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Groups enjoying a lifeguarded beach on a sunny day

Ten fun things to do at the beach

‘Sands with rocks and little pools of saltwater, and long miles of waves breaking for ever. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you ever heard it? Can you remember?’ asks CE Lewis in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. So many memories can be made at the beach – here’s our pick of them.

A family cooking food on a BBQ on the beach

Credit: Shutterstock

1. BBQs on the beach

Post-swim breakfast? Lunch with friends? 3pm team meeting? Sunset supper? Any time is the perfect time for a beach BBQ – and no cooking feels quite as nice as doing it with sand between your toes.

Before firing up your grill, help you and your crew have a happy cook-off by checking your local beach information – there may be some time or location restrictions for barbecuing. If you’re unsure, ask your friendly RNLI lifeguards. They know their beaches well and are always happy to help.

A group playing volleyball on a sunny beach

Credit: Shutterstock

2. Beach games

The fun of flinging a frisbee, setting up a volleyball match, or a casual game of catch should never be underestimated at the beach. You can while away many blissful hours with your buddies beside the sea that every one, any age, can enjoy. So make sure you and your loved ones drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and don’t forget to take regular breaks in the shade, even if you feel well, to avoid heat exhaustion.

A lifeguard watching people paddling in the sea

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams 

3. Go paddling

Roll up those trousers and get ready for a sun-soaked splash in the shallow end! Feel the sea on your skin, listen to the lapping of the waves and the sound of kids in their element.

You can help keep your loved ones safe and happy by choosing on a lifeguarded beach.  And, if you do fall in and find yourself out of your depth, remember: Float to Live. Watch this video on teaching your child how to float.

A family of four build sandcastles on the beach, with a lifeguard and a red and yellow flag at the water’s edge

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

4. Play in the sand

Grab a bucket and spade and create a magnificent castle, carve out a winding river or fashion a mermaid’s tail in the sand. You and your crew could even draw self-portraits, accessorising with shells and seaweed – or build a sand person (it’s like a snowman, but sandy!). With a bit of imagination, there are so many adventures to be had on the sand.

Rocks and rock pools on a sandy beach

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

5. Rock pooling

Once the waves roll back towards the horizon, a brand-new world emerges at the shoreline – you’ll find wildlife, plants, shells and even schools of fish below the surface of a rock pool.

It’s a fantastic beach activity for every one in the family – just remember, if you look at something closely, handle it with gentle care and put it back in the rightful place you found it.

Make sure you tread carefully on the rocks - they can be extremely slippery, especially when there's moss or seaweed - so take care and wear appropriate footwear.

Dolphins jumping in the wake of a boat

Photo: RNLI/David McHaffie

6. Look for animals

The seaside is home to creatures great and small – with many you may have never even heard of! And the beach is the perfect place to see so many of them, out in the wild.

Check your local beach information for wildlife tours – some species like seals, puffins, and even specific birds congregate in protected parts of the shore, and a guide can help you spot them from afar without disturbing them. Remember to be aware of animals you can’t see too – and what to do if you or your loved ones get a bite or sting.

Two people wearing lifejackets fishing from a rock over the sea

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

7. Fishing

There’s plenty more than just swimming and sunbathing to be done at the beach – nothing is more satisfying than heading out for a day by the sea and proudly coming home with a catch.

Whether you’re fishing by a calm shoreline, at a craggy cliff face or on a boat, keep your trip a happy and safe one by wearing a lifejacket and checking the weather forecast, sea conditions and tide times before you set off.

For some types of fishing, you’ll need a licence. So when you’re planning your trip, check the official guidance for the UK and Ireland. There are also rules and regulations around where and when you can fish, and fish size and catch limits, so do your research ahead of time.

Surfer at Boscombe Beach, Bournemouth

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

Surfer at Boscombe Beach, Bournemouth

8. Surfing

It’s hard to find a rush that compares with the feeling of being out on a board and riding a wave all the way back to shore. No two beaches are the same, so what better reason do you need to explore our beautiful coastlines?

Look out for the black and white chequered flags on the sand which indicate the surf zone on a beach, and check out our top tips on surfing etiquette and equipment checklists to help you have an incredible day on the waves.

Lifeguards and face to face fundraisers walking barefoot along a beach

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

9. Go barefoot

Whether it’s to watch the sun come up, to put the world to rights with an old friend, or to see the sun set on the day, you’ll never regret shedding your shoes for a stroll on the sand.

Visit any one of our lifeguarded beaches and we’ll help look after you and your loved ones while you walk in the sand.

A person swimming freestyle in a calm sea

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

10. Swim in the sea

A quick dip, a fitness goal, a holiday ritual – there are so many good reasons to be with the sea. However long your saltwater dip lasts, let our open-water swimming advice help you make the most of it, from choosing where to go and what to take with you, to how to call for help and how to warm up after getting out the waves.

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

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