Building a sand castle is a fun beach activity for children of all ages, whether you are 3 or 93. Many of us have fond memories of childhood beach vacations where we dug in the sand and built sand castles with our friends and family. Why not continue this tradition today with your family and friends while you are on the picturesque island of St. Croix? Grab a bucket and shovel, and let’s go to the beach and build a sand castle!
On everyone’s list of things to do when you go to the beach is: play in the water, go beach combing for seashells, and build a sand castle. While building a sand castle is easy in theory, it can be deceptively tricky. You can spend hours hauling sand, digging, and sculpting only to find that your finished ‘castle’ is not at all what you hoped it would be. The good news is that there is a fun and easy way to make a fantastic sand castle. First, form a team to help you. Not only is it more fun to work as a team, but this is a great way for parents and kids, couples, friends and/or family members to spend some quality time together. Second, take some time to design and plan the structure and decor of your sand castle so that everyone is on the same page. Most importantly of all, have fun! Enjoy the time you spend together on this fun, beach side project.
To get you started, here are some easy steps, tips, and tricks to help you build an amazing sand castle:
- Build a Tool Kit: Round up some tools for sand castle construction. You can find plastic sand castle making kits for children, which are always an easy way to get your tools. If you don’t have such a kit, you can make your own by rounding up a few basic tools from home, or even from your hotel. Buckets or large cups are a must for hauling sand and water, as well as being useful for molding castle towers. Shovels or spades are great for digging up sand, mixing sand with water, and preparing a sturdy base for your sand castle. Smooth bristled paint brushes, rubber spatulas, and/or plastic drinking straws make excellent finishing tools to clear away any unwanted sand.
- Location, Location, Location: When you get to the beach, scout out the perfect location for your sand castle. Your best bet is to choose a spot that has easy access to water, but is away from the encroaching tide.
- Water is a Must: As it turns out, water is the key to successful sand castle building. For the best composition, sand castle experts (yes, there are sand castle experts) recommend that you use one part water to one part sand. To get sand prepared for building, pour the water into the sand and stir it until it’s fully saturated. Then, let it drain before you pat and mold the sand into the shape you want.
- Construct Your Sand Castle: To erect your sand castle start by building a large, flat base for stability. After you have your base, build your towers using shovels, buckets, cups or molds. Finally, connect the towers together with walls, doorways or arches.
- Add Some Details: Once you have your basic structure, you can carve out the details for your castle. The trick to carving out the details is to start at the top so that any loose sand doesn’t fall into areas you have already carved and ruin what carving you’ve already done. For really detailed carving try using a paintbrush or a straw to brush or blow away the unwanted sand. Most importantly, take your time and go slow because it’s not that easy to replace the sand if you make a mistake. Consider carving out brick designs or tunnels, adding doors, windows or even staircases. You could even carve your names into the sand castle, or decorate the walls.
- Decorate Your Castle: When your castle is built is to your liking, you can add some decorations. You should be able to find great decorations right there on the beach. Items such as seashells, sea glass, rocks, leaves, twigs, and dried sea fans make great castle decorations.
- Admire Your Masterpiece: Sit back and enjoy the amazing sand castle you and your team have created. Remember that perfection is overrated, and each sand castle is unique. Take pictures of your castle, because while the beauty of sand castles is their impermanence, photos will make the memory of that particular project last forever.
St. Croix’s numerous beaches offer stunning locations for you and your family and friends to build your sand castles. While most of beaches island wide have enough room and flat areas outside of the tidal area to construct a sand castle, there are a few areas that make picturesque backdrops for your sand castle building pleasure. If you are headed out west you can find long stretches of soft, white sand beaches beside calm Caribbean waters at Rainbow Beach, Dorsch Beach, or Frederiksted Beach. If you are towards the East End of the island, Mermaid Beach or Grotto Beach at The Buccaneer are great beaches for sand castle construction, complete with seashells for decorating. Ha Penny on South Shore, or Cane Bay on North Shore also offer nice long stretches of sand with the opportunity to beach comb for castle decorations like shells and sea fans.
Wherever you choose to build, remember that the perfect sand castle lies not in how big it is, how perfect it looks, or how expertly you decorated the exterior – it’s all about the fun you had with your kids, family and friends throughout the building process. As you build your sand castle you are also making memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, building sand castles together with your kids teaches them about team work and cooperation, stimulates their imaginations, teaches them patience, promotes feelings of accomplishment, and is a great way to help your children make new friends at the beach. Oh, don’t forget to wear plenty of sun protection and stay hydrated…nothing puts a damper on fun day at the beach like a sunburn or dehydration. Happy building!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor