37 Detailed Sand Sculptures that Make Your Castle Look Sad

A small shovel and a pail for sand are the typical beach goer’s adventure kit, but some people take their sand castles a bit more seriously. With ladders, and teams of workers, sand sculptors travel to the most exotic beaches around the world creating towering art and hoping for fair weather. The creations they come up with are inspiring, hilarious, and totally unexpected. Here are 37 sand sculptures that will inspire you the next time you’re at the beach:

(Images via barnesandnoble, mtanga, thecontaminated, nonch, kav p)

Dragons are found in mythology and lore in cultures around the world. Their fearsome power combined with effortless grace (and of course, huge size), make them a popular subject of the imagination. Beach sculptors like to take advantage of this reverence for the mythological beast by creating incredibly intricate depictions in the sides of dunes and coming straight out of the earth.

(Images via gary hayes, 2, 3, singham)

Children try to impress their friends with the size of their castle creations, and adults are no different. With enough people working on a project, sand sculptors are able to put together sprawling scenes that eat up half of the sand on the beach. These giant creations are bound to impress any passerby, as it’s not everyday you have to look up at something made out of sand.

(Images via joyriding hood, anvari)

The beach is a place for frolicking in waves and relaxing vacations, but that only increases the creepy effect of adding sand skeletons and sun bleached bones to one’s art. People love to comb the beach with metal detectors, searching for lost treasure, so it’s interesting to imagine coming across a full dinosaur skeleton or, the unearthed remains of pirates who vanished with their booty.

(Images via sandinyoureye, clark-w, uphaa, notcot)

Scientists like to sunbathe too! Especially gigantic ones made out of sand. From Darwin to Michelangelo, scientists and scientific subject matter are popular in sand sculpting competitions. While some might not get as excited by a realistic bust of a long dead scientist (as, say, a dragon), there are plenty of undercover geeks who no doubt thrill at the sight.

(Images via snowriderguy, julenx, dirtybeach.tv, toxel, myspace)

Who says the mundane has to be boring? Everyday activities like lazing around in bed or on the couch are much more exciting when they’re sculpted on a beautiful beach. Comic scenes like a painful visit to the dentist, or a sleeping construction worker, can make the most common subject matter entertaining.

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The human form is probably the most common subject for any type of art, and sand sculpting is no different. Taking a close look at the face of giant portraits is amazing, as the detail put into this sand art is surprising and incredible. One would expect a closer view to spoil the effect of the piece, but seeing wrinkles on a sand face has the opposite effect; it’s the details that make these sculptures so wonderful.

(Images via rwez, mylionking, thepointofitall, toxel)

Characters from popular films and fiction spring up at a lot of sand art competitions, including Disney characters from our favorite animated films, and classics such as Gulliver’s Travels and Star Wars. I, for one, would love to see a Death Star made out of sand on my next vacation.

(Images via gizmoave, asianoffbeat, officespam, pleasantmorningbuzz, sandinyoureye)

Sand sculptors like to let their imagination run wild when they’re out on the beach, and their subjects can seem incredibly random. Imagined castles and scenes from dreams are common, as are portraits of artists like Michael Jackson. You can see a large mural of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, as well as a group of monks that seem remarkably dwarven.

(Images via unique elegance, zscheyge, jamesclay)

It makes sense that ocean scenes would be a popular subject for any beach scene, and ocean life is often portrayed in remarkable detail. Coral reefs come to life on the sand, as do mythical creatures like mermaids. Why go under the sea when you can bring it on to land?