You might think any old beach hat will do to keep the sun off your face while you’re relaxing or beachcombing. These beach hats prove that idea wrong with features that make them some of the best headgear to wear while you’re out in the sun.
What’s the Best Beach Hat?
Hats have to double as protection and a fashion statement, so they should be practical and attractive. The best beach hats protect your face and sometimes your shoulders from the sun while also looking great.
Let’s look at seven of the best beach hats you can buy that provide protection and help you stay one of the best-dressed on the beach or anywhere you need to wear them.
Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Beach Hats:
- Best Overall Beach Hat: FURTALK Women’s Straw Hat
- Best Wide-Brim Beach Hat: Women’s Ultrabraid X-Large Brim Hat
- Best Stylish Beach Hat: Lanzom Straw Panama Hat
- Best Cowboy-Style Beach Hat: Sunday Afternoons Sunset Hat
- Best Unisex Beach Hat: Columbia Tillie Creek Boonie Hat
- Best Visor Beach Hat: Simplicity Women’s Foldable Straw Visor
- Best Bucket Beach Hat: CHOK.LIDS Frayed Cotton Bucket Hat
These hats provide top-quality sun protection with materials that block UV rays. They’re comfortable, easy to take along in a beach bag or purse, and wear well after being rolled or folded.
They also provide a fashionable look while keeping you cooler and preventing sunburn. All of these hats are suitable not just for the beach but for any time you’ll be outside.
Why You Need a Beach Hat
You need a beach hat for two reasons: to protect yourself from the sun and to look stylish on the beach! A beach hat can fill both roles if you choose the right one.
First, beach hats need to provide sun protection. You should still wear sunscreen and get in the shade when you can, but a hat is another line of defense against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Hats block the sun to prevent sunburn and to shield your eyes.
Not only does a beach hat block UV rays, but it provides a barrier between the top of your head and the sun to help prevent you from overheating. Light-colored beach hats, in particular, do a great job of reflecting the heat to keep you cooler.
Second, you don’t want to give up your sense of style to spend a day on the beach. The hat you choose can be stylish and attractive while protecting you from the sun so that it can do double-duty as a practical and fashionable accessory.
You need a beach hat, so look at our top seven picks to see if one appeals to you.
The 7 Best Beach Hats in 2023
So many great beach hat styles are available that it’s hard to narrow down the choices to only seven. We looked at sun protection, comfort, sizes, style options, and how well the material would stand up to time in a bag or pocket. These hats kept coming out on top of the others in those categories.
1. FURTALK Straw Hat
- Folds easy
- Lots of color options
- Chinstrap for windy weather
- Heavier than other straw hats
- Tighter fit than other brands
The FURTALK foldable straw hat is the best overall beach hat because it’s lightweight paper straw you can easily roll up and put in a bag or a suitcase.
Straw hats became popular in the US in the 19th century and even had a 1920s riot named after them. Straw hats are a classic choice, and this one offers UPF50+ UV protection.
The FURTALK hat has a nicely shaped and rounded brim. These hats run small, so opt for the larger size unless you have a tiny head. A velcro strap inside the rim makes it adjustable to help you get a better fit.
Two more things make this hat our top choice for the best beach hat for 2022. The hat comes with a chin strap for windy days you can remove when you don’t need it and a wicking sweatband to keep sweat off your forehead.
2. Ultrabraid X-Large Hat
- Maximum sun protection
- Your choice of colors
- Wears well despite its size
- Short crown limits your hairstyles
- Color can fade over time
The Ultrabraid X-Large Brim Hat from the San Diego Hat Company is the best beach hat with an extra-large brim. The eight-inch brim makes this a big, floppy hat that provides ultimate sun protection and makes a bold fashion statement.
This wide-brim hat comes in several different colors and measures a whopping 24.5 inches from brim to brim. The opening measures seven and a half inches across, so it should be a good fit for most people.
The hat is made from a synthetic fishing line woven with straw and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. Despite its size, it’s as foldable and crushable as similar, smaller hats.
The hat style brings to mind celebrities and fashion icons from the 40s and 50s who wore large floppy hats to make a fashion statement, like Audrey Hepburn. The extra-large brim will keep the sun off your face and your shoulders while making you look like a starlet.
3. Straw Panama Beach Hat
- Over 25 colors
- One size really fits most
- Retains shape well after rolling
- Will crease if left rolled too long
- Inner brim doesn't adjust to fit
This Lanzom Straw Panama Hat is lightweight paper straw with a 10% polyester addition to make it more flexible and comfortable to wear. The brim stretches 2.9 inches, and the hat is 22.5 inches in circumference.
A rope inside the hat lets you adjust the size instead of a strap, but it should fit most except those with small heads. The Panama hat is easy to fold and pack in a beach bag or luggage for your trip to the sea.
The shaped crown and Panama style provide some fashion flair while keeping you cool and protected up to UPF 50+ from the sun’s UV rays. You don’t have to stick with straw colors since this hat is available in over two dozen colors and hatband color combinations.
4. Cowboy Sunset Hat
- Shapeable brim
- Variety of colors and combinations
- Adjustable sizing
- Runs small, might not fit large heads
- Spot clean only, though it's not straw
Sunday Afternoons Sunset Hat is our pick for a cowboy-style beach hat. Everyone should have a cowboy hat in their closet, so it might as well be one designed to give you a Western look while keeping you cool in the sun.
This hat also offers an option over the traditional straw hats. Made from 100% polyester, it features a 3.75-inch brim you can shape that blocks 98% of UV rays for a 50+ UPF rating.
A solid polyester hat could be an oven in the sun, but the braided polyester strands that make up this hat provide ventilation and airflow while still blocking sunlight. A built-in sweatband keeps you dry, and a leatherette chin strap keeps your hat on when it’s windy.
A matching leatherette headband decorated with beads adds a touch of style. This Sunset Hat can be your perfect beach hat if you love the cowboy look. Choose medium or large in a variety of colors.
5. Boonie Hat
- Great basic, everyday hat
- Breathable nylon mesh
- Machine washable
- Less stylish than other beach hats
- Few color choices
Our pick for the best unisex beach hat is the Columbia Tillie Creek Boonie hat. This casual hat made from 100% nylon offers 50+ UPF protection.
The Boonie hat comes with a drawcord you can tighten to keep it on during windy days and a toggle in the back to tighten the head for a snug fit. The sizes run big, but this ensures the hat will fit correctly.
One of the best features of this beach hat is the nylon mesh in the crown that allows better airflow and keeps the top of your head from overheating while still providing sun protection. A moisture-wicking sweatband in the front keeps sweat out of your eyes, while the breathability helps sweat evaporate from your head to keep you cooler.
The Boonie is a fishing hat at heart, but it works so well that it’s perfect for the beach, hiking, and any outdoor activity. It lacks the style of an elegant wide brim straw hat, but it creates a fashion statement all its own with a casual look that stresses comfort and coolness.
6. Woven Straw Visor
- Great for up-dos and big hair
- Made to roll up
- Brim extends all the way around
- Tight fit on very large heads
- No sun protection for your crown
The only thing that kept this Simplicity Foldable Straw Sun Visor from being our overall best beach hat choice is the lack of protection you get for the top of your head with a visor. Everything else about the hat is exactly what we look for in a sun hat.
This visor is a great choice for people who wear their hair in a ponytail, bun, or other up-do that won’t fit into a traditional, closed-crown hat. The Velcro brand closure makes it easy to take on or off without interfering with your hairstyle.
The lightweight straw visor lets your head breathe while still providing sun protection for your face of UPF 50+. Simplicity designed this hat to roll up and take up almost no space in a bag, so it keeps its shape well.
You can adjust the circumference from 20 to 23 inches to get the best fit. The wicking sweatband keeps your forehead dry, and the extra-wide brim extends all the way around, unlike most visors, to protect the back of your neck.
7. Frayed Cotton Bucket Hat
- Multiple color choices
- Machine washable
- Classic style
- Might not be breathable enough for everyone
- Less protection than wide-brim hats
Cool and breathable 100% cotton makes up our favorite bucket beach hat from CHOK.LIDS. This hat comes in various bright and cheerful colors, pastels, and neutral shades like beige and tan. The natural cotton lets your head breathe, and eyelets allow even more airflow.
The material provides UPF 50+ UV protection and gives enough shade to protect your face and eyes from the sun. If you sweat a lot in this hat, you can throw it in a washing machine and dryer, unlike a paper straw hat.
This bucket hat is an excellent choice for people who don’t want a big brim but want to cover their heads. The frayed edge gives this beach hat the appearance of a well-worn and loved accessory that fits in with a shabby chic style perfect for any beach.
Finding the Best Beach Hat for You
How do you choose the best beach hat for a vacation trip or all summer long?
What’s Your Reason for Wearing It?
How will you use the hat? If your primary reason for wearing a hat is to block as much sun as possible, you’ll want to look for one with the biggest brim you can find. If your reason is pure fashion, then brim size matters less.
Some people want to keep the sun out of their eyes and look great, while others want to protect themselves from UV rays and sunburn. You can do both by looking for a hat that offers the style you want and the protection you need. Let your purpose for the hat help you decide which style is best.
How Do You Wear Your Hair?
If your hair is short or you wear it down, almost any hat will fit properly. Thick, curly hair will make hats tight and can mash your curls, so look for bigger sizes and fits.
A ponytail, chignon, bun, or another hairstyle where you wear your hair up won’t fit well in most beach hats. If you prefer up-dos, you’ll need a visor-style hat or one designed for hairstyles with an opening in the back.
Does Your Head Sweat Much?
If your head gets hot during the summer when you wear a hat, you’ll need to choose a beach hat with breathable material and lots of ventilation. A cotton hat or baseball cap with only eyelets for airflow might not be enough.
Straw, braided material, or something with a mesh crown that lets the breeze flow into your hat to keep you cool is an excellent choice to keep your head cooler. A built-in sweatband can help, too.
How Much Sun Exposure Will You Get?
Don’t skimp on the brim if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period. Even if you’re wearing sunscreen, you need the shade of an umbrella, beach blanket, or beach hat to help. If you prefer visors, still get a beach hat with a closed crown for long periods in the sun.
Even if you like an open style for airflow, you can get a severe burn on your scalp where your hair parts if you wear a visor. A great way to ensure you always have the right beach hat is to buy more than one, so you can switch them out as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the best beach hats and how to wear them.
Should you wear a hat at the beach?
Yes, you should. A beach hat is necessary for spending time in the sun. Beach hats don’t only look good, but they keep the sun’s rays off your face and neck and help shade your eyes to prevent eye strain from the bright sun.
What material should a beach hat be made from?
The material of the beach hat you choose is up to you, but the most popular materials for beachwear are paper straw, cotton, polyester, and linen.
All those materials are lightweight and breathable, so your beach hat won’t make your head too hot. Choose one with UPF 50+ protection, which means the material blocks almost all the sun’s UV rays.
What type of hat is best for the beach?
In general, big brims with woven materials or mesh crowns work best to provide sun protection, though if a hat is too big and floppy, that reduces the amount of shade it provides.
What color hat should I wear in the sun?
You should choose the color you like best, but the color that reflects the most light and heat from the sun is white. Dark hats will make you hotter because they absorb UV rays instead of reflecting them.
How should a beach hat fit?
The brim should rest at about the center of your forehead. If it blocks your view, it’s too low. Choose hats with adjustable toggles, strings, and bands to ensure the best fit.
So, What’s the Best Beach Hat?
The best beach hat is the one you’re willing to keep on for the longest amount of time. The style, material, or shape doesn’t matter as much as your preferences, so choose one that you’ll be the most comfortable wearing.
Whether it’s a huge floppy hat or a simple visor, anything that helps block the UV rays from your face, eyes, and neck will keep you cooler, help prevent sunburn, and make your beach time more fun.