The last thing anyone wants is to have a beach day cut short by sun fatigue or sunburn. Beach towels and beach chairs are great for a while, but if you truly want to maximize your day, you’ll need to have a little more shelter from the sun’s draining, potentially harmful rays (maybe even a place to safely catch a few Z’s). A great beach tent can provide shelter from the sun and a comfy place to lounge, you just need to take into consideration the size of your beach crew, how much set-up time you need, and your favorite beach activities when deciding what type of sun shelter or shade canopy you’ll need. With that firmly in mind, here are our suggestions for the best beach tent.
Why you might need a beach tent or canopy
Investing in beach shade is all about making days at the beach more enjoyable and safer. Sunblock alone isn’t enough to guard you against harmful UV rays if you’re exposed to the sun for hours and hours at a time. Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor of Dermatology Dr. Jennifer Lin suggests that the false sense of total protection provided by sunscreen can lead to more problems. “Many studies have demonstrated that individuals who use sunscreen tend to stay out in the sun for a longer period of time, and thus may actually increase their risk of skin cancer,” says Dr. Lin.
Beach umbrellas are an option to provide sun shade, but wrangling them can prove frustrating. They’re often difficult to mount to the sand, and don’t provide consistent and reliable shade. Plus, heavy winds can send umbrellas flying. Beach tents are sort of like an upgraded version of beach umbrellas and could be your new beach essentials.
The best beach tents are more easily transportable than umbrellas, with many types able to fold up into a small backpack or carrying bag. For people with young children, beach tents provide consistent and reliable beach shade—you won’t have to keep moving your umbrella like a sundial throughout the day to keep everyone covered. They can be anchored securely into the sand to withstand windy days. And, finally, they provide quick and easy privacy should someone need to address a bathing suit issue or perhaps change a swimming diaper. They’re practical and can extend your beach comfort by hours—and who doesn’t want that?
Want a beach tent that can hold up well to the wind?
Windy days are tricky, even dangerous for beachgoers if their beach umbrellas or beach tents should lose their anchoring and hurtle across the sand. That’s one of the reasons the best sun shelters for windy conditions are canopy-style tents. These more open-style tents have the ability to flex with the wind, which allows them to stay put; think about how a palm tree sways but never snaps. Be sure to look for beach canopy tents that offer multiple levels of securing—like stakes, anchors, and sandbags. Also, note that we’re talking breezy, maybe blustery days; extreme wind is not suggested with any type of tent.
Beach canopy-style tents offer a larger roof of sunshade and open walls. While this might be an issue for privacy, the style can be a good choice for larger groups. Look for stylish designs and bright fun colors or prints that use UV protection. For easy transportation, make sure the beach shade comes with a travel bag with a comfortable strap for carrying on your back or shoulders.
Best beach canopy tent: Neso Tents Gigante Beach Tent
Tons of Shade
Protect your whole crew with this large, modern canopy-style sunshade, equipped with solid anchoring.
This large beach canopy (8-feet tall, with 11 feet by 11 feet coverage) can shelter a big family, and has a casual open-air look. Fully collapsible and transportable, this UPF 50+ tent weighs 9.5 pounds and folds down to 19.5 inches. It holds up well to the wind, though it doesn’t provide any privacy.
Want a little beach club vibe to go?
Cabana-style tents are stylish and chic, which is partly why you’ll find them lined up around the pool or on the beach at upscale resorts. Also, they’re super practical. The traditional rectangular shape offers a structured sun shelter that you can pull your favorite beach chair or beach recliner underneath. While you might not think this style would make sense for bringing out for a day at the beach, the best beach cabana tents can be set up quickly, collapsed, and easily transported.
Beach cabana tents often have an umbrella-style roof, with four added poles (often fabric covered) which provide the room-like structure. Some will allow you to zip on one or more fabric panels for additional sun or wind protection. As with all beach tents, you want to look for multiple levels of grounding to protect from winds—some offer screw-in poles or stakes, as well as sandbags that can be filled on the spot.
Best beach cabana tent: Qipi Beach Cabana
A cabana-style beach tent with clever extra features.
This on-the-go shelter (measuring 6 feet by 6 feet) comes with a carrying bag, as well as sandbags and stakes for protection from wind. Fun prints and shapes bring a luxurious beach club vibe to your day on the beach. There’s an attachable sidewall, plus pockets at all four corners, perfect for water bottles, sunscreen, or books. Most importantly, this beach cabana tent is waterproof, and UPF 50+.
Want to take your baby for safe a day at the beach?
The beach can be a perfect family trip, even for those with very young children. But there are lots of elements that a baby can’t cope with, from the sun to sand to wind—aka, anywhere near the shore. Luckily, you can find tents specifically made to solve this problem. The best baby beach tents will provide a safe and comfortable place to rest or nap. Look for lightweight, collapsible playpens with attached, fully zipped sun shades that sport adequate ventilation.
For slightly older kids, you can find beach tents with bonuses to keep them occupied yet safe. Look around, and you’ll find beach tents that include a shallow baby pool that can be filled in with seawater, or mesh zip pouches to easily carry your child’s favorite sand toys.
Best baby beach tent: Fisher-Price On-the-Go Baby Dome
Easy to Transport
This stylish napping spot is a great choice for the beach.
Fear not a long day at the beach with your baby with this futuristic-sounding baby dome. This canopy playspace (with removable toys) offers UPF 20 protection from the sun, and mesh panels ensure ventilation and protection from bugs. It also folds flat and has handles to make it easy to tote around.
Looking for a beach tent that’s easy to set up?
Some outdoor canopies and beach tents are very complicated and have to be built with more than one person. The reward for all this work is an extra-sturdy bit of shade, but that kind of involved construction isn’t ideal for every situation. Luckily, there are plenty of sun shelters that are easy to set up.
Another consideration: how to carry your shelter. You’ll want to look for tents that either come with their own carrying case or can fold down small enough to be easily stored and carried. Juggling chairs, snacks, and kids are enough without having to add more to your beach accessories load.
Best easy set-up beach tent: Pacific Breeze Beach Tent
Reviewers love the spacious size and wind resistance of this tent.
Pacific Breeze Products
This tent offers a hub system, which allows for fast set-up without confusing directions and parts, as well as five sand pockets and four stakes for security in windy conditions. The XL deluxe version is UPF 50+ and can fit three to four people, even larger adults, making it perfect for a small family. Internal pockets and hooks for hanging can handle all your beach accessories. When it comes time to transport it, it quickly folds to a manageable size and fits in an included carrying case.
Looking for a beach tent that won’t cost you a lot of money?
With most products made for outdoor use, you have to expect a certain amount of wear and tear. While that’s a reason, perhaps, to invest in a more expensive option made of stronger, more durable material, it’s also an argument for buying something less expensive with the understanding that it’s going to get trashed regardless.
Fortunately, there are lower-priced options that don’t skimp on protection or convenience and will provide many beach fun-filled beach days that you’ll likely enjoy even more knowing you saved a little money. It’s just important to check for ease of set-up, materials, and safety functions when deciding which one is right for you.
Best budget beach tent: Coleman Beach Shade
Ventilated Pop-up Tent
An affordable tent with little assembly required.
Coleman, a trusted name in camping gear, offers this durable UV 50+ Protection pop-up that doesn’t require much setup (think five minutes). The easy tent uses four ground stakes to keep the tent in place. It features extended front floor zips for privacy and the back window unzips for ventilation. Integrated storage pockets and a dry line to hang wet clothing add to the convenience. The size is perfect for a family of three (two adults and a child).
Best beach tents FAQ: people also ask
Do tents protect from sun?
Yes, tents protect from sun, if you mean beach tents. Most beach tents do provide UV protection, but most camping tents do not. So if you are looking for something to use on the beach specifically, invest in a specialized beach tent.
Are beach tents waterproof?
Most beach tents do have a water-resistant coating that’s good for occasional splashes or light showers, but they won’t hold up under torrential rain or massive waves. Hopefully, your beach day isn’t ruined by a thunderstorm!
How do I keep sand out of a beach tent?
To keep sand out of a beach tent you can place an oversized towel or sheet under your tent so that people have a space to kick off flip flops or shake off excess sand. One common option is to use a bucket of water for a quick wash, but here’s a secret: sand is actually easier to shake off when your skin is completely dry. If you take a minute to dry off, you can simply rub sand off your body with a dry towel.
The best beach tents can make your vacation way more fun
Sunscreen is definitely one of those beach essentials, but especially for those of us with more delicate skin, it may not be enough on its own. Investing in the best beach tent ensures longer days at the beach, additional UV protection, privacy, and the ability to create a portable “home base” that can make the entire beach experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. Just consider the size of your family or beach crew, how much portability you’ll need, and how often you’ll think you’ll need it before honing in on the right Beach accessories.