9 Best Beach Tents and Canopies for Families of 2021 (Buyer’s Guide)

Is anything better than a day at the beach with the family? While the sand and surf are fun and relaxing, you want to take precautions to ensure everyone avoids too much sun and heat. To stay protected from dangerous UV rays and give your family some privacy on the shore, you’ll want to bring along a source of shade.

The best beach tents and canopies for families feature durable materials, easy assembly, portability, and more. If you’re searching for the ideal option, your complete guide, including eight beach canopy and tent reviews, starts right now:

The Best Beach Tents and Canopies for Families Updated 2021

We’ve rounded up the best canopies and tents for the beach for 2021. While we’ve selected a few that are great for general-purpose use, the list is presented in no particular order. Instead, we’ve picked structures that appeal to many different needs, so you can find one that suits you perfectly.

1. Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent – Best Overall Beach Tent

With Pacific Breeze’s large and feature-filled beach tent, the whole family has plenty of room to rest and play. It’s 95 inches long, 52 inches high, and 51 inches deep, with a spacious interior that fits three to four adults. Plus, not only does the interior have lots of room, but it’s accessorized with side pockets and clothing hooks.

It’s made from water-resistant polyester, with UPF 50 sun protection and a lightweight fiberglass frame. Three extra-large windows allow for comfortable ventilation, with polyester shades that roll down to block out sunlight or rain.

One interesting feature of this tent is how the front wall unzips to open completely. You can basically remove a wall, turning the tent into a temporary canopy. It’s one of the most well-ventilated tent options on our list.  

It weighs just six pounds with dimensions of 38 inches long, six inches wide, and six inches high when folded down. Aside from the tent, you also get a carrying case plus four stakes and five sand pockets to help with stability.

Pros:

  • Large size fits four adults
  • The front section unzips for increased ventilation
  • Sun protection of UPF 50
  • Roomy interior with side pockets and hooks

Cons:

  • Stitching isn’t especially tight
  • Thicker material would help cool the interior

2. Neso Portable Canopy Sun Shelter – Best Overall Beach Canopy

Neso’s open-air canopy is an excellent blend of durability, portability, and sun protection. The canopy is made from a nylon and lycra blend with reinforced corners, supported by flexible but strong aluminum poles.

The unique anchor system attaches to rocks, sand, and other natural materials. You don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy sandbags. Plus, the setup is easy and fast. It requires about two to three feet beyond the perimeter of the tent.  

One major feature to note here is the canopy’s portability. It only weighs four pounds and folds down to fit into a carrying sack that’s about 19 inches long with a five-inch diameter.     

Finally, the synthetic material has UV protection that blocks 98% of the sun’s rays.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, portable, and includes a custom carrying case
  • Anchor system attaches to sand and rocks
  • Open-air design allows for cool ventilation
  • Durable lycra/nylon blend

Cons:

  • It doesn’t provide privacy
  • Not well-suited for high winds

3. NXONE Beach Tent Sun Shelter – Best Two-Person Beach Tent

Perfect for two, the NXONE Beach Tent is a lightweight but durable sun shelter that stays cool while still offering privacy. It’s made with 210D sun-proof fabrics and a fiberglass frame. Total dimensions are 83 inches by 55 inches by 46 inches, which is spacious enough for a couple or a couple and a small child.

The front panel unzips and turns into an extended front floor. It provides a convenient place to rest your legs or even set up a picnic. If you want more privacy, you can zip up the front floor and close the large windows.

It stays reliably secure in windy conditions due to its multiple stability options. You get three attached sand pockets, six steel stakes, plastic stakes, and four tie-down strings.

One unique feature found here is the frame. Instead of the standard 6.9-millimeter frame thickness found in most beach tents, this one is eight millimeters. The extra thickness increases the frame’s total durability while remaining lightweight and flexible.

Pros:

  • The front wall turns into an extended floor
  • Durable 8mm frame
  • Cozy and comfortable for two
  • Includes multiple steel and plastic stakes

Cons:

  • Not large enough for more than two adults
  • Assembly can seem complicated at first

4. Sun Ninja Pop Up Beach Tent – Best Sun-Protecting Canopy

Although Sun Ninja calls this a tent, it’s technically a canopy because it doesn’t have any walls. Instead, it’s a large sun shield made from a water-resistant fabric with UPF 50+. It’s one of the most effective options on our list for preventing sunburn and blocking harmful UV rays.

It’s a pop-up canopy, so you get it ready in minutes with minimal effort. Plus, keeping it secure on a variety of ground types is easy. Use the included anchors, elastic bands, and shovel for the beach or the included pegs when putting it on grass.

It’s available in three large sizes. The four-person model is seven by 7.5-feet with 5.5-foot poles and a weight of 4.8 pounds. The six-person tent is ten by 10 feet with two 6.6-foot poles and a weight of 4.8 pounds. Finally, if you want the largest option, choose the eight-person tent, which is ten by 10 feet with four six-foot poles.

At only five pounds, practically anyone can transport it. Simply slide it into the included carrying case for easy portability.

Pros:

  • Large sunscreen protects up to eight people
  • The water-resistant fabric has a UPF of 50+
  • Includes multiple anchor types for sand and grass
  • Lightweight with included carrying case

Cons:

  • Doesn’t hold up well in high winds
  • Customer service is difficult to reach

5. EzyFast Elegant Pop Up Canopy Tent – Best for Events

If you’re looking for a canopy tent for events such as a beach wedding or other formal gathering, EzyFast’s pop-up combines both quality and style. It features unique Gravity Corner Curtains, which create a sophisticated look while also helping to weigh the canopy down, so it stays in place during high winds.

It also has a full-size back wall to help block the sun and wind while adding a layer of privacy. The wall rolls up to create an open design with maximum airflow.

The base is seven by seven feet with a height of six feet, which is enough space for two to four adults. Although you’ll likely need several tents for a large event, their subtle silver coloring and flowing fabric add formal elegance to any seaside setting.

Finally, the attendees will stay safe from the sun’s harmful rays. The 190T silver-backed fabric blocks 99% of UV radiation. However, it’s also a mesh, which allows for cooling ventilation, even when the back wall is in place.

Pros:

  • Elegant design with silver coloring and draped fabric
  • It has a full-sized, removable back wall
  • The style looks good for formal events
  • Blocks 99% of UV light

Cons:

  • Open-air design
  • Fabric doesn’t repel heavy rain

6. WolfWise Easy Pop Up Beach Tent – Best for Kids

This brightly colored tent is lightweight and easy to set up, making it an excellent option for kids. Aside from use at the beach, it’s a good choice for backyard camping, sleepovers, or parties.

Its length and width are both 59.06 inches with a height of 49.21 inches, making it spacious enough for about three adults, or four to five kids.

You can feel comfortable letting your kids play in it for several reasons. First, the polyester and silver coating has a UPF rating of 50+, effectively blocking 98% of the sun’s rays. Also, it’s incredibly stable, with four wind ropes and innovative sandbags with tightening strings.

Also, kids will stay comfortably cool. Both the front door and rear wall unzip completely. Combined with the two mesh windows, you can have 360-degree ventilation, perfect for staying cool even in hot temps. You can also close up the tent completely for total privacy.

Pros:

  • Spacious enough for three to five kids
  • Protects against 98% of the sun’s rays
  • Both front and back open completely

Cons:

  • The frame doesn’t withstand high winds well

7. Kinbor Baby Portable Sun Shelter – Best for Infants

Keep baby comfortably cool and safe from the sun with Kinbor Baby’s baby beach tent. It’s specifically designed for children under the age of three.

The total dimensions are 47.5 inches by 31.5 inches by 27.5 inches. It’s made from polyester fabric with a UPF of 50+, which protects against UV rays. However, the mesh design remains breathable to make sure the interior stays well-ventilated, helping keep little ones from becoming too hot.

When bringing your baby to the beach, you already have your hands full, so this sun shelter is designed for easy transportation. It weighs 1.8 pounds and fits into a 21-inch by one-inch carrying sack. Even better, the automatic pop up feature means the tent takes less than three minutes to set up.

While it’s an effective sunshade, it’s also much more. At the bottom of the canopy is a shallow pool, which you can fill with water for the baby to sit and play in.

(You might also be interested in reading our article specially on Baby Beach Tents and Canopies)

Pros:

  • Designed for babies three and younger
  • Protects against harmful UV rays
  • It helps keep little ones cool
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Superfast, easy setup

Cons:

  • Doesn’t protect well against heavy water

8. Sport-Brella Premier Umbrella Shelter – Best “Beach Umbrella” Style

An umbrella canopy is a modern, safer twist on the classic beach umbrella. It has a 1.25-inch center pole with an oversized auger that anchors securely deep into sand, grass, and dirt. Four heavy-duty stakes and three tie-down cords help provide additional stability.

It’s an eight-foot canopy made from 79% steel and 15% fabric with two side panels, internal pockets, and zippered windows. With a UPF level of 50+, it provides the maximum amount of sun protection. Also, the twist handle allows you to easily change the angle of the umbrella, so you can block the sun throughout the day.  

Although it doesn’t offer as much privacy as a tent, you can remain somewhat secluded when the side panels are extended.

(We also have chosen the Best Beach Umbrellas for you)

Pros:

  • Classic beach umbrella design
  • The oversized auger keeps it firmly on the ground
  • Eight-foot wide canopy fits two adults
  • Steel/fabric blend provides UPF level of 50+

Cons:

  • The hinge joint can move in strong wind

9. Viewee Pop-up Canopy Tent – Largest Canopy Tent

Do you need a canopy tent that can provide cool shade for up to 10 people? Viewee’s pop-up is ten by ten feet with three height settings (186cm, 196cm, 206cm). It’s the largest canopy tent on our list, suitable for large or even commercial events.

It’s made from Oxford cloth, which resists tears, protects against UV radiation with a UPF of 50+, and is 98% waterproof. The iron frame is lightweight and sturdy. It’s also water-resistant due to phosphating and a special spraying treatment.

With a canopy of this size, stability is extra important. You get four windproof ropes, four sandbags, and eight rivets. Viewee recommends you fill the sandbags and attach them to the main frame, and then augment it with the ropes and nails. However, due to its size, you want to take it down during high winds or storms.

Another concern with a large canopy is portability. Fortunately, the Viewee pop-up is surprisingly portable thanks to its included wheel bag. You can even pull it across the sand! Its total dimensions are 186cm by 196cm by 206cm.

Pros:

  • The large canopy fits ten adults
  • Carry bag has wheels
  • Multiple anchors for reliable support
  • Durable, tear-resistant fabric

Cons:

  • Not suitable for severe weather
  • Requires strict adherence to anchor recommendations

Beach Tents and Canopies Buyer’s Guide – What to Look for to Find the Best

When selecting a sunshade, you’ll find no shortage of options. Here’s a closer look at the different types, their benefits, and how to choose the best one for your family’s needs.

Types of Beach Tents and Canopies

If you’re looking to create a cozy, shady spot for your family at the beach, you have a few options. First, you need to decide if you want a beach tent or a canopy. They’re actually not the same thing, so here’s a closer look.

Beach Tent

A beach tent looks and functions like a camping tent. They use tent poles and material to create a completely enclosed structure. Tents can have many different types of roofs, and the roof doesn’t need a frame for support.

(You should also read our article on Best Beach Camping Tents)

There are two types:

Frame

Frame tents require setup similar to a camping tent. You pitch them by assembling the poles and threading each one through the tent material. As any avid camper knows, threading the poles can sometimes be frustrating, especially in wet or windy weather.

On the plus side, frame tents typically fold down fairly small for maximum portability and easy storage.

Pop-Up

With this type, the poles are already attached to the material, but the tent is folded down. You unfold the poles or otherwise hit a type of release mechanism, and the tent “pops up” into place. They’re the easiest to set up, although some types do take up a fair amount of storage space.  

Canopy

A canopy is open on three or four sides, providing protection from the overhead sunshine while allowing for open-ended ventilation. They have peaked roofs that need a frame for support.

There are two types of canopies:

Frame

Like a frame tent, a canopy with a frame requires some assembly on your behalf. You’ll need to thread poles through the material. While setup can sometimes be a hassle, the end result is typically a much more secure canopy than the pop-up type.

Pop-Up

Pop-up tents are ready to go with much less work on your part. It’s the easiest option and is commonly found in small to medium-sized canopies.  

Benefits of Beach Tents and Canopies

Although they do have some differences, beach tents and canopies share quite a few similarities. Here’s a look at their benefits:

Shade

A day at the beach isn’t relaxing if you’re baking in the hot sun. Tents and canopies provide reliable shade. Not only does a source of shade help keep you comfortable, but it’s vital in preventing heat stroke and related issues.

Sun Protection

Beach canopies and tents can also block harmful UV rays, helping protect your skin from serious damage, including skin cancer. However, it’s important to note that not all material blocks UV rays. It must have a specific UPF rating of 30 or higher. (We’ll explain how to find what you need in the Features section.)

Rain Protection

A brief rainstorm doesn’t necessarily mean your day at the beach is over, but you do need temporary shelter, which a tent or canopy can provide. They’re made from a material that will deflect water without absorbing it.

Privacy

A beach tent allows you to create a completely private space you can change your clothes or otherwise stay out of public view. Of course, this applies only to tents, not canopies.

Provides a Play Space

Both canopies and tents are excellent play places for kids. They provide shade, sun protection, and designated boundaries.  

Features to Consider

Canopies and tents for the beach all tend to look fairly simple and similar, but subtle variations in materials and design make a big difference in their overall quality. When shopping for the best beach tents and canopies, consider the following features:

Size

Does beach time involve quiet time with you, or you and your significant other? Or when you go to the beach, do you bring along lots of family members and friends? Make sure the covering is large enough to accommodate the general number of people who will use it.

Look at the following dimensions:

  • Length
  • Depth
  • Height

The canopy needs to be both long and deep enough that everyone underneath can be completely in the shade. If folks are crowded to the point where their arms or legs are in the sun, the canopy is too small.

With a tent, the walls will protect everyone inside from the sun, but it can feel pretty claustrophobic if it’s too small.

Most tents are only tall enough for sitting or sleeping, although you can find some taller options, which are convenient for changing. Canopies typically have more headroom, especially those with peaked roofs.

Materials

Stick with either polyester or nylon. They’re the best combination of durability, flexibility, and weather resistance. If you want the strongest option, go with nylon, although it does typically add to the price. However, both options work well for either a tent or canopy.   

UV Protection

Just because a tent provides shade doesn’t mean it protects from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Instead, make sure the material has a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which is its ability to block UV rays.  

Without any additional UV protection, synthetic material such as polyester and nylon has a UPF of 15. Unfortunately, that’s below the level of protection recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Instead, follow their guidelines:

  • UPF 30 provides a minimal level of skin protection  
  • UPF 31 to 49 is considered very good protection
  • UPF 50 and above provides excellent protection

Manufacturers typically list the UPF level, as it’s a major selling point for many customers.

To increase the level, manufacturers might add chemical UV absorbers to the material. Additionally, darker colors and tight weaving can also increase a fabric’s protective capabilities.

Assembly

You don’t want to spend precious beach time wrestling with your tent or canopy. Fortunately, most modern beach canopies and tents have “pop-up” mechanisms to allow for quick and simple setup. You release the interior latch, and the tent unfolds. When it’s time to go, you bend the poles inward and slide the tent into a carry sack for effortless portability.

Traditional tents, where you slide the poles through fabric cuffs, are another option. Setting them up can get awkward, especially if the weather is anything but calm and peaceful. While they’re a little harder to find than the pop-up type, they’re still a workable option. With less moving parts, some people consider them a more durable choice.

Frame

When considering the frame materials, you want to find a balance between strength and flexibility. Most beach sun shades use fiberglass, aluminum, or stainless steel, or some combination of the three.

Steel is the heaviest of the three, which provides the most stability but also makes the structure heavier to carry. A steel frame is a good choice if you plan to pitch the tent or canopy in a windy area but don’t have to carry it far.  

Many people prefer an aluminum frame because it’s sturdy but also lightweight. Plus, it has a slight bend, allowing it to give slightly in high winds, which helps avoid breaking.

Another benefit of both aluminum and stainless steel is their corrosion resistance. Even on a sunny day, the frame will be exposed to high humidity, at the very least. Corrosion resistance helps ensure your frame stays in good shape for many years.  

Ventilation

On a sunny day, the temperatures inside a tent can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Even if you’re in the shade, spending even a small amount of time in temps that exceed 90 degrees can lead to heat cramps, exhaustion, and other issues.

Proper ventilation is about more than comfort; it’s a safety issue. Most tents have mesh windows that allow for cross airflow. You can also find tents with one or more removable walls, which you can unzip to allow for even greater ventilation.  

Closed or Open Bottom

Most tents have a closed bottom, which means they have material across the floor connecting the sides. A closed bottom has a few advantages over the open type. First, it stays dry. If it happens to rain, water will stay outside of the tent.

Also, a closed bottom helps prevent users from burning their feet on any hot sand. They help protect young children from accidental injury, especially ones young enough to crawl.

On the downside, they can be difficult to clean. Sand will get tracked in for sure. Getting it out at the end of the day can be a hassle.

With an open bottom, you’ll likely still want some type of ground covering, such as towels or a blanket. While easier to keep clean, an open bottom doesn’t provide the same level of protection against the elements.

Note that some large, open-bottom canopies, such as those used in a beach wedding, don’t work well with any type of ground cover. Instead, people are expected to wear flip-flops or other types of beach shoes.  

Should You Pick a Beach Tent or Canopy?

The distinction between the two is often a bit blurred. As discussed above, you can find tents with walls that zip down, opening them up on two sides. When combined with side windows, the airflow produced can rival a canopy. Plus, you can zip everything back up whenever you want the privacy of a tent.

However, it’s rare to find beach tents with four removable walls. Two is typically the maximum. A canopy is the best option if you want overhead protection but an otherwise open environment.

Additionally, many people feel a canopy creates better beach vibes. You can see the landscape and feel the ocean breeze better under a canopy than in a tent. Of course, you do lose a significant amount of privacy, including the ability to change clothes.

Ultimately, there’s no one right answer. Determine how many people will use the shaded shelter and what requirements you have for it. If you’re still not sure, try one of the hybrid-type tents described above.

Maintaining Your Beach Canopy or Tent

Generally, all of these beach shelters are fairly easy to care for. After all, they’re built for durability. However, routine cleaning helps keep them in great shape.

Low-tech methods work best. Unfold the tent in your backyard and spray it with a hose. Use your thumb, not a spray nozzle, to ensure the water pressure isn’t too strong.

You’ll find some people who recommend putting the material part of a tent or a canopy into the washing machine. That’s usually not a good idea. Even without the poles, the tough material, as well as any zippers or other metal objects, can potentially damage the appliance.    

Safety Tips

Due to their design, canopies and tents pose certain safety risks. Even a moderate gust of wind, hitting at just the right angle, can send your tent or canopy flying up into the air. Unfortunately, that poses a serious safety hazard, as beachgoers can end up poked or stabbed by the poles or other components.

The best safety advice is to simply never take risks. While the vinyl material can withstand a short, light sprinkling, beach structures aren’t meant to act as a shelter against strong winds and heavy storms. If the weather turns rough, pack everything, and head back to your car. Don’t try to wait out rough weather in your tent or under a canopy.

Even during a calm, sunny day, you want to make sure each sunshade is properly anchored and weighed down. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics. However, as a general rule for canopy, you want a minimum of 24 pounds anchoring each leg.  

Best Beach Tents and Canopies for Families Comparison Chart

ProductPriceSize (LxWxH)Item weight (pounds)Unique Features
Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent$86.6" x 49.2" x 47.2"4.45It fits for four adults and have UPF 50
Neso Portable Canopy Sun Shelter$81.89" x 79.92" x 66.14"3.96Ventilated, lightweight
NXONE Beach Tent Sun Shelter$83" x 55" x 46"1.74Durable, comfortable for two
Sun Ninja Pop Up Beach Tent$21.3" x 8.46" x 6.22"4.99Have sunscreen protection, lightweight
EzyFast Elegant Pop Up Canopy Tent$84" x 84" x 72"18.11Full sized, block UV rays
WolfWise Easy Pop Up Beach Tent$78.74" x 59.06" x 53.15"4.96Have pace for more than two kids, protected from sun
Kinbor Baby Portable Sun Shelter $31.5" x 47.2" x 27.6"1.38Protect against UV rays, easy to setup
Sport-Brella Premier Umbrella Shelter$53" x 3.5" x 3.5"4.4Oversized, have UPF up to 50
Viewee Pop-up Canopy Tent$120" x 120" x 98.4"37.5Have space for ten persons, bag has wheels, durable

Wrap Up

We found a lot to like with all of the options listed above. If you’re looking for a durable general-purpose tent with a hassle-free setup, go with the Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent. Prefer a canopy instead? The Neso Portable Canopy Sun Shelter has excellent ventilation and is easy to transport.

Also, check out our other picks, including canopies suitable for large events and tents small enough to protect infants and kids.

Stay safe from the sun and keep your cool by selecting the best beach tent or canopy for your family’s next day at the beach.

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