New cabana trend 'taking over' Aussie beaches: The good, the bad and the ugly

😃 The Good: Provides shade to beachgoers

😔 The Bad: Gives a false sense of sun safety

😡 The Ugly: Cabana 'invasion' ruining the scenery

With the summer heat coming into full swing, more and more beach cabanas are seen on Australian beaches.

The often spotty or striped four-legged fixture with no walls can help do their bit to fight skin cancer — which Australia has the highest rates of in the world — but how effective are they? And are they welcome at Aussie beaches?

We have done a deep dive into this trend to answer these questions.

Shade provided is a 'great thing'

Naturally you can't go wrong with protecting yourself from the harsh Australian sun, so when it comes to setting up a cabana tent, CEO of the Melanoma Institute Matthew Browne thinks they're a "great thing".

"I see messaging online where people ask ‘is there too much shade on the beach now’ and I say absolutely not. The more the merrier," he told Yahoo News Australia.

A photo of beach cabanas at an Aussie beach. Another photo of beach cabanas on Noosa beach in Queensland.
A sea of Cabana beach shelters are being seen on Aussie beaches during the Summer months. TikTok/Facebook

Anecdotally speaking, he says that recently there are a lot of "covering and shade structures" which "warms (his) heart" and that people should make sure to buy ones that have a proper UV rating.

"From a SPF rating point of view, you should have 50+ when looking for cabanas, or at least 40+," he said.

The fact that they don't have walls means they are also well-ventilated, in comparison to some other shelters like tents.

Gives a false sense of sun safety

However, just because we are seeing more cabanas, that doesn't mean we are effectively protecting ourselves from the sun.

New research from November last year shows that we don't use all five sun-safe strategies – especially Australian men – and Mr Browne says "Australians still have a long way to go".

According to the Cancer Council, melanoma incidences and deaths are higher in men, with less than half (49 per cent) regularly seeking shade during summer and less than a third (29 per cent) regularly using sunscreen.

That's why Mr Browne says on top of using a cabana or utilising natural shade, "people should be wearing 50+ sunscreen, rashies (or other protective clothing), broad-brimmed hats and glasses".

A photo of a woman applying sunscreen and wearing a hat on a beach.
Besides using shade, the four other sun-safe rules have to be followed to ensure protection from skin cancer. Source: Getty

The Melanoma Institute recently partnered with Cool Cabanas — a brand spotted on many Aussie beaches — and Mr Browne is pleased the company "ensures on their messaging that it's not just about the shade but also the other sun-safe rules".

He also stressed that when it comes to using cabanas for two or three people or more, "make sure everyone underneath is covered".

Cabana 'invasion' ruining the scenery

Despite the popularity and the bit cabanas are doing to help protect Australians from the sun, some can't get past their aesthetics and how it affects the experience of going to the beach.

"This ruins the scenery and beach vibes of the area," one person complained on TikTok. "There should be a certain distance from the beach where you can set one up."

Two photos of cabana tents at Bondi beach.
Cabana tents can be seen populating Bondi beach, with some potentially blocking people's serene views of the water. Source: Supplied.

"You need to see Noosa main beach, wouldn’t even know what colour the sand is," another said.

"Cabana invasion," a third person bemoaned.

Others also thought they would be a nuisance to surfers trying to get their board in the water as well as to people – particularly children – trying to find their tent when "95% of people get the striped one".

"The swell was picking up today and the sand was a sea of cabanas," one person said on Facebook. "There was a bit of a sweep happening, and this got me to pondering over how when tourists are swept down the beach a little whilst having a swim, how they then manage to figure out which cabana is theirs to return to?"

"How’s a kid supposed to know what tent to run to," another piped in.

While some beachgoers found them visually obstructive, lifeguards from several LGAs were quick to alleviate any safety concerns when it comes to monitoring the waves.

"Surf lifesavers operate as a team, and are trained to move around the beach to provide the most suitable surveillance on any given day," Adam Weir, CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia, told Yahoo News Australia. "As such, if surveillance is impeded from a specific location on the beach they would move."

So what do you think, are they awesome or ugly?

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