Our Top Ten Picks for Board Gaming on the Beach

Whether you’re cruising in the Caribbean, basking in Brighton or lounging in Lanzarote, there’s one thing you should always remember – beaches can be boring. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top beach games for kids and adults to help keep you the little ones entertained while you enjoy the heatwave (and satisfy your craving for competition).

Qwirkle

A technicolour race to match shapes and score points.

Qwirkle is a bit like Scrabble, except it’s quick to play, you line up shapes and it can be played by people who can’t read. Most importantly, however, it doesn’t need a board, which secured it the final spot on our trusty list of beach games. In each round, players hold onto a secret set of six tiles, which they use to make lines and score points. Players can also switch in all their tiles for six brand new ones, but must end their turn immediately afterwards. Once all the tiles are gone, the player with the most points is declared the winner.

Gloom

For that awkward goth phase that you never really grew out of.

Sure, sunshine, ice creams and beaches are great but you know what’s even better? A card game about misery, tragedy and flesh-eating mice. In each round of Gloom, you play cards to make your make-believe family as sad as possible with cards like “Pursued by Poodles” and “Mocked by Midgets” whilst giving blessings to your opponents’ families to make them happier. The player who reaches ‘maximum sadness’ first is the winner. Not the first game you’d imagine us playing at the beach, but it’s quick to play, easy to carry around and it helps put your last family argument in perspective.

Kubb

Two teams throwing heavy blocks of wood at each other. Safer than it sounds.

Well if this list has taught us anything, it’s that Scandinavian countries are amazing at making wooden dexterity games for the beach. Kubb is a Swedish game where loads of players split into two teams, face each other and take turns trying to knock over the opposing teams’ ‘Kubbs’ by throwing wooden blocks. Fun fact: it’s also called “Viking Chess” in Sweden, since the game ends when a team knocks over the King (and because it can only be played by the most fearsome gamers around).

Slingball

The game of catch just got pumped full of steroids.

Ever see those people throwing a tennis ball to each other on the beach? Or playing Badminton in the sea? Right, well imagine the look on their face when you turn up with Slingball and start firing a ball 125 feet into the air at each other. Waterproof, durable and easy to carry around, this is a game that’s ideal for absolutely every outdoor setting – from beaches to barbecues, gardens to graveyards. (Okay maybe not the last one.)

Catan Dice Game

Create a stronghold of sheep, iron and wheat, all from the comfort of your beach towel.

A lot of you are probably all-too-familiar with the cult game Settlers of Catan, but here’s the low-down just in case.

Roll the dice. Collect supplies. Briefly transform into a cut-throat business demon as you ruthlessly haggle and trade with the other players. Repeat.

It’s actually a great game, but it’s never been travel material… until now. No more board, no more counters, no more hexagons. Now, players take turns to roll a dice in order to claim resources, making it a much more lightweight, beach-friendly strategy game.

Push It

Flick, swipe and push your pucks to victory.

Okay so full disclaimer: this one isn’t so great on the sand – it’s just such a fun travel game that we thought we’d throw it in anyway. Push It is like a game of boules, except you can carry it around in a drawstring bag and you don’t have to be over the age of 60 to play. Just find a flat surface, place your pucks on the edge and slap them across the table. The team that gets closest to the jack, wins the round. Ideal for pub lunches and camping tables, plus we guarantee that you’ll never look at a flat surface in the same way again.

Mölkky

A Finnish game of strategy, precision and annoyingly unpredictable bounces.

We love Mölkky. we’ve played it on almost every family holiday we've been on – in gardens, on beaches and even once in a hotel bedroom. The game is essentially like playing skittles with a rugby ball. You take it in turns to throw the wooden ‘Mölkky Stick’ and rack up points depending on which skittles you knock over. The trouble is, the stick has an annoying habit of bouncing all over the place, causing you to miss the skittle you’re aiming at and hit something else entirely. Luckily it’s not much of an issue on the beach, but it’s part of the reason why we don’t play in hotel bedrooms anymore.

3 OK Play

Sand-proof, water-proof, idiot-proof.

We say this a lot, but OK Play really is one of the simplest games around, which makes it perfect for a lazy day at the beach. Every member of the family can join in and each game only tends to last around five minutes. Just grab your stack of tiles and take turns placing them down until someone sneaks a line of five. The entire game clips to your bag and there’s no board, which means you can play your tiles in any direction as you want – just make sure you don’t end up in the sea.

Foooty

Sunbathing can get boring, so why not relax by booting a plastic football up and down the seaside.

The World Cup might be over, but that’s no reason to give up the football fever just yet. This plastic bundle of joy is made up of 10 panels that can easily be collapsed and re-arranged on the go, making it a great beach-holiday accessory. Strong enough to be booted around and light enough to bounce off any angry, unsuspecting sunbathers. Who knows – get good enough and you might just make it into the 2022 squad.

The Mind

Nearing the end of the holiday and running out of things to say to each other? Well, here’s a game where talking is 100% against the rules.

Described as “more of an experiment than a game”, The Mind is currently an all-around favourite in the Big Potato office, which might explain why it landed the number one slot in this list. To succeed, players must wordlessly work together and play their numbered cards in sequential order, losing a life if anyone goes too early or too late. Ideally, you’ll learn how to communicate telepathically with one another. Realistically, you’ll just make strained eye gestures and grunt a lot. Either way, it’s all packed into a single deck of cards, making it a great game for the beach.