Remember when ‘beach games’ meant beach volleyball, playing pass, or kicking around a soccer ball? Now, you’re just as likely to see a group of people throwing sticks or huddled around in a circle playing something you’ve never seen before, as you are to get an errant frisbee on your towel.
There’s a reason outdoor games (like the ones we’ve listed here!) are so popular - they bring people together. There’s nothing like a competitive bit of fun (and trash talking) to while away a sunny day on the sand.
New and gimmicky games are launched and marketed each year, but many are just different versions of the classics. The best outdoor games are light (or at least easy to pack-up and carry), and don’t require much set-up. We especially love games that have only a few, easy-to-learn rules, and don’t require much mental energy. Here are some of our favourites to pack (along with a Rumble Supershake or two!) on your next weekend adventure:
A Rumble team favourite! This relatively new Finnish game was invented in the 90s, but has only popped up on North American sands within the last five years. You can make your own set with a few simple wood cuts and a sharpie, or buy a ready-made version at many retailers.
The game has 12 numbered, wooden pins that stand-up on one end. To play, you stand the pins up together in a cluster on the grass or sand, and throw another, thirteenth pin to knock them down. Players take turns knocking the pins down from a set distance. If you knock just one pin down, you get the number of points on that pin (e.g. you knock down the pin numbered ‘3’, and you get 3 points). If you knock down two or more pins in one throw, then you get the same number of points as pins knocked down (e.g. you knock down 4 pins, you get 4 points). After each throw, you stand the pins back up where they landed. You need to score exactly 50 points to win - if you go over, you jump back to 25 points. If you miss three throws in a row, you’re out.
It’s a fun, social game with no player limit, and even the youngest players can join in.
Another game involving wooden pins or blocks, Kubb is Swedish and a little more complicated than Molkky, but worth the effort. Note that games can last a long time, or be over in 15 minutes!
You need two teams for Kubb. Teams face each other on opposite sides of the playing area (called the pitch). A large wooden block, called the ‘king’, stands up in the middle, between the two teams. Five smaller wooden blocks (called ‘kubbs’) are lined up in front of each time on either side of the pitch. Teams take turns throwing batons to knock down the Kubbs on the opposing side, and then knock down the King in the middle. There are a few other rules and twists, but one practice game is all you’ll need to get the hang of it. It’s easy enough for kids to follow, making this a great family party game for the beach or backyard.
This one’s timeless for a reason: Bocce is simple to play, and each round changes with the terrain. The game can be played in teams or individually. Traditional bocce is played on soil or asphalt courts, but we’re fond of upping the ante by finding extreme terrain (think driftwood obstacles, rocks, hills, and holes!). To play, one person throws the small ball (the jack) in the direction of gameplay. Players then take turns bowling their coloured bocce balls towards the jack. A simple, beach-ified version of the game gives the round’s point to the player who gets their ball closest to the jack. The winner then gets to throw the jack in a new direction for the next round. There’s no set playspace, so you can traverse the park or beach as you go.
Spikeball / Roundnet
Roundnet has been around since 1989, but in recent years has exploded in popularity. A small group of friends revived this hybrid of volleyball and four-square with a new name - Spikeball - and pitched on Shark Tank (the US version of Dragon’s Den) in 2015. Since then, it’s been tough to have a beach day without seeing a group of friends huddled around a small, circular net and slapping a ball down between themselves. From a distance, it looks like hacky sack with a trampoline.
There are plenty of rule variations in Spikeball/Roundnet, but in all versions, players stand around the edges of the net, taking turns passing a ball between themselves, with the ball having to bounce off the net with each pass. It’s a fast-paced and energetic game, perfect to get you moving after a couple of hours lounging in the sand.
Ladder ball (or ladder toss, or ladder golf) is another game that’s become super widespread since starting commercial production in 2005. It’s an easy enough game to make using wood or PVC piping, so before it was brought to market, players made their own.
The ‘ladder’ consists of three rungs, given a point value of 1-3 (the top rung can be worth 1 or 3 points). Players toss ‘bolas’ (two small balls connected by string) at the ladder, with the goal of trying to hang their bola on a rung, and score the points for that rung. The first player to 21 points wins.
The original circle game (now somewhat usurped by Spikeball), hacky sack still delivers as a social and fun outdoor game, with the least amount of gear required of any game on this list. All you need is a footbag! Hacky sack does take some skill, however, as it requires a bit of practice to consistently kick, knee, and tap the small, grain-filled sack without accidentally sending it out-of-bounds or dropping it.
For those who missed the 70s, 80s, and 90s, hacky sack is played in a circle, with players using only their feet and legs to keep the footbag aloft and passing it between themselves. The object of the game is to keep the hacky sack from hitting the ground. If you’re tired of Spikeball and want to go more retro, grab yourself a hacky sack!
Frescobol / Matkot / Paddleball
Pass a small rubber ball on the beach between you and another player using wooden paddles, and you have Brazil’s Frescobol or Israel’s Matkot - otherwise known as simply, ‘paddleball’. This is a high-energy game without any scoring. The only object of the game is to rally for as long as possible without dropping the ball. Prepare to jump, dive and run to keep that ball aloft! Because there’s no scoring, it’s an easy game to stop and start on a whim, with zero commitment.
Cornhole (or bean-bag toss), might not seem like a great beach game because of the traditionally large, wooden, and heavy goal platforms, but did you know you can now find lightweight and travel versions? For those who like the satisfaction of a hole-in-one, Cornhole is an accessible and leisurely game guaranteed to make you new friends at the beach.
There’s more to the modest frisbee than a game of pass. Although it’s always a good time to flick a frisbee across a crowded beach (or over the waves), you can make things a little more interesting by trying Beersbee or Kan Jam.
In Beersbee, a cup or can or other object is balanced on top of a pole, log, or piece of driftwood, with each team having their own pole and cup. The players on one team attempt to knock down the opposing team’s cup by hitting it with a frisbee. The defending team tries to catch the cup (if knocked) and the frisbee.
In Kan Jam, two buckets are placed 50 feet apart, with teams of two players positioned behind both buckets. Players take turns throwing a frisbee at the opposing can, while their teammate tries to hit or deflect the frisbee into the can to score a point.
Like regular old frisbee, both games require quite a bit of real estate to play - so keep that in mind if you’re headed to a busy park.
Fuel for Game Days
There’s no shortage of things to do at the beach, but bringing along a game or two gives you the opportunity to get active with your friends and family, have a laugh, and create a new story worth sharing. Pack some drinks and a few cold Rumbles to share (may we suggest Dutch Cocoa?), and you’re all set to #feedthegood.