The 20 Best Beach Toys For Toddlers (That Are Worth Every Penny)

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by Lauren Beach
Kids playing with the beach toys for toddlers
Scary Mommy /Amazon

Let’s face it: A day at the beach isn’t always exactly “a day at the beach” when you have toddlers. I lived in Florida during my kids’ toddler years and we’ve had tons of good (and terrible) sand toys. Cheap ones broke on the first use, but the worst was lugging the same unused toy back and forth each trip. To find a toy that’s actually worth a spot in your beach bag, consider this pro tip: The best beach toys for toddlers cater to their existing interests. Do they love to build and dig? Or is pretend play more their thing? No matter what your kiddo’s play style, there's a beach toy (or two, or three) below that will have them riveted once you hit the sand — so you get a chance to actually sit on your beach blanket for a few peaceful moments.

Having toys that hold your tot’s attention can keep them too busy for, say, sand throwing that can earn the side-eye from other families. While you shop for the best beach toys for toddlers, look for ones that combine creativity with durability, ensuring all-day use summer after summer (and bathtime fun, too). Bonus points if they come with a convenient mesh bag to keep things organized as you beeline it to the showers to rinse off those sandy feet.

Snag some of the toys below and pack your beach bag with sunscreen and snacks. You just might get some blissful beach time yourself.

The Coolest Beach Toys

A Melissa & Doug Sand Toy For Sifting & Funneling

The different levels of this water and sand toy from Melissa & Doug cleverly teach toddlers cause and effect through play and experimentation. “It has enough working parts to be entertaining for dirt, sand, water and mud,” noted one happy Amazon reviewer. Designed for ages 2 and up, the cute sea creature design promises years of play. It’s made of durable plastic that reviewers appreciated. “I love that it has a handle! It’s plenty sturdy enough to be knocked around while not worrying about it breaking,” noted one pleased parent.

For a bit more money, you can also opt for a larger set with sand baking accessories or one with all the bells and whistles that even includes a cupcake mold.

A Digger Sand Toy For Endless Scooping

Your digging-obsessed kids will love Hape’s sand grabber. The trigger function allows even the smallest engineers to easily move sand and water. It’s designed for ages 2 and up, and it’s lightweight enough for tots to carry with ease. The durable plastic has rounded edges and is free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates. “This versatile grabber toy is a hit for picking up sand on the beach but kids also love scooping up their little toys with it and even pretending that the grabber jaws are sharks! Well made and immediately appealing,” raved one shopper.

A Play Baking Set For Seaside Treats

Have a kid who loves to pretend to bake? This portable “cookie baking” set has endless play potential. Designed for ages 3+, it has all the baking accessories necessary for masterful sand treats, including a rolling pin, spatula, cookie sheet, and cookie cutters. One reviewer noted that other kids on the beach flocked to play with this well-designed beach toy set. Another shopper reported, “They enjoyed baking sand ‘treats’ and playing by the ocean all day.” Younger toddlers will especially love the crab-themed “sprinkles” shaker. Time to do the dishes? Kids can easily rinse the set right in the mesh bag.

This Digger Glove For Dino Lovers

Shaped like a T-Rex, this HABA sand digger toy can be used for lots of different kinds of play. Budding archaeologists can bury and “discover” fossils, as well as pretend to feed their new pet dino. It’s designed for ages 3 and up, but according to one superfan, it even had grownup appeal: “Immensely cool! My four-year-old grandson was delighted with this toy. Even the ‘big kids’ (ahem, my husband, et al) enjoyed playing with this thing. Great construction, works well to scoop sand...I mean, it's a working dinosaur skull. What could be better?” Bonus: It’s made using high-quality plastic that doesn’t contain phthalates or other harmful chemicals.

A Sturdy Sand Mold That Doubles As A Sifter

More than just a sand mold, this gator has holes on its back for sifting for seashells or showering the sand with water. It comes in bright shades of green, red, yellow, and blue, making it “hard to lose,” as one grateful reviewer noted. The alligators are made in the U.S. with thicker plastic than your average beach toy, handling the heat and sun (and even snow) without fading or warping. The mold is designed for ages 2 and up, although even younger tots might enjoy filling it with sand. Just note that it’s 17.5-inches long, so you might need a big beach bag.

The Best Sand Toy Sets

A Pirate Set For Finding Hidden Treasure

Sized just right for the toddler crowd, your pirate-obsessed tot will treasure this sand toy set. In addition to the BPA-free beach pail with its sifting lid, you get a shovel and a rake, two pirate-themed molds, and even a pirate boat. It’s designed for ages 18 months and up, and parents raved about how much their little buccaneers loved the booty. Said one reviewer, “The sand bucket with accessories is durable and fun to use! My 4-year-old son loves the pirate element of it!”

An Adorable Beach Set Made From Recycled Plastic

Designed for the littlest beachgoers (ages 6 months and up), this thoughtfully designed sand toy set from Green Toys is made in the U.S. from recycled plastic bags. “Each toy is designed to drop water in different size and shape streams and at different speeds. My daughter found them fascinating,” reported one reviewer. The seven-piece set is dishwasher safe, making cleaning a breeze. “As you would expect from GreenToys, they are high quality and durable. I like that they won't get moldy and they're virtually indestructible,” noted another parent.

A Comprehensive Sand Toy Set That’s Worth The Splurge

It’s clear that a lot of attention to detail went into making this dinosaur-themed set that offers kids lots to explore. “The innovative thing is that some of the simple sand tools fit together to form dinosaurs,” explains an Amazon reviewer. “My toddler had a lot of fun pouring the water, scooping the sand, and rolling the roller all over the sand. There’s also a pitcher for you to pour the water onto this other toy that spins. I love that it came with a mesh bag to store all the toys and for easy drying!” The bag even folds down into its own pocket when not in use. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the 16-piece dino set is built to last year after year — and even comes nicely packaged should you want to gift a set.

A 4-Piece Mold Set For Next-Level Sand Castles

Made to last for years, these “thick and well crafted” sand castle molds offer little builders a chance to make the ultimate fortress. The featured set comes with four pieces, but you can also go for more elaborate sets with 6-, 8-, and 10-pieces. “My son stepped on one and it didn't break, very durable. We had a lot of fun making sand castles and destroying them afterward,” said one reviewer. Designed for ages 3 and up, the sand toys are made in the U.S. and are brightly colored so they won’t get left behind. The pieces are just the right size to make substantial castles without being too big for your beach bag.

This Ice Cream & Cupcake Set For The Sweetest Beach Days

A compact set for the younger crowd, this BPA-free treat set lets kids make their own pretend ice cream and cupcakes. One parent said it “has just the right amount of toys and activities to be really fun. The ice cream and colors make it cute, and the different scoopers and little watering can make it so much fun. The lid can even hold up the little cones.” The set also comes with a mesh bag to store the toys without bringing a bunch of sand home.

The Ultimate Sand Dump Truck

TOMY’s Big Scoop is the ultimate sand dump truck and the set also comes with a sifter, tiller, and tractor tire-pattern roller. A parent favorite, these heavy-duty sand toys have a 4.8-star rating on Amazon with 1,641 reviews. The 15-inch truck has a handle specially designed to allow toddlers to easily dump full loads of sand. “This is a sturdy set that can hold up to rough play. My son loves playing with this on the beach. He makes a road with the roller, fills up the truck, and plays for quite a long time,” reported one Amazon reviewer. For ages 36 months and up, the John Deere truck will also get plenty of use in your own backyard.

A Well-Made Set With A Mesh Backpack So Your Kiddo Can Carry It Themselves

Reviewers rave about the durability (no bending handles!) and range of this 10-piece set, with one reviewer noting, “It's super well made, and it has the perfect variety of open-ended tools. I like the simple rectangle molds and the trowels that really let you shape and smooth sand…my 3 year old [...]loves the watering can and the shovel/spout toy. I think the set is going to last a long time and accommodate growing and changing interests over the years.” The BPA- PVC- and phthalate-free set even comes with a toddler-sized mesh backpack. With a recommended age of 18 months and up, it’s the perfect starter set for your little beachgoer.

Don’t need quite as big a set? Consider this smaller, 4-piece set from Hape instead.

The Most Packable Beach Toys

A Set With 3 Foldable Buckets For Easy Packing

Trying to figure out how to pack multiple buckets in your luggage? This set has you covered. The three collapsible silicone buckets fold flat to just over 1 inch — and it comes with two shovels and a rake. One parent points out, “Each child always wants a bucket of their own; being collapsible makes it possible for each child to have a bucket without having a huge beach bag…Easy to fold and open with no problems.” Just because they’re collapsible doesn’t mean they’re not sturdy either! Each beach pail can hold up to 7.5 pounds.

A Foldable Kite For When Your LO Loses Interest In The Sand Toys

No matter how good the sand toy is, eventually, your toddler is on to the next activity. Enter: This ultralight foldable kite slips easily into your luggage or tucks under a car seat. It’s made to last too, according to one reviewer who said, “Kids flew it on the beach. It went up easy and far…we crashed it several times…at one point it crashed into a wave, went underwater and got buried in sand and pebbles. We pulled it out with no damage at all to the string or kite (amazing durability) and got it flying again.” The 51-inch wide kite features solid poles to prevent bending and an impressive 300-foot string, so it can really fly.

Some Cult-Favorite Stackable Cups

Designed for ages 18 months and up, this highly rated set of colorful stacking cups offers a lot of play for very little space in your luggage! At a mere 6-inches across nested, the set “Makes sand castle building a lot more fun with different sizes of towers,” according to one reviewer. The nine phthalate- and BPA-free cups fit neatly in a bucket with a sturdy handle. This high-quality set should get years of use on and off the beach. One parent noted, “Just by holding the bucket, I could tell the durability and sturdiness of these was exceptional. The cups are a good thickness…it’s the perfect set to take to the beach.”

The Best Sand Buckets

A Sand Bucket On Wheels (With Great Accessories)

How sure is HABA that these sand toys can handle your toddler? This phthalate-free toy comes with a whopping five-year guarantee. A sieve, sand mold, and trowel are nested in this beach bucket that has oversized wheels for use, “As a truck on wheels to carry sand,” explains one reviewer. Parents love the compact size, which is designed for kids as young as 14 months. One reviewer noted: “Easy to pack in a medium suitcase. I find it the right size for a 2 year old. Solid and adorable!” Another reviewer raved, “Terrific and compact sand toy kit! All you need for a couple of kids to enjoy a day at the beach!” The set comes with a mesh bag to shake off the sand before heading home.

An Extra-Large Sand Bucket

We love this extra-large sand bucket made with dishwasher-safe, food-grade plastic that is PVC-, phthalate-, and BPA-free. It can hold 2.5 liters and is “worth every cent,” according to parents. “100% worth the money. You can’t break them if you try. The handle is flexible and doesn’t break off, the plastic does not fade and it could literally be run over by a car and pop back into shape,” one satisfied shopper raved, adding, “ I have one that’s at least 7 years old. Spielstabil products are outstanding.” You don’t get to select the color bucket you get, but the red, green, and yellow options have universal appeal. Note: given the size of the bucket, it’s best suited for kids ages 2.5 years and up.

A Beach Wagon With 10 Essential Sand Toys

This wagon is a dream come true: It gets kids excited to haul their own toys! Designed for toddlers as young as 18 months, the wagon holds 10 unique sand toys for molding, raking, sifting, and shoveling. It also offers toddlers an easier way to tote water across the beach. “The items each encourage curiosity [...] The stacker cups have animal shaped imprints and holes in the bottom and the tops are wavy for cooler designs in the sand,” noted one shopper, adding, “After our beach trip we cleaned it up and used the wagon inside and some of the other items for bath toys.”

Also Consider: The Best Beach Bag For Sand Toys

Every parent knows the struggle of carrying tiny bucket handles and overstuffed beach bags. No more. This massive mesh tote folds down to just 5 inches by 7 inches when not in use, but it can hold enough beach toys for multiple kids. One relieved reviewer said, “This helped us so much on our beach trip! We just put the sandy toys in and shook and it took care of the mess.” Another reviewer who has put it to the test said, “So far it has not had any signs of tear. It fits both of my kids' beach toys and it is easy to clean and store away.”