I wouldn’t venture out for a day at the beach without major sun protection: a rashguard for my shoulders, surf shorts to protect my blue-white thighs, zinc oxide for my nose and my trusty cowboy hat. (What can I tell you? It’s a look.)
Plus, when we hit the beach, we like to bed in, with sandwiches, fishing supplies, body boards and sand-castle tools (bucket, plastic fork). Sometimes we use a big, nondescript tent shade we bought at one of those warehouse stores. But then the folks from Hollie & Harrie got in touch and I discovered a more stylish option.
A chic-er sun protection option
Hollie & Harrie makes Sombrilla, simple design-conscious shades that come in a compact shoulder carrier (think: yoga mat bag, just heavier). An Australian pair of friends, Claire Harris and Skye Hollingsworth, designed the Sombrilla and a Sunshirt, both of which are all about stylish sun protection. (With 5 children between them, they spend plenty of time out of doors.)
We put it to the test in 95℉ / 36℃ weather, under a scorching Texas sun. Watch my video to see the process and what we thought.
Things we discovered about the Sombrilla:
It’s wonderfully compact for travelling. It’s easy to pack, carry or check with the airline (ours made the 10-hour journey on a flight from Heathrow to Houston without a hitch)
It takes minutes to set up, move and take down. No complicated instructions you end up re-reading for the 1st 20 minutes while the sun sizzles on your scalp
It’s perfect for a child’s sunshade or lying on a with a book
When the kids were out on the beach, we stashed our coolers and beach kit here so they didn’t bake in the sun
Because of the open sides, you can set it up to get a nice breeze
In our case, to get the benefit of shade, the main side of the tent was between the view of the water and anyone inside. Obviously conditions vary at different places. This didn’t bother us so much but could present an issue if the conditions were similar and you wanted to sit in the shade and watch the children in the water
It’s great beyond the beach. We now toss it in when we’re camping/glamping and you can even pitch it in the back garden to have your own little festival
Plus some unexpected benefits:
When you’re out in the surf, it’s so easy to drift. You look back at the busy shore and suddenly have no idea which encampment is yours, in the sea of tents and shades. With our bright and chic Sombrilla, we easily kept an eye on ours. As more people discover these, we’ll be one among many. On the plus side, the beach overall will be a lot snazzier.)
The Sombrilla had an additional appeal of being separate from the bigger tent, creating a “secret” space. At several points throughout the day the kids opted to hang out in “their” tent (eventually demanding we move to the coolers to ours so they had more room). As our tween gets older, I’m expecting this will become her girl nest.
How to get a Sombrilla
Ok so now I have to ask you to brace yourself: Currently these babies are only available to ship in Australia. I know, I know! Unfortunately that means those of us based in the UK can only window shop, or drop Claire and Skye an email and let them know how much you’d like them to distribute in the UK. But if you’re based in Oz, are visiting or have friends there, jump on their site and take a look. Maybe it’s time to finally go Down Under and enjoy some sun.
Hollie & Harrie
I was sent a Sombrilla beach shade for review. All opinions are my own.
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About the Author
Jennifer Howze, the Times's former Alpha Mummy blogger, is a journalist, blogger and co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, Frommer's Budget Travel, and Travel+Leisure, among others.