Australia's beaches are among the best in the world, but they come at a cost - we also have some of the harshest sunshine in the world. But thanks to the best beach shelters, you can stay cool and protected from harmful UV rays next time you're at the beach.
There are loads of beach shelters on the market, including everything from simple two-person pop-up models to large family tents. I've reviewed countless options to bring you the following list of the best beach shelters and tents for Australian conditions.
Which one will you choose?
My Review Process
To review the best beach shelters, I've combined my camping and outdoors experience with product research and, in some cases, real-life experience.
For me, the best beach shelters should provide adequate protection from the wind and rain, should provide a decent amount of shade, and should be easy to set up and take down. You should also look for something that's durable and easy to transport.
Every model on this list excels in at least a few of these areas - if not all of them. On top of this, a few of the beach shelters below come with some nifty extra features, so keep your eyes peeled!
The Pacific Breeze Sand & Surf has snuck into my number-one position because of its neat pop-up design and spacious interior. It offers excellent privacy, is built with tough, lightweight material, and features pre-attached fibreglass poles.
What's more, it has five large sand pockets for stability, and the mesh windows can be opened or closed as required. Overall, this is a leading option that you just have to consider!
This cheap, water-resistant pop-up beach shelter is the perfect option for families on a tight budget. It can be set up in seconds, comes with a front-opening door and large mesh windows, and folds up to a compact disk for easy transporting.
What's more, it's one of the best cheap beach tents I've seen. Granted, it doesn't have a load of internal space and it lacks advanced features, but I'd definitely suggest giving it a look.
This CoolCabanas beach cabana tent is up there with the top models I've seen. It offers a high level of protection, comes with a central pole for maximum support, and can be set up and taken down by one person.
To ensure it doesn't blow away in unfavourable weather conditions, you can fill the included bags with sand. The main downside is that this larger-size shelter is quite bulky and a little heavy when it's folded up, but this is a minor con.
This Neso beach shelter is one of the best canopy-style shelters I've seen. It features a UPF 50+ UV protection rating, and there are four large sand pockets that provide excellent stability.
What's more, it has a high front so you don't have to worry about hitting your head and it's super lightweight and portable. Five out of five stars for what this beach canopy tent option is, and I'd seriously recommend considering it for your next beach adventure.
Want a high-quality, no-frills beach tent that offers excellent protection from windy, rainy, and hot weather? Need something that's easy to throw up when you get to the beach?
This Pacific Breeze beach sun tent has it all. The unique hub system enables rapid setup, and the built-in windows offer excellent ventilation. An option seriously worth considering!
This Red Suricata sunshade is an affordable beach shelter that's perfect for families and larger groups. It features four corner poles and four sandbags attached to guy lines for maximum stability, and it's fully waterproof for rain protection.
What's more, it has a high roof so you can stand up when you're inside, and the adjustable poles let you lower it closer to the ground for extra stability.
The Qipi beach cabana certainly isn't the cheapest option on this list, but it's the perfect beach gazebo - in my opinion at least!
For starters, it's super easy to set up. It comes with a built-in side wall that adds a little protection in windy weather, and there are four built-in sand pockets for extra stability. You will also benefit from an excellent one-year factory warranty, which is nice to see.
This basic yet attractive pop-up beach tent is simple and affordable. It lacks advanced features, but it's a great option if you're looking for basic sun and wind protection when you're by the water.
One thing I do like is the zippered side and rear windows, which offer excellent ventilation. There's room for 2-3 people to sit or lay side by side, and it comes with a full one-year warranty.
If you're looking for a cheap beach tent that you can rely on, I'd suggest giving this Mobihome shelter a close look.
Want a family beach tent with awesome features? If so, you can't go past the Easthills Outdoors Instant Shader.
This pop-up tent boasts an innovative opening mechanism, UPF 50+ sun protection, and space for four people to comfortably enjoy the beach. There are numerous awesome features, including excellent airflow, numerous internal storage pockets, and a zippered front so you can enjoy a high level of privacy if you need to.
Last, but certainly not least, is the SUN NINJA beach shelter. This canopy-style shelter is excellent for day trips to the beach or the park, and it comes with a sand shovel and grass pegs.
You can choose from four-person and eight-person models, and there's a one-year extended warranty on all purchases. The lack of walls means that this tent isn't great in rain or windy conditions, but it remains a leading option.
Types Of Beach Shelters
There are a few different types of beach shelters on the market. Here are four of the most common models you will see.
Pop-Up Beach Tents
Simple pop-up shelters usually come with built-in poles and small windows, making them perfect for putting up quickly on the sand. Most pop-up shelters are a little small in size, but they range from small one or two-person models to larger family-size shelters.
Another thing worth noting about popup shelters is that they usually have three walls, which means that they offer excellent protection from rain, wind, and blown sand.
Canopy shelters offer great sun protection, but they aren't great in strong wind. Most canopies have a simple canvas or fabric sheet design with one or two poles for central support. They are held in place with ropes and pegs and tend to be super lightweight and easy to put up.
The main selling point of canopy shelters is that they are larger and offer more headroom than smaller pop-up tents. They are excellent for things like family picnics or parties.
Cabana beach shelters look very similar to a pop-up gazebo. They have four legs, no walls (usually), and decent headspace so you don't have to duck when you're going in and out. Cabanas are also large, with loads of space and a decent sheltered area.
And they are becoming increasingly popular in Australia - I'm sure you saw at least a few models on the beach last summer!
The main downside of cabana shelters is that they don't offer much privacy, but this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
How To Choose The Best Beach Shelters
There are loads of beach tents on the market, which can make it feel impossible to choose the right option. Here are a few important decision-making factors to keep at the front of your mind.
As always, the first thing to think about is how much you're willing to spend on a beach shelter. Prices range from well under $100 to $500 plus for high-end models, so this step is important to ensure you don't spend more than you can afford.
Ease Of Setup
There's nothing worse than spending half an hour trying to get your beach sun shade up when all you want to do is jump in the water. I'd suggest going for a lightweight beach tent that's very easy to put up. You could even practice putting it up once or twice at home so you know what you're doing!
A couple of things to think about here:
- The weight and bulk of your tent. This is mainly important if you're going to have to carry it long distances, such as when you're hiking or backpacking.
- The capacity of your tent. Make sure you go for something big enough to provide plenty of shade for your family and friends.
Of course, your beach shelter tent should provide a strong level of sun protection. Portable beach shade is essential in the summer months, and I'd suggest looking for maximum UV protection and a sizable shade footprint.
Australia's tough sun and harsh conditions can cause all sorts of issues with poorly made tents for beach camping. In windy conditions, they can rip. Models with a poor UV rating can experience sun damage, and you may find your shelter falling apart after just a few weekends by the water.
The bottom line: Find a tent that's durable and designed for Australian conditions.
It's important to select a beach shelter option that can be anchored solidly. Unfavourable weather conditions can come up unexpectedly, and you don't want your tent to blow away!
Some smaller beach sun shelters come with sand pockets or sand bags that can be filled to anchor your shelter. Others use sand pegs and guy lines, while some use a combination of the two.
Last, but certainly not least, I'd suggest paying particular attention to how stable the beach sun shelters you're looking at are. You will want to get something that will stand up to windy weather. Otherwise, a simple random gust of wind could be enough to send your shelter tumbling along the sand.
The best overall beach shelter is the Pacific Beach Sand & Surf pop-up tent. It's closely followed by the budget-friendly ZOMAKE pop-up beach tent, the CoolCabanas cabana shelter, and the Neso Grande canopy tent.
The other six options on my list are definitely worth considering as well - so don't overlook them!
What are you waiting for? Get your research out of the way, select the best beach shelter for your needs, and get out and enjoy the sand, sun, and surf!
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.