What’s more representative of a successful day at the beach than a sand sculpture? And whether it’s a sand castle, mythical figure or a modern sculpture, you can while away the hours at the beach building your masterpiece. Here are a few tips on how to build the best. And if you want to see how the pros do it, we’ve listed a few major competitions where you might head for some inspiration.
Start with a densely packed mound of sand and have plenty of water. The best place to find dense sand is below the tide line. Squeeze a ball of sand in your hand for a few seconds. If the ball stays together when you roll it around in your palm, it’s perfect sand for a castle. Build up the mound of sand gradually, starting with about 6 inches of sand, packing it down firmly with your fists. Pour water on top and repeat until you have the height you desire.
Carve away in layers. This allows you to take a bit off the structure and if necessary, put more back on.
Work from top to bottom. This lessens the chances of the structure falling.
Use simple tools. Funnels, shovels, and kitchen utensils, including spoons, straws and melon-ballers work great.
July 28-29: Imperial Beach, California
Professional sand carvers converge every year on Imperial Beach, just south of San Diego, for the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. Amateurs, including kids, also get to show off their sculpting skills. There is also live music and more than 140 vendors. For information call (619) 424-6663 or visit usopensandcastle.com.
August 11: Mayflower Beach, Dennis, Massachusetts
This Cape Cod location promises lot of family fun from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring their pails and shovels and get digging. For more information visit www.dennischamber.com.
September 2: South Padre Island, Texas
Museum-worthy sculptures are created during Sand Castle Days by the traveling pros known as “Masters of Sand.” Hundreds of amateurs also join in the fun too! There are even sand castle lessons. Call (956)761-3000 or visit sandcastledays.com.
Encore’s eight Rio Grande RV Parks are conveniently located to South Padre Island.
September 2: Point Reyes National Seashore, California
The participants in the strictly amateur Sand Sculpture Contest, held over Labor Day weekend, use whatever they can find on the beach, including shells, seaweed, and driftwood, in their sand structures. The sculpting takes place at Drakes Beach, about an hour north of San Francisco. Call (415) 464-5100 or visit nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_sandsculpturecom.
September 28-30: Virginia Beach, Virginia
The Neptune Festival, Virginia Beach’s last hurrah of summer, features the popular North American Sandsculpting Championship, in addition to many other events. The creations in the professional division go way beyond simple castles, turning mere sand and water into true art. For information visit neptunefestival.com or call (866) 637-3378.