dog relaxing on the beach

The Best Beach Tent / Sun Shelter for Picnic or Camping Trip

I love taking the kids to the beach. In summer, I take them all the time for day trips. When camping, I like to stay in campsites where the beach is just a short walk away.

But even though spending a day at the beach is really nice and relaxing, getting sun burnt is certainly not. You can always look for a shade but not all beach has them (even if they do it’s not enough to cater for all beach goers).

Why Get a Beach Tent or Sun Shelter

If you’re thinking of spending even an hour at the beach, you need shade. Beach tent or sun shelter will protect you from at least the most direct UV light, this together with sun-screen, hat and 50+ rash-shirt would ensure your safety against the mighty sun.

Here are some benefits of using beach tent or sun shelter:

  • It allows you to stay at the beach for longer especially with the kids. Kids get sun burnt a lot easier than us, and sun screen alone is not enough.
  • It gives you that ‘private space’ feel. You can put your drinks and cooler inside – oh and it keeps your cooler works for longer too.
  • You can use it as additional privacy like hiding some of your valuables from prying eyes, or a place for you or the kids to get change. (You might still have to have some towels around you, but it’s certainly better than getting change under your towel out in the open).
  • Especially with young children who still need to take naps during the day, a beach tent or sun shelter provide them a place to nap. With bigger types, you can put a sleeping baby in a pram in the shade. This allows the older sibling to still play in the water (with daddy?) while mummy relaxes with a good book somewhere – watching the sleeping baby.

Choosing Your Beach Tent or Sun Shelter

There are a few types of beach tents or shelter you can choose. The main ones are:

Pop up beach tents

Generally they’re easy to set up quickly. (But remember, practice first at home. It’s not as easy as it looks especially for first timers). They’re normally quite small, which means you probably can only fit two people comfortably in it. I wouldn’t personally recommend them for super hot days because the shade it provides is not enough.

Canopy Beach tents

I like canopy beach tents. They range in size to accommodate 2 – 4 people, to a really large one enough to accommodate the whole group for a beach birthday party. They’re not instant to set up, but with practice, you’ll be able to set them up quite quickly. Generally setting up these tents are better when you have two people, but you can always manage with one person while the other one takes care of the kids. Personally, I like the bigger version of canopy beach tent (we have 4 in our family) because it provides me with the most air flows. I find smaller tents start to become personal sauna room after a while if the sun is too hot.

Cabana beach tent

Some of these can be zipped up (can act like a personal changing tent), but generally they open on one side or two. It’s normally quite easy to set up cabana style, and they actually provide quite good air flows.

So I suppose if you like to stay for a longer time at the beach, I would recommend choosing a bigger version of a canopy beach tent. I would also recommend bigger canopy for middle of summer. This is because they protect you the most from direct as well as indirect sunlight.

In late spring or early autumn when the weather is just right (hot enough to make you want to swim, but is not exactly scorching) opt for a smaller beach tent (pop up or instant cabana style) because it’s easier to set up.

Top 5 Beach Tents/Sun Shelters – Reviews

Pacific Breeze EasyUp Beach Tent (Deluxe XL) – Editor’s pick

Pacific Breeze EasyUp Beach Tent Deluxe XL

Click here to find out more

Dimension: Open: 47.2 x 49.2 x 86.6 inches, Folded: 40 L x 5 W x 5 H

Dimension (deluxe): Open: 95 L x 52 H x 51 D Folded:  38 L x 6 W x 6 H

Weight : 4.45 pounds (Deluxe XL: 6.5 pounds)

Average customer reviews from Amazon: 5/5

Features:

  • Specially designed easyHub system makes it super easy to set up which is always a good thing especially when you have kids around you.
  • UPF 50+ sun protection protects your family from direct sun. This allows longer time to relax in the beach. This also means you can have a kid napping under the tent during downtime.
  • Durable and lightweight fiberglass frame and water resistant PE floor.
  • made from breathable polyester and is water repellent.

Pros:

  • easy set up (one person can do it)
  • Deluxe XL is large enough to cater for 4 person family comfortably
  • Lightweight and is made for travel
  • Good airflow
  • You can actually fit it back in the tent sack AFTER you use it. The tent sack is baggy enough since everybody knows no one can put any tent back to its original out-of-the-box folded shape.

Cons:

  • Harder to set up/take down on windy days
  • If the day is way too hot, it may get quite hot inside the tent (The deluxe XL size doesn’t seem to have this problem though since it features 3 ‘windows’ rather than 2)

Who Should Get this

If you have an average family of four (plus or minus), get the larger size – Deluxe XL. This is an obvious choice for someone who goes often to the beach but doesn’t want to spend too long trying to set this up and down. You can also take this tent to other places like the park or picnic with the kids.

Not suited for

This tent is not recommended for camping. You would need tent specially designed for that. This tent is designed for temporary sun protection. If you were going camping on the beach though, I would really recommend getting this tent for protection from the sun during the day.

This tent is not going to disappoint, available exclusively at amazon - get it here.

Lightspeed Outdoor Catalina Speed Shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors Catalina Speed Shelter_medium_image_attachment

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Dimension: Open: 86 L x 51 H x 47.75 D Folded: 39 x 5 x 5 inches

Weight: 5 pounds

Average customer reviews: 5/5

Features:

  • Opens with Lightspeed Outdoors compression hub system with built-in poles making it super easy and portable, perfect for a day out in the sun.
  • The two-walled, rectangle design maximizes air flow while still giving that protection against the direct UV ray. (UPF 50+ sun protection)
  • Durable and lightweight fiberglass frame and waterproof kid and dog friendly PE floor.

Pros:

  • Budget friendly, definitely good value for money.
  • Good air-flow make it less of a sauna inside the tent.
  • Super fast to set up making it perfect choice when you want to just have a couple hours in the beach without spending half of it setting up/taking down a tent.
  • Because it’s so easy to use, you’ll tend to use it more.

Cons:

  • Fit two to three adults comfortably, but not suited for large families.
  • lightweight making it super portable, but not suited for heavy windy day. (You can always put your cooler and beach equipment on it and you should be alright). It’s definitely way sturdier compared to the personal pop-up style.

Who Should Get This:

If you go often to the beach for swimming with the kids (and you have wet suits allowing you to take the kids swimming outside the peak of summer), this is a great investment. The price point is very affordable and is great value for money. I like the color too.

Not suited for:

overnight camping. This is also not suited for a large event or large family even though the size is not the smallest in the market.

In conclusion, it’s definitely a win, great tent, great value for money. Check out more reviews and get this tent at amazon. Check out more reviews and get this tent at amazon.


Lightspeed Outdoor Quick Beach Canopy Tent

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Beach Canopy Tent, Blue_medium_image_attachment

Click here to find out more

Dimension: Open: 95 x 59 x 59-inches (LxWxH) Folded: 50 x 5-inches

Weight: 7 pounds

Average customer reviews: 4.5/5

Features:

  • Lightweight, compact beach canopy-style, using umbrella-style hub and pole system making it very easy to set up and take down. 
  • UPF 50+ sun protection allowing you to have a day-out in the sun without the worry of sun burn. 
  • Large enough to fit a family of four comfortably together with food cooler, picnic stuff, surfing gear, chairs and even a portable cooker to make your day at the beach a complete DAY out.

Pros:

  • Size is big enough, providing good air flow and therefore the tent doesn’t get too hot in the peak of summer.
  • Easy to set up due to its ‘umbrella’ pole system.
  • Lots of open area which means it works even if the sun is ‘facing the wrong way’.

Cons:

  • A little heavier and bigger (when folded) as compared to some other easyHub style tent.
  • Not suited for heavy wind or rainy condition.
  • Can’t exactly use this as a ‘changing tent’.

Who Should Use This:

Again, if you want to spend a day out at the beach/park/playground without worrying about having to fight someone else for the only shade available in the area, this tent would do. This is good for families who often goes out spend a day outdoor. When camping (especially camping near the beach), this is good as a secondary tent to bring out during the day protecting you and the kids from direct UV ray and sun burn.

Not suited for:

Similar with the other beach tent, overnight camping is definitely not what this is made for. In fact, the bottom has open air flow area, so you should expect more sand to get in as compared to tents with ‘closed’ back area. The good thing about that though, is that it gets less hot inside the tent as compared to closed zipped up ones.

Get this tent here at amazon

Lightspeed Outdoors quick cabana beach tent sun shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Cabana Beach Tent Sun Shelter, Blue_medium_image_attachment

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Dimension: Open: 48 x 96 x 54 inches, Folded: 43 x 5.5 inches

Weight: 6 pounds

Average customer reviews: 4.5/5

Features

  • Made from Polyester, lightweight and compact cabana-style pop up beach shelter – very easy to set up using the pop up ‘umbrella’ pole system.
  • Large front porch lets you stretch out, less sand and therefore it’s fine if you forget the rug. (Note: it does gets hot in the peak of summer though so the ‘extension’ only gets usable during the not-so-hot days).
  • UPF 50+ sun protection for all-day shade anywhere.
  • 3 roll-up windows provide extra ventilation and privacy.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and take down.
  • Budget friendly.
  • In mild days, the floor extension is great so you don’t have to bring extra picnic rug.
  • less sand gets in due to the back wall – great if you have few things you rather keep rather sand free. (There will still be sand, just less)
  • privacy to keep some valuables away from prying eyes.

Cons:

  • If the sun is coming from ‘wrong way’, the tent gets a bit hotter. Turning it around provides less visibility.
  • Size is good but only for small family – a family of 4 plus gear is starting to get too much for the tent.
  • It gets a hot in the peak of summer, not ideal for spending extra long day in the sun.

Who should get this:

This is great for all year round sun protection. If you spend most of your time doing activities in the beach e.g. swimming/surfing rather than looking after a sleeping baby, this tent is ideal. You can then relax for some downtime afterwards, have your sandwich during lunch time without being burnt to the max.

Not suited for:

Not suited for sleeping baby in a pram – doesn’t really fit under it comfortably. If you also plan to stay inside the tent for long time e.g. you have a very small kid so you tend to spend most of your time out of the water, it gets super hot inside.

Get this tent here at amazon

Sport Brella – umbrella

Sport-Brella Beach Umbrella - Portable sun and weather shelter and family beach tent with carry bag_medium_image_attachment

Click here to find out more

Dimension: 96 inch (open umbrella), folded:  54″ x 4″ x 4″

Weight: 9 pounds

Average Customer reviews: 4.5/5

Features:

  • One of the easiest to set up since it’s actually an umbrella with flap. So for first timer is great (You can’t get it wrong)
  • You can always get it back to the carry case properly.
  • The flap gives you more protection from the side. 
  • Maximised air flow so you won’t have to worry about the umbrella turning into a personal sauna.
  • Internal pockets for stakes, valuables and gear, Carry Bag with shoulder strap included
  • Can act as a giant umbrella back to the car if it suddenly rains.

Pros:

  • Super quick set up because it’s basically a giant umbrella.
  • Great value for money, budget friendly.
  • Good air flow so you won’t get hot.
  • Easy to take down without worrying about instant-tent pole being bent the wrong way etc.
  • Allows little kids to then play sand while being shaded.

Cons:

  • Not suited for windy days (starts moving around in moderate wind).
  • A little big when folded so it’s harder if you have a very small car trunk.

Who should get this:

If you like going to the beach and park but you find setting up a tent (including easyHub style) is bothersome, then ‘Brella’ style is definitely for you. Great for parents with young kids or parent who is planning to spend most of the time watching over a small infant playing sand.

Not suited for:

Windy days. Basically it’s like a giant umbrella so unless you point it the right way (the top is facing the upward wind), the umbrella is going to catch the wind. You can always put your cooler against it, and that should solve the problem.

Get this Sport Brella at amazon

Final Thought

If you’re still unsure, you can always take my pick and get either the Pacific Breeze EasyUp Beach Tent Deluxe XL or the Sport-Brella Beach Umbrella – Portable sun and weather shelter and family beach tent with carry bag

They’re both great for a day out in the sun.

I have two toddlers and one of my toddler prefers to stay long time in the sand, so I find that air flows in the tent is very important feature. The less airflow will make the tent very hot especially with most Polyester/PE material.

If you want to stay longer than couple hours in the beach, I would stay away from the small personal pop-up style since it just doesn’t provide enough shade for the whole family.

Remember, most beach tents will protect you from direct UV light, but there is still indirect UV light. So be sure to put on sun screen, bring hats, wear rash shirt etc.

Enjoy your trip,

Sally

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