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What to do at the beach: Sandcastle building tips

  • 1 minute

Sandcastle building at the beach, tips from Lucinda

The kids need amusing, that annoying brother / cousin is itching to do something. Beach sports is always a goodie and you can obviously recruit complete strangers who see the cricket stumps being set up and volunteer to field. Let’s start with an oldie but goodie, sandcastle building tips and tricks. Sandcastles are a great family selfie moment. Transitory and energetic and remember lots of sunscreen as you are exposed.


Thanks to ‘Sandcastles Made’ Simple by by Lucinda Wierenga, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang


Essential information

  • Sand must be wet, damp sand sticks together
  • Packing down sand drains water creates solid structures
  • Use your hands to stack handfuls of wet sand
  • Use seawater, lots of water
  • Allow for drainage in the building process
  • Compact wet sand into a shape, pound the sand into submission, get the kids to beat the sand into shape
  • Wide enough foundation to support the superstructure, let’s make engineers out of the kids


A bucket of wet sand can suck sand into the container making it difficult to remove from the container.


Dig a water hole nearby, deep enough to find water, dig a well not a moat. Puddles of wet sand is a triumph.

The fail-safe recipe for castle concrete is one part sand to one part water. Pour the water in the big bucket first, then shovel in the dry sand for easier blending. Mix thoroughly and you’re ready to scoop.


  • A beach shovel to dig a water hole and scoop out water and wet sand.
  • A bucket or two to carry water and to mix sand and water together
  • Carving tools from putty knife, paint scraper and trowels for shaping
  • Brush for decoration


  • Found bird feathers
  • Found shells
  • Found grass (do not rip out living dune grass)
  • Found seaweed
  • Found bits and pieces on the beach
Sandcastles decoration
Sandcastles decoration

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Sandcastle joy at the beach
Sandcastle joy at the beach

What is hand-stacking wet sand

Hand-stacking involves scooping out handfuls of wet sand and helping them settle into each other in order to form structures. It’s the only building technique in which you mix the sand and water in advance. With soft-packing, you start moulding with dry sand and then add water.

The most difficult aspect of hand-stacking is that it’s less intuitive than soft-packing; many people have an instinctual urge to pound the sand into submission. Hand-stacking is a great way to involve the whole family in a sand-sculpture project, with duties evenly divided between “stackers” and “carvers”.

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