Which Is Better: Beach Tent vs. Beach Umbrella

Are you hitting up the beach soon? Are you already stressing over the harmful UV rays and the irritating sand? Maybe also what kind of beach tent or umbrella to bring for proper shade?

We get it. The fight over ‘beach tent vs. beach umbrella’ can be frustrating. And since beach time is a kickback-and-relax time for you, we’ll help you figure out the best option for you.

Beach tents

A green-blue beach tent

Beach or sun tents are available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They’re lightweight and easy to transport around. You can also rent one on-site if your beach offers that option.

Their designs have progressed over the years. They’re usually made of polyester. Some have convenient fiberglass floors, and some of them are even waterproof. Other tents have mesh windows and Velcro-fastened flaps.


  • Total protection from UV rays, wind, and rain
  • Less sand trouble
  • Various designs from pop-up to hybrid
  • User-friendly and easy to set up


  • It can feel a little stuffy without proper ventilation
  • The inside can heat up fast if in direct sunlight for long.
  • Tents with UV protection can be pricey.

Beach umbrellas

A striped blue beach umbrella

Beach umbrellas are another great option to consider to protect you from the sun. Personally, I’d take a beach tent over an umbrella any time, but let’s not be biased and let you choose.

Beach umbrellas come in a wider variety than beach tents, with more vibrant colors and designs that you can match to your beach towels and bathing suits if you like.


  • Easy and quick to both setup and put back
  • Allow for a better beach experience, rather than a camping one
  • High availability in online and offline stores
  • Provide a cool shade with full access to a beach view


  • Low protection from UV rays, increasing the risk of some skin conditions
  • Don’t provide privacy for those who value it
  • No protection from wind, rain, and sand

Features of beach tent vs. umbrella

beach tent vs. beach umbrella


Hands down, beach tents win this category. They come with sidewalls and a front that you can open and close as often as you want. This way, they’ll provide you with all the privacy you need.

Even if you don’t have a family and don’t need to worry about privacy that much, I’m sure you’re like me and would like to nap on the beach in peace, without worrying about creeps or being hit by a beach ball. In that case, a beach tent is your go-to.


Nowadays, beach tents come with sand pockets that can be used to store snacks and drinks. They can also be filled with sand to hold down the tent against strong winds.

A beach umbrella’s functionality is not as high. It provides shade, but with the first gust of strong wind, it might fly off and cause you problems.


It’s worth mentioning again that beach tents offer more protection from the harmful UV rays and strong winds than beach umbrellas. Your kids can be safe for hours inside as they nap, eat, and play.

With a beach umbrella, you’d be calculating how much sunscreen you need, how often you should apply it, and if you’re alone, how you can reach those unreachable areas.

The verdict

Aerial view of crowded beach

You might still be confused between choosing a beach tent or a beach umbrella. If so, it’d help to prioritize your needs, and we’ve done just that for you. Here’s the final deal:

Get a beach tent if…

  • You value privacy and would like for you and your family to enjoy the beach without worrying about other people.
  • You have young kids or sensitive skin prone to sunburns, or worse, skin rashes, and need complete protection from UV sun rays.
  • The weather is windy, or it might rain. A tent provides all-year protection against any weather, so you can enjoy the beach whenever you want.

Get a beach umbrella if…

  • You’re a bohemian who doesn’t mind the wind, sand, and intense sun.
  • You’d like a budget-friendly option and not a full investment.
  • You’ll find the setting and packing up of the tent to be too stressful and would prefer a more effortless and simpler option.

And there you have it. Choose which one suits your needs more and take into consideration any family or friends that might tag along. As for me, I still think you should go for the beach tent, and also consider beach tarps and windscreens.

In the end, whether you pick a beach tent or a beach umbrella, we hope you have a wonderful time at the beach!