Baby Travel Gear: The Best Baby Beach Tent, Portable Sun Shelter & Travel Beach Umbrella Options

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Shopping for a Baby Beach Tent or Travel Beach Umbrella?

There’s a lot to consider when planning a beach vacation with a baby or toddler in tow. Of course you will want to pack your baby beach vacation travel essentials, but there’s that one item that may seem tough to pack: shade.

Shade is absolutely the most essential piece of baby beach gear required if you’re planning a family beach vacation.

One resort we stayed at in Mexico had a great beach, but not much shade. There were some lovely palm trees, but the shade the trees offered was inconsistent. Since my children are now bigger and we spent most of our beach time actually in the sea, this wasn’t a big deal. But with a baby or toddler who’s probably not wave jumping, but more likely sand digging or (fingers crossed) napping at the beach, you want stable and consistent shade from the sun’s rays.

So, if you can’t count on your resort having appropriate palapas or beach umbrellas available, your best bet is to bring your own. YES, I’m suggesting you add One. More. Thing. to your already massive pile of luggage. But if the beach is where you’re headed with a baby or toddler in tow, you NEED shade.

Here are some options for a baby beach tent, portable sun shelter, or travel beach umbrella that are lightweight and easy to travel with…

Best Baby Beach Tent & Portable Sun Shelter Options:

I have specific criteria for what kind of baby beach tent or portable sun shelter I’ll recommend:

  • It can’t be completely enclosed, even with screen/mesh “windows”
  • It can’t have a play pool or other water feature. (Hello, fear of drowning?!)
  • It MUST actually be portable, which to me means that it folds down to a reasonable size and weight for carrying and travel

Portable Sun Shelters:

Suniela Beach Free Spirit Cabana

Montreal’s Suniela Beach is a Canadian brand that makes up for Canada’s lack of tropical beaches with an incredible travel cabana that folds down small enough to fit inside a carry-on suitcase. The Free Spirit Cabana comes in a handful of beachy colours, is quick and easy for one person to set up, and has room for two adults and three kids (or four adults) underneath. The open concept allows for the sea breeze to cool you and doesn’t block the view of the water for anyone behind you. The handy pockets hold water bottles and sunscreen which act as weights on windier days.

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Schylling UV Play Shade | 50+ SPF

Schylling Infant UV Play Shade:

This little tent with a full bottom is big enough for you to join baby inside for a nap or a private spot to nurse. It folds down into an 18″ disc – not much bigger than a dinner plate. One complaint about this tent seems to be the sense of minimal air flow with the front flaps drawn.  However, most reviews for this compact baby beach tent are favourable.

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bbluv Nido & Nido Mini | Travel & Play Tent

bbluv Nido & Nido Jr. Portable Sun Shelter

As much as I love the beach, I wanted to wrap my kids in a sun-proof, sand-proof bubble. Had it been available, I can honestly say that the bbluv Nido or Nido Mini would have been my baby beach tent of choice. I love that it is contained, so the newly-mobile would have difficulty sneaking away. I also love that you can angle it to achieve the shade you need while still keeping the top open for maximum ventilation. According to reviews, it is easy to set up but takes some practice to fold up. It folds down tiny, to a 16′ disc and weighs just over 3lbs.

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Rio Beach SPF 50 Portable Beach Tent

Rio Beach Portable Sun Shelter

This is a spacious shelter that measures 9 by 4.5 by 4 feet. There’s plenty of room for a family nap or just to spread out your stuff. There’s two interior pockets for stuff you need to keep handy, and two zippered mesh windows for airflow. It folds down into a carry bag that’s just  22″ by 4. It’s very light–easy to pack into a carry-on if need be. The only complaints about this sun shelter seem to be around staying put on windy days. Some suggest a cooler with ice would be enough to weigh it down, but this baby beach tent includes bags that you can fill with sand to help keep it in place.

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Sunba Youth Beach Tent

Sunba Youth Beach Tent

This compact and basic beach tent has no bells and whistles. Lightweight and inexpensive, it’s a simple pop-up. It comes in four fun colours, and the fabric has a UV rating of 50+. It could comfortably fit one adult to sit inside with baby. A few complaints about the Sunba Youth Beach Tent are that it’s difficult to fold down (some say it’s fine) and that, if there is no breeze, it can feel hot inside. Apparently the stakes it comes with are quite flimsy and may need extra weight to keep it from blowing away.

The Sunba Youth Beach Tent folds down to a 19″ circle and weighs just over two pounds. Since it’s not expensive and is so easy to toss in a suitcase, this may be one of those “just in case” things to bring on a beach vacation.

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Texsport Portable Beach Cabana

The Texsport Portable Beach Cabana doesn’t have a floor. Which for some might be a drawback. However, this is a great option if you plan on making use of lounge chairs and just want to make sure you’ve got some serious shade. Because it’s so versatile, you’d get more use out of it than just trips to the beach.

It’s nine feet by six feet by 68 inches high, but weighs only 5.5 pounds. The weather sheield offers UPF 50+ protection and is flame retardant. It rolls up into a carry case that’s approximately two feet long and six inches in diameter. So, it’s not tiny, but it is very portable considering its size. Reviews for the Texsport Portable Beach Cabana are very positive, most touting its size and durability.

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Zomake XL Pop Up Tent

Zomake XL Pop Up Beach Tent

The Zomake XL Pop Up Beach tent comes in three fun colours and pops up on its own in seconds. The fabric offers a protection rating up to UPF 50+ and its large enough to fit two adults inside, along with baby. The sturdy mesh sides provides good ventilation, and it’s windproof up to 25 mph. There are two built-in sand pockets and four fixed bands to use on the beach in windy weather. Also inside are storage pockets to help keep you organized and add extra weight.

Considering its size, it’s just over five pounds and folds into a 35″ circle. Most of the reviews are very positive, with the only complaint (from some) being that it’s tricky to fold up and put away.

Travel Beach Umbrella Options:

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Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella

Sport-Brella Portable Sun and Weather Shelter

Oddly enough, there aren’t as many decent travel beach umbrellas as there are baby beach tents. An umbrella can give you more flexibility in terms of direction and angle, but it’s tough to find a good one to travel with. With the longer pole, it does not fold up as small.

The Sport-Brella Portable Sun and Weather Shelter is very well-reviewed for ease of set up and durability, as well as design. There are lots of wind vents and windows for good airflow. It comes with a carry bag with shoulder strap. However, since it only folds down to 54″, it might be a better option for road trips instead of flying (unless you want to use up your valuable baggage allowance to check it!)

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EasyGo TravelBrella Travel Beach Umbrella

EasyGo TravelBrella Travel Beach Umbrella

This full-size beach umbrella is only four pounds and somehow folds down to 28″ and can fit in your suitcase. For purely aesthetic reasons, I love the rainbow colours of the TravelBrella Travel Beach Umbrella

Some complaints are that it struggles with extremely windy conditions and that the area covered is not very big. It does tilt, and there are no vents. But, seeing how difficult it is to find an “umbrella” travel beach umbrella, most of the reviewers seem pretty pleased with this purchase.

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5 Responses to Baby Travel Gear: The Best Baby Beach Tent, Portable Sun Shelter & Travel Beach Umbrella Options

  1. David at #

    Beach getaways are fun … until you end up looking like a lobster! Thanks for this very compact, airplane-friendly solutions to no shade beaches…

  2. Jenna at #

    Great ideas for helping kids (and parents) not get too much sun but still have fun. My kids would love those sun shelters!

  3. Allison at #

    It’s hard to maximize your beach fun if you don’t have anywhere to escape the sun’s rays. Lots of beaches will rent umbrellas, but if you go regularly, or want to get away from the crowds, packing your own would be the best bet.

  4. Katie at #

    I need one of these. My daughter is pale and burns easily!

  5. Very thorough reviews/tips – thanks!

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