How To Build A Perfect Sand Castle or Sandcastle

No article on sandcastles would be complete without a display of some of these amazing pieces of sand art. The countless hours of labor that went into each one is mind-boggling.

To choose the perfect sandcastle of my childhood would be a daunting task. I have so many fond memories of golden days, spent at the beach - days made even more golden by time and distance.

I have been fortunate to build sandcastles on both our West and East coasts, as well as many a lakeshore, and I recall those warm, carefree days with pleasure.

In researching this Hub, I rediscovered some important facts and key concepts in sandcastle building. I am sure every child is familiar with these, but as some of us are a long way from our childhood years, I will reiterate them here.

The Perfect Sand Castle
The Perfect Sand Castle | Source
Sand, Sea, and Sun
Sand, Sea, and Sun
Multi-national Castles
Multi-national Castles
The Right Tools For The Job
The Right Tools For The Job
This Is Serious Business
This Is Serious Business
One, Two, Three...
One, Two, Three...

Important Fact #1: Location, Location, Location

  • Key Concept - You need sand to make sandcastles. The best sand is usually found at a beach on a preferrably warm, sunny day. Note: you can create some really neat castles in a sandbox, with the addition of a judicious amount of water, if push comes to shove.
  • Key Concept - You also need some water. The best water for sandcastles is also found at beaches on a preferrably warm, sunny day, to ensure the water isn't too cold for wading. Note: see how neatly those two concepts dovetail?

Important Fact #2: You Gotta Have The Right Equipment

  • Key Concept - Not all pails are created equal. Their performance can be both temperature and impact dependent. I have used metal pails (great for withstanding impact, not much fun on a chilly day), plastic pails, and rubber pails. My personal favorite is a colorful, high impact plastic. Quite frankly, rubber is nifty on a cool day, but simply won't hold its shape well in any kind of heat.
  • Key Concept - Shovels are wonderful for digging and scooping, but the best tool for loading is usually your hand. Nothing can pack the sand in tighter. Shovels, though, are quite useful for adding a bit of water to your pail.
  • Key Concept - Color co-ordination is fun but not necessary. Be free. Let your imagination fly. Any bright color will do as long as it pleases the user.

Important Fact #3: This Is Supposed To Be Fun

  • Key Concept - There is only one key concept for this factoid. The object of the exercise is to have fun! Now, I realize we all define fun differently, but there are some common threads. Some of us enjoy the sheer accumulation of as many piles of sand as we can pile in one afternoon. Some of us prefer to knock them down. Then, there are those who re-define the word sandcastle.

Top This...
Top This...
Oh, My...You Did
Oh, My...You Did
Castle By The Sea
Castle By The Sea
...And All Things Shall Pass Away
...And All Things Shall Pass Away

I remember one very hot afternoon on the shore of Lake Winnipeg, standing in awe of several young men who were busily constructing a fortress on the beach. Their creation had many layers and ramps leading up to the dizzying heights. They built ramparts complete with crenelated towers to thwart even the strongest archers. They made a series of moats and filled them from a channel running to the water's edge.

After hours of careful planning and concentrated building, they were finally done. I was so happy for them because there was no tide to carry away the finished castle. It stood, a proud monument to their efforts, shining in the late afternoon sun.

The young men congratulated themselves and then walked away without a backward glance at their monument. They didn't care if the waves would wash their castle away, or some careless creature destroy their morning's work. They understood that the glory was in the doing. Simply to have done the thing, and to know that they had done the thing, was acknowledgment enough for them.

Nothing I ever created comes close to the artistry or imagination shown in these sand sculptures.

...and did you know, there are such creatures as professional sand artists? Well, I never, Martha! Sure sounds like my kind of a job, though.

Glorious as these creations are, though, I have always found it easier, by dint of temperament and experience, to create an even more ephemeral type of sandcastle. To muddle the metaphor a layer or two further, I am referring to building one's house upon the sands.

Not that one would ever deliberately choose to build one's house on an un-firm, or, if you will, an infirm foundation. It seems to me, though, that some of us do just that.

We put our trust in someone or something that turns out, in the end, to be unworthy of our trust. Perhaps it didn't start out that way, but suddenly it seems, we find ourselves with a set of very sharp teeth attached to our nether parts. The person or thing in which we misplaced our trust has turned on us and bitten us in the butt.

Then we all too often find our glorious castle in the clouds to be made of grossly inferior materials, and definitely built upon the shifting sand dunes of vagrant whim. Our poor little house is swept away with the turning tides of fickle fancy.

Only A Mother Could Love This Sandy Face
Only A Mother Could Love This Sandy Face
Sandelot
Sandelot
Cities By The Sea
Cities By The Sea

...but not all castles built from or upon sand come to an unhappy end.

...and no dissertation on sandcastles would be complete without a nod to those who enter sandcastle building contests.

Whether for fame or fortune, these hardy souls flock to our beaches and parks by the hundreds and the thousands to take up the challenge.

Their contributions to our mental health and spiritual well-being come in many forms.

From the city by the sea to more modest efforts, their joy in creation reaches out to us to waken our own recollections of sand and water.

I still love the feel of sand under my bare feet. I love to squish it between my toes at the water's edge.

I love to watch the children with their brightly colored pails and shovels as they, too discover the sheer fun of piling sand in a bucket and carefully decanting it in a heap - to build the perfect sandcastle.

My Favorite
My Favorite

© 2009 Text by Elle Fredine, All rights reserved

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30 comments

girly_girl09 profile image

girly_girl09 7 years ago from United States

Awesome hub! Thumbs up! I used to LOVE making sandcastles when I was younger. Thanks for sharing all those cool pics, I loved looking at all the designs.

I typically go to a local sandcastle competition every summer on the coast here and enjoy viewing all the exhibits. Sand castles are truly works of art. It's too bad they couldn't last forever.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, girly_girl09. I love 'em too. That was probably the most fun at the beach. I'm on the lookout for local contests, to check out their offerings. May have to go to the coast sometime this summer, I think.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Well if you decide to travel out this way, I might be able to scrounge a place to rest your head lol...besides, we have one the biggest sandcastle competitions around! Awesome creations and so much fun to wander through :D

Great hub, turns my thoughts towards the beach for sure!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Enelle. I was certainly thinking in that direction after writing it. I had no idea about the contest - send me the details and I'll post the link here. ...and, thanks, I'd love to see it.


Laughing Mom profile image

Laughing Mom 7 years ago

I have never been successful at building sand castles. Butter sculptures at the kitchen table are a whole different matter, though.

So I'll try some of your tips in the kids' sandbox this afternoon. Maybe, as an adult who is dauntingly close to 40 I will finally be a sand-architect success!!!


travelerhubs profile image

travelerhubs 7 years ago from USA

Thanks for answering my request. wonderful hub... will be very helpful this summer when I visit the beach.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Sand sculptures can be increadible!! You really need the right beach sand, ours has too much of a gravel-texture to it. This was a lot of fun! Thank you! I saw this question in the Q&A..Well done!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Laughing Mom...so glad you didn't say 'mashed potatoes' - would have been real close encounter (lol) with Enelle's latest hub. :D However I know of some great lard sculpture photos (used as practice by pastry chefs)

travelerhubs, thanks so much for making the request. It was great fun to answer...and thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, Candie V, always a pleasure when you stop by. Right now, my closest beach is several hours away, and pretty gravelly, too. Guess I'll have to take Enelle up on her offer and head for the coast.


Betsy Baywatch profile image

Betsy Baywatch 7 years ago

Just gorgeous!!Thanks for sharing this.

Im a big kid!...still love building sandcastles! checkout

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandcastlematt/sets/7...

for a few contemporary takes on sandcastle building:)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for the link, Betsy Baywatch. Glad you enjoyed the hub.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

People are so clever aren't they? We saw some great sand art in Albufeira, Portugal. I used to love my bucket and spade many years ago but we always ended up just burying Dad up to his neck.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Greetings, Ethel. My dad never let us catch him lying down long enough to do that. What fun! I'm afraid my efforts were more the bucket-shaped lumpy knd, lol.


BODYandSOUL profile image

BODYandSOUL 7 years ago

As much as I love going to the beach. I never had the chance to make any sandcastle; I just enjoy playing with the sand. Nice photos of sandcastles, great tips and great hub.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Playing in the sand is fun, too, BODYandSOUL. So glad you enjoyed the Hub.


joe 7 years ago

Thankes so much, im using this info for a science project. And those castles are sooooo cool. Thankes again


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

You are most welcome, joe. I'm sure your science project will be cool, too.


tonyhubb profile image

tonyhubb 6 years ago

Very beautiful castles...


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, tonyhubb. Glad you liked them!


johnmce profile image

johnmce 6 years ago from Brighton, UK

hreat tips and some amazing pics of castles there. I'm more a hole digger myself but each to his own:-)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, johnmce. I like to add a few ramps and turrets, but holes are a great start, ;) Canals, now - canals are a lot of fun!


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

This was so cool but hell I wish I had read it before my weeks holiday I just returned from, heck I could have built a doozy.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

heck I just left a comment and it disappeared into thin air when I pressed the button. Dang maybe I need to go back to bed.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

No worries, bp, and thanks for the comments - it may be just the settings. Next time you head to the beach, be sure and bring us back some pictures ;)


jennshealthstore profile image

jennshealthstore 6 years ago from Florida

Wow, those are some amazing sandcastles. My daughter loves building them. I have no luck. I try and I can never seem to get the sand out of the bucket correctly. Well now I have some tips. Thanks : )


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, jenn! Happy to help out!


myawn profile image

myawn 6 years ago from Florida

Awesome hub on sandcastles. There is a contest on the beach here every year. I'm going to build a sandcastle this weekend with my grandson Fun!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Greetings, myawn! I shall think of you two having fun this weekend!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

vicky_darla, I wish I could have seen that. I certainly don't think I could manage a dragon, either.


Wilder 4 years ago

I didn't know u needed sand i thought u could use moon sand


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

Cute - is that like a "castle in Spain?"

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