You really don't have to play games to have a good time on the beach. Between the sand, surf and sun, there's plenty of fun to be had without turning it into a contest. By yourself? Bring a book or fly a kite. Got friends? Toss around the pigskin or a Frisbee.
But there's something about the beach that brings out the competitive spirit among family, friends and even complete strangers who become quick friends over a good-natured game. Here are five great ways to enjoy a little friendly competition on the beach:
Bocce: The classic Italian game is usually played on courts, but the beach works just as well. The game requires nine balls - eight larger bocce balls and one smaller target ball. A player rolls the pill to a random location to create the target area, and players or teams take turns rolling the bocces in attempt to land their ball closest to the pill. One word of advice; this game works best if you play at low tide when the wet sand provides a smoother playing surface than the loose sand above the tide line.
Corn hole: This game was popularized at tailgate parties and has spread to every backyard barbecue in the country, but it seems like corn hole was meant for the beach. In case you've been living in a cave (not a man cave), corn hole involves tossing bean bags at a hole cut into a flat wooden surface, sort of a cross between horseshoes and hoops. Many corn hole experts contend it helps to maintain balance by holding a 12-ounce can in your non-throwing hand, the perfect excuse for making it perhaps the most popular drinking game. The equipment can be a bit bulky to carry to and from the beach but there are more lightweight and water-resistant versions out there designed for use at the beach.
Ladder Ball: This game involves tossing bolas (a pair of small balls attached to a string) at a pair of three-tiered ladders. Get your bola to wrap around a rung of the ladder and receive 1 to 3 points, depending on the rung. Ladder Ball is particularly popular on the beach since you can bury the bases of the ladders in the sand for more stability. The bases are made of five snap-together pieces that are lightweight and easy to transport. Each team gets three bolas as players use different throwing techniques to accomplish the same goal of hanging your bola.
Myrtle Ball: Believe it or not, Myrtle Beach has its very own sport. Invented by a local on the sandy shores of the Strand, this beach game was picked up by a national distributor and is sold at beachwear stores in Myrtle Beach and beyond. The equipment is lightweight and basic - six brightly colored beach buckets and balls that come in an easy-to-carry bag. Myrtle Ball combines two of the area's favorite pastimes - golf and bocce. The buckets are buried up to sand-level to form a golf hole, and the bocce balls are rolled into the cups - 1 point for the big bucket, 2 for medium-sized bucket and 3 for the small bucket. A sand shovel might come in handy for digging the holes, and don't put them too close to the surf during a rising tide or your game may be washed out.
Volleyball: Beach volleyball has grown well beyond a beach pastime into an Olympic sport, yet the sport continues to be a favorite among the beach crowd. You only have to go a few blocks to find a pickup game, or make a trip downtown to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk where six city-run courts are located. Bottom line: Beach volleyball is a great time and workout.