We all know that the beach is a great place to kick back, relax and soak up some sunshine — and many would argue that it’s most enjoyable when doing next to nothing all day. But for those whose competitive spirits accompany them nearly everywhere they go, the beach’s soft sands can also serve as a natural playing surface of sorts, great for all kinds of games and competitions, and offering easy access to the ocean for some post-match cooling off.
With these competition cravers in mind, here’s a quick list of our five favorite family-friendly beach games to play in the Grand Strand sands:
- Bocce: This ball sport dates back to the days of the Roman Empire, and its current form was popularized in Italy (the term “bocce” itself is the plural of the Italian word for “bowl”). It’s a great pick for the beach, as the shoreline’s soft sands add a unique challenge to the game by preventing the balls from doing much rolling — they tend to stick pretty close to where they land. A bocce set, which can be procured at many beachwear shops in the Myrtle Beach area, includes one smaller ball (known as the “pill” and usually white in color) and eight larger balls (four each in two different colors). The game can pit two players or two teams of up to four players each. To get play started, the pill is thrown and serves as the target, then the two opposing teams (or players) take turns throwing the eight larger balls (four per side) in an attempt to land closest to the pill. The team with the closest ball wins each round, and one point is awarded for each ball that is closer than the opposing team’s closest ball. The first team to reach an agreed-upon number of points wins the match.
- Beach Volleyball: Introduced as an Olympic sport during the 1996 Summer Olympics, this game is perfect for larger groups looking to compete. Officially matching up two teams of two, beach volleyball can also be played on-on-one or with teams of nearly any size and by players of nearly any age. The sport also offers a great way to meet new people, as games tend to attract more willing competitors. Grand Strand visitors can find nets set up on the beach throughout the Myrtle Beach area, and Plyler Park on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is home to a number of regulation sand courts. Just grab a volleyball and some willing players, head for a local court, and strike up a game in the sand.
- Ladder Ball/Ladder Golf: This game is played with a pair of “ladders,” each sporting three rungs and placed 15 feet apart. Players stand at opposite ends of the court and take turns tossing three “bolas” (each consisting of two balls attached by a lightweight rope) each in an effort to wrap their bolas around their ladder’s rungs. Points are scored for each bola that stays on a rung — generally one for the top rung, two for the middle, and three for the bottom. The first team to reach a score of 21 points wins the game. Those looking to strike up a game can find inexpensive ladder golf kits using ladders made of PVC piping at local beachwear shops, or at department stores such as Walmart and Target.
- Cornhole: Often found at tailgate parties before big sporting events, this game is equally fun on the beach. It’s played with two large (2’ x 4’) wooden boards cut into a rectangular shape, each featuring a hole toward the top of the long end and placed approximately 27 feet (or nine paces) apart. With one to four players on a team, each team takes turns tossing corn-filled bags at their board, aiming to ring the hole (good for 3 points), land the bag on the board (good for 1 point) or knock opposing bags off the board (negating their points). The first team to reach 21 points wins. Personalized sets can be made at home, or players can pick one up at local beach shops, sporting-goods stores and department stores.
- Myrtle Ball: Created right here on the Grand Strand, this game blending golf and bocce is a perfect fit on the local sands. Available at local beach shops, each Myrtle Ball kit includes a pair of buckets — one large and one small — that players bury up to the brim in the sand. Players then roll their colorful balls (each team gets three) into the buckets, getting one point for ringing the larger bucket and three for the smaller one. The game can be played by just two players, or by teams of up to three players per side. The first team to reach 15 points claims victory.
After enjoying some friendly competition and fun in the sun on the beach, head back to the comfortable accommodations and wide-ranging amenities at Ocean Reef Resort to rest up for another day of fun in the Myrtle Beach area. Book your beach getaway today — and start planning to make some lasting memories along the Carolina coast!