Seven Amazing Sandcastles

Check out the top 7 award-winning sand sculptures, then read on to learn how to make your own!

1. World's Tallest Sand Castle

World's Largest Sand Castle
Photo courtesy of Ed Jarrett

The tallest sand castle in the world reached a height of 38 feet, 2 inches on Jenkinson's Beach in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The massive castle, built by world-renowned sculptor Ed Jarrett, featured a fold-out walkway flanked by chains, windows peeking from the sides of the sandy hill, and winding steps that ascended to the top of the castle.

The record-breaker was built on October 29, 2013, the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. This castle was the fourth time Jarrett broke the Guinness World Record for tallest sand castle.


2. World's Smallest Sand Castle

World's Smallest Sand Castle
Photo courtesy of This Is Colossal
On the opposite side of the spectrum there is the smallest sand castle in the world, etched on a single grain of sand. That's right, the set of microscopic castles were the work of collaboration between Vik Muniz, known for his gigantic sculptures, and Marcelo Coelho, artist and MIT researcher.

It took four years of trial and error to figure out how to get a sand castle onto a speck of rock. The castles were drawn using a camera lucida, a 19th-century optical tool that relies on a prism to project a reflection of whatever is in front of you onto paper where it can be traced. The drawings were then sent through Focused Ion Beam, which can create a line only 50 nanometers wide. For comparison, a human hair is about 50,000 nanometers wide.

3. The Ocean is Calling

The Ocean is Calling Sand Castle
Photo courtey of Hampton Beach Village District
One of the winning sculptures of the 2014 Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, Sand Sculpture Contest looks like it was pulled out of a fairy tale. The design, titled "The Ocean is Calling" by Greg Grady of New Hampshire, shows a spiraling seashell with an open side, where a small sailboat is floating forth on pouring waters.

4. Beetlemania

Beetlemania Sand Castle
Photo courtey of
Fans of the rock band The Beatles will love Beetlemania, a sand sculpture with caricature faces of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Carved by Brad Goll of the U.S. and Karen Fralich from Canada, the tribute was displayed at the Creepy Crawlies Sandsculpting Exhibition on the Frankston waterfront on December 26, 2010, in Melbourne, Australia.

5. The Rio Fortress

The Rio Fortress Sand Castle
Photo courtey of China Daily
In Rio de Janeiro, a 3-foot-tall fortress was made with such detail that it could have been the setting for a LEGO movie. More than a dozen turrets topped the castle, each with their own brick styling and wooden arches. Inside one of the pillars rose a Brazilian flag that towered over the rest of the sandy citadel.

6. Flea Circus

Flea Circus Sand Castle
Photo courtey of The Daily Beast
A Flea Circus features a giant sad-looking, wrinkly dog resting flat on his belly with his head on his paws. On his back sits a carnival tent with a "Flea Circus" sign hanging over its front entrance, and a little flea standing under it. The masterpiece was carved by Susanne Ruseler from the Netherlands at the Creepy Crawlies Sandsculpting Exhibition on the Frankston water in Melbourne, Australia.

7. The Man-Eating Dragon

The Man-Eating Dragon Sand Castle
Photo courtey of
Most times, the knight in shining armor has a sword to defeat the dragon. But when the defenseman is only a guy making a sand castle, armed with a mini-shovel in his hand, the outcome isn't so rosy. In this sculpture, a seven-foot dragon neck arches out of the sand to devour the man who appeared to be protecting his sand castle's towers, his legs dangling from the sharp-toothed mouth of the creature.

Sandcastle Building Tips

Use Moist Sand

First and foremost, you can't do anything unless the sand is wet. That's because when you add water to grains of sand, the liquid creates "bridges" that connect the granules to each other.The best test to see if sand is ready for castle-making is to squeeze it in your hand for a few seconds. “If it stays together when you roll it around in your palm, the sand is perfect,” Justin Gordon, an award-winning professional sand sculptor in Massachusetts, told RedBook. “The prime place to find this sand is below the tide line.”


Boy digging water hole in sand

Dig a Water Hole

When you're building at the beach, it's a good idea to have an unlimited supply of water by digging a hole. This will come in handy later on. To find where you'll build your castle, be sure you're not too close to the water. Take into account low tide and high tide, as they could wash away your towers and dreams.

Once you find a spot, dig about 1 foot away from it until you hit water. When the water starts puddling at the bottom of the hole, you can stop digging. Pile the sand you excavate into a mound, which you'll pound into a round, level base about 2 to 3 feet in diameter, or however big you choose your base to be.

The surefire recipe for castle concrete: sand and water. First pour the water in the big bucket, then shovel in the dry sand. Mix thoroughly and then scoop.

Work From Top to Bottom

This is key. To lessen your chances of knocking over your creation with an ill-placed knee, start at the top of the castle and work your way down. As you create more intricate details like windows and stairs, blow away excess sand by using a straw.

Hands packing sand

Drain It

For the real pros, start with a densely packed mound of sand. Packing down wet sand drains more water at a quicker pace. To get the best density​, build up the mound gradually. Add about six inches of sand at a time, and pack it down firmly with your fists.

Compact the Sand

Compact the wet sand to form structures. You can use your hands, feet or even a tamper to pound sand into submission.

Soft Pact, Then Hand Stack

Soft packing means you start molding with dry sand and then add water. Hand stacking involves scooping out handfuls of wet sand and settling them into each to form structures. It's the only building technique in which you mix the sand and water in advance. Use your hands and feet to do this. Then plop the handful of sand onto your base and jiggle the new pile of sand. Plop, jiggle, repeat.


Build Towers, Walls and the Arch

It's time for your castle to get some altitude. Towers, walls and the arch are the staples of any good sandy citadel.

Old man building sand castle


To build a tower, position yourself at the edge of your water hole next to your foundation. The foundation should already be packed and have a flat surface. Remember, the larger the base, the taller your castle can be. Blend the sand and the water in the bottom of the hole until the sand flows, then scoop up a big handful of sand. Plop the sand onto the foundation, then flatten it with your palms. Slowly build it up and jiggle with your palms to get the water out.

As your towers get taller, make each pancake slightly smaller than the one under it so that it doesn't fall over.


For the walls, rather than flattening the wet sand into pancakes, form it into bricks. To do this, keep your hands flat, palms inward, and use a vibrating motion until the top settles into a surface.


As the ancient Romans knew, the secret to the arches was the keystone, the single block of stone at the apex that holds the whole structure together. First, build two tower bases that are somewhat close. When they get to their highest, scoop a handful of wet sand and, while holding the side of the wall so it doesn't fall, connect it over the edge in the direction of the other tower. Do this on the other wall too. Moisten the sand as needed. Before you know it, you'll be creating a sand castle of your dreams.

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