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10 classic seaside activities for you and your family

Summer’s the perfect time of year to visit the seaside and enjoy a family day at the beach. If you’re wondering ‘what should I plan for a day at the coast?’, check out our list of classic seaside activities for you and your crew.

Updated on 10 May 2023

A happy family of mixed generations loaded with bags make their way down the path at the beach

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Head to your favourite lifeguarded beach with your family and friends

‘I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors.’ That’s George in one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. If you share George’s love of the outdoors, come with us for an action-packed day at the seaside.

Two small children in sunhats enjoying the simple pleasure of building a tall and messy sandcastle

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Be proud as punch of your sandcastle

Build sandcastles

Wondering what you can do with your family at the beach? Break out the buckets and spades! Top up everyone’s sunscreen and have a sit down while the kids build castles in the sand. Or get stuck in and give the kids a hand with the grand design. 

The simple pleasure of filling a bucket with sand, flipping it, tapping the bucket and revealing your grand tower - or atmospheric ruin - should not be underestimated at any age. Families who are usually glued to screens will soon be busy cooperating, engineering the best sandcastle and moat you’ve ever seen.

Three children gather around a large pink bucket, fascinated by the crab they’ve caught

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Have you ever caught a crab at the seaside?

Crabbing at the beach

If you or your family loves nature, head for some rockpools or a quay and find a good place to catch a crab. There’s a huge sense of satisfaction if you’re lucky and skilled enough to catch one! You can demonstrate to your children how to be kind to the crabs: use a net, not a hook, and place any you do catch gently in a big bucket with sea water, rocks and seaweed. And of course, show them how to put them carefully back where you found them. 

It’s easy to get absorbed in hunting for crabs, only to find yourself cut off by the tide. It’s a good idea to check tide times on your beach. Work out if the water’s coming in or out, or ask a lifeguard. 

Do take care on any slippery surfaces too – lifeboat crews often get called out to people who have had slips, trips and falls. Always take your phone with you, so you can call for help by calling 999 or 112 and asking for the coastguard. Your phone will come in handy too for taking a photo of your proud child with their crab!

A young child in a rainbow dress concentrates on flying her kite high at the beach

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Delight in flying your kite high in the sky

Fly a kite

Is there anything more liberating than flying a kite on a sunny day? 

What kite did you have when you were a child? You get some fancy ones these days, but the simple joy of flying any kite is timeless. That moment when the kite catches the breeze, the line tightens and the kite soars, is unforgettable. It might take a few attempts, but your kite will be flying high before you know it. Just remember to let the kids have a go too. 

A collection of seashells on a beach, in different sizes and colours

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You can find all sorts of treasures buried in the sand 

Try beachcombing

The coast is a great place to have a scavenger hunt. You'll find all sorts of things buried in the sand and at the waterline. Why not have a go at finding as many different objects as you can? There are always seashells of all shapes, sizes and colours. And if you’re lucky, you might even find a mermaid’s purse – another name for the cast-off egg cases of sharks, skates and rays.

Sea glass is another treasure waiting to be found. Formed from broken pieces of glass that have been lost to the sea, the elements erode and reshape it, turning trash into something beautiful.

Just make sure you check the tide times to avoid getting cut off and needing to be rescued. Look for local signage or ask a lifeguard for advice.

A man and a boy, wrapped up in jackets and wellies, skim stones on the beach

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Anyone can learn how to skim a stone with enough practice!

Skim stones

There’s something special about the first time you skim a stone across the water. It’s a skill that anyone can learn with a bit of practice and patience. All you need is a body of water and a healthy supply of stones – so it’s an ideal seaside activity.

First, you’ll need to find smooth, round pebbles that are relatively flat. To skim them, get low and throw them parallel to the water’s surface. That way when the stone hits the surface, it will hopefully bounce off and skim across it a few times. Just make sure there’s no one in the water where you’re skimming!

A shoal of fish swimming inside a rockpool

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Spot sea life in the surf

Spot fish

Looking for an activity along the shoreline? The sea is home to a wide variety of weird and wonderful creatures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re at a beach with a rockpool, or enjoying a paddle in the sea, you should be able to find some sea life in the surf. Fish are often the hardest to find, being much more nimble than crabs or shellfish. Set your family a challenge to see who can find the biggest fish. (Just make sure to let everyone know if you spot a shark!)

Be careful not to disturb the wildlife – treat them with respect. You’re in their home, so be a polite guest. You should also be particularly careful around jellyfish and weever fish, as they can give you a nasty sting. If you do get stung, ask a lifeguard for help.

A white, polystyrene container of fish and chips, resting on a pebbled beach

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The seaside is home to all sorts of delicious treats – like fish and chips!

Enjoy classic beach treats 

After a family day at the beach filled with all sorts of seaside activities, you’ll probably be feeling peckish. The good news is that delicious seaside cuisine is never too far away.

Whether you fancy gnawing on a stick of rock, treating yourself to an ice cream cone, or unwrapping a delicious papery parcel of fish and chips, the culinary delights the coast has waiting for you are some of the very best. 

A view of the promenade along Brighton seafront

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Stroll along the promenade

Walk along a promenade

If you want a more relaxed seaside activity, a walk along the promenade is a great way to get all the benefits of the fresh sea air without getting too much sand in your shoes.

There are often lots of things to do along the promenade, like arcades or gift shops. You might even spot an RNLI shop in some seaside locations!

An enticing picnic hamper rests on the sand in the sunshine

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What’s in your picnic hamper?

Have a picnic on the beach

After all those activities, you’ll be more than ready for your picnic. Don’t you agree that all food tastes better outdoors … even with a sprinkling of sand in the sarnies? 

The simplest of picnics feel like a feast at the beach. So delve into that hamper. Cheese and cucumber sandwiches, chicken drumsticks, samosas, hard-boiled eggs, falafel wraps, crisps, watermelon, strawberries, brownies, flapjacks – anything goes. And don’t forget the ginger beer!

A crowd watches a firework display

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Finish your trip to the seaside by watching the fireworks 

Check out the seaside entertainment

When you’re planning your seaside activities, have a look at local tourist websites and see if there will be any special seasonal entertainment taking place. 

Punch and Judy shows, mini golf and amusement arcades are some of the more traditional offerings you can find at the seaside. There are also funfairs and carnivals that take place in some coastal towns over the summer.

And sitting down with your family to watch the fireworks can be the perfect way to cap off a trip to the beach.

Feeling inspired?

If this list of seaside activities has you in the mood for a trip to the coast, then make sure you choose a lifeguarded beach to visit. RNLI lifeguards don’t just provide safety cover and first aid, they also have good local knowledge and can help you have fun and stay safe during your trip.

Find out more about keeping yourself - and your friends and family - safe while enjoying the coast this year.

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