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The Best Beach Canopies of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Sep 10, 2023Sep 10, 2023

We focused on portability, ease of assembly, durability, and overall performance while testing the best beach canopies for keeping your cool in the sun.

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Travel + Leisure / Monica Aguinaga

If you ask us, you should always bring your own canopy to the beach. First and foremost, it's crucial to have some physical protection from damaging sun rays. In addition, features like storage pockets, privacy walls, and rain covers take the comfort and convenience of your oceanside stay to a new level.

Beach canopies come in a variety of sizes and styles, from four-sided pop-up tents to free-flowing fabric that cast vast areas of shade. We put 20 of the most popular and innovative canopies out there to the test, carefully assessing their performance on the sand firsthand. Our favorites are quick and easy to set up, have high ultraviolet protection factors (UPF) to mitigate the risk of skin damage, and include thoughtful amenities that truly made testing them a day at the beach.


From large windows to an extra-long ground cover, this spacious, easy-to-assemble pop-up tent is packed with features that make the beach practically feel like home.

It's hard to roll the tent up and put it back in its storage bag by yourself.

The Lightspeed Quick Cabana was the unequivocal MVP of our beach getaway. And when we compared beach canopies stat to stat, none could topple this easy-to-use pop-up tent. The widest tent we tested, it feels cavernous with two adults inside and is perfectly comfortable with three. It's only 6.1 pounds, and its over-the–shoulder bag was easy to carry along with a beach tote, chair, and small cooler. Setup is straightforward: take the tent out of the bag, stake it down, fill the sandbags, and pull the frame upwards before clicking it into itself. On the sunniest days, we relished in the spacious shade provided by the UPF 50-rated material and extra-long ground cover that keeps hot sand away. When we got caught in a tropical rain storm, we were pleasantly surprised to find that this water-resistant tent kept us perfectly dry despite the downpour. Three large windows with removable shades allowed us to adjust levels of privacy, ventilation, and shade when necessary. Thanks to the sandbags, the tent didn't even budge under heavy gusts of wind.

Numerous backpacks, totes, coolers, and speakers also stayed cool under the tent's cover, and we loved the pockets for keeping track of our phones and other small valuables. We do caution that while it's easy to set up with one person, it is a little difficult to roll up the tent and put it back in its bag without an extra set of hands. The tent comes with one buckled strap to help keep it rolled, and packing would be a cinch if more of those were included. Still, this roomy, breathable beach tent is a practically effortless way to lounge in luxury.

Price at time of publish: $100

The Details: 94 x 54 x 48 inches | 6.1 pounds | UPF 50 | Water-resistant


Out of all the canopies we tried, this was one of the easiest to set up.

It's smaller than our best overall, the Lightspeed Quick Cabana, and has one less window.

We love that the Pacific Breeze Beach Tent's sizable storage pocket is placed at the top of the tent, so our belongings are always shaded and less likely to get wet or sandy. Along with its breathable, UPF 50+ material, the canopy is designed with two adjustable windows for airflow control. Lightweight and compact, it's easy to carry to and from the beach. The assembly process is extremely simple — you just take it out of its carrying case, pull the ropes on top of the tent until it clicks into place, and fill the sandbags. Taking it down when your beach day is over is just as easy.

Although this was a strong contender to be our best overall beach canopy, we ultimately decided the Lightspeed Quick Cabana's additional space, extra window, and overall impressive performance helped it edge ahead for the win. However, this beach canopy is still a wise and more cost-conscious choice.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 86.4 x 46.8 x 48 inches | 4.45 pounds | UPF 50+ | Water-resistant

Travel + Leisure / Monica Aguinaga

Travel + Leisure / Monica Aguinaga

Travel + Leisure / Monica Aguinaga


The extended floor can be zipped up to form a complete tent, it rolls up to a very compact size for transport, and it's among the best value canopies we tried.

Assembly is best done with two people and is difficult in the wind.

Ample ventilation and a tiny carrying size impressed us, but it's this tent's unique extra wall that really won us over. Having a completely enclosed space made it easy to change clothes and diapers, breastfeed, and even use the tent for sleeping. Three ventilation windows and two convenient pockets earned even more comfort points.

Be aware that the tent's light weight made it susceptible to blowing away in the wind during assembly. It was also difficult for us to assemble the fiberglass rods when the wind was blowing. However, since the tent is sturdy once set up, roomy, and able to provide invaluable moments of oceanside privacy, we still think it's more than worth the attractive price tag.

Price at time of publish: $40

The Details: 83 x 55 x 46 inches | 4 pounds | UPF 50+ | Not water-resistant


Popular for a reason, this trendy shade keeps the beach party going with easy assembly and amble coverage.

It's by far the most expensive canopy we tested, and it only provides overhead coverage.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in beach towns, you’ve probably spotted Shibumi's signature two-color canopy. It generated a lot of buzz by being super portable and casting a massive shadow designed to cover four to six people.The Shibumi only has two pieces: the durable pole that forms its curved frame and one large piece of fabric attached to the carrying case that doubles as a sandbag. It works with the ocean breeze to produce a sail-like canopy that casts 150 square feet of shade in the right light. You do need wind speeds of at least 3 miles per hour to keep the canopy afloat, but most beach days easily meet this threshold.

We tested this canopy during a particularly windy day at the beach, and it stayed perfectly secure the entire time. Although it's on the high end of the beach-coverage price spectrum, we’re confident we’ll get years of use out of the high-quality shade that was produced with recycled plastic. To validate the Shibumi hype even more, assembly and teardown were quick and easy, and the sound of the canopy flapping in the wind made our beach days even more relaxing.

Price at time of publish: $270

The Details: 150 square feet of shade | 4 pounds | UPF 50+ | Not water-resistant

Travel + Leisure / Lindsay Boyers

Travel + Leisure / Lindsay Boyers

Travel + Leisure / Lindsay Boyers


With its light weight, easy setup, and loads of features for enhancing your day in the sun, this roomy cabana is a welcome beach-day staple.

It's weight and length make it a bit cumbersome to carry.

At 7.5 feet tall, this spacious sun cover will start your beach day off right with a quick and easy assembly. Simply drive the drill-ended pole into the sand, unfurl the umbrella-style top to attach it to the pole, and weigh down the bags at the bottom of the four posts with sand. While this canopy provides plenty of shade when it's assembled, it folds down to a compact size for hassle-free transportation. It's the lightest canopy on our list at just over 2 pounds and comes with a shoulder-strap carrying case.

The fabric is waterproof, so you can wait out those coastal rain showers under it if you have to. You can also hang up the removable wall for extra shade and privacy or leave it off for a more airy feel and panoramic beach views. When it's not attached to the cabana, the wall can be used as a blanket to sprawl out on. Mesh storage pockets on each of the posts help you slip into relaxation mode instead of worrying about phones overheating or getting lost in the sand.

Price at time of publish: $90

The Details: 90 x 72 x 72 feet | 10 pounds | UPF 50+ | Waterproof

Travel + Leisure / Kaya Abrahamson

Travel + Leisure / Kaya Abrahamson

Travel + Leisure / Kaya Abrahamson


It's slightly smaller than our best overall pick.

There's no window in the back of the tent for extra ventilation.

The Oileus XL Beach Tent was yet another canopy that earned a perfect score during our testing. It offers everything you need in a beach tent and then some. We loved how it's lightweight and easy to set up, has a UPF of 50+, and is constructed of durable material that’ll keep you dry if you get caught in the rain. Unlike many beach tents, it has a ground sheet that extends beyond its frame. The extra 4.5 feet of coverage helps keep sand away from the inside of the tent and provides more room for stretching out. Best of all, you can velcro the outer flap to the top of the tent when you need some privacy from the crowds. The Oileus XL has two mesh pockets to help keep things organized and comes in the widest range of colors of the products we tested, including pink and khaki.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 91.2 x 45 x 45 inches | 4 pounds | UPF 50+ | Waterproof

Travel + Leisure / Jamie Griffin

Travel + Leisure / Jamie Griffin

We tested 20 canopies on beaches across the country, setting them up using only instructions included by the manufacturer and using them for at least two to three hours before breaking them down and preparing them to be transported again. After compiling and comparing all of our testing insights, we rated the canopies on a scale of one to five in five key areas: portability, ease of use, performance, durability, and overall value.

When it came to portability, the highest scoring canopies were lightweight, comfortable to carry due to well-placed straps, and compact enough for easy storage when folded down.

To receive a perfect score in ease of use, canopies had to be simple to set up, break down, and put back into carrying cases as well as include extra features that made them especially useful or enjoyable.

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

A top score in the durability category meant the canopy seemed to be made with high-quality materials and gave us confidence that it would last for many years.

When determining value, we considered whether we would personally purchase the canopy and recommend it to friends or family. High-priced items that received a top value rating had to have great scores in all other categories, and we were able to thoroughly defend the substantial costs. Lower-priced items were considered a good value when we felt the quality was higher than expected given the affordability.

Two of the beach canopies we tested nearly made our recommendation list but fell short in a few key areas. You may still find that they’re the canopies best suited to meet your specific needs.

Neso 1 Beach Tent: The Neso 1 has an attractive minimalist design that's easy to carry. However, it needs a lot of space to set up and took us too much time to assemble.

Sun Ninja Pop-up Beach Tent: We love this shade's lightness and compact size for travel, but wind became a huge problem when we used it at the beach.

Travel + Leisure / Jamie Griffin

Lightweight material is dually functional when it comes to beach canopies, as it makes them more portable and also helps keep temperatures down while they’re 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 higher is rated as "excellent." Regardless of your canopy's UPF, you should always wear sunscreen at the beach.

If you’re looking for a beach canopy that can definitely protect you from the sun's rays and rain, be sure to choose one that is specifically labeled as waterproof. Water-resistant materials repel liquid and resist penetration to a certain degree, but anything beyond a short drizzle runs the risk of soaking through them. While some of the water-resistant canopies we tested kept us dry in the rain, only waterproof products are guaranteed to withstand a prolonged downpour and are completely impervious to water damage when submerged.

No one wants to play musical shade when the losers are left baking in the sun. Study the dimensions of the beach canopies you’re thinking about buying, and keep in mind you’ll want to fit chairs, towels, and coolers in the covered area in addition to however many people intend to use it. Since canopies contribute to vital protection from harmful rays, it's best to err on the side of caution and consider bigger to be better. However, keep in mind the canopy's packed size will affect how easy it is to transport and store.

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

Most canopies are secured by a combination of stakes and sandbags. We've found that in most cases, sandbags are more reliable than stakes on loose ground, so be sure they are filled to capacity. If your canopy has a floor component, you can make it even more secure by weighing it down with your belongings. On particularly windy days, you may want to open any windows and removable walls to lessen the risk of the structure flying away.

Your beach tent should come with its own specific breakdown instructions from the manufacturer. Always read through the guide before heading to the beach so you don't have to digest it for the first time after a long day of enjoying the surf. Be sure to clean all sand and other debris out of your tent before packing it up. If your tent got wet, prevent molding by opening it back up and letting it air dry in the sun once you get home.

Lydia Price is a commerce editor at T+L, where she writes, edits, and tests products for review in the outdoor travel and activities space. There's almost nowhere she’d rather be than a great beach, and she's always looking for the latest and greatest in outdoor gear and apparel. For this article, she tested beach canopies during a stay at her family home on Miami Beach.

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