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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

August is here and while half the UK is glued to the Olympic live updates the other half is on the beach or getting ready to take-off on hols for the last half of summer. There’s still time you know; Croatia, Spain, Greece, Portugal are all within reach. Plus, we’ll tell you how to built the perfect sandcastle to wow the crowds at the beach!

There is still so much summer to be had which means so many chances to built that perfect sandcastle while you’re enjoying the heat, sun and sand on your beach holiday. With the kids in tow, this is the perfect activity to keep them busy all day long while building the castle of their dreams.

It has come to light recently that there is indeed a scientific formula for building the perfect castle. The sand/water ratio needs to be just right, the type of sand and the current temperature and weather conditions alwso come into play.

The secret recipe

99% sand, 1% water

Wet sand is essential. That 1% of sand creates what are called “bridges” in the world of physics between the grains of sand, making them stick to each other. The strongest is wet sand that has been packed down together so that the bridges between the grains are very short, making the composition very strong. So far, so good?

What you’ll need

  • small, long-handled shovel or a spade (for digging of course!)
  • a bucket, or two (one for mixing the sand with water, the other for carrying water)
  • carving tools like trowels, pastry knife, soft-bristle paint brush, plastic drinking straw…

Building the castle

There is more to do while on holidays in Spain than just get your tan on. Start building! You’ve got towers, walls and arches to perfect if you have any chance of building a sand castle worth donning your family’s colours. These are the three main elements to every good castle. If you can master them, anything is possible.


This is where your castle will get its height. Start by packing sand pancakes on top of each other (bigger at the bottom, gradually getting smaller). The bottom ones should have more water in them as well. Resist the urge to start carving and shaping now, just work on getting the tower built. When your tower looks like it could fall any second, it’s done! Carve away!


Walls are a key architectural feature in castles. These will connect the towers together, create staircases and can even encircle the entire castle, with a moat of course! Instead of creating sand pancakes, here you will create bricks. Either use a mould or your hands and don’t be afraid to stack the bricks high.


Arches are what really make your castle look impressive. Take a note from the Romans: every arch needs a keystone, a single block at the apex to hold it all together. You will need two towers, then use one hand the support, the other hand to jiggle the wet sand into place. Remember to build upwards and don’t forget the keystone in the middle.

Some notes on carving

Carving is what really brings your castle to life. Always work from the highest point down, that way any loose sand won’t ruin the work you’ve already done. Don’t saw away at the sand, use smooth and long strokes for the best results. Work delicately. Make some flags out of drinking straws and whatever you can find and ta-da!

Ever made a sand castle on holidays? Share your pics with us on Facebook or Twitter, we’d love to see them!

Imgs: KenC1983, steve p2008  / Flickr cc.

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