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Kids aren’t the only ones who love building sandcastles at the beach. Many professional sandcastle artists compete at annual events that allow them to show off their skills and creative talents. Amateurs and newcomers are welcomed at many of these contests to join in and challenge the pros. Attending one of these events will blow your mind if you haven’t been to one before. It’s amazing to see what can be created from nothing more than beach sand and water. Event dates change each year so consult their websites for current information.

Here are the California beaches that host these sand sculpting events sorted from south to north.

Imperial Beach City Beach, South San Diego County

  • Event: Sun & Sea Festival – Kids N’ Kastles
  • Many events including castles by kids and masters
  • When: July
  • For festival dates and times visit the festival website

Broadway Pier, San Diego

  • Event: U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition
  • A serious competition of some of the world’s best sand sculptors
  • When: Labor Day Weekend every year
  • More info at their website

Oceanside Pier Beach, North San Diego County

  • Event: Oceanside Sand Art Contest
  • Newer annual event put on by the Oceanside Museum of Art
  • When: Early September
  • See museum website for dates and times

San Clemente Pier Beach, South Orange County

  • Event: San Clemente Ocean Festival Sand Sculpting Competition
  • Many different events going on
  • When: July
  • For info on the event, team sizes, dates, registration see their website

Corona Del Mar State Beach, Newport Beach

  • Event: Annual Corona Del Mar Sand Castle Contest
  • Amateur and pro-am sand castle builders can join in
  • When: Usually held in early October
  • For this year’s date and times visit the event’s Facebook Page

Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance

  • Event: International Surf Festival Sandcastle Design Contest
  • Multi-day event in the Los Angeles area
  • When: Late July / early August
  • To see the host city, dates, and times visit the festival website

Carmel City Beach, near Monterey

  • Event: Annual Sandcastle Contest
  • A family-friendly gathering on City Beach south of 10th Street
  • When: September
  • See the city website for more info on the event and upcoming dates

Capitola Beach, near Santa Cruz

  • Event: Capitola Beach Festival
  • New annual event replacing the popular Begonia Festival
  • When: Late September
  • For dates and times of the event visit the city association site

Sharp Park Beach, Pacifica

  • Event: Pacific Coast Fog Fest Sand Sculpture Magic
  • Annual event with no contests, just pro sculptures on display
  • When: Late September
  • For dates and times of the event visit the event website

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

  • Event: Leap Annual Sandcastle Contest
  • Long running event put on by Leap Arts in Education
  • When: October or November
  • See the Leap website for details

Robert Crown Memorial State Beach, San Francisco Bay, Alameda

  • Event: Annual Sand Castle & Sand Sculpture Contest
  • A long-running event in the East Bay Area
  • When: Held in early June
  • For information on this see the city website

Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County

  • Event: Point Reyes Annual Sand Sculpture Contest
  • A large event hosted for years by the NPS and non-profit association
  • When: Late August or September
  • Long drive so bring food and drinks. No dogs allowed.

Doran Beach, Bodega Bay

  • Event: Castles and Kites Event
  • Annual celebration for local and visiting families
  • When: May
  • See the county parks website to view their events calendar

Manila Dunes Recreation Area Beach, near Eureka and Arcata

Crescent City Harbor Beach, Northern California

  • Event: Sand Castles By The Sea
  • Held right on Crescent City Harbor
  • When: June or July
  • To see dates and times for this event check the county website


Beaches on this list

  • Imperial Beach City Beach

    Imperial Beach, California has an impressive beach running the length of its waterfront called Imperial Beach City Beach. This beach is generally located between Palm Avenue and Imperial Beach Boulevard […]

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  • Tamarack State Beach

    Tamarack Surf Beach, as this part of Carlsbad State Beach is known, is located where Tamarack Avenue crosses Carlsbad Boulevard. At this intersection is the entrance to a large parking […]

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  • Oceanside Pier View South Beach

    Pier View South Beach is the most popular beach in Oceanside, CA. Like the name suggests, it’s the beach just south of Oceanside Pier, and yes the beach on the […]

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  • San Clemente Pier City Beach

    San Clemente Pier Beach is the main city beach of San Clemente, California. The beach is a wide sandy spot on both sides of the pier between T-Street Beach and […]

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  • Corona Del Mar State Beach

    Corona Del Mar State Beach is on the east side of the Newport Harbor channel entrance in the Corona Del Mar neighborhood in Newport Beach. This is a state-owned beach […]

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  • Granada Beach and Rosie’s Dog Beach

    Rosie’s Dog Beach is an area of Belmont Shore Beach designated by the city of Long Beach for off-leash dogs. This whole area is one long wide beach so it’s […]

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  • Cabrillo Beach – Harbor Beach

    Cabrillo Harbor Beach (aka Harborside) is located at Cabrillo Beach Park next to the public boat launch in the San Pedro District of Los Angeles. This small sandy beach is […]

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  • Hermosa City Beach

    Hermosa City Beach occupies the entire waterfront in the city of Hermosa Beach in LA County. It starts at King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach and continues north for nearly […]

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  • Torrance Beach

    Torrance Beach is a long wide sandy beach (and the only beach) in the city of Torrance, California. This is the southernmost of the big beaches on Santa Monica Bay […]

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  • Redondo County Beach

    Redondo County Beach is a 1.5 mile long sandy beach that makes up the waterfront of Redondo Beach, CA. The main part of Redondo County Beach starts at the Redondo […]

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  • Manhattan County Beach

    Manhattan Beach (the beach) is the main beach of the city of Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County. It’s a popular beach that becomes a madhouse on weekends especially near […]

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  • Carmel City Beach

    Carmel City Beach is a long, wide, white sand beach that is hard to beat anywhere on the California Central Coast. It can be packed here on sunny days, but […]

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  • Capitola Beach

    Capitola City Beach is a sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay in Capitola, CA. It’s a popular urban beach that can be jam packed on sunny days […]

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  • Sharp Park Beach

    Sharp Park Beach is located along Beach Boulevard in Pacifica, CA. The park is a narrow strip of land with grass and picnic tables and benches above the sandy beach. […]

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  • Ocean Beach

    Ocean Beach is a long beach spanning the entire Sunset District of San Francisco from Cliff House south to Sloat Boulevard. It’s also a wide beach especially when compared to […]

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  • Drakes Beach

    Drakes Beach is a remote beach in Point Reyes National Seashore that requires a long scenic drive to reach. There used to be a cafe at the beach (Drake’s Beach […]

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  • Doran Beach

    Doran Beach in Doran Regional Park is located along the spit at the entrance to Bodega Harbor from Bodega Bay. Doran Spit is a great place to view the bay, […]

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  • Manila Dunes Recreation Area

    Manila Dunes Recreation Area is the section of beach on the Samoa Peninsula that fronts the small community of Manila not far from Eureka and Arcata. Access to the beach is easiest […]

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  • Crescent City Harbor Beach

    Crescent City Harbor has a narrow beach that is protected from the wild ocean waves that batter the shoreline outside the jetties. At low tide the mud flats of Elk Creek […]

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