A beach day with the family is a great way to build lasting memories. But you need some shade from the sun. And if your beach doesn’t have a lot of natural shade, you’ll need to make your own. In this article we’ll look at portable and packable beach shade ideas to help you enjoy the day without feeling “exposed” all day long.
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Table of Contents
List of portable Beach Shade Ideas
Below are some products you can bring to the beach, put up and enjoy your own refreshing patch of shade.
Not all of these ideas will work for you and your family, but hopefully at least one of them will do the trick.
We usually use an umbrella and/or a beach tent when we go to the beach, but these options may not be perfect for you.
Scroll through all the ideas to see what’s right for you.
1) Beach Umbrellas
Beach umbrellas are a classic and popular choice for providing shade at the beach.
These large, colorful umbrellas are easy to set up and offer a good amount of shade for individuals or couples.
The best thing about beach umbrellas is their portability. They’re lightweight and usually come with a carrying case, making them easy to throw in the trunk and bring to the beach.
And since they’re easy to set up, you can move them throughout the day to shade against the changing angle of the sun.
The umbrella shown above is a popular and well-rated umbrella with wind vents from the company AMMSUN.
Cons of Beach Umbrellas
The downside is that I don’t trust most umbrellas in windy conditions.
It’s very important to anchor the umbrella securely into the sand to prevent it from blowing away.
But even then, I’ve seen umbrellas with the corkscrew bottoms pull out of the sand and become airborne projectiles from wind gusts.
So, I like to close up our umbrella if I’m venturing out into the water for awhile. I don’t want my umbrella to hurt someone while I’m swimming.
To help secure your beach umbrella better and weigh it down, you could get something like the BeachBUB sand bag for umbrellas. (Shown below) I haven’t seen one in real life yet, but the idea looks promising.
Another downside to beach umbrellas is they provide shade primarily just from above and may not offer much shade from the sides. To help remedy this, you can look for a tilting beach umbrella.
And unless you have a massive umbrella, or several umbrellas, there may not be enough shade for everyone in your family.
Overall, beach umbrellas are a lightweight, easy to set up, and cost-effective option for beachgoers looking for quick and easy shade. Just be mindful of the wind and close your umbrella if you’re leaving it unattended.
2) Beach Canopies
I’m seeing more and more canopies on our local beaches.
They are large and take up a lot of real estate along the beach.
So honestly, it is a bit annoying if only two people are under a massive canopy, but they are good for groups or families.
Actually, for a family they probably save space because instead of each person in a group having an umbrella and stretching out along the beach, now they can congregate together under the ample shade of one canopy.
There is plenty of room to sit under them, have a picnic, cook some food, or to take a nap.
There are tons of brands of pop-up style canopies on the market. All the major retailers seem to sell them now.
The canopy above is a well-rated canopy from the company E-Z UP that you can purchase on Amazon.
It has a 10’10’ footprint with an 8’x8′ canopy providing 64 square feet of shade.
And Walmart sells a straight-leg canopy from MF Studio that currently has a crazy-high rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. (A lot higher than their Ozark Trail canopy.)
Weigh your Canopy Down
We live in a windy area so it is essential to weigh the canopy down.
Screw-down legs or stakes aren’t adequate in a strong wind on the beach. They’ll pull right out of the sand.
To help secure your canopy you can buy sand bag kits to weigh down your canopy. See those black bags in the picture below…those are sand bag anchors.
What I like about the sand bag kits is that you don’t have to pack heavy weights with you. Just pack the empty bags and fill them with sand at the beach.
Cons of Beach Canopies
Another downside to beach canopies is that they can be heavier and bulkier to carry compared to the other beach shade ideas.
Most of them weigh in around 30 pounds.
Plus, setting them up requires assembly that may be tricky on your own.
Overall, beach canopies are an excellent way to provide shade for large groups of friends and families.
We’ve considered getting a canopy and hauling it around with our MAC Sports wagon, but that may be a purchase for next summer.
3) Qipi Beach Cabana
The Qipi Beach Cabana is a popular product that offers both shade and privacy.
It is like an umbrella, a canopy and a shade tent in one.
This 6’x6′ cabana can be used as an airy canopy, or you can attach the side wall (to any side) to provide some privacy and even more shade.
There are sandbags on the bottom of each leg to help secure the product against the wind.
And there are even little storage pockets on each leg so you can store sunscreen, drinks, keys, etc…
You screw the central pole down into the ground, pop up the top like an umbrella, then put sand into each foot pocket to stabilize it.
And throughout the day, as the sun travels across the sky, you can put the sidewall onto different sides of the canopy to block the sun.
The downside to this product – at least compared to other beach canopies – is that the central pole can get in the way. You can sit in chairs on each side of the pole, but you can’t spread out one big beach blanket under it.
And some reviewers claimed it didn’t stand up to stiff winds. Something to keep in mind.
But if you want a smaller canopy with a removable sidewall, storage pockets and built-in sandbag anchors, you could this may work for you.
4) Beach Tent (Lightspeed Beach Tent)
Beach tents are a fantastic choice for individuals or small groups who want their own partially-enclosed space on the beach.
These tents are designed to be lightweight, compact, and easy to set up.
The best beach tents are made from durable materials that provide protection from UV rays and have good ventilation to keep you cool.
We have a Lightspeed Bahia beach pop-up tent. (You can see it in the picture above.) And it truly is easy to set up.
I’ve never timed it, but I’d say it takes less than 30 seconds to set up. (Plus, additional time to fill the sand pockets.)
It has a UPF rating of 50 and three zippered windows that you can close for privacy or open up for ventilation.
It is a great little shelter for the beach. But notice how I said “little”. It is a small beach tent at just over 3.5-feet tall.
It was great when our daughter was a baby. I don’t know if this is the best baby beach tent out there, but it worked for us.
The Lightspeed beach tents have sand pockets to help weigh them down.
Our Bahia model has three sand pockets.
Plus, since ours has a floor, I put our cooler onto the floor for additional weight and it helps shade the cooler.
It is lightweight – less than 5 pounds – and is surprisingly easy to put back into its carry bag. (Yes it actually goes back into its bag.)
Downside of Beach Tents
A downside to a beach tent is that it doesn’t provide a large shady area for kids to play in the sand. Sure, a beach tent is great to relax in, but if you have an active child that wants to play in the sand this isn’t going to shade them. Something to keep in mind.
My thoughts on Beach Tents
Beach tents are perfect for those who want privacy or need a sheltered area for children or napping.
However, you need to consider the tent’s size and how easy it is to set-up.
Some beach tents may be smaller and suitable for one or two people, while others are larger and can accommodate a small family.
Choose a beach tent that fits your family size and needs.
We got our beach tent at Canadian Tire, but you can find similar tents at other retailers. (Like the tent below.)
5) Pacific Breeze Beach Tent
The Pacific Breeze Beach Tent is another popular beach tent.
This beach tent is known for its simple setup and has a design similar to our Lightspeed Bahia tent.
But this tent is designed for 4+ people while our little Bahia is a tight fit for 2 people.
This has a hub system that allows for quick assembly and disassembly – even for one person.
It is lightweight, and easy to transport.
Just remember to fill the sand pockets to help weigh it down.
Overall, the Pacific Breeze Beach Tent is a popular choice for its convenience, size, and reliable sun protection.
6) Shibumi Shade (a wind-powered sun shade)
The Shibumi Shade is a beach shade option with a unique design.
For most beach shade ideas you want to avoid the wind, but the Shibumi Shade actually harnesses the wind in order to create shade.
It consists of a large fabric shade attached to telescoping poles. The fabric blows in the wind creating an airborne canopy above your head. (Like a kite or flag.)
The Shibumi Shade is lightweight and collapsible. It is easy to carry and store.
This is a good option for beaches with a low and steady wind. Some people don’t like the flapping sound it makes, but others have compared it to the ripple of a waving flag.
But it may not be in your price range. I’ll let you decide that. Click the button below to see.
7) Sport-Brella “Super Brella” Umbrella Canopy (SPF 50+ rating)
The Sport-Brella Super Brella Canopy is a popular choice for beach shade.
This canopy combines the features of a beach umbrella and a beach tent in one cool product.
The Sport-Brella Canopy is designed to withstand windy conditions by having zippered windows for the wind to blow through, and it comes with ground stakes. Plus, if it starts to rain, you can huddle under this umbrella.
This doesn’t have a floor so you’ll need to have a towel or beach blanket to put down on the sand.
Will this work for you?
8) Sun Ninja Beach Tent
Doesn’t this thing look wild!
It kind of looks like an insect with hooves.
But the hooves are actually large sand bags to help anchor the tent against strong winds.
The Sun Ninja Beach Tent is a well-rated and popular option that can be set-up in two different ways.
- You can put four of the poles under the fabric to create a canopy or
- you can put just two poles under the fabric to create a lean-to style of beach tent.
The canopy configuration is open and airy, while the lean-to configuration provides a more private setting.
I haven’t used one yet, but I’ve read that it may require some practice to become familiar with the setup process. It looks easy to set-up, but it may take a few times to get quick at it. (Like most things in life.)
The Sun Ninja Beach Tent is a good choice because it gives you the option of having an open-air canopy and a beach tent in one product.
9) Neso Tent
The Neso tent has a similar design to the Sun Ninja Beach Tent, but the Neso tent only comes with 2 poles.
So you can set it up as a lean-to structure, but you can’t prop it up as a full canopy…at least not without buying a second set of poles which are sold separately.
I recently saw one of these tents at a local beach.
It shaded the family well and they were able to put it up quite easily. They were able to put two beach chairs side-by-side and enjoy the view of the lake.
10) Umbrella for your Beach Chairs
Do you just need some personal shade while you’re relaxing in your beach chair?
Check out this clamp-on umbrella called the Versa-Brella from the Sport Brella company.
You can attach it to the tubular frame of your existing beach chair as long as the chair’s frame isn’t larger than 1.5″.
If you primarily just swim then relax on a beach chair, this could be a great option for you. And you can use it to watch sporting events, or even clamp it onto your golf bag for a round on the course.
It is well-rated with thousands of customer-submitted ratings.
11) Water Float with Shade Canopy
I realized that all the shade ideas I’ve listed so far provide shade on land.
But what about shade while on the water?
Well, here is a floatie with a removable canopy to help shade you while lounging on the water.
Will this help you out on your beach days?
Thank you very much for checking out these beach shade ideas.
We’ve covered options ideal for large families – like beach canopies – and even personal shade ideas like clamp-on umbrellas for your beach chair.
Think about the size of your group that goes to the beach and choose a shade idea that will work for your troop.
I hope this list has given you some ideas on how you can get more shade at the beach this year.
Do your beach chairs get in the way? Check out these Beach Chair Storage Ideas.
Want some shade ideas for home? Check out these backyard shade ideas.
Tim from LearnAlongWithMe.com