As well as your swimmers and some sarnies, you’d do well to pack a selection of games and toys when you set out for a day at the beach, especially if you’ve got little ones in tow.

The best beach toys are simple, cheerful objects which require no intricate set up or tedious tidy away.

Ideally they’ll be light and easy to carry, encourage people to enjoy collaborative activity and promote cross-generational play. But above all they should be fun.

From bucket and spades, to dolls and frisbees – we have chosen toys which in most cases can be put to further use in the garden (or bathroom) once a seaside holiday is over.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Bigjigs Toys scrunch frisbee: £4.49, Bigjigs Toys

This diminutive non-toxic silicone frisbee is super-tactile and can be folded, rolled or simply squashed into a pocket or backpack thanks to its inability to lose its shape. It is small, lightweight and portable. The Scrunch frisbee comes in a range of colours including lime green and bright pink and is the perfect way to encourage hand-eye co-ordination among younger children (although don’t be surprised if imaginative toddlers adopt it as crockery for their teddy bear or dolly). Frisbee is an addictive pastime – you’ll find what begins as a couple of you having a spot of catch and throw with the kids can grow in popularity within minutes.

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ELC shark squirter: £8, ELC

This rather extraordinary looking device is a water pistol in disguise – as a bright pink shark. Water is stored in a squeezable rubber bulb below the shark’s head. Smaller children might struggle to get a strong jet of water out, but none-the-less it proved to be a source of fascination for toddlers, ten-year-olds and adults alike. It’s annoying to keep having to refill – but that’s the nature of the beast with any water gun. We really liked this because even when summer’s over, the shark is still in active service in the bathroom.

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Sunnylife jumbling tower: £40, Sunnylife

This is lovely to look at – the ombre effect is very modern and millennial. It’s also extremely lightweight thanks to being made from balsa wood (or some variant of) so it’s no hardship to take to the beach. Although solid concrete terra firma is a preferred foundation, we found that hard, damp sand was just as effective, while dry sand provided jeopardy to an already precarious game. We found that this engaged the entire family, especially two cheeky toddlers who had to be held back from knocking it over for kicks once it grew taller than them. The only downside is the packing away after playing: you have to go from the top – rather than slotting in to the side – and that’s rather time consuming.

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ELC sticky catch pads: £6, ELC

These are a great resource when it comes to teaching little ones how to throw and catch, improving hand-to-eye coordination and encouraging active play. Each set comes with two neon pads and a ball which is designed to stick fast to them. The surface area is larger than a hand which means catching opportunity is increased, making it brilliant for confidence in those learning to catch and throw. Best for children over three years old, but we know a two-year-old whose skills have already improved thanks to this set.

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Gul junior body board: £27.50, Gul

For any wannabe surfer or even just someone who wants something sturdier than an inflatable pizza slice to take to the waves with, this diminutive 36" body board is just the ticket. It is, as you would expect from surf brand Gul, professionally appointed, consisting of an EPO core, boasting 50:50 rails to cling onto when a big wave’s on its way and even a leash so that if you come off, you won’t get lost at sea. Available in a range of summery colours.

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Bigjigs Toys sand set: £14.99, Bigjigs Toys

The original beach toys – a bucket and spade set is mandatory for any and all beach holidays. We really rate this bright set which not only has a bucket and spade, but a rake, a sieve and a watering can too so that there’s a job for everyone during the construction of the world’s biggest and best sandcastle This is ideal for toddler and younger children.

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Baby Born interactive doll: £44.99, Amazon

This is perfect for any little one who won’t be parted from their dolly. We know, we know, this is not technically a beach toy. Except this baby not only wees, poos and cries real tears, but she’s fully comfortable in water too (she works without any batteries whatsoever) making her great for the beach. The doll comes with clothes, a dummy, and even a birth certificate – all of which help enhance a child’s imagination and increase social skills and development. She is completely adored by our two-year-old tester, and has so far held up well in the Irish sea and a London lido. A proper little water baby

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Sunnylife cricket set: £57, Sunnylife

This is a set for the whole family – although children younger than about six might find the bat a little large. The set is lightweight and yet made from a strong and sturdy PVC which means it can withstand all sorts of competitive wear and tear. The set is easy to use anywhere – sand, grass, pavement – thanks to a solid base for the stumps. It can all be stowed away in the carry bag, which is smart and easily-packable. Oh, and if you don’t know the rules – don’t worry. Just hit the ball.

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The verdict: Beach toys

We love the cricket set but at £57 it’s something of an investment. The best bang for your buck has got to be the frisbee – cheap, easy to carry and endlessly entertaining. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.