What Type of Sun Shelter Should You Use for Your Beach Vacation?

We break down the pros and cons of each type of beach shade to find the best option for your next summer vacation to the shore.

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Categories: Misc  

If you're planning a trip to the beach, you probably are going to want to take in some sun and work on your tan. But you are not going to want to spend the entire day soaking in those rays; now and again, you are going to want to relax under some shade.

Palm Beach Umbrella

For that, you are going to want to bring a tent or umbrella with you. Below, you can learn about four different options. We’ll go over their pros and cons so that you can figure out which type of tent will best fit your needs for your next beach vacation.

Pop Up Canopy Tent

A pop up canopy features four legs supporting a canopy overhead. All four sides are open to the air. These types of tents sometimes are set up at parties and other events. As is implied by the name, they can be collapsed for transit and expanded when you are ready to set them up.


  • A beach canopy offers some overhead shade while allowing full circulation of air underneath.
  • Most pop up canopy tents are compact and lightweight once they are collapsed.
  • One person can typically handle the job of setting up the tent or packing it up.


  • Because of the pop up canopy tent’s lightweight build, it is not the most stable option in locations with high winds.
  • Depending on the angle of the sun, the canopy may provide insufficient shade.
  • The canopy does not act as a windbreak at all.

Best For:

Consider a pop up canopy if something lightweight, portable, and easy to set up and take down is important. These are great for parties since the open sides allow people to roam in and out freely. But they may not be the right choice for a windy day.

Beach Umbrella

This is exactly what you are picturing—a large umbrella which is designed for beach use. The base of the umbrella typically is outfitted with a corkscrew anchor system. This makes it easy to push into the sand and remain stable.


  • An umbrella is the essence of simplicity. Almost no effort needs to be taken to set it up or take it down.
  • You may be able to adjust the angle of the umbrella throughout the day as the sun moves. Some umbrellas even have special features to make tilting easy.
  • A beach umbrella is usually pretty lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Airflow underneath an umbrella is excellent.


  • Many beach umbrellas cannot withstand high winds. That being said, there are models which are built specifically to hold up under harsh conditions.
  • The amount of shade which an umbrella provides is limited.

Best For:

One to two people can make good use of a beach umbrella. For families or groups however, an umbrella may not provide sufficient shade for everyone.

Half-Dome Beach Tent

This is the most “tent-like” option out of all of these beach tents. It is fully collapsible for transportation in your vehicle. Once expanded, it has a half-dome shape which offers shade and wind protection overhead, to either side, and behind. The front is left open. This type of tent also may include a floor.


  • This type of sun shelter can offer you the highest amount of shade.
  • If you want to screen out wind, the half-dome shape of the tent does an excellent job. Half-dome tents equipped with guy ropes also tend to be quite sturdy in the face of high winds.
  • A half-dome beach tent can give you a bit of privacy. If you set it up just right, you may be able to screen other beachgoers out of your view so you are just looking out at the waves.


  • Air circulation in a half-dome tent is lessened, so the rays of the sun hitting the material could result in heat build-up inside.
  • You can adjust the angle of this tent, but doing so involves more effort than changing the tilt of an umbrella.

Best For:

This type of shelter is ideal for maximizing sun and wind protection while still enjoying a beautiful view. But it is best for one or two people, not for groups.

Portable Canopy Sun Shelter

This type of tent shares a lot in common with pop-up canopy tents, but it is a less rigid design. It usually is supported by just a couple of poles. These hold up a canopy with ropes at the corners, usually weighted down by sandbags. You can position the ropes as you desire to determine how open or closed the canopy is overhead.


  • A portable canopy sun shelter is versatile and adaptable to your needs. As the angle of the sun changes, you can adjust the angle of the canopy to provide more shade.
  • Airflow under the tent is great if you keep the canopy high, but if you pull in the ropes to lower the sides more, you can give yourself more of a windscreen.
  • People can come and go under the canopy with ease, making it a good option for groups.


  • This may not be the most stable type of canopy out there. In the wind, it could conceivably flap around quite a bit, which could be inconvenient.

Best For:

This type of tent is versatile enough that you can use it for individuals, couples, families, or groups. It can function as an open-air canopy or as something closer to a traditional camping tent depending on how you adjust it. If you want to maximize flexibility, it is an outstanding option.

Umbrellas on the beach

With the Right Tent, You Can Enjoy Your Beach Trip to its Fullest

The health benefits of a beach vacation are proven. A week with some of the closest family and friends is exactly what is needed after a long winter stuck indoors. You now are familiar with four common types of beach tents. Whether you are hosting a party on the beach and want to provide a canopy for your guests or you are heading out for a solo camping trip, the right tent can shelter you from the wind and the sun. That way you’ll stay cool and comfortable and protected from UV rays as you enjoy the sand and the waves.