When the temperatures are right, a British beach can be magical. But let’s face it, even if the weather isn’t exactly playing ball, we still love to be beside the seaside.
Whether you’re considering a day trip to the coast or plan to spend a few days by the water, there are a few things you can take to make your excursion more enjoyable.
A bucket and spade for the kids, yes, and a good book and coolbox of boozy drinks for you. As well as a beach towel or mat, a beach tent can offer welcome relief for when the sun gets too much or equally, should dark clouds start to gather (this is England, after all).
Lightweight, compact and easy to pack, they’re lighter, sprightlier versions of their sturdier camping brothers, designed only for light use as opposed to multi-night snoozing.
We’ve gathered the fun and functional below to make shopping for them more pleasurable than a gentle sea breeze.
See our favourites below
Mountain Warehouse Automatic Beach Shelter - UV40
You’re on holiday - there’s no need for the hard graft of huffing over tent poles. Especially when this shelter all but sets itself up for you thanks to the Quick-Pitch opening system which, once activated, will be ready in a mere five seconds. Measuring a spacious 220 x 150 x 108cm, it comes with a carry case to make it even easier to transport from A to B.
Business & Pleasure Co. Premium Beach Tent
If you’re still sulking over that abandoned trip to a European beach, Business & Pleasure Co. is on hand to make skies sunny once more. The brand has this fabulous beach club-style tent/ parasol, perfect for lounging under while watching the lapping waves.
The poles, made from reclaimed timber, hold the canopy up to 183cm, giving most people plenty of room to sit or stand (very helpful when trying to change out of a drenched swimming cossie). The cover is UV and water-resistant and a tasseled edge creates a look of casual elegance. Love it, want it. Also available in a pink or navy stripe as well as yellow.
Easthills Outdoors Instant Shader Enhanced Deluxe XL Easy Up 4 Person Beach Tent
Whether you’re beachside with your top squad or making postcard-perfect moments with the family, this Instant Shader from Easthills Outdoors has the space the features to make your coastal jaunt as chic as can be. Measuring 99 x 53 x 57 x 53inches, there’s enough space for four adults to lay down inside. Make it the envy of your fellow sun worshippers by setting up a small buffet-style table for your picnic and adding some comfy camp chairs and floor pillows. There’s even a central loop to hang some fairy lights.
Shop a cream version for less - £95.99.
Quechua Camping Shelter
Up and running in two seconds flat, this XL shelter has plenty of space for two adults to keep out of the sun, wind or, if you’re unlucky, drizzle. The attached groundsheet will prove to be a life-saver if you forget your towels or they’re wet from drying off.
Regatta Tahiti Beach Shelter Oxford Blue Grey
Looking for a basic shelter to keep your belongings free from sand? Head to Regatta where you can pick up this exotically named Tahiti beach shelter for just £29.95, down from £50. It has a UV rating of 30+ and comes with colour-coded poles for quick and easy pitching.
John Lewis Easy Camp Formby Beach Shelter, Blue
A beach tent is for life, not just for the coast. Take it to the park, a festival or even the bottom of your garden for a bit of respite from the elements when you need it. This design sports a +50 UV Protection Factor and the fibreglass frame means it’s blissfully light. Meanwhile the sewn-in groundsheet and mesh windows means you can recline in comfort in the shade while keeping an eye on the kids playing nearby.
Fatboy Miasun Salin beach tent
A nice wide canopy held up with aluminium poles and ropes, there’s plenty of space for a small family to gather under Fatboy’s blue and white-striped beach tent. The open design invites plenty of cooling breezes while the top is UV protective, so will save you from the sun’s harm. It’s light too, at approx 1kg. Winner.
Active Era Pop Up Beach Tent - Rated UPF 50+ for UV Sun Protection
There’s nothing worse than being trapped under canvas in the baking heat, which is why an escape hatch is such a marvellous feature in a beach shelter. Air can flow easily through the design, which also comes with a sewn-in groundsheet. Pegs keep the tent stable, and the whole thing is a pop-up which means set-up is practically instant. Easy peasy.
£29.99 | Amazon *On sale from £39.99
JoJo Maman Bebe Koo-Di Sun and Sleep Pop-Up Travel Cot
With their delicate, sensitive skin, babies and infants need to take more care in the sun than most. Keep them covered with this travel cot, large enough to be used as a shelter for trips away to the seaside. Decked out with mosquito nets and a blackout blind which can deflect 93 per cent of all UVA and UVB rays, the 100 x 77 x 60cm conveniently packs into a travel bag.
Beach Sunshade Tent Canopy with Sand Anchor Shelter Camping Outdoor Protection, Dark Blue
This polyester beach canopy offers a different look from its peers as the walls are practically non-existent. This means plenty of cooling breezes can waft through the space, and when the sun moves, adjusting the design is as easy as picking it up and shifting. So easy to erect, you could do it one-handed, although three adults can easily lounge inside.
£58.99 | ManoMano *On sale from £131.98
Quick comfort and convenience is the name of the game on holiday, and Mountain Warehouse's Automatic Beach Shelter delivers this in buckets and spades. For good looks though, we adore Beach & Pleasure's white tassle-edged tent. When foreign beach clubs are out of reach, it'll stand in quite nicely.