Coronado local makes sandcastles for a living


Courtesy of Coronado Times

Coronado Times captures Bill Pavlacka building one of his castles in Coronado, California.

Maddy Daly, Social Media Editor

Bill Pavlacka, also known as “Sandcastle Man,” has been making giant and carefully detailed sandcastles in Coronado in front of the Hotel Del. Many locals know him for his unique passion and have observed his work for years. He now commissions his work, offering castles for special events or group lessons and he continues to make creative castles on the side.

Not many people know the story behind Pavlacka’s career. Pavlacka has a unique backstory on how he became “Sandcastle Man.”

“It wasn’t planned, so I didn’t expect it even when it started happening,” Pavlacka said. “I had worked in construction for decades, but the jobs dried up at that point.”

Pavlacka had been making sandcastles for fun since the 1980s. Although he started making castles with his children, he kept doing it after they grew up and fell into it as a career in 2008. 

“Someone I knew hired me for a party because they had seen photos of castles I had made with my kids,” Pavlacka said. “After that, a few other people took interest and hired me for a few other events.”

When Pavlacka is not working, he can still be found making castles. To come up with the designs for his public castles, he takes inspiration from castles throughout Europe.

“My favorite castle was one I made for Joe’s Crab Shack many years back,” Pavlacka said. “It was fun doing all the detail on the wood and the swirling towering flames over it. It wasn’t a design I was used to, but I loved how it turned out.” 

As Pavlacka continues​​ to build these creative castles, he developed a building process. Pavlacka shares his step-by-step routine to construct these castles.

“It’s a lot of moving around sand and water and packing it down to create a solid base. Once a solid base is finished, I can start building up sand in large forms to give me the basic cylinder shapes to carve from,” Pavlacka said. “Once I have that, I just start carving into them until I have the design I want. The carving techniques I use vary from castle to castle.”

A lot of locals know of Sandcastle Man. Freshman Cameryn Capano speaks on his experiences in Coronado seeing the castles. 

“Since my grandparents live in Coronado, when I was younger, I would always go visit them,” Capano said. “We would always go to the beach and look at the sand castles, and then go eat at the Hotel Del. Looking at the castles was always fun since they’re so interesting and detailed.” 

These detailed sandcastles draw lots of attention to him and his work. Having this unique career, Pavlacka gets to meet people from all over the world. 

“It’s been great having a job where I get to work on the beautiful beach of California,” Pavlacka said. “Since the Hotel Del is a popular tourist spot, I get to meet people from all over the world and hear their opinions on my work.”

After starting his career, he became well known, especially to those familiar with the Hotel Del. He started to have people booking him for important events. 

“It’s also nice to have people who want my art to be part of memorable experiences for them,” Pavlacka said. “Many people hire me to take part in their weddings and proposals, and it’s a real honor that they want my work to be a part of their major life events.”

As Pavlacka looks back on how his career with sandcastles started, he talks about how he didn’t have this passion planned out for him. When he was younger, he never expected to have a career like this.

“It started being enough money that I started up a business and started coming out every day to advertise my work,” Pavlacka said. “I was shocked that it worked out so well.”