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5 Tips for the Best Myrtle Beach Sand Castles

For classic beach time family fun, you can't beat building a sand castle. Follow these handy tips for the best castle you can build.

1.) Choose the right location. You want to be close to the water, but not so close that the incoming tide will wash your creation away before you've had the chance to finish it and enjoy it for a little while. Also, the finer the sand, the better it will form shapes. Finer sand is generally located closer to the water, not at the top of the beach.

2.) Get the right tools. Cheap sand toys are fine (and you can always buy them at one of the many Myrtle Beach stores near the beach instead of packing and bringing with you), but you'll probably want more than one shovel if this is a team effort. You'll want one bucket for hauling water and several other small buckets or other receptacles for forming castle walls. Sticks, small stones, shells and more found objects can be used for decorating.

3.) Compact, compact, compact. Use water hauled from the ocean with a bucket to thoroughly wet your sand, then compact it into your containers, or into a basic castle shape using your hands (or feet, if you're building a very large castle!). It's the compaction that makes the shapes hold. But, allow water to drain away before you try to remove the bucket molds, or the sand will stick inside.

4.) Carve or stack. There are two approaches to building a sand castle. One is to create blocks for walls (or towers) using your buckets and other containers, then line them up or stack them to build the castle. This can create sharp, crisp lines (if you're careful) but is limited in the shapes you can use. The other approach involves creating a mound or "starter" of compacted sand, then carving it to reveal the castle you want to build. This approach takes a little more artistic skill, but can result in more fanciful shapes.

(You can also use a combination of approaches, carving out a basic castle shape, then adding towers formed from sand compacted in buckets.)

5.) Decorate! Use a stick to carve lines for windows or brick-like texture in the walls. Find other beach objects to dress up your castle -- a piece of driftwood can make an excellent drawbridge, a stick with a piece of seaweed attached makes a fine flag, and small shells or pebbles can add interest to the walls and towers. As far as a moat goes, that's a subject of great debate! If you want a water-filled moat, dig one and then dig a channel to the sea so it can fill with water. BUT: Water can weaken your castle walls. Why not create a dry moat around your castle, then "draw" water in it with a series of wavy lines.

(posted 3/31/14)

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