Beach shelters and etiquette - your thoughts?

This is a poll for anyone who’s used beach shelters.

  • Umbrella
  • Cabana
  • Canopy/sail (e.g.
  • Tent/shelter (pop up)
  • Tent/shelter (not pop up)
  • Other (let me know which product in comments)

0 voters

I’m also interested in how you found using them. Were they hard to set up and pack down? Any particular pros and cons?

And when it comes to etiquette, what do you think are some common sense rules about using shelters at the beach?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.


When we went to the beach we preferred beach umbrellas and also preferred others to use them as well (or other shelters which don’t have walls).

The reason why we liked them is they are cooler on a hot summer’s day - they allow breeze to flow through and along the beach. They are also relatively easy to carry to the beach and quick to erect.

We prefer others to use beach umbrellas as you can usually see the water if everyone uses them. If someone plonks a tent in front of you, you quickly lose the opportunity to see the water to keep an eye on children etc. They also act as barriers for wind.

The downslide of umbrellas is often they are not installed correctly where the base of the umbrella is pushed deep into the sand. Doing so prevents umbrellas becoming flying objects in moderate winds.

Like most of the other shelters, they are not suitable for moderate+ breezes as they either deform, blow inside out or at worst, become flying projectiles. I have also seen cabanas, canopy/sales and tents suffer the same fate in stronger breezes.

Possibly more warnings should be provided for use in windy weather.


I grew up in a beach suburb and was immersed in beach culture for decades. Somewhere along the way my attitude to beach-going changed.

I used an umbrella years ago as we were looking to keep small children out of the sun. As others have said many such devices can become airborne if you are not very careful. I saw an umbrella (not mine) take off and tumble down the beach with the metal spike end missing a family by a few metres as it went. The world is populated by optimists who don’t fold up their sun shade as the wind rises because they will get hot and anyway theirs will never take off and become a threat.

I later decided that it didn’t work as a sun shade as the children only spent a few minutes under it. So I adopted a much better solution which is cheaper and less dangerous; stop going to the beach when the sun is high. The surf is better and less crowded early too!


My experience is similar to Syncretic, except we tried a pop up beach shelter before I abandoned lazing on the beach.

The pop up was like an oven on hot sunny days, and turned into a lean-to on windy days.

Fly-away beach umbrellas were common occurrence, and I too had seen some very dangerous occurrences with people being hit and lucky not to be severely injured.

Neither one ever used again.


Living at Brighton we were only a short stroll to the Beach so often did not take anything. The times we drove down to Aldinga to drive along the Beach and set up a shelter tent were often long weekends and we spent many hours playing cricket with anyone who wanted to join in and splashing in the sea.

The big no-no was when ignorant folk would set up their Shelter along the track that the cars used - this was always quickly corrected by other Beachgoers who did not want anyone to get runover during the day. Ah, they were carefree happy days!


Our small pop-up shelter has mesh panels to mitigate the oven effect but they are not entirely effective. Like Syncretic our most beach visits (well before the 10 then 5km lockdown radius kicked in) are early morning and most of the time is spent in and under the water so it hasn’t been used recently.

In terms of etiquette - not plonking yourself directly in front of another group or blaring music. We are very lucky in Australia, especially Sydney to have enough beaches to spread out and avoid beach doofs, corporatised arrays of rented sunbeds and roped-off areas, although am aware of moves to try this at Bondi.


I am not a shelter user, but I am constantly amazed at the lack of consideration shown by some of those who are. You can be sitting on your towel enjoying the view, when suddenly a family group will appear and start setting up right in front of you. It’s akin to having your beach view obscured by an apartment block. I will add that my local beach is two kilometres long, so space is not an issue.


I remember dad using a sheet/pole arrangement back 40+ years ago - well up the beach on bigger beaches like Aldinga. I’ve used a beach brolly years back, with the same approach - I figure the closer you get to the water the more it is shared space. Now we are surrounded by sand, but not a lot of water - but I do live in a place that is said to be the closest town to every beach in Australia :wink: so I don’t use the brolly at all these days …


I don’t recall it being too big a concern, other than when visiting the Grandparents at Bondi. Although back then it was not so busy and the local locals all seemed to have their favourite patch of sand picked out. The beach umbrella was extremely popular. The stout poles seemed to go a long way into the sand which was wet underneath. If the wind started to pick up it was polite to close the brolly. Failure to do so resulted in the laser like glares of 100 pairs of eyes. If in the water there would always be someone ready to close any unattended.

These days I’d be more concerned about what one takes to the beach not being where you left it after you return from the water. It appears we have also lost the ability to glance sideways. It goes part way to explaining why certain behaviours are ignored and others behave the way they do.

No longer own any form of beach shelter device.

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This reminds me of an article I read a year or so ago debating whether or not we should ban beach shelters as certain states in the US have done. Looks like they are getting more popular in Australia perhaps.

I have used a few different methods and found that umbrellas are cooler and easier to manage but beach shelter/pop up tents are easier to use as a family or with children. Depending on the size of the family of course, the pop up tent just does a better job of shading everyone because there are three enclosed walls. It does get hotter but we had a tent with mesh windows which let a breeze go through.

We don’t go to the beach as much as we used to but we still own both the beach pop up tent and the beach umbrella.

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