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. If a purchase is made, is paid a commission for the referral.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Jolly Roger

Jolly Roger

When you first catch sight of The Jolly Roger, you might be unsure exactly what to think of it. Since its conversion from a gas station/grocery store to a restaurant in 1972, The Jolly Roger has been anything but your ordinary Outer Banks restaurant. “We’re eclectic, it’s crazy. You’ll not find another Jolly Roger; there’s no rhyme or reason to this place—and that’s what people love about it,” says owner Carol
Ann Angelos.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a "Must See" attraction for any Outer Banks aviation enthusiast, history lover, and virtually any Kill Devil Hills vacationer who wants an up-close look at the towering granite structure that towers over the town's landscape.

Ramada Plaza

Ramada Plaza

Located right on the beach in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Ramada Plaza Nags Head hotel is the ideal Outer Banks hotel for a relaxing getaway. The Ramada Plaza features 171 Ramada Plaza Nags Head Oceanfront lodging rooms with views of the city, the dunes, or the ocean, all tastefully decorated and comfortably appointed with a microwave, refrigerator, private balcony, in-room movies, and Nintendo.

Best Beach Toys for Summer 2017

Best Beach Toys for Summer 2017

Here is a list of some of our favorite beach toys for kiddos. We gravitate to unique, high-quality toys that inspire creativity. Some of these toys are classics, and some add a twist.

The Cottage Shop

The Cottage Shop

An offshoot of Kellogg Supply Company, a building and home center operating on the Outer Banks since 1946, The Cottage Shop is filled with beach-y house wares and furnishings designed for Outer Banks living. The store also stocks decorative accessories, gifts for special occasions and holidays, and even stylish hats and sandals. Whatever a homeowner needs for their beach cottage, they’ll likely be able to find it here. There’s kitchen ware, sheets and bedding, bath items, outdoor carpeting, candles, Outer Banks and Southern cookbooks, lamps, decorative pillows and even gourmet salsa and grits. There is also a large selection of Tervis Tumblers, and open stock of Fiesta ware. Kellogg also offers all-inclusive Cottage Package programs, as well as kitchen, bedding, bath and recreational packages. Hours differ at the Duck location, so call before visiting. 

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