Wind, sun and waves will eventually erase your sand sculpture. But, if properly protected and not set-upon by destructive children, a sand sculpture may last a few days. In 2018, we observed some sand sculptures I made in Ocean City, NJ lasted a week!
And then there are human miscreants… You might be surprised at home many people view any un-attended sand sculpture as their birthright to destroy. I’ve even had kids ask me when I would be finished, so they could immediately demolish it.
Some people like to create things. Some people just like to watch others create. And then there are those who enjoy destroying anything that others create. Psychologists often call these people sociopaths. Most of us know them as thugs or jerks.
Toddlers, on the other hand, often cannot help themselves; they are too young to understand what they are doing, and lack the motor skills to touch gently. So you will need to make walls that at least slow them down until their parent can stop them. Unfortunately, many parents actually encourage their children to destroy your work; we live among some truly pathetic dirtbags.
So, with this in mind, if you make a tall solid wall of sand, about 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide, completely around your sculpture, it may last until dark, increasing the number of people who can enjoy it.
Putting a moat in front of the wall, about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide will also help. Toddlers trip in the moat and face-plant on the wall. It obviously won’t harm them, but coming up with a faceful of sand usually causes them to retreat or give their parents time to intercede* before they destroy your work. (* Assuming their parents aren’t the idiots who told them to go destroy it!)
Note the wall around Spongebob and Patrick. It helps create an obvious visual boundary for the UGa crowd who decided to encamp right next to me, despite acres of open beach all around. Putting your chairs, boogie boards, beach cart, umbrellas at the edges also helps to keep drunk people from unintentionally stumbling right into your efforts.