A large awning makes a day at the beach even better. Whether you want a simple place to cool off or a complete tent that provides shelter, privacy and storage solutions for the whole family, there is a perfect shade accessory for you. The right beach awning not only makes your day on the coast more comfortable and convenient, but also gives you that crucial extra layer of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Our favorite beach canopy is the spacious Qipi Beach Cabana. It is quick and easy to install, has a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) to mitigate the risk of skin damage and is extremely lightweight. Thoughtful amenities like storage pockets also impressed our testers. The classic design cabana is available in nautical stripes and cheerful prints. If this doesn’t quite meet your preferred aesthetic or beach needs, there are plenty of other beach awnings to choose from; Beach canopies come in a variety of styles and sizes, from flowing fabric that casts a large shade area to pop-up tents for kids.

Our testing process

We recruited a team of testers to evaluate 19 awnings at beaches across the country. They took their awnings to the beach, set them up using only the instructions provided by the manufacturer, and used them for at least an hour before taking them down and preparing them to be transported again. Testers rated the awnings on a scale of one to five in five key areas: portability, ease of use, performance, quality and overall value. We asked them to provide as much information as possible to explain each score.

When it came to portability, the top performing awnings were lightweight, comfortable to carry with well-placed straps, and compact enough for easy storage when folded.

To receive full marks for ease of use, awnings had to be extremely simple to set up, take down and put back into carrying cases, as well as include additional features that made them particularly useful or enjoyable.

Performance ratings were based on the airflow of the awnings, the amount of shade provided and the ability to withstand wind.

A high score in the quality category meant that the canopy seemed incredibly sturdy and strong and gave testers confidence that it would last for many years.

Travel and Leisure / Lindsay Boyers

The testers refrained from seeing the price of the awnings until they had judged the other attributes of the range. Once the price was revealed, they wondered if they would personally buy the awning and recommend it to friends or family. High-priced items that received a higher value rating were expected to have excellent scores in all other categories, and testers were asked to defend the substantial costs. Low-priced items were considered good value when testers felt the quality exceeded expectations given their affordability.

Other Beach Canopies We’ve Tested

Two of the awnings we tested had several attributes that impressed our team but had weaknesses that ultimately dropped them from our list of recommendations.

WhiteFang Beach Tent: This very portable and affordable tent has three windows that allow for excellent air circulation. However, our tester was frustrated with the time it took to set up and take down the tent.

WolfWise Easy Up Beach Tent: The WolfWise Easy Up Beach Tent performed satisfactorily in every other attribute category we tested, but our tester didn’t think any of them were exceptional enough to justify the list price. rather high.

Tips for buying a beach awning

Look for a lightweight, breathable fabric that provides UV protection

The lightweight material is doubly functional when it comes to beach canopies, as it makes them more portable and also helps keep temperatures down while in use. Breathable fabrics like polyester and spandex are also great for providing airflow. Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a beach canopy fabric is its level of sun protection. A material’s ultraviolet protection factor indicates how much UVB and UVA radiation it allows to reach your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation considers a UPF of at least 30 to provide “good” protection, while a UPF of 50 or more is considered “excellent.” Regardless of your awning’s UPF, you should always wear sunscreen at the beach.

Know the difference between waterproof and water resistant

If you are looking for a beach awning that can protect you from the sun’s rays and rain, be sure to choose one that is specifically labeled as waterproof. Water-resistant materials repel liquids and resist penetration to some degree, but anything beyond a short drizzle is likely to pass through them. Only waterproof products are able to withstand prolonged downpours and are totally immune to water damage when immersed.

Think carefully about the size

No one wants to play musical shade when losers are left baking in the sun. Study the dimensions of the beach canopies you are considering buying and keep in mind that you will want to fit chairs, towels and coolers in the covered area in addition to the number of people who intend to use it . Since awnings help provide vital protection from harmful rays, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consider that bigger is better. However, keep in mind that the packed size of the awning will affect ease of transport and storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are beach canopies and tents allowed on all beaches?

    The vast majority of beaches in the United States allow tents and canopies, however, there are several exceptions. For example, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina places certain restrictions on the size of structures you can put up on the beach at certain times of the year. It’s always a good idea to check the local rules before bringing your sail to the beach.

  • How do I prevent my beach awning from blowing away?

    Most awnings are secured with a combination of stakes and sandbags. Be sure to fill the sandbags to capacity and completely bury the tree of all stakes in the ground. If your awning has a floor element, you can make it even safer by weighing it down with your belongings. On particularly windy days, you may want to open windows and moveable walls to reduce the risk of the structure blowing away.

  • How to close a pop-up beach tent?

    Your beach tent should come with its own manufacturer specific troubleshooting instructions. Always read the guide before heading to the beach so you don’t have to digest it for the first time after a long day of surfing. Be sure to clean all sand and other debris from your tent before packing it up. If your tent has gotten wet, prevent mold by opening it up and letting it air dry in the sun after you get home.

Why trust Travel + Leisure

T+ L editors are shopping, travel gear and product experts who use their personal experience and customer recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. Writer and editor Lydia Price specializes in outdoor products and would definitely prefer to be on a beach right now. She used substantial research as well as in-depth insights from our real-world testing team to curate this list of the best beach awnings.

Next: The Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Do you like it a lot? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products every week.