You made it! You’re here! That beach vacay you’ve been eagerly anticipating and planning for has finally arrived. The trip was uneventful, the hotel or condo is just right and the weather is complete perfection. Then, why is your family saying, “I’m bored!” on the beach? Hey, it happens. Not everyone appreciates a laze-in-the-sun-with-a-favorite-book kind of vibe. You have little ones or even antsy bigger ones who need some form of entertainment.
This list combines some old favorites beach games like Spikeball and Kan Jam with “only on the Emerald Coast” opportunities such as yoga on the beach, sandcastle lessons and surf school. Now you can fill your days at the beach with activities on the beach … and isn’t that why you’re here?
- Build A Bonfire: No, not you! Please, do not build your own bonfire on the beach. Besides, there are plenty of local companies who’ll do it for you! Companies like Bonfire Guy, Sweet Escapes, Light Me Up Beach Bonfires and Shorefires can handle all the necessary permits and set-up so all you have to do is show up and enjoy. It’s best to schedule these moments well in advance of your preferred date.
- Be A Beach Yogi: You don’t have to leave your favorite yoga classes behind when you plan a trip to the beach. There are plenty of classes, including classes right on the beach, for you to take part in. Check out Destin Yoga By The Sea or Sunshine Yoga in Destin, beachfront yoga at Serenity By The Sea Spa in Sandestin or Beach Yoga 30A if you’re on or near, well, Scenic Highway 30A.
- Make Sand Art: You’ve probably known since you were a kid yourself that there’s a certain amount of art to building sandcastles. If you want to get a little more in-depth, why not plan a sandcastle lesson while you’re spending time in the sun? Both Dan Castles and Beach Sand Sculptures will help you up your sandcastle game with true works of sand art while providing a memorable beach experience for the whole family.
- Fill The Holes: Digging holes in the sand is a rite of passage for all kids (and some adults) at the beach. While we’re certainly not saying you can’t dig holes, we do ask that you fill in those holes (and any others you see) once your day at the beach is complete. Large holes at the beach present a safety hazard not only for people but also for wildlife. Sea turtles that nest on our beaches from May to October lay their eggs in the sand. Those nestlings can get trapped in holes once they hatch and die. Leave the beach clean and flat at the end of your day.
- Get A Game Going: Spikeball has been at the top of favorite beach game lists for a number of years now and for good reason: It’s portable, fun and perfect for the beach. Two teams of partners battle against each other using balls and a net. It’ll remind you a lot of volleyball, without requiring a large net you can’t get in your trunk.
- Hunt For Shells: One of the questions we see most frequently from visitors to the area is, “Where can I find good seashells?” We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there are really only a couple of good shell spots within reasonable driving distance. You can head west of Destin to Navarre, where some of the best shells, sand dollars and other beach treasures wash up or you can head east of 30A’s beach communities to Shell Island off of the coast of Panama City Beach. A shuttle will transport you from St. Andrews State Park to Shell Island every half hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
- Book A Photo Session: If you throw a seashell in Destin and along 30A, you’re likely to hit a photographer doing what they love: Capturing nature and booking families for beach photo sessions. The crystal-clear water of the Gulf and rainbow of pastels in the sky at sunrise or sunset are the perfect backdrop to capture a beloved moment in time. Snoop around on Facebook and you’ll find everything from mini sessions to full-fledged engagement, prenatal and wedding photography.
- Go Fly A Kite: Keep it simple, right? There’s nothing quite as nostalgic as flying a simple kite on the beach. Pack one with you or grab one at a store while you’re here. And, if you’re lucky enough to be here during a kite festival, you can see the pros at play. The two-day Fly Into Fall Festival September 18-19 brings in crazy creations like a 100-ft. octopus kite.
- Keep It Clean: No one wants to clean when they’re on vacation, but we can’t stress enough the importance of leaving our beaches clean and trash-free as you found them. Spend part of a day or evening walk picking up not only your items but abandoned items and trash you find around you. Wildlife, locals and vacationers alike will thank you!
- Hit The Surf: You’ll certainly spend some of your time on the beach in the water; that’s a given. If you want to take your water play up a notch, consult with the experts at the ONO Surf Shop in Seaside, Florida, for surfboards, skimboards and boogie boards. Try your hand at catching a wave with the Ride On Surf School, which specializes in private and group surfing lessons as well as camps, surf parties and mini-lessons.
- Launch A Treasure Hunt: The beach seems like a custom-made opportunity for the best treasure hunt game ever. Start a treasure hunt by hiding things in the sand everywhere around you. Give participants clues on cards or pieces of paper. Then, let the searching begin. Things like umbrellas, towels and beach bags make great options for creating hints.
- Jam Out: The “Garbage Can Frisbee” game many of us played as kids now goes by the much cooler name “Kan Jam” and it’s another entertaining and portable option for beach play. Teams of two toss Frisbees at cans and earn points based on where the Frisbee lands. The first team to 21 wins.
- Pack A Picnic: Let’s talk about legitimate beach picnics, not a cooler of snacks you find yourself reaching into a hundred times. Buy a basket and plan your own cozy (or romantic) beach picnic or try your hand at one of the beach picnic vendors in the area. Serenity Picnic Company will create a picnic experience for you or build a pop-up picnic with Blue Magnolia.
- Go Fish: There are seven fishing piers within 50 miles of Destin where you can try your hand at saltwater fishing. The type of fish may vary depending on when you’re attempting it. The Navarre Beach Pier is an interesting one to check out. You can rent bait and tackle at the shop or dine in the outdoor restaurant at the official “longest pier in the state of Florida.”
- Grab A Paddleboard: We would be remiss to skip over a favorite activity of locals and guests that mostly involves our waterways, but sand as a secondary tool. (You have to launch from somewhere, right?) Paddleboards are all around the area — for rent or for purchase — including from vendors on the beach and at YOLO Board‘s various locations.