Fun in the Sun: 5 Water-Free Beach Activities

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

A recent TripAdvisor survey found that 45 percent of Americans name the beach as their favorite summer vacation destination. Americans love heading out for surf and sand each year, whether it be to Maui or to Myrtle Beach.

However, not everyone is so keen on plunging into the ocean while there. That’s the beauty of the beach vacation: tailoring it to your own style. Fun in the sun? Check. Reading in the shade? You got it! There are plenty of fun, dry alternatives to soaking up the saltwater. Here are five that will have you out enjoying the heat in no time. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

1. Play Paddleball

Paddleball is a great way to get your heart pumping on a hot day at the beach. All you need is a set of two paddles, which are typically sold with a ball included. These sets are sold at any retailer of beach goods, as well as by various online vendors.

The game is simple and intuitive: Two participants hit the ball back and forth as many times as possible without letting it touch the ground. Spirited competition will soon give way to diving catches, devastating misses, and hours of diversion. In fact, you may find yourself breaking enough of a sweat to take a swim after all!

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Reading, Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, or other Brain Benders

If you aren’t in the mood to bounce all over the beach, try giving your brain a bit of a stretch. Puzzle books are typically available wherever beach goods are sold, and are a cheap, entertaining alternative to staring out at the horizon. According to Everyday Health, puzzles can benefit your mind in both the short- and long-term, noting that, “Different parts of the brain will be exercised depending on what kind of puzzle you choose.” For example, “crossword puzzles challenge the language and memory areas.”

Alternately, why not kick back for some solitary bliss armed with a good book? Still haven’t gotten around to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Keep saying you’ll pick up Gone Girl but haven’t had the chance? The beach doesn’t want to hear your excuses. All you need to become the most well-read person on the beach is a bit of shade, a pair of sunglasses, and a few hours’ worth of leisure time to stretch out and catch up on that backlog. They aren’t going to read themselves! For recommendations, check out The Huffington Post‘s compilation of Amazon’s Top Ten Beach Reads for Summer 2014.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

3. Collect Shells

Sometimes something as simple as a shell will reinvigorate a person’s understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. Combined with the calming, rhythmic sound of the tides hitting shore, you may achieve a sense of peace you once thought impossible. Shells can be beautiful and diverse, and collecting them is a tranquil and solitary activity.

However, we advise you to follow the guidelines set forth by the San Diego Natural History Museum before taking any shell souvenirs home with you. In order to preserve the ecological value of our beaches, it is best to ensure that we are not removing live organisms from their natural habitats! 

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

4. Fly a Kite

The beach is one of the only places (besides Mary Poppins) where flying a kite is considered a normal, everyday activity. It doesn’t happen too much anymore, which is too bad, because it’s a sight to behold. The breezy conditions of the seaside lend themselves wonderfully to kite flying. Whether you’re amateur or experienced, the beach is a great place to give this hobby a try — it’s a calming, carefree way to while away your afternoon.

Learn about the different types of kites and how to fly them via the National Kite Month website.

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Tim Boyle/Getty Images

5. Show Off Your Architectural Chops: Build a Sand Castle, Fortress, House, or Tunnel

Sandcastles are old news — but they’re still pretty fun. In with the fortresses (moats and all), houses, and tunnels! Sand construction, with its dizzying (and frustrating) array of challenges and complications — ranging from dry sand’s irritating lack of structural integrity, to that punk on the beach who comes over and kicks down your least crumbly turret — could easily be developed as a 101-level engineering class. But along with the challenges comes the activity’s share of fun and fulfillment.

Nothing is more satisfying than looking at your colossal (if shoddy) structure and knowing that you built it with your own hands — and nothing speaks more to the fleeting elegance of our lives as does saying goodbye to a day’s work, knowing it will be washed away by tomorrow. But before you get too swept up in the poignancy of it all, go check out some building inspiration over at Hubpages!

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