Did you know that playing on the beach is actually beneficial for children's development, as well as being a whole world of fun?


Child psychologist and parenting coach, Catherine Hallissey, explains, “Walking barefoot in the sand helps develop balance and coordination, digging the obligatory hole to bury your siblings helps develop strength and endurance, while playing with water and sand offers a completely different sensory experience to a child’s usual play.”

We’ve researched the market and talked to families and identified some of the best beach toys for babies, toddlers and kids. The selection includes games for all the family, safe water play ideas, the best bucket and spade set and imaginative play ideas to keep young minds occupied.

And, for when the weather isn’t so great, or the seaside is just out of reach, many of these beach buys can be used to create your own fun at home, especially when paired with some of the best sandpits for kids.

Best beach toys at a glance

  • Best all-in-one kit: B. Summer Beach Bag, £14.95
  • Best for imaginative play: Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set, £14.99
  • Best inflatable toy: Intex Joy Rider Inflatable Wave Rider, £9.50
  • Best budget buy: 6-Piece Ice Cream Beach Set, £1.99
  • Best for all the family: 8-Piece Boules Set, £7.99
  • Best family beach ball: Waboba Extreme Water Bouncing Ball, £6.21
  • Best for a windy day: Moulin Roty Bird Kite, £20
  • Best for young babies: Intex Play Box Pool, £10.08
  • Best for portability: Kidly fold-away bucket and spade, £16
  • Best for epic sandcastles: Quut Alto Sandcastle Building Set, £20.50

What to consider before buying a beach toy for your child:

  • Is it durable? – Salt water, sand or stony terrains and sunshine can prove hardwearing on products. In order to get the most out of your purchase, you want to make sure it’s made from a material that can withstand these elements, giving your beach buy longevity. Materials such as silicone are strong and wipe clean, whereas plastic is more likely to scratch.
  • Is it cost effective? – Does the value of your purchase outweigh how long it will last your child? Ideally, you want a product to offer plenty of play opportunities, so think wisely before you spend a large amount of money that may only last one summer. It’s just as important to invest in good quality products so it can be used time and time again, if it's suitable for a wide age range.
  • How easy is it to carry? – A factor that is super important when you take into consideration the huge amount of packing you do for a beach day. Does it come with a carry bag? Are there handles? Can it simply be popped in your beach bag? Even better, is it lightweight enough for your child to carry themselves?
  • Does it fold away? – When travelling abroad or if you are short on space in your bags, fold-down toys are a great bet. Alternatively, does it deflate or how small can it be packed down? Anything space-savvy and that won’t make a huge impact on your luggage allowance is a winner. Also, think about how you’ll store the toy once you’re home.

10 best beach toys for toddlers and kids

1. B. Summer Beach Bag, £14.96

– Best all-in-one kit

B Ready beach bag with 11 elements

Age: 18 months + | Size: L30.5 x W24 x H25.5cm | Weight: 0.7kg | Material: Plastic

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A bumper beach bag packed full of fun for your little one at the beach, this 11-piece set includes a bucket, sand moulds, watering can and even a miniature monster truck plus more, so there should be plenty to keep restless kids entertained.

Easy to transport, the plastic carry case and its contents really impressed us with their quality and durability. The bag also features a mesh bottom to ensure sand sifts out – a genius touch!

Praising the B. Summer Beach Bag, Rachael, mum to our child testers Jaxon, 8, Noah, 7, Cole, 5 and Bodhi, 3, said: "We live next to the beach and, as you can imagine, have gone through so many beach toys. Hands down this B. range is the most durable and loved by our children.

"The little wagon is so much fun, and they love the cars, the windmill and rake. We have bought a lot from this range, and they have lasted for years. The bag is also great for carrying everything back and forth from the beach. I highly recommend it."

Pros: Good value, durable, easy to transport with bag

Cons: Takes up quite a bit of space in your suitcase

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

2. Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set, £14.99

– Best for imaginative play

Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set

Age: 3+ | Size: L19 x W21.5 x H24cm| Weight: 0.5kg | Material: Plastic

Inspire little bakers to create their own sand pies on the beach with this ‘bake set’ from Melissa and Doug. With a cute nautical theme, this 7-piece kit comes complete with items including an octopus-shaped whisk, crab-shaped mixing spoon and shell-shaped measuring cups.

Bright, colourful and great to encourage imaginative minds, it’s a robust set from a trusted brand, that we think is great value for money. We love that the ‘turtle’ lid of the mixing bowl can also double as a sand sifter – in fact, the whole kit is super-versatile, making it a fantastic choice for the beach, as well as at home for bath time or messy play. We just wish it came with a carry case.

Pros: Lightweight, durable, good value for money

Cons: No carry case, difficult to pack in your suitcase

Available at: Amazon

3. Intex Joy Rider Inflatable Wave Rider, £9.50

– Best inflatable toy

Intex Joy Rider Inflatable Wave Rider

Age: 6+ | Size: L112 x W62cm (when inflated) | Weight: 0.6kg | Material: Plastic | Includes: 1 x repair kit

Perfect for older children who are ready to get their first experience of the waves, the Inflatable Wave Rider is a cool addition to any beach holiday. The inflatable bodyboard features two handles – great for aiding stability – and can help build your child’s confidence in the water. Although, as is always the case, if your child is using an inflatable in the open water you do need to stay with them the whole time, however competent a swimmer they may be.

Complete with a wave motif in either red, orange or blue, we were a little disappointed you can’t choose which colour you receive, it’s more a case of the luck of the draw. However, all designs deliver just the right amount of ‘surfer dude’ style. Because it’s an inflatable, the bodyboard is very lightweight and can be packed down into a relatively compact size,. Our child testers also discovered it made a comfy ‘bed’ on the sand when relaxing on the beach.

Although you can blow this up with good old-fashioned lung power, we’d definitely recommend a pump to give you a helping hand if you have the space. Reassuringly, the Joy Rider does come with a puncture repair kit for any beach mishaps.

Pros: Good value for money, versatile, confidence building, compact to pack

Cons: A pump is recommended, no choice on which colour you're sent

Available at: Amazon, Booghe, The Range and Just Athlete

4. 6-Piece Ice Cream Beach Set, £1.99

– Best budget buy

6-Piece Ice Cream Beach Set

Age: 1 to 6 | Size: L6.5 x W15 x H30cm (packaged size) | Weight: 0.1kg | Material: Plastic

Nothing says a day out at the beach like an ice-cream. Simple and cheap, this is a bargain buy.

The set includes 5 brightly coloured ice cream cones (each one roughly the size of a traditional cone) and a scoop, made from durable plastic that should survive many a holiday. With a dollop of imagination, your child can set up an imaginary beach stall, creating their own – not so delicious – treats from sand.

It’s a simple toy, and we thought our little testers might lose interest after a while, but instead they came up with so many different imaginative games based around it, they were occupied for ages. It’s very versatile and not only perfect for the beach – it would also be a great addition to any messy play set ups at home as well as sand pits and mud kitchens. Just be prepared to accept a lot of homemade sand ice cream cones from now on!

Pros: Great value for money, encourages imaginative play, easy to pack

Cons: No carry case for travel, only one scoop

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

5. 8-Piece Boules Set, £9.99

– Best for all the family

8-Piece Boules Set

Age: 5+ | Size: L28.2 x W7 x H18.3cm| Weight: 1.4kg | Material: Plastic

For a classic outdoor game that the whole family can get involved in, we love this colourful 8-piece Boules set. The rules are simple for kids to understand – the winner is the person who gets their boules closest to the small white marker ball – so it's a great game for older and younger siblings to play together.

It also comes in a handy moulded carry case, so you can easily pack it back up at the end of your day, without losing any stray balls. Having said that, it’s quite heavy and bulky, so if you have a car, it's better suited to beach holidays in the UK rather than handing over precious luggage space when travelling abroad or on public transport.

Kate, mum to child testers Isaac, 11, Hamish, 9 and Lachlan, 5, loves how universal it is. “All my boys enjoy getting involved in a game of boules – with such a wide age range it’s not usually that easy!” She also praised the durability. “While we have bought a new set for our family, my parents still have an identical set of plastic boules which we used to enjoy playing with as kids in the 80s – definitely built to last!”

Pros: Good value for money, encourages teamwork, durable, includes carry case

Cons: Heavy

Available at: Amazon

6. Waboba Extreme Water Bouncing Ball, £6.21

– Best beach ball

Waboba Extreme Water Bouncing Ball

Age: 7+ | Size: 5.6cm | Weight: 0.7kg | Material: Rubber, lycra and thermoplastic elastomer

Watch your kids’ jaws drop as they realise this simple-looking ball is anything but. Guaranteed to encourage lots of water and active play, the Waboba water ball bounces on water, making it perfect for skimming, throwing and fun ball games in the sea.

The three-layer design allows the ball to float on water, making it hard to lose and also easier for younger children to catch – or chase. Be prepared: this ball is designed for open water play so can go some distance. It's definitely not one for the hotel pool!

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a typical beach ball size – it’s actually really diddy, measuring around 5.5cm in diameter, making it super-easy to throw into your beach bag or suitcase when travelling. It may feel a little pricey for such a small ball, but the quality is excellent and the fact it bounces and floats really ups the play potential and fun factor.

Pros: Good for all skill levels, durable, easy to pack

Cons: Not ideal for pool use, pricier than a standard ball

Available at: Amazon and Skatehut

7. Moulin Roty Bird Kite, £20

– Best for a windy day

Moulin Roty Bird Kite

Age: 3+ | Size: H80 x W130cm | Weight: Not specified but very lightweight | Material: Nylon and fibreglass | Includes: Kite cover

Make the most of a windy day on the coast, or even the park, with this eye-catching bird kite. Kites and beaches are a match made in heaven, with plenty of wide-open space, no obstructions or overhead power lines to worry about, and – of course – plenty of wind rushing in from the sea!

This multi-coloured bird design manages to appeal to children of all ages, being bright and beautiful without looking ‘babyish’. Older kids will love launching the kite into the air (after a bit of practice) and flying it around, while the littlest members of the family are sure to be mesmerised by the colourful tail ribbons rippling in the wind. To be honest, this is one toy that had all our parent testers desperate to try, too ­– we don’t think you ever outgrow the fascination with kites!

It’s excellent quality ­– as you’d expect from French toy brand Moulin Roty – and comes with a handy winding handle and cover to keep it protected when not in use. A little bit of assembly is required but it’s incredibly quick and easy, so shouldn’t hold up the fun at all.

Pros: Looks gorgeous, encourages new skills, good quality, easy to store, folds into compact size

Cons: Long length (even in carry case), better for older kids

Available at: Liberty London and Kidly

8. Intex Play Box Pool, £10.08

– Best for toddlers

Intex Play Box Pool

Age: 1-3 with constant supervision | Size: L86.4 x W86.4 x H25.4cm | Weight: 0.8kg | Material: Vinyl

You might be thinking, “a paddling pool at the seaside? Really?”, but bear with us. Entertaining a young baby on the beach can be tricky, especially when you’d like to have a moment to relax yourself. By investing in this small pool, you can ensure you create a safe place for your little one where you can see them at all times.

Many MFM testers swear by it, with Lyssa, mum to our child tester Ocean, commenting, “A mini blow-up pool on the beach is a winner. All my kids have loved it and have such fun splashing around in a little bit of water.”

This paddling pool by Intex is the perfect compact size for toddlers and won’t take up too much room on the beach either. We love the padded base, which will make it extra-comfy for your child, and the whole thing takes around 5 minutes to pump up using a manual pump. It’s certainly doable to blow up yourself, but a foot pump will get the job done a lot quicker and easier. Available in bright green or bright pink, just be mindful that you can’t specify which colour you want when you order.

Whether you decide to fill it up with a small amount of water, sand or even ball pit balls, this will create a safe, confined space for your little one to have plenty of sensory fun - as long as you're there to watch full-time.

Pros: Good value for money, safe space on the beach

Cons: Takes effort to blow up, it's small so large toddlers may find it a squeeze

Available at: Amazon

9. Kidly fold away bucket and spade, £16

– Best for portability

Kidly fold away bucket and spade

Age: 12months+ | Size: W15cm x H14.5cm (bucket) W15 x H5cm (bucket when folded), L19.5 x W7 x D4.3cm (spade) | Weight: Not specified bit very lightweight | Material: 100% food-grade silicone | Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021, Bronze

The clever fold-away bucket and spade is a beach essential according to Sinéad, mum to our child tester age 3. She says, "I think a fold-up bucket and spade is a great addition to any holiday. You can put it in your beach bag and it doesn’t take up much room. So cute!”

Surprisingly sturdy despite being foldable, the bucket is perfectly designed for toddler and pre-schoolers to make their own sandcastle creations with ease. It has a rotating handle and a lip just above the base, which gives young children a good grip when tipping out their castles. The spade is also just right for little hands, easy to grip and with a deep scoop for maximum sand shoveling.

When play is over, the bucket folds down to just 5cm high, making it perfect for packing in your suitcase. We did find it took a few attempts to get the hang of the fold, but once we’d discovered the how-to video on the Kidly website it was instantly easier. As is the case with all Kidly label products, the choice of colourways is extensive and beautiful – we really appreciated the option of more unusual shades like matcha green and mauve.

Pros: Compact fold, durable, great quality, compact when folded

Cons: Tricky to master the fold at first, more expensive than a traditional bucket and spade

Available at: Kidly

10. Quut Alto Sandcastle Building Set, £20.50

– Best for epic sandcastles

Quut Alto Sandcastle Building Set

Age: 3+ | Size: L18 x W18 x H11cm | Weight: 0.3kg | Material: Recyclable plastic

Forget about your bog-standard sandcastle, your child will be creating sand masterpieces with this cleverly designed set, inspired by professional sand-builders. And it's made from recycled plastic.

It comprises 3 different sections – large, medium and small ­– which you simply fill with sand (either individually or together for a cool tiered effect) then lift to create a firm, tightly packed castle that won’t crumble away before your child has had a chance to show off their creation. It sounds a little more complicated than it actually is – the sandcastle building set is actually really easy to use, with our youngest testers having no trouble getting the hang of these rather than traditional buckets.

BPA, latex and phthalate free, the hard-wearing plastic is fully recyclable, and is robust enough to put up with years of sand play. This is a toy that’s designed to be passed down the generations, not a cheap bucket that won’t last past a single summer, making it a good sustainable option.

What we really love about this set is how it all clicks together into a compact size, perfect for summer holidays here and further afield. It’s incredibly lightweight too – in fact, you won’t even notice it in your beach bag.

Pros: Encourages creativity, durable, relatively compact, sustainable choice

Cons: More expensive than a traditional bucket, no spade included

Available at: Amazon and Bijou Lifestyle


How we tested:

When choosing and testing these beach toys we considered size, weight, price, portability, ease of use, kid-appeal, age-appropriateness and play value.

Out 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our testing during the MadeForMums awards and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club.

Each year, 1000s of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, but instead a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we aim to help you discover what is best for your family.

About the author

Zoe Adams is a freelance journalist with over 10 years experience in the industry. She’s written about parenting on titles including Mother and Baby, Pregnancy and Birth, Practical Parenting and OK!. She’s a mum of 2 young boys so it's unlikely you’ll find her sitting down.