We all have our favorite beach activities: surfing, sunbathing, shutting the whole shore down so we can enjoy it privately on the taxpayers’ dollar, etc. But for some, the beach is not simply a place for vitamin-D-soaked R&R; it is an art studio, and one in which the artist’s materials for creation lie just beneath her flip-flops. Each year several sand sculpture competitions take place, and what you’ll find at these competitions makes even the most diligently constructed sand castle seem like mere child’s play. Check out our list of the the best sculptures from the biggest competitions and future events.


I Can’t Get This Out of My Mind by Carl Jara

Photo // courtesy of Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic

Jara’s surrealist work is especially jarring because it directly opposes the serenity with which we normally associate the beach scene. But once you get past its unnerving aspect, you will notice the artist’s keen attention to detail, the depth of his technique enhanced by the lighting of the photography. This creation won Jara 5th place at the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic, which took place from June 15-17 in New Hampshire.


Blessings from Angels by Toshihiko Hosaka

Photo // courtesy of Toshihiko Hosaka

Hosaka’s Baroque-inspired scene at the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival in Taiwan displays a thorough understanding of classical sculpting technique. Despite the grittiness of the material, the artist deftly captures an organic, human image achieved through such natural, graceful poses. The festival will run until July 16th, so if your summer plans involve a Southeast Asia getaway, we highly recommend stopping by the island’s gorgeous and artistically decorated beaches.


Sneak Peak by Abe Waterman & Walter McDonald

Photo // courtesy of @cloud9airstream (front)

This duo crafted a wonderfully clever meta-sculpture that proves to be as precise and balanced in its construction as it is imaginative. Art grants its viewer a glimpse into the mind of its creator; but Waterman & McDonald provide much more than a glimpse, as the object of their creation is apparently the mind of a sand sculptor itself:

Photo // courtesy of @cloud9airstream (back)

The two children, representing the pure curiosity and fascination the artists have for their medium of expression, peer through the eyes of a face strikingly similar to McDonald’s. A majestic sandcastle, the icon of sand sculpture, meets their gaze. This sculpture won the artists 1st place at the 2016 Siesta Key Crystal Classic, which will take place again this year from November 10-13.


Chris Christie by Larry & Tom

Photo // courtesy of @farkasfarm

Consider yourself lucky: you were alive to witness the greatest sand sculpture to have ever been constructed. This masterpiece, the work of two gentlemen so far only identified as Larry and Tom, is a brilliant still life of the NJ Governor in his natural habitat. He rests comfortably on the Island Beach State Park after he closed all beaches due to a state government shutdown (an inscription on the side of the structure reads, “Beaches Closed,” and, “I Love New Jersey”). Yet, the artists beautifully capture his characteristic grimace, as though he is still somehow dissatisfied despite his private beach party generously funded by the taxpaying citizens. Well, look at the bright side: at least we indirectly funded the making of an awesome sand sculpture.


Here are a couple more sand sculpture competitions to attend this summer:

The Neptune Festival at Virginia Beach (9/29-10/2)

The Revere Beach International Sand-Sculpting Festival (7/21-7/23)

Finally, here is a complete list of all sand sculpting events for the summer and onward.


Top Photo // courtesy of @visualjunkies