, highly praising products that have the capability to keep the kids captivated independently, while we also favour products that are light and travel friendly to avoid unnecessary weight. Durability is also key so that your new beach buddy will become a permanent holiday fixture.
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The best beach toys for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Quut alto beach set, mini ballo: £25, Trouva.com
- Best for older kids – Waboba extreme water bouncing ball: £6, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for day-long beach stays – Sandever beach tennis racket set and net BTR 160: £64.99, Decathlon.co.uk
- Best for mixed ages – Mölkky by Tactic: £40, Menkind.co.uk
- Best for durability – Liewood dante beach set: £36, Kidly.co.uk
- Best for imaginative play – 6 piece ice cream beach set: £1.99, Smythstoys.com
- Best for two players – Wicked sky rider air square: £10, Wickedvision.co.uk
- Best energy burner – Sunnylife beach bats: £19, Kidly.co.uk
- Best for sand castles – Quut sandcastle builder: £17, Bijoulifestyle.co.uk
- Best for sustainability – Green Toys ocean set: £25.24, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for creating memories – Sunnylife underwater camera: £19, Skinnydiplondon.com
- Best value for money – B. summer beach bag: £16.99, Smythstoys.com
Quut alto beach set, mini ballo
We're big fans of Belgian brand Quut's beach bucket, Ballo (£18.95, Trouva.com), so when we discovered that the brand has released a special summer bundle, hopes were high. And the Quut alto beach set is a-day-at-the-beach in a bag, keeping our five year old tester well occupied on the sand. The three piece set includes a mini ballo, a cuppi and a magic sand shaper stored away in a handy netted beach bag.
Again, for us the star of the show is the beach bucket, as this cleverly designed toy means the water you’ve collected will stay in the bucket even when being lugged by a toddler, due to the rolled sides, while the handle makes it much easier to carry even for smaller hands. However, the sand shaper and cuppi makes a great two player catch game, or helps to scoop up the sand. Made using durable, recyclable plastic, which is BPA, latex and phthalate free, this set will be your beach buddy for years to come.
Waboba extreme water bouncing ball
Best: For older kids
They say good things come in small packages and that's certainly true of the Waboba extreme water bouncing ball. To the naked eye this looks like your average ball, so expect onlookers to watch in amazement as this ball impressively bounces on water. Whether you're throwing or skimming, it's surprisingly easy to catch, even when wet.
Our 11-year-old tester was soon putting this palm-sized ball through its paces to see how powerful it is, and we were surprised how far it can be thrown. Due to the three layer design with a lycra fabric outer and gel core, the ball floats as well as bounces on water, so it's pretty tricky to leave the beach without it too.
Sandever beach tennis racket set and net BTR 160
Best: For day-long beach stays
If you're setting up camp for a lengthy session on the sand, take your beach games status to the next level with this beach tennis set. In the bag you'll find two rackets and a ball, alongside all the components to make a net. With fears of children getting tangled in the net and poles going in upside down, we needn't have worried, as this was incredibly easy to set up – with instructions and little diagrams on the bag itself, genius.
The set is wonderfully portable, coming in its own carry bag so it can be taken on weekends away, or holidays on sand or land. The rackets have a comfy grip, while the ball is specifically designed for the beach and travels quite slowly for those learning the ropes, which was great for our 11-year-old tester. You're sure to be the envy of fellow beach dwellers, and it's a great activity for kids drying off from a dip in the sea.
Best: For mixed ages
Much like a traditional game of skittles, from Finland comes molkky by Tactic. With 12 numbered wooden pins and one molkky throwing skittle, the first to reach 50 points is the winner. The wooden crate makes it easy to transport to and from the beach. It’s a great way to get kids to do some simple counting while perfecting their aim, but we found the adults loved it just as much.
Liewood dante beach set
Best: For durability
You'll be the envy of the beach neighbours with this modern set from Nordic brand Liewood. This squishy silicone set includes a durable bucket, mini spade and four fun beach moulds, which our five-year-old tester found wonderfully tactile. Thanks to the silicone composition you can say goodbye to cracked plastic buckets, plus, as all items are malleable they're easy to squeeze in your beach bag. There's a selection of colours and patterns to choose from.
6 piece ice cream beach set
Best: For imaginative play
This simple beach toy provided plenty of entertainment for our five-year-old tester – be prepared to be asked what ice cream you’d like on repeat, yet only to receive sand flavour. Simply fill the five coloured moulds with sand using the ice cream scoop, pat it down and lift off to reveal the shape left behind. If you plan on using it in your own sandpit at home, remember to wet the sand before you get scooping.
Wicked sky rider air square
Best: For two players
Say goodbye to round frisbees, as beach trips aren't complete without the uniquely shaped air square! We've all experienced frisbee throw fails, especially when kids are at the helm, resulting in short-lived games. However, the design of the air square is super child friendly, with a precision weighted design for throwing power and soft rubberised corners for easy catching. Our 11 year old tester was soon organising a competition to see who could throw it the furthest, and it really can go the distance, flying in a consistently smooth motion. You'll also have no problem squeezing this into your beach bag!
Sunnylife beach bats
Best: Energy burner
Australian brand Sunnylife was born on the beaches of Sydney so it certainly knows a thing or two about good beach toys. One thing is for sure, you never grow out of bat and ball and we all had a lot of fun playing with these on the beach. The balls are a great weight for a breezy day at the seaside, and the brightly coloured bats are just the right size for smaller hands while the foam cushioning makes them super comfy to hold. You’ll get two bats and two balls, and a handy little bag to transport.
Quut sandcastle builder
Best: For sandcastles
Ever fancied being a professional sandcastle builder? Well, thanks to Quut, now you can. This three-part product is genius. Diminishing the need for multiple buckets, kids will love watching their structures come together; simply fill the large, medium and small components, press and form and check out the multi-layered castle. This means parents can spend less time building and more time topping up that tan. The sandcastle builder is available for pre-order, and will be delivered midway through June.
Green Toys ocean set
Best: For sustainability
Little ocean enthusiasts will love discovering how the water pours out of these six different shells. From squid to scallop, abalone to jellyfish, this is a great introduction to the wonders that lie in the ocean. The shells are neatly packed in the storage bag which is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bags, but the best bit? The whole set is exclusively made of recycled plastic, stopping it in its track before it ends up in the ocean. Its shelf life also goes way beyond the beach, we can vouch that it makes a fantastic bath toy too.
Sunnylife underwater camera
Best: For creating memories
Budding photographers will be barking mad for this camera from Sunnylife. Those aged eight and over can get snap happy capturing scenes both under and above water; the waterproof casing means splashes are welcome and there’s no need to fret over dropping it on the sand or sea (we’re talking from experience). Remember to buy the 35mm film before you head for the beach as that’s not included.
B. Summer beach bag
Best: Value for money
This 11-piece set is the ultimate companion for a day at the beach with a pre-schooler. Inside the handy bag you’ll find a bucket, a rake and shovel, a watering can, four sand moulds, a mini monster truck – which was a huge hit – a sand sifter and a spinning pinwheel. The bag has a mesh bottom which means you won’t end up taking half the beach home with you either.
The verdict: Beach toys
We're big fans of Belgian brand Quut, and its newly released summer edition beach set is perfect for younger beach dwellers. For older kids we highly recommend the Sandever beach tennis set, which is a great activity to play on the sand.
For the latest discounts on kids’ toys, clothing and other essentials , try the links below:
For more beach day essentials to keep little one’s busy, read our roundup of the best bucket and spade sets
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