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.

The Cotton Gin

The Cotton Gin

Jarvisburg location is temporally closed. For those traveling to the Outer Banks, The Cotton Gin is a beloved landmark with its large windmill and picturesque gardens. The Cotton Gin has stood in the same location since 1929, starting as a working cotton gin and growing to a gift store with 4 locations. Visitors are treated to a unique shopping experience in our main store in Jarvisburg, as well as our beach stores in Corolla, Duck, and Nags Head. Explore room after room filled with décor for your home and coastal fashions for both men and women. Discover the brands you really want, like, Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines, La Mer Luex, Simply Southern, Lindsay Phillips, Scout, Pandora, Kameleon, Brighton, Spartina, Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide and Salt Life and Old Guys Rule - all under one roof!


Don’t forget the gourmet market, or shop our beautiful linens for your bedroom and bath. We also feature coastal books and fine art, or just a whimsical fun gift to bring home to family and friends. Stop by soon and don’t forget to try our estate grown wines in our stores or visit our vineyard and winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, located adjacent to the original Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.


Most know The Cotton Gin as a must-stop shop for fine gifts, beachwear, souvenirs and so much more, but this retailer has a long-standing history within the Outer Banks. A local landmark that holds almost a century of memories, The Cotton Gin started from humble beginnings and continues to adapt to the times and tourists. Tommy Wright’s family has been in the Outer Banks for nearly 200 years. His great-great grandfather, Jacob Francis Wright, shipwrecked in Duck back in the early 1800s. Calling these barrier islands his new home, Wright and his family acclimated to their new environment.


Adaptation is a common theme for the Wright family. Tommy and his wife Candace, who continue to steer The Cotton Gin, have seen not only their business change with the times, but the Outer Banks as a vacation destination as well. A farm market in Jarvisburg eventually transformed and flourished into several retail locations dotting the Outer Banks.


“As the area changed and tourism took off in the 1960s, the family saw people coming for vacations, so they began to grow vegetables and things developed from there,” says Tommy Wright. The Wright family expanded upon the farm market and began to remodel a working cotton gin, later transforming the gin into The Cotton Gin general store in the late 1960s. While the additions to the farm store drew visitors, it was their encounters with the Wright family that kept people coming back year after year, which is something that remains true today.

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