The Best Beach Toys for Safe Sandy Fun, According to a Pediatrician

The Hape Beach Toy Essential Set has all you need for the best sandcastles

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Taking your family to the beach can be great fun for everyone. However, once the novelty of the sand and ocean starts to wane, your littlest sunbathers might quickly lose interest. Bringing beach toys along with you is a great way to keep kids interested and busy for an afternoon.

Reviewed & Approved

The Hape Beach Toy Essential Set is a great value and comes with an easy-to-carry bag that is fun for all ages. We’re also huge fans of the OgoDisk Mini Disc Set since it is a great way for the whole family to get up and stay active at the beach.

“[Beach toys] give children the opportunity to be bored, which does not often happen with our current on-the-go lifestyles,” says board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist Jessica Madden, MD, Aeroflow Breastpumps medical director and an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). “Open-ended play encourages children to use their imaginations and reach out to other kids to play, even ones they do not know.”

Dr. Madden says that the best beach toys are the ones that can be used safely and independently by your kids while also being easy to transport to and from the shore. While creating this list, we took her advice and kept an eye out for toys that will hold up to the rigors of beach play, which means avoiding toys with electronic components or anything with small parts that could easily get lost or left behind. We also looked at toys that will be loads of fun for a variety of age levels or for the whole family together.

Here are the 12 best beach toys for kids of all ages.

Best Overall: Hape Beach Toy Essential Set

4.8
Hape Beach Toy Essential Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Comes with travel case

  • Plenty of shapes to share

  • Brightly colored pieces are easy to find in the sand

Cons
  • Older kids may quickly lose interest

  • Travel bag doesn’t fit additional toys

There is nothing more iconic than building sandcastles at the beach, making this set a must-have for any beach bag and our top overall pick. This 10-piece set offers a more structured way for kids to get creative in the sand. The buckets allow for easy transportation of water to help firm the sand and make it more workable, and they act as molds for making larger castle structures. The small shovel and rake are just the right size for little kids, so they can get a strong grip, even when their hands may be slippery with sunscreen. The durable BPA-free, PVC-free, and phthalate-free materials will hold up for the season, even if they see plenty of action in the sand and surf.

Age level: 18 months and up

Best for Baby: Getting Sew Crafty Silicone Star Stacker

Getting Sew Crafty Silicone Star Stacker

Little Nomad

Pros
  • Can use in bath, at home, or on the beach

  • Safe for teething

  • Easy to clean

Cons
  • Neutral colors make it easy to lose in the sand

  • Toddlers may quickly grow out of it

Babies love to put things in their mouths, and that doesn’t change just because you give them a change of scenery. The Silicone Star Stacker is a great way to keep your littlest one’s hands (and mouth) busy between seaside naps. It’s made from FDA-approved food grade silicone, so you won’t have to worry about them chewing on it. There are no nooks or crannies for sand or water to hide in, so it makes post-beach clean-up a breeze.

Age level: Safe for babies

Best for Bath or Beach: Infantino Aquarium Bath Squirters

Infantino Aquarium Bath Squirters

Amazon

Pros
  • Brightly colored

  • Squirting water is a great way to cool down

  • Beach-themed to make ocean play more fun

Cons
  • Can develop mold if not properly cleaned after use

  • Will easily float away in the ocean

The Infantino Aquarium Bath Squirters are a brightly colored set of soft, squeezable, beach-themed toys. They easily fill with water when squeezed tight and then submerged. All it takes is gentle pressure to get them to spray water from their spouts. Each pack comes with eight pieces and features sea creatures (like a starfish and a shark). Use them for playing in the sand or for spraying down overheated kids with a little extra water. Then you can prolong the beach-day fun by bringing these toys into the tub for bath time!

Age level: 4 months to 3 years

What Our Editors Say

“These were a popular set in our house, so much so that they actually often made their way out of the bathtub and outside into our sand and water tables—which truly made them year-round fun.” — Lauren Wellbank, Verywell Family contributing writer

Best for Toddlers: B. Toys by Battat Wavy Wagon Beach Play Set

B. Toys by Battat Wavy Wagon Beach Play Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Can haul other toys

  • Unusual selection of shapes

  • Fun for both water and sand play

Cons
  • Smaller than it looks

Tow your tot’s favorite beach toys along easily with this wagon set. All 11 of the included molds and tools fit inside the wagon and can be carried from the car to the shore without breaking a sweat. Kids will love it because carrying their toys themselves makes them feel independent. You’ll love it because the different shapes keep them creating new designs in the sand for hours. Each of the nesting cups has holes in the bottom so they can be used for sand and water play, and there’s a small sifter for looking for seashells—which kids can then take back home in the wagon.

Age level: 18 months to 8 years

Best Truck: Green Toys Dump Truck

Green Toys Dump Truck

Walmart

Pros
  • Wheels are big enough to drive in the sand

  • Plastic finish is easy to rinse clean

  • Made from 100% recycled plastic

Cons
  • There aren’t many additional features

The beach is basically a giant sandbox, which makes the Green Toys Dump Truck such a great option for your little ones. Not only can they use it to haul sand around for any castles they may be building, but they can also create roadways or obstacle courses to drive around. The truck, made from 100% recycled plastic, has no small parts, so it’s safe for little ones. The best part is that this truck is dishwasher safe, so it can go straight from the beach bag to the wash cycle, making less work for parents and caregivers who are tired from a day in the sun.

Age level: 12 months and up

What Our Editors Say

“Our family has had our dump truck for years, and other than the normal amount of wear and tear, it still holds up perfectly.” — Lauren Wellbank, Verywell Family contributing writer

Best for 5-Year-Olds: Melissa & Doug Speck Seahorse Sand Ice Cream Set

Melissa & Doug Speck Seahorse Sand Ice Cream Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Creative take on sand toys

  • Comes with a bucket that can be used for other toys

  • Pieces store neatly together

Cons
  • Might make your kids want the real deal (or eat sand)

The Speck Seahorse Sand Ice Cream Set may not help satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth, but it should keep them entertained while they’re at the beach. The six-piece set comes with a bucket (that doubles as storage), two ice cream scoops, two cones, and a sprinkle shaker. Kids can busy themselves with creating cool treats or preparing pretend orders for the rest of the family. The bucket can also help move water from the shoreline to their play area, allowing them to get more imaginative with their ice cream shop.

Age level: 3 and up

Best for 10-Year-Olds: Sunnylife Beach Bats Smiley

Sunnylife Beach Bats Smiley

Kohl's

Pros
  • Keeps older kids interested and active

  • Easy to transport and lightweight

Cons
  • Requires at least two people to play

Inspire a little friendly competition in your group with this paddle ball set from Black-owned boutique Kido Chicago. The two-player pack comes with two cherry paddles, two balls, and a zip-up travel case that makes for convenient transportation and storage. The bright colors will make your balls easy to spot if they end up getting hit a little too far away from your group. Soft foam handles will make it easy to keep a good grip on the paddles as you play, no matter how much sand (or sunscreen) your kids have gotten into.

Age level: 4 and up

Best for Active Kids: Ogo Sport OgoDisk Mini Set

Ogo Sport OgoDisk Mini Set

Dick's Sporting Goods

Pros
  • Multiple ways to play

  • Waterproof

  • Soft ball won’t injure younger players

Cons
  • Requires two players

Try something different with the Ogodisk Mini sets. The pack comes with two discs, which can be used either as frisbees to be tossed around or as paddles to whack the included soft rubber string ball (similar to a Koosh ball). The set is sturdy enough to use both in the ocean and on the sand. While you’re limited to the number of players who can join in on the fun when you use it as a paddle set, the sky's the limit when you opt to toss it as a frisbee. Get the whole family up and running around.

Age level: 8 and up

Best for Travel: HABA Sand Toys Creative Set

HABA Sand Toys Creative Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Made from high quality, durable plastic

  • Creates cute shapes

  • Travels well since everything fits in the the included bucket

Cons
  • Only two molds

The five-piece sand set comes with a watering can, ice cream cone, scoop, flower mold, and butterfly mold. Your little one will enjoy creating different scenes and snacks using the shapes. They can also transport water and sand to and from where they’re playing to change the consistency of the sand they’re playing in. These shapes are specifically made to be used by a wide range of kids and are small enough for little hands to play with. We appreciate that all the toys fit inside the bucket, making this set very easy to pack for out-of-town beach trips.

Age level: 18 months and up

Best Games: Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoe Set

Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoe Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Fun for kids and adults

  • Good for building camaraderie

  • Lighter and less dangerous than real horseshoes

Cons
  • Indoor stakes may not stay put during games

Turn the beach into an impromptu horseshoe pit with these traveling horseshoes. The set comes with everything you need to start your own game, including the two rubber mats, pegs, and plastic dowels, two sets of horseshoes (one red and one blue). All you need to bring is your own mallet to help set them in place. You can play either a two-player or four-player game, making it suitable for larger groups who enjoy a side of friendly competition while they sunbathe.

Age level: Not listed

Best Sport: SwimWays COOP Hydro Lacrosse Game Set

SwimWays Hydro Lacrosse

Courtesy of Swimways

Pros
  • Great for older kids

  • Encourages active play

  • Good for pools too

Cons
  • Requires two players

Help your active kids keep cool with this ocean-friendly game. The waterproof lacrosse set works in and out of the water, which means players can move their game to the ocean when things get too hot and then back to the shore once they’ve cooled down. The two-player set comes with two lacrosse sticks and a single ball. Both the sticks and the ball are brightly colored, so they’re easy to recover if they get dropped. The sticks are outfitted with slip-proof foam handles for a better grip.

Age level: 5 and up

Best for the Whole Family: Activ Life Ultimate Skip Ball

Activ Life Ultimate Skip Ball

Amazon

Pros
  • Can also be used at home or on the water

  • Players can make their own rules

  • Fun for all ages

Cons
  • May not last more than one season

Give your regular game of catch an upgrade with this skip ball. They float on water, whether it's a pool, lake, or ocean, and skip across the water’s surface, upping the challenge when it comes to tossing the ball around. This toy is best used by kids who are already independent swimmers and who can play in shallow water without a grown-up standing too close.

Age level: 7 and up

Final Verdict

We picked Hape Beach Toy Essential Set as our top choice for beach toys for kids of all ages because we believe every family should have one. The kit comes with everything you and the kids in your life need to create sand sculptures (and memories). For more sporty fun, the Ogodisk Mini offers multiple ways to play on the sand or in the water.

How We Selected the Best Beach Toys

We spoke with board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist Jessica Madden, MD, to find out what to look out for in a beach toy, as well as what her top recommendations are. We chose toys that are safe, easy to use for the recommended age groups, and convenient to transport to and from the beach, pool, or lake. 

What to Look for in Beach Toys

Age Level

When shopping for the best beach toys for your kids, you’ll want to keep in mind the age range that the toys are best for. You don’t want to get something too complex or with too many pieces for an infant or young toddler, but you also don’t want to offer a teen something that they will quickly lose interest in. “Brightly colored and basic toys, like nesting cups, sand sifters, and squirters,” are great for infants, according to Dr. Madden.

When it comes to toddlers, she suggests plastic shovels, buckets, and vehicles, like boats and dump trucks. She also recommends “other instruments that encourage imaginative play, such as cookie cutters, rolling pins, and funnels (which can often be found in your kitchen).”

Older kids can also enjoy playing with plastic shovels and pails, building sand castles, or collecting rocks, seashells, sea glass, and more. “Kids 8 and up also usually enjoy playing sports and games on the beach, so I usually recommend bringing, at minimum, a beach ball and a frisbee.”

Safety

If you’re lucky, your beach trip will happen on a nice, sunny day. You’ll want to make sure whatever toys you’re bringing will stand up to the sun without getting brittle (which could cause breakage) or too hot (which could burn your child). Avoid toys made out of dark-colored metals or ultra-thin plastics.

Encouraging Independent Play

You’ll never be able to fully disengage from your child while they’re at the beach—it’s important to have an adult supervising children at all times when they’re around water—but some toys will allow you a bit more time to kick back and enjoy the view. When choosing beach toys for your family, make sure you’re picking ones that your child can play with independently, if only for a little while.

Portability

As you shop for beach toys, keep in mind how you’ll get them to and from the shoreline. Will they fit in your beach bag or wagon? Or will they require their own transportation? Are they light enough that your child can be in charge of them, or will an adult need to be the one moving them around? The best toys are the ones that are light and will easily fit into your existing beach gear.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you bring toys to the beach?

    Getting a beach-friendly wagon (as in one with large wide wheels that won’t get bogged down in the sand) is a great way to get things from your car or beach house to the water’s edge. Large totes are also great, especially if they are made of mesh and airy. This prevents you from bringing home too much sand and allows any toys that get wet to dry faster, preventing mold and mildew.

  • How do you get sand out of toys?

    There’s a reason why those mesh bags are so popular for transporting toys: They often pull double duty and help you remove some of the sand stuck to your toys. Simply load your stuff up in the bag and give it a good shake. Excess sand will fall off the toy and out of the bag. When you get home, you can then give them a good rinse with a hose or in the bathtub or sink. Make sure to dry them completely before packing them away.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Lauren Wellbank is a mother of three small children, so she knows beach trips can be complicated endeavors. She spends a lot of time carefully weighing the pros and cons of the toys she packs for a beach trip to make sure she’s not lugging anything around that will either go unused or that her kids will easily lose interest in.

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