OK, OK…for someone who is obsessed with spending time at the beach and loves finding cool new beach accessories, I know I’m sooo late to the CoolCabana party! I’m excited to be able to share my CoolCabana review with you now – better late than never!
I’m kicking myself for not getting on the CoolCabana wagon sooner. I’ve seen the smart-looking CoolCabana beach shades on the sand so many times and looked at them with envy as the beach tents and beach shades I’ve bought in the past never lived up to their promises and I’d got bored of buying more and more of them only to be disappointed. This month, all of that changed when I finally tried THE BEST beach shade!
This CoolCabana beach shelter was gifted to me. I’m an affiliate partner of CoolCabana and Amazon which means I receive a commission from any purchases you make through my link at no extra cost to you. I hope you find my honest CoolCabana review helpful!
Before the CoolCabana beach shade came along…
First, let me tell you a few stories about my past experience with beach shelters and beach cabanas before I was introduced to what I think could well be the best beach cabana on the market in Australia (and I don’t say that lightly!)
When we first arrived in Australia, I bought a huge family-sized beach tent from a well-known brand. And it was great, but there were a couple of problems. 1) Putting it up almost ended with a divorce every time and 2) On the second use, we snapped one of the poles. We continued using it (duct-taped together) but eventually one breezy day, it finally gave up as we were sitting inside it eating fish and chips (that wasn’t a fun moment!).
Next, we got two sun umbrellas. I loved these because they were so easy to pop up and take down, but they’d blow away often and I spent too much time running down the beach after them (only for them to roll away just as I got close – you know how it works!). They didn’t really give our big family the shade we needed anyway.
Then, I bought a big sail shade that I had such high hopes for. When we tried putting it up on a breezy day on the Gold Coast, it blew down straight away. Plus it arrived covered with so much plastic and that made me sad as it felt like the company wasn’t thinking sustainably (stupidly I also didn’t realise every tiny piece of it was covered in plastic film so when we got to the breezy beach that first time it took so much effort to strip the plastic off without letting any of it blow away into the ocean).
My failed investments made me feel sad about not only wasting money but also putting more junk into landfill (or at least filling up the treasure markets at the local tip!)
Just as I was beginning to feel like there was no perfect beach shade out there, CoolCabana appeared like a little beacon of hope dangling the idea that there could still be a great beach shade out there that would work for my family.
I have to admit, I was secretly expecting something similar to our previous experiences but as always I get excited at the prospect of trying out new beach gear so I was keen to road test it.
If you’ve been searching for CoolCabanas reviews, I hope my experience below helps you decide if the product is right for you.
CoolCabanas review: Arrival of the product
The Cool Cabana tent arrived in a long box. The box had taken a few dinks in transit but it protected the cabana perfectly. Opening it was easy – I just opened one end of the box and out slipped the beach cabana in the cool-looking white carry bag ready to go. There was no wasteful plastic packaging at all. Actually, there was no plastic at all which was really refreshing. The box went into the recycling and we were good to go!
CoolCabana review: Product specification
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this CoolCabanas review…
We chose the large CoolCabanas 5 navy stripes design as I feel this is a classic, timeless design. I love anything with stripes and it matches things like the new fabulous sand-free, quick-drying beach towels and ponchos from Dock and Bay that we just bought (you can check them out on Amazon here)! CoolCabanas make all kinds of beautiful designs, so you’re sure to find something that suits your style.
The large CoolCabana 5 gives 5.8㎡ of shade, which is a great size for our family of five plus dog. The shade provides UPF 50+ protection which is essential in the Australian sun. The large beach cabana folds down to 105cm and it feels pretty compact in size which is handy as on beach days our car is usually stuffed to the brim with our beach wagon, beach bags, Weber Q beach bbq, body boards, skim boards etc. At 5.7kg, it’s a bit heavier than some of the sail shades out there but this is a totally different product and you can’t really compare it with them. The wide carry bag shoulder strap makes carrying it to the sand easy (or if you have a beach wagon, the weight doesn’t matter anyway!)
It has sand pockets in the legs, so you keep the beach cabana in place with the weight of the sand (there are no poles in the legs – just the big pole in the middle steaked into the sand). We always have buckets and spades at the beach as my kids love to dig, but either way, it’s handy to pick up a little scoop to dig the sand in (my kids love doing this part!) It’s easy enough to do it with your hands if you don’t have a spade or scoop though.
The legs also have pockets on the inside higher up for your valuables like your mobile phone and keys. This is super handy as my hubby ALWAYS puts his things in the beach towel bag and then wonders why his phone and sunglasses are covered with sand at the end of the day – now he has a dedicated space to put them to keep them safe.
CoolCabanas designs have been upgraded since their launch in 2015, and they’re now up to version 5 of their iconic design so you know they’re always working to improve the design. They’ve added other products to their store including beach loungers and a CoolCabana beach mat (which is currently out of stock at the time of writing this but I’ll be investing in it myself as soon as they’re back in as I love the idea of the beach mat that fits perfectly with the beach cabana and it comes with a central hole so you can put the pole into it.)
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Cool Cabana Review: Our first experience with a Coolcabana beach shelter
Having been used to complicated beach shelters, it was so refreshing to find a product that can easily be put up in a few minutes by ONE PERSON!
I can honestly say, for us it is a game-changer. I hate all of the fighting we usually go through to get the beach tent or beach shade up – the kids just want to run into the ocean the second we arrive on the sand so now they can do that as only one of us is needed to put the shade up so the other can watch them/wrangle the dog from digging his face in the sand/make the coffee – whichever is the priority in the moment! The CoolCabana makes it all so easy.
I wasn’t sure how much shade to expect from The CoolCabana beach shelter as this was the first beach cabana I’d used but it gave us the perfect amount of shade. It didn’t take up too much space on the beach (unlike our sail shade which needed loads of space) and even though it was a windy day, it held up strong.
We had two full-size beach chairs under it and a big rug. There was plenty of space and plenty of shade (which is the most important thing!) The head height was great for me (I’m only 5ft though!) but if you were very tall and planning on standing up in it then you might find it a little low, but to be honest you generally sit down or lay under it so I don’t think the head height is too much of an issue for beach use.
When it came time to pack the CoolCabana up the first time, I was a bit on edge. There is usually a lot of grumbling as my hubby tries to force the shades back into a too-small carry bag. But this time he smiled and put it away with ease. He even commented about how nice it was not to have to wrestle to get it back in the bag, so that was another big tick for us.
How to put up a CoolCabana beach shade
(A detailed video will be coming soon to the post – I was keen to get my CoolCabanas review up as soon as I could as a few people have been asking me about it as they’ve been considering getting one for Christmas so I wanted to get the post out asap)!
If you’re wondering how to put up a CoolCabana shade, it’s so easy.
The central spike goes into the ground, and you add in the second pole to it and tap it into the ground firmly as this is the foundation of the whole cabana. You put the top section with the canopy into the pole, and then the arms fold out one at a time a bit like an umbrella. You fill the legs with sand to weigh them down. It takes just a few minutes and the more you do it, the quicker you get at it. Tip: Get the kids to fill the leg pouches with sand as they love getting involved!
Given that I’m short, I need to see if it’s possible for me to put it up on my own next time we head to the beach (I’ll update the post after with the results!) as I’m sure some height here is handy.
CoolCabana review: Things I love about my CoolCabana beach shade
Here’s a list of the things I love about the CoolCabanas beach shade:
- The handy carry bag that has a big shoulder strap. It makes carrying it so easy.
- The fact that it easily goes back into the carry bag without a fight. It makes packing up less stressful.
- The beautiful design – it’s a joy to see it on the white sandy beach! Who doesn’t love looking at a pretty beach shade?
- The fact I know it won’t blow down in a gentle wind. It’s not fun worrying when things are going to collapse on you or blow away.
- That one person can put it up. This is so handy for families with young kids.
- That it gives us plenty of shade for our large family. The shade is obviously the most important feature and it definitely gives plenty.
- That you can use it on grass too (you can buy a grass kit from CoolCabanas or get some tent pegs so you aren’t restricted to using it at the beach). This means we can take it for sports events and even fetes too.
- That it can be used even on busier beaches as it doesn’t take up that much space. Not that the beaches in Australia tend to get that busy!
- It feels like it is top quality – the fabric stitching, the poles and mechanisms all feel like they’re going to last. Having experienced products that didn’t last at all, I feel like this one will. Yes, it’s more expensive than some others on the market but if it lasts for the long term it makes it a wise investment.
Things that could be better:
- It doesn’t come with tent pegs to use on grass (but they are available separately if you want to add them to your order).
- That it doesn’t come with a sand scoop/spade. Again not a big deal as you can pick one up cheaply from Target/KMart/BigW but it would be handy for it to come with one.
- That there isn’t a side panel or panels to attach to give you a bit of added protection from the elements or so you could get a bit of extra privacy. But then that would make windy days more of an issue as the wind wouldn’t be able to flow through the cabana in the same way so it might hinder how well it stays up, plus the fact a breeze can go through the tent is actually quite nice. And also side panels would obstruct the beach view for others on busy beaches so in some ways it’s a positive that it doesn’t have panels!
As you can see in the video above, it was quite breezy when we tried it out but we were confident it was steady and wasn’t going to collapse or blow away.
Who a CoolCabana is suitable for…
I think CoolCabanas are great, in particular, for couples and families looking to spend a good chunk of time on the sand. Shade is essential if you want to be outdoors for a while in the Australian sun, just like we wear sunscreen and rash vests, a great beach shade is another tool we can invest in for protection. (You can read more about protecting your skin from skin cancer on the Cancer Council site here).
If you want a sun shelter to get changed in with privacy or to totally stop the wind, then the Cool Cabana tent isn’t for you. If you only pop to the beach for a quick swim, then it’s also not really for you as there isn’t much point carrying something like this to the sand if you’re only planning on being there for a short time.
I’m head over heels in love with the CoolCabana beach cabanas. Portable shades make beach days way more fun, and these eye-catching, smart designs plus the ease of use make this the newest addition to my essential beach gear.
Where to get your CoolCabana
I hope this CoolCabana review helps you decide whether this is the right product to enhance your beach days!