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Best Overall: Kelty Noah's Tarp Sun Shelter at Amazon
"The versatile, minimalist canopy can comfortably provide shade for four to eight people."
Best Splurge: Otentik Beach Sunshade Original at Amazon
"Constructed from high-quality Italian Eurojersey fabric."
Best for Traveling: Neso Beach Tent at Amazon
"Easily fits within the specifications for most carry-on luggage."
Best Windproof: Sport-Brella Canopy Shelter Umbrella at Amazon
"Combines the ease of opening an umbrella with the added anchoring ability of a beach tent."
Best Value: ZiggyShade Family Beach Sunshade at Amazon
"A lightweight, sturdy, and reasonably-priced sun canopy that provides 50UPF."
Best Budget: HappySummer Sunshade Beach Tent at Amazon
"A simple, functional, and affordable canopy."
Best Water-Resistant: Mad Grit Portable Beach Shade at Amazon
"Made from stretchy Lycra fabric that repels water."
Best Set-Up: Coleman Instant Canopy at Amazon
"Offers a quick, three-step set-up in just three minutes."
Best Coverage: EzyFast Elegant Pop Up Beach Shelter at Amazon
"Has a back wall that rolls up for even more sun protection."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Kelty Noah's Tarp Sun Shelter
If you’re visiting the beach with a larger group or if you need to keep coolers and other items under the shade, the Kelty Noah’s Tarp Sun Shelter is a great oversized option. Measuring 12 x 12 feet (other larger sizes are available), the versatile, minimalist canopy can comfortably provide shade (50UPF) for four to eight people. The sun canopy can be used for shade or light to heavy rain protection on the beach, as well as on camping trips and comes with a roll-top carry bag. The tarp includes several storage pouches, guy lines for easy assembly, sturdy seams, and is made from 68D polyester.
Best Splurge: Otentik Beach Sunshade Original
For a high quality, durable sunshade canopy that is simple to set up, the Otentik is worth the investment. Manufactured in Israel and constructed from high-quality Italian Eurojersey fabric, the canopy can be set up on the beach using sand to fill the drawstring anchors, or in the backyard using dirt or rocks, and even in the snow. It is easy to assemble and provides 50UPF protection from the sun, and sand does not stick to the Otentik when putting it away. On windy days, be sure to load the sand anchors with a lot of sand (they stretch). The beach shade comes in 18 different color varieties and also includes a carry bag (plus a separate pole bag).
Best for Traveling: Neso Beach Tent
If your beach vacation involves catching a flight, you’ll need a sunshade canopy that can fit into your carry-on bag or checked luggage. The Neso Beach Tent is lightweight (just four pounds), and can pack up into a 19.5-inch carry case, easily fitting within the specifications for most carry-on luggage (21 inches in length). The 7 x 7-foot portable canopy blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and is available in six different colors and patterns, including a stand-out flamingo pattern. It’s also water-resistant if a quick shower passes by. Be sure to visit the company’s website for detailed instructions on how to assemble the canopy prior to attempting it on the beach.
Best Windproof: Sport-Brella Canopy Shelter Umbrella
For a sunshade that can withstand a breezy beach, consider the Sport-Brella Super-Brella — this umbrella-canopy hybrid combines the ease of opening an umbrella with the added anchoring ability of a beach tent. Measuring 8 feet across, the portable canopy blocks 99.5 percent of UV rays for full sun protection. But it can keep you sheltered from the other elements, too: built-in vents promote airflow (so it won’t catch the wind like a sail) and the whole thing secures to the ground via the center spike and a series of stakes so your sunshade stays in the sand, even when things get windy. It’s also water repellant, which makes it useful in unpredictable beach weather and for a variety of other outdoor events.
Best Value: ZiggyShade Family Beach Sunshade
For a lightweight, sturdy, and reasonably-priced beach canopy that provides 50UPF, the Ziggy Shade is a top pick. Made from an Australian company, the canopy includes sandbag weights (that can hold a lot of sand), as well as stakes to secure it in more solid or rocky terrain. Be sure to determine the direction of the light winds before attempting to set it up, and note that it is not ideal on very windy days. The elastic Lycra fabric stretches with the sand and has two sizes: standard (5.25 x 6.55 feet) or family-sized (7.2 x 7.9 feet). The canopy comes in five bright colors and includes a carry case.
Best Budget: HappySummer Sunshade Beach Tent
If you just need a simple, functional, and affordable canopy, the HappySummer Sunshade Beach Tent is a solid choice. Priced considerably less than some of the other options, this beach canopy is also smaller, measuring 6.5 x 6.5 feet (ideal for two people but other sizes are available) and comes in five bright colors. Made of Lycra fabric that provides 50UPF protection, the canopy is machine washable, durable in winds, and is sand resistant. Additionally, it's very easy to assemble using sandbags, sturdy poles, and stakes.
Best Water-Resistant: Mad Grit Portable Beach Shade
The Mad Grit Portable Beach Shade is made from stretchy Lycra fabric that repels water, measures 6.5 x 6.5 feet, and also includes sand anchors, stakes (for backyard or park use), and steel poles. Bright neon green, red, blue, or teal make it easy to spot after a walk on the beach or a dip in the ocean. Mad Grit also donates part of its profits to charitable organizations. The beach canopy comes with a carry case that can be worn like a backpack.
Best Set-Up: Coleman Instant Canopy
A trusted name in outdoor gear, Coleman's Instant Canopy delivers exactly what its name implies: a quick, three-step set-up in just three minutes. Even more, it folds down to just one frame for easy storage. The beach canopy also wins in other areas, with a UVGuard material construction for UPF50+ sun protection, roof vents for air circulation, and rugged, Polyguard double-thick fabric that can withstand the elements. Ground stakes and pre-attached guy lines offer extra security. Available in two sizes (10 x 10 feet and 12 x 12 feet), the canopy also comes with a wheeled carry bag.
Best Coverage: EzyFast Elegant Pop Up Beach Shelter
While most beach canopies provide sufficient sun protection, the EzyFast Beach Shelter takes things up a notch with a back wall that rolls up for even more protection — along with other uses like privacy and blocking wind. In addition, the beach canopy is made of 190T fabric that blocks 99 percent of the sun's UV rays. The 27.5 x 7 x 7-inch canopy is also quick to set up, is ideal for two to four people, comes with a carrying bag, and keeps things cool with its mesh fabric. Better still, its gravity corner curtain with ties and weight-down pockets helps hold the canopy down.
What to Look for in a Beach Canopy
Take into account your group size when selecting the right canopy, and be sure to factor in the space you’ll need when you’ve got your chairs, cooler, and towels arranged. When in doubt, opt for more space rather than less. Also, consider the “pack” size—the space the canopy takes up when compressed.
If your typical jaunt to the beach doesn’t involve lots of walking or if you plan to use a beach wagon, a more rugged (read: heavier) canopy might be worth considering as it will prove more durable and is often easier to set up. But for air travelers or for long walks to the beach, lighter models can make things a lot easier without sacrificing too much performance. How you can transport the pack—with backpack straps, for example—should also be considered.
Canopy materials can vary from stretchy fabrics that give you a lot of shade for a little weight to weather-proof protection to those treated with UV or UPF protection. Some also keep sand at bay or are machine washable, which can extend the life of the canopy.