Okay, it’s not that I never liked going to the beach, but more that going to the beach has always been somewhat of a to-do for me. As a pale brunette descended from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, going to the beach has long meant dutifully smothering myself in SPF 50 every other hour, getting a mix of sand and suntan lotion all over my Us Weekly, and then getting that same mix of sand and suntan lotion in my Sabra hummus snack pack. I am one of those people, I think, who just does not love baking in the sun. I have a hard time falling asleep on a towel. I get lightheaded. I often think I’m getting heatstroke. So for a long time, before every Rockaways excursion, I’d remember at the last minute that this was the case, and rush to Rite Aid to buy some crappy umbrella — only to have it flip inside out and break 15 minutes into the day, or blow away and nearly impale a nearby toddler’s eye.
So I started investigating other options. I had seen a few beach tents around, and had written them off as being mostly for babies and the elderly. A beach tent seemed a little embarrassing. But recently, I’d been learning to embrace comfort over looking cool — for instance, I’d just bought a pair of Dansko clogs — and after surveying the beach-tent-scape, poring over Amazon reviews, and landing on the Pacific Breeze EasyUp Beach Tent, I bit the bullet.
The first thing that struck me about the tent when it arrived was its lightness; it can be packed up and toted around in a very manageable carry-case with a shoulder strap. After taking it for a test spin around my apartment, it felt like I was carrying a mostly-empty backpack. As for set-up, its name does not lie, and opening it is easy-slash-a-breeze: all you have to do is pull its little lever on top and it snaps into shape, push four yellow stakes into the ground, and for extra weight, there are several pockets into which you can deposit a few handfuls of sand. Here’s my beach tent look: an ‘80s-era, floral Marimekko sheet laid out atop the base, two beach chairs (one for me, one for my equally sun-averse husband), a Jambox between us, our tote bags in the back, and we are sitting pretty. My favorite thing to do, though, is actually lie down in the tent, open the two little mesh “windows” that can ingeniously roll up or roll down, depending on whether you want a little sea breeze, a little sun, or to spy on the people sitting next to you, and stick my toes out into the world — covered in SPF 50, of course.
Buy it: $65 on Amazon