When the good weather arrives we want to enjoy the sun that we have barely seen in the winter months, and it is no wonder. The more hours of sunshine, the better the mood. And when the heat hits, one of the best places where we can fight it is on the beach.
In the more than 500 km of coastline of Mallorca we have hundreds of calas and beaches where you can enjoy summer, good weather, clean and refreshing waters and a radiant sun. But yes, we have to expose ourselves to it with caution.
Why use a beach umbrella
The benefits of sun exposure are multiple
- Stimulates nerve endings and improves muscle response
- Reduces the incidence of respiratory infections and improves breathing
- Increases hemoglobin in the blood
- Improves cardiovascular work
- Lowers blood pressure
- It is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D that allows to fix calcium in the bones
But prolonged and unprotected exposure has its risks
- Appearance of erythema (redness), which is the pre-burn sign; These can be first or even second degree, and their effects are cumulative on the skin
- Can end up causing different skin diseases, even skin cancer
- Affects sight, and can cause cataracts
- Produces premature aging of the skin
Although most of the ultraviolet B rays are filtered by the ozone layer, a small part reaches the surface and has the capacity to seriously affect our skin
Ultraviolet A, less dangerous and thanks to which we tan, have a great penetration capacity and can cause premature aging and the appearance of wrinkles in the long term.
So sunbathe, yes, but with caution. And in addition to sun creams and other protections, one of the most effective ways to safely enjoy our day at the beach is to do it under a good umbrella.
But in addition to these advantages, so important to our health, there are other more mundane
- They allow us to have our belongings (bags, backpacks, beach coolers) in the shade, preventing them from spoiling
- Allows us to be comfortably seated or lying down reading while avoiding annoying reflections and glare from the sun
- We can locate from a distance where our companions are
Types of beach umbrellas
When choosing our beach umbrella we must consider various elements.
We can find beach umbrellas with diameters between 1.5 and 2.5 m
The smallest ones will be lighter but will provide us little shade. The large ones will offer more shade, but in return they will be heavier to transport and will be more vulnerable to gusts of wind. You also have to consider whether the mast is fixed or telescopic in height.
But in addition to the classic umbrellas we can consider other options
- Like beach shelters
- Mixed umbrellas that can fulfill both functions
- Or even beach awnings
Here we will have to consider the material of the fabric and that of the mast and rods.
The most common fabrics are textile, polyester and PVC
The cloth ones allow some air passage, but they do not filter UV radiation well. The PVC ones do reflect the sun’s rays and avoid the concentration of heat under the umbrella.
The mast is usually made of aluminum, light and resistant to oxidation, but there are also stainless steel. The rods are usually made of aluminum, but fiberglass rods are becoming common, which combine resistance, flexibility and at the same time are not affected by oxidation.
UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)
This indicator is applied to fabrics and clothing and represents the ratio between ultraviolet rays causing burns with and without the fabric in question.
For example, a UPF 30 indicates that for every 30 units of UV radiation only 1 passes the fabric. That is, it would block 96.7% of UV radiation. A factor of 50 would block one out of every 50 units, 98%.
It is a measurement carried out in the laboratory with artificial sources of UV rays measured with a spectrophotometer or spectroradiometer.
Do not confuse UPF with SPF (sun protection factor, for example from sunscreen)
Since the measurement is carried out in a different way, although the results are similar.
The simplest umbrellas do not have any joint to tilt them, we will have to change their position. But the most common is that they have a point to tilt them or not at your convenience.
Type of installation
Typically, the mast has a rounded tip to make it easier to drive the umbrella into the sand, but on certain soils it may be better if the end is smooth.
We must also assess that they include pegs for a better additional support, or the possibility of adding a base to hold it.
Some already have a threaded tip to facilitate installation in the sand.
Transport and accessories
A good bag will facilitate the transport of our beach umbrella. It is important that it is comfortable and resistant. If it also has accessories such as a good anchoring system or pockets to store some belongings, so much the better.
Tips for choosing your beach umbrella
The best beach umbrella will depend on the use we are going to give it, where and with whom.
If we are going to go to the beach alone, a small umbrella, 1.50 m long, may be sufficient
If we are going to go as a couple, and especially with children, then we will opt for a larger one. About 2m in diameter should be sufficient.
On sandy beaches, the best option will be an umbrella with a pointed pole, or better yet, with a thread.
Although, as we will see, we can use a separate accessory to better nail the umbrella into the sand. If we usually go to coves where rocks abound, a mast with a flat tip will be better, or even with a small base on which we can put some stones to hold it.
Regarding protection against UVA and UVB rays, the higher the better, without ever forgetting the sunscreen
But if you go to the beach with children, this additional protection will be particularly important as their skin is more delicate. We will then choose umbrellas that offer a protection factor of at least 50.
If we normally go to beaches with nearby parking, the weight and size may not be important
But if we go to somewhat isolated beaches, or if we use public transport, we must assess the weight of it.
Another factor to take into account is the wind
Even on the calmest beaches a breeze can kick up that blows our beach umbrella into the air, or worse, broken. We must check that it has a good anchoring system, and if possible, that it has several attachment points, either by means of additional pegs, or by being able to hold a weight that keeps it on the ground. The material and quality of the rods will also be important if we do not want to run out of an umbrella with the first gusts of strong wind.
And last but not least: how many umbrellas will you need?
A maximum of two or three people can shelter under the shade of an umbrella. Take this into account if you go to the beach as a family or with a group of friends so that there are enough umbrellas for everyone.
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Enjoy the beach!!
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