The 10 Best Beach Shelters

Updated March 18, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Beach Shelters
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Nothing can ruin a day at the shore faster than a sunburn or bad weather. That's why savvy beachgoers take a shelter with them, so they have protection from the elements. Coming in cabana and tent styles, they are durable and lightweight, and let you safely stay out longer while always having a place to retreat if necessary. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best beach shelter on Amazon.

10. Sport-Brella Portable

The Sport-Brella Portable features durable steel ribs, so it will be ready to accompany you on outings for years to come. The support pole is thin and penetrates deep into the ground, giving you some leverage against sudden gusts.
  • convenient shoulder strap
  • fabric blocks light effectively
  • prone to pinching fingers on setup
Brand Sport-Brella
Model BRE01-075
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

9. Wildhorn Quick-Up Cabana

The Wildhorn Quick-Up Cabana is basically a tent with a canopy attachment, making it easy to regulate how much sun and wind you're exposed to. It also has a lock to keep your valuables safe if you step away, although the door tends to flap in strong winds.
  • zips up for full enclosure
  • support joints are reinforced
  • side vents open only from outside
Brand WildHorn Outfitters
Model 2000002120
Weight 12.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Clam Corporation

If you need room for a big group, then the Clam Corporation offers enough room to cover a picnic table. With ultrafine screens to keep even no-see-ums out, you can relax in peace, although you may not find enough space to set it up on a crowded day at the coast.
  • no assembly required
  • center grommet to hang light from
  • ceiling droops on rainy days
Brand Clam Corporation
Model 9281
Weight 34.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Arcshell Premium

The Arcshell Premium is an excellent choice for taller individuals, with an extended dome that gives you more headroom. Also included are compartments sewn into the lining to keep your phones, keys and other personal items out of the way.
  • packs down small for air travel
  • flame-resistant
  • slightly flimsy
Brand Arcshell
Model pending
Weight 7.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Easthills Outdoors

Offering a 360-degree view of your surroundings, the Easthills Outdoors lets you relax and have a little me-time while still keeping a keen eye on your wild pack running around. It also has a zippered entrance for privacy when changing out of that soggy swimsuit.
  • inner and outer closure
  • 4 guylines for anchoring
  • somewhat difficult to pack
Brand Easthills Outdoors
Model pending
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Pacific Breeze Easy Up

The Pacific Breeze Easy Up is a cinch to set up and take down, so you can spend your day soaking up rays instead of fighting with a tent. It has pockets to store your stuff, and the large window flaps provide ample ventilation, ensuring you're comfortable all day long.
  • sandbags keep it secure
  • lightweight and easy to carry around
  • simple to fold back into bag
Brand Pacific Breeze Products
Model FBA_PBT-001-BLU
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

4. The Hamptons Baby Pop & Play

With The Hamptons Baby Pop & Play, there's no need to struggle with bulky contraptions in order to let youngsters enjoy some fresh air without getting fried. It features a small pool in the bottom for little ones to splash around in while keeping cool in the shade.
  • durable canvas material
  • offers a 50-plus upf
  • great for soft sand
Brand The Hamptons Baby
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. AI&Go Swiftopen

The AI&Go Swiftopen is 35 inches tall and has an easy release pop-up feature that makes it virtually effortless to set up in a matter of seconds. When the family is all tired out and ready to leave, simply remove your gear, fold it up and tuck it away in your handbag.
  • excellent airflow
  • interwoven mesh backing
  • accommodates 2 adults and 3 kids
Brand AI&GO
Model pending
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Genji Sports

Weighing only a little over 4 pounds, the Genji Sports would be a great addition that won't get in the way when loading the car full of kids and toys. With a near-instant setup, you can spend more time making memories and having fun in the sun.
  • 190t nylon cover
  • waterproof pe flooring
  • strong fiberglass poles
Brand Genji Sports
Model pending
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Pacific Deluxe

Constructed of breathable polyester with extra-large windows to let cool breezes blow through, the Pacific Deluxe also features five sand pockets to weigh it down, so you can enjoy a trip to the seashore without worrying about your shade blowing away.
  • floor can be extended
  • spacious enough for up to 4 people
  • carrying case included
Brand Pacific Breeze Products
Model FBA_PBT-002-BLU
Weight 7.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Which Type of Beach Shelter Makes The Most Sense for You?

Believe it or not, beach shelters are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different companies manufacture different styles. And yet the majority of beach shelters still fall into three basic categories. Below we've provided a breakdown of each one:

1. The Dome. This is the most common type of beach shelter. It has a wide and rounded top with an open face toward the front. Most Dome models can be zipped open or shut, providing varying levels of privacy, or protection from the elements, depending on your needs. Domes are the most popular type of beach shelters because they look cool, they offer room for 2-3 people, and they're easy to assemble or take apart. If you're a person with a small family who enjoys an occasional outing at the beach, a dome is probably your best bet.

2. The Gazebo. A gazebo isn't so much an honest "shelter" as it is a miniature party tent - five poles and a durable canopy that stretches tight overhead. These structures mark your territory, while also allowing enough room for standing - or even barbecuing - underneath. Gazebos block the sun, but not the wind. They are ideal for any group that is slightly larger than the traditional family, and they make just as much sense at a state park or a tailgating party as they do at the beach.

3. The Fly Tent. A fly tent is your basic triangular piece of fabric held up by several poles, perhaps even anchored by some rope and stakes (think Boy Scout tent, and you're on the right track). Fly tents are inexpensive, but they look odd on a beach. You can recline or sleep inside these shelters, but otherwise they're mostly designed for keeping delicate items in the shade.

What Do I Need to Know About A Beach Shelter Before I Buy?

The first thing you need to know is how many people you plan on taking with you during an average trip to the beach. Next, you'll want to read some product descriptions so you can start to gain a grasp of what differentiates a mediocre beach shelter from a great one. How much does each model weigh? What does the manufacturer say about assembly? Does the shelter come with a carrying case? Does that carrying case have wheels? Does it have straps or handles, ala a backpack? Does the open-ended front section of the shelter zip up for occasional privacy? Does the shelter feature plastic windows, or pouches, or zip-down storage sections inside?

Once you've gotten answers to these questions, scroll down to read some of the customer reviews. Don't be dissuaded by a single negative review. What you're looking for are consistent patterns, any selling points or complaints that rear their head again and again. Patterns represent a significant indication that you'll want to take something into account before you buy. On top of which, customers tend to be more straightforward - and emotional - than manufacturers. Customers also have the benefit of having lived with the product for a while.

Along those lines, be sure to check out what type of material each shelter is made of. Polyurethane (sometimes abbreviated as "PU" in product descriptions) is the industry standard. If the shelter's lining is made of this material, chances are it'll be both reliable and light.

A Very Brief History Of The Beach Shelter

Casual observers might look at a photo of an average beach shelter and think, Hey, wait a minute, isn't this thing just a tent? And the truth is, for the most part, those casual observers would be correct. Beach shelters are nothing more than a marketing term for what was originally known as a "beach tent." Beach tents were a derivative of the more traditional camping tents. Both structures were made of the same materials, both were built to stand up to the elements. In fact, the only aspects that differentiated an early beach tent from a similarly-shaped camping tent were an open front and a smaller size.

While most Americans have come to associate a "tent" with camping, these structures, which date all the way back to The Iron Age, were originally used to provide protection in the deserts, along with any arid lands. This, of course, means that a modern-day beach shelter serves the same basic purpose that was originally intended for a tent.

All irony aside, the popularity of beach shelters in America grew as an extension of the free-standing beach umbrella. Today's beachgoers can enjoy all of the shade originally provided by an umbrella along with an increased barrier of protection thanks to a shelter. What's more, beach shelters stand up to wind a lot more effectively than beach umbrellas do. Comparatively speaking, it'd take a significant gale to send someone sprinting down the beach after a 7-lb. shell.

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Last updated on March 18, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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