Find a good spot. Jara suggests finding a spot on the beach near the waterline, but not too close to the water so your creation isn’t in danger of being washed away. This area has the softest, siltiest sand that’s good for packing. “You don’t want to be too far from [the tide] because that’s where the best sand is, so there’s a little conundrum there,” says Jara.
Dig a trough. Water makes building your sandcastle more successful, says Jara. Dig a trough in the sand to store water to use to wet the sand. Troughs keep water close so you don’t have to go as far every time you need more. “When you’re dealing with beach sand, you are going to go through a lot of water,” says Jara.
Layer in your form. While there are different ways to create sandcastles, Jara suggests using a 40-gallon plastic trash can if you want to go big. Flip the can upside down, cut a hole in the bottom, leaving the plastic rim, and begin to fill the form with sand. Layer sand in 4- to 6-inch layers and douse each layer with water to let the sand pack. “[Once it's full], tap the trash can outside, all the way around all over the surface, and then actually pry that off with a couple of shovels,” says Jara, “and you’ll be left with almost a four- or five-foot stack of nice packed sand.”
Bring out your inner sculptor. Once you have your block of sand, channel your artistic creativity and sculpt your sandcastle. Jara says any tools that can cut, like a trowel or even a butter knife, can be used to sculpt. “The wonderful thing about sand is you can go out there and you can use your imagination,” Jara says. “If you don’t like it, you erase it and start over again.”