How to Make a Bimini Sun Shade for a Kayak

by Bryan Hansel
Protect yourself from the sun with a Bimini kayak sun shade.

Protect yourself from the sun with a Bimini kayak sun shade.

Paddling under the blazing sun on a hot day takes a toll. It saps your energy and can cause sunburns. One way to reduce the exposure to sun and help prevent sunburn is to wear a hat and use lots of sunscreen. In addition to those steps, paddling under a homemade Bimini sun shade helps keep most the rays off your body. Making a sun shade instead of buying a commercial version allows you to customize the shade to your boat.

Place a fishing rod holder on each side of the kayak behind the seat. Look for a place on the rear deck that's flat and far enough away from the seat so the sun shade won't interfere with paddling. Attach the fishing rod holders to the kayak with stainless steel screws. The number of screws depends on the model of rod holder, but most require four to six screws.

Wrap a 3-inch piece of pipe insulation around the end of each 1/2-inch PVC pipe. Insert each pipe and insulation into the rod holders.

Glue three 45-degree PVC connectors together to form a "U" shape. In the center of the "U," drill a 1/2-inch hole and thread a 1-inch eye bolt through it. Tighten the nut to secure the bolt in place.

Attach the U-shaped piece with PVC glue to one end of each two 10-foot PVC pipes. The result is a 10-foot long V-shaped piece, with the top of the "V" inserted into the rod holders.

Use the V-shaped piece as a template to cut out the sun shade's fabric covering. Cut the fabric 6 inches wider than the template. On each side of the fabric, sew a 3-inch sleeve.

Remove the V-shaped piece from the rod holders and slide the fabric over the ends of the PVC pipe.

Tie a rope to the eye bolt and run the rope to the handle on the front of your kayak. Adjust the tension so the sun shade covers the kayak's cockpit. Tie the rope to the kayak's handle.

Items you will need

  • 2 fishing rod holders
  • Screwgun
  • 1/2-inch stainless steel screws
  • 2 PVC pipe, 1/2-inch, 10 feet long
  • Pipe insulation
  • PVC glue
  • 3 PVC pipe joints, 45-degree
  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 1-inch eye bolt and nut
  • Wrench
  • Scissors
  • Ripstop nylon
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Rope


  • The sun shape and rope increases the chance of entanglement. Keep an easy-to-grab fixed-blade knife on your lifevest if you have to cut yourself out.

About the Author

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

Photo Credits

  • Burning sun image by Ilija Mitrevski from