Umbrellas create shade, lower ambient temperatures and block UV rays on hot, sunny Summer days. Sitting under the canopy of a quality beach umbrella can make the difference between comfort and sweltering. When choosing an umbrella, we look for durability, wind ratings, weight and size.

We were not provided with free or discounted products to review. These recommendations were not influenced by manufacturers. We did, however, heavily consider customer reviews at retail websites when deciding which products to feature. We like these products, but we took care to make sure other customers agree. Some of the product links include affiliate codes. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

 Beach umbrella

beachBUB Umbrella system

The patented beachBUB system is our pick for the best all-around umbrella. This 9lb. system features a 35mph wind rating (you’d feel sandblasted before worrying about the umbrella), and thick poll walls. It includes a transport bag with heavy duty strap, a unique, stable base system that fills with sand, and a big 7.5ft vented SPF canopy that raises quickly. Everything about this system feels overbuilt. Setting it up is easy for anyone and takes less than 2 minutes. We love that this is an entire system designed to solve common problems, and it does so well.

 Tommy Bahama beach umbrella

Tommy Bahama 7ft Beach Umbrella

Another popular choice is the Tommy Bahama 7 foot beach umbrella. This umbrella features a 7ft, SPF/UPF100 vented canopy that tilts. To keep your umbrella anchored, an auger-style poll with twist arms. This system works well, but requires a little more muscle than the beachBub listed above. Once the auger poll is drilled in, the remaining setup is easy. This umbrella is slightly smaller and less complicated than the beachBub, and as a result it is only 4lbs. with carry case. The tilt feature is especially nice for shading the late afternoon sun. This system folds to 44 inches. Opened, it is 82 inches.

 

Best Beach Shades and Canopies

A growing trend over the past few years has been the adoption of canopies on the beaches. Canopies offer some advantages over umbrellas. With four anchor points, they can be more stable. Most are larger than the average umbrella and offer convenient shade for family comfort. Newer designs pop up and down in seconds with little effort. Many canopies incorporate one or more sides which block wind and increase UV protection in the morning and late afternoon. And, many offer built-in floors which keep gear and toes off hot sand. Here are some highly-rated canopies to consider for your beach vacation.

 Beach canopy

Lightspeed Outdoors Quick Canopy with Instant Pop Up

We like the Lightspeed Quick Canopy for its easy up and down hub and SPF 50 protection. This lightweight (7lbs.) canopy really does go up and down in seconds with an umbrella-like hub system. Floor dimensions are nearly 8’ by 8’. The built in sidewall provides additional protection from wind and sun, while the other three sides allow for wide 270 degree views of the surf and sand. The canopy material is breathable poly with a water-resistant coating. A durable PE floor is included, as well as an easy-to-pack oversized carry bag. This canopy packs down to 50” by 5”. Sand pockets and stakes provide additional stability to corners. Lightspeed offers a 1 year warranty on all their sun shelters and beach shade canopy tents. Lightspeed’s entire line of shelters is highly rated.

 Beach canopy

Coleman DayTripper Beach Shade

The Coleman DayTripper hits our list as a great value shade. We like this style of shade when sheltering infants and small children, or two adults. The three-sided walls offer lots of protection from the elements. Assembled, it measures 7’5” by 4’5” with a 57” total height. Unlike the Lightspeed shade, this canopy does require some tent-style assembly with multiple poles. It takes a few minutes to set up and another few to take down. The DayTripper features SPF 50 UV protection fabric, a carry bag and extra long stakes, as well as a full floor mat. Overall this shade does very well at its price point.

 Beach canopy

Easthill Instant Shade

If you’re willing to spend a a bit more, the Easthills Instant Shade offers Coleman – style shade with the added benefit of a quick popup system. This canopy is a bit smaller than the Coleman, but it also weighs a bit less at 5 lbs. The shade material is an ultra-light 185T poly coated with UPF 50 sun protection. Mesh windows allow circulation through the side walls when desired. The floor is a durable 120g PE material with dimensions of 82” wide, 47” deep and a 43” “front porch”. This shade works well for two adults, or children and pets. If you need privacy, the ground sheet can zip up into a 4th wall. Plastic stakes and sand pockets add stability in wind.

 Beach canopy with screen walls

Clam Corporation Quick-Set Escape shelter

Have a big crowd? Want protection from bugs? The Clam Corp Quick-Set Escape is a large shelter with a highly-rated quick popup system. This shelter features full no-see-um screen walls and waterproof taped seams. The top fabric is 210 denier with SPF 50 UV protection. Packed up, this large shelter is a hefty 34 lbs. measures 72” x 8” x 8”, so plan your packing accordingly. If you like the features but not the size, Clam Corporation offers a full line of quick-set shelters. Weather panels are available separately. Our take: If you want to be outdoors without being bothered by mosquitoes, this shelter is a home run. It is large and heavier than the others, but the quality and peace of mind are wonderful.

 Beach canopy

Core 10x10 Instant Shelter Popup Canopy

Looking for a sturdy traditional square canopy? Check out the Core Instant Shelter. This standard 10’ by 10’ canopy takes 2 minutes to set up and take down and offers 100sqft. Of shade. The steel legs and 150d polyester fabric are high quality and durable. A wheeled carry bag is included, but you’ll want to use a beach cart with wide wheels on the sand. Guylines and stakes help keep the canopy anchored in windy conditions. The extended fabric on each corner provides additional stability. This canopy is heavy duty and comes in at around 40 lbs.

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Kitty Hawk, at Buccaneer's Walk Shopping Center and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.

 

We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.

 

Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!

 

Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”

 

In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.

 

“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.

 

Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.

 

Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.

 

After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.

(More Locations)
Nor'Banks Sailing & Watersports

Nor'Banks Sailing & Watersports

Nor'Banks Sailing & Watersports beautiful location and top-of-the-line equipment, together with a friendly and professional staff make it one of the premier water sports centers on the Outer Banks. Nor'Banks' sound front location has a huge grassy lawn, restrooms, showers, a 200 foot pier and plenty of room for you to spend the day.

 

Since 1979 Nor'Banks has been one of the finest sailing operations on the East Coast offering Flying Scots, Hobie Cats and quality private sailing instruction for all ages. Their custom private lessons are excellent for sailors looking to brush up on their skills, those new to the sport and for families that want to share time on the water together.

 

Nor’ Banks has continued to expand over the years and now offers one of the most complete water sports centers on the Outer Banks. This is truly one-stop shopping for water sports! Nor'Banks boasts new equipment every year and a strong commitment to your fun and safety.

You can rent the latest WaveRunners from Yamaha or explore a giant labyrinth of marsh islands and cruise the secluded shores of Dew's Island in search of wild Spanish mustangs on an epic WaveRunner Tour.

 

Captain James and crew are back aboard Icarus II, Nor'Banks' big yellow parasail boat, and Captains Ken and Sean are guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of participants and spectators alike on their private wake boarding, waterskiing and tubing charters.

 

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has become one of the most popular and fastest growing water sports in the country and Nor'Banks is a great place to paddle. With shallow, warm water and a sandy bottom, their location is an ideal spot to learn. Nor'Banks offers SUP rentals and clinics, as well as double and single kayaks rentals as well as the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse SUP and Mirage Drive kayaks. New for 2017, Nor'Banks even has high-end fiberglass and epoxy surfboard rentals.

Corolla Wild Horse Fund