Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best beach tables

There’s nothing quite like picnicking on the beach, whether it’s just the two of you, the family, or a group of friends. Some people just take a blanket, and that can be great, but a folding beach table adds comfort and convenience – and stops sand from getting into your sandwiches and salad!

A well-designed beach table provides a stable platform for your food and drinks at a comfortable height. It should be easy to bring to the beach, so you want it to be compact, but you also don’t want to spend ages putting it together.

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Respect the beach. If you brought it with you, take it home and dispose of it there.

Key considerations

Portability and assembly

The most basic beach tables are simple tray tables, often made of bamboo, with steel legs that fold out from underneath. They’re small and easy to carry. However, their limited size means they’re only really useful if you’re going to sit on the beach. If you’re going to use beach chairs, they’re a bit low.

Height varies enormously with beach tables, and pictures can be misleading, so always check the dimensions. Taller beach tables come in a wide variety of styles. They include carrying bags, and many unfold in one simple movement. Beach tables with polyester canvas tabletops don’t provide a very stable platform for cups or glasses, so cup holders should be provided. These tables often have a weight rating for the load they can support and have plenty of space for your food. However, most are not actually sturdy enough to eat off.

More rigid beach tables usually come in two or more parts. It’s common for the tabletop and legs to be separate and snap together using provided clips. As a result, you have a little more bulk to carry around, and it might take a couple of minutes to put the table together, but these beach tables will support your plates while you eat.

There are several beach tables available with built-in seats, which can be very convenient but means they aren’t as compact when folded. They are usually quite slender, and they do have carrying handles, but transportation and storage will require a little more thought.

Weight and materials

Polyester canvas is a fairly tough and durable material, and it’s also very light. It is resistant to abrasion, though some care is needed as sharp objects can pierce or cut it, and it’s not easy to patch if that happens. Polyester canvas beach tables with aluminum legs often weigh only a few pounds.

Beach tables with aluminum tabletops don’t weigh much more but give a sturdier surface. Aluminum is also more resistant to damage. Unlike steel, it doesn’t rust, so it’s better in salt air, though it will oxidize over time and the surface shine will dull. Even the heaviest aluminum beach tables (those with built-in seats) are under 20 pounds.

Wood tabletops are quite attractive. Bamboo is particularly popular and similar in weight to aluminum. Hardwoods are heavier but not enormously so, and many people will put up with an extra pound or two for a classy look. The only real drawback with wood is that the finish needs more care than aluminum or canvas.

Aluminum and wood beach tables usually have steel frames for added strength. Look for frames with a powder-coated finish, which is much longer lasting than paint.



Some beach tables have adjustable feet, which can be useful for leveling on rough ground. With others, you can adjust the height of the legs, which gives you the option of sitting on the sand or on chairs.

Frame design

On lightweight beach tables, there is quite often a framework of thin bars providing support, which is a good idea but may make it difficult to sit around the table if you can’t get your feet under. Look for beach tables with more open frames and sturdier legs if you want to stretch out.

Trolley tables

Trolley tables have big wheels for rolling easily across the sand. They have pockets for your gear, and some can also transport beach chairs and an umbrella. However, the actual table area can be quite limited. Trolley tables need to be strong to carry your gear, and as a result they aren’t particularly light, usually around 13 to 14 pounds without a load. They aren’t particularly compact either.

Storage space

Some beach tables have a variety of pockets for storage. They’re usually polyester canvas tables. For durability, look for polyester canvas with a thickness of 600 denier.

Beach table prices


The cheapest beach tables are two-person tray tables (which also work great for snacks in bed). You should be able to find a good one for between $20 and $30.


There’s an enormous range of beach tables between $30 and $60. You’ll find collapsible polyester and aluminum tables and even folding hardwood tables. Most people will find what they need in this price bracket.


Above $60, you’ll find beach tables that incorporate seats, trolley tables, models with adjustable legs, and handcrafted hardwood tables with high-quality brass fittings. These tables are usually very sturdy, but as a result they don’t pack down quite as compactly as other beach tables.


A trip to the beach should be a fun and relaxing time with family or friends. A few sensible precautions will make sure it stays that way.

  • Pack plenty of sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, and a beach umbrella. Avoid too many hours of sun exposure. When it’s breezy, you might not think it’s hot, but the sun can still be strong and you’ll burn fast if you’re not careful.
  • Stay hydrated. Whatever you’re drinking, make sure you also drink plenty of water.
  • Only swim in areas where there are lifeguards. Follow their instructions. Always swim with a buddy if possible.
  • Understand warning flags. Usually, green means it’s safe to swim, yellow means caution, and red tells you there are dangers – it’s not a ban on swimming, but only skilled and experienced swimmers should enter the water. Also, keep an eye out for shark, jellyfish, or rip current warnings.
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It’s true that aluminum doesn’t rust, but it does corrode. In salt air environments, an aluminum beach table’s finish will eventually deteriorate.


Q. Does sunlight damage plastic beach tables?
The sun’s UV light does damage plastic. Most colors will fade over time, but PVC and polypropylene are more susceptible than polycarbonate or polyester to damage. That’s why polyester is often recommended for outdoor use. Don’t forget that wood tables can also be damaged by sunlight, so protective coatings are important. The easiest way to prevent damage and make your beach table look great at the same time is to use a tablecloth.

Q. What’s the best way to look after a beach table?
Salt and sand are both abrasive. Salt, in particular, will quickly cause any steel joints to rust, and sand will cause excess wear or jams. Give the table a good shake and a quick rub-down with a towel or cloth before you put it in its bag or stow it in your car. When you get home, rinse it with a hose and plain water. Leave it to dry before folding away. If it’s dirty, you can use dish soap, warm water, and a cloth or soft-bristled brush depending on the table’s materials.

Q. What’s the difference between a beach table and a camping table?
Not much! In both cases, you’re probably looking for the same features: a light table that’s not too bulky and that’s easy to carry and store. The only time there might be a significant difference is if you’re RVing since it’s possible to take a much larger model than you might otherwise.

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