Enormous, towering, and stunningly beautiful… sandcastles. Picture this: you’re walking along the beach and there it is, the most detailed and artistic sculpture you’ve ever seen, and it’s simply made of sand!
A red bucket, a small blue shovel, and as much sand as the heart desires – those used to be the only tools needed to construct a sandcastle, well an amateur sandcastle anyway. There isn’t anything wrong with amateur sandcastles, in fact the vast majority of sandcastles are amatuer in nature. It’s just that, if you haven’t heard, there are literally folks who are so professional at building sandcastles (and other structures) they make a living doing so.
Disney castle imitations, superhero scenes, dinosaurs, buildings, and more are all some of the ambitious designs of professional sandcastle builders. Professional sandcastles are so impressive that there are hundreds of competitions that happen year round, and people come from all over the world to participate and to watch. So the question remains – how do they do it? What techniques and secrets do these folks utilize? We may never know all the secret techniques, but here are a few to get you started:
First Things First: Necessary Tools
A sandcastle is only as good as the tools used to build it. Ok, not quite, but proper tools will certainly help! Consider arming yourself with:
- Flat Blade Shovel
- Large Bucket (3 gallons at least)
- Bucket With a Hole Cut Into the Bottom
- Metal Cooking Spatula – for smoothing and carving
- Mechanical Pencil – to draw designs into sand
- Drinking Straw – blow away excess sand
Do Your Tide Research
It’s a fate we wish upon no one – a beautifully built sandcastle swept away by the tide all too soon. You can prevent this from happening by simply googling when the tide is high. Or even ask the front desk at your hotel or resort. Just be sure to do this before beginning or you could be sorry later!
Make the Ideal Castle Concrete
The sand to water ratio is key. Equal parts sand and water is what you’re looking for, and don’t forget that you always add the sand to the water, not the other way around! If you’ve gotten your sand wet and sloppy, then you’re doing alright.
Learn to Hand-stack
Hand-stacking is a quick and effective way to pack sand in order to mold it. Begin by scooping out handfuls of wet sand, and then gently plop that glob of sand onto whichever part of the castle you’re currently building. Try not to slam dunk the sand down, but rather lightly plop it down. After plopping it down, lightly jiggle it to help it settle into place, once settled leave it alone so you avoid creating cracks.
Tough Towers Are Your Secret Weapon
Remember the bucket with a hole in the bottom? Well, that bucket is your tower making machine. Pack the castle concrete in it (the sand and water), give the bucket a few gentle slaps, and then flip that puppy over and voila – a beautiful, semi-indestructible tower for your castle.
Beauty Lies in the Details
Add windows, stairs, roofs, walls, and anything else you can think of! The true beauty of a sandcastle lies in its details, easily differentiating it from every other castle.
That should be enough to get you started! Now you have enough tools and techniques to build a show-stopping castle, that all the beach go-ers will want to stop and check out. If you want to see what a true professional can do, while also learning from a master himself, you better book a trip to Cap Juluca Resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. Matt Long, or more commonly known as “Sandman Matt,” will be hosting a professional sandcastle building event from March 23 to March 26 at Cap Juluca. Over the course of three days he will create a spectacular original masterpiece, which will culminate in a two-hour sandcastle building lesson! It’s your time to shine, grab your bucket and head to Anguilla for sandcastle paradise!
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