Palapa vs Gazebo? What are the Differences?

Published August 4th, 2022 by Allen Campbell

palapa vs Gazebo key differences

Whether you’re looking to add some extra shade and relaxation to your backyard or want to find a venue for outdoor weddings and events, you may be wondering whether a palapa or gazebo is the right choice for you.

While both structures have their pros and cons, some key differences can help you make the right decision for your needs. In this blog, that’s what I am going to answer for you.

Palapa vs Gazebo? What are the Differences?: Summary

What is a Palapa?

are palapas a fire hazard (1)

I have been fascinated by the palapa since I first saw one on a Mexican beach. Its simplicity, with just one supporting pole in the center and open sides for ventilation, is something that has always appealed to me. 

You can find it on every beach, in front of every restaurant, and all over Mexico. It is a part of the country’s history and culture, something that has been around for centuries.

You can get protection from both the sun and rain by choosing to build a palapa in your yard. Palapas are traditional Mexican structures that offer both function and beauty to any space. If you’re exploring for a cool addition to your place, consider adding a palapa.

During the past decade, palapa roofs have become more popular in other parts of the world beyond their native Mexico and can now be seen in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Thanks to their attractive appearance and budget-friendly price, palapas are gaining popularity as choices for both residential and commercial structures.

What is Gazebo?

ABCCANOPY 13'x13' Pop Up Gazebo with Mosquito Netting

In the Middle East, gazebos were originally built as garden structures. They can be used in various ways, such as hosting outdoor parties or providing a relaxing spot to enjoy the scenery. Thanks to their recent popularity in the United States, gazebos now come in all sorts of sizes, styles, and materials. 

They can also be a central focus in a garden or other outdoor space. No matter your choices, you can undoubtedly find a gazebo that’s perfect for you.

A gazebo typically has a roof and open sides, making it perfect for enjoying the outdoors while providing some shelter from the sun or other elements. They are used year-round in many parts of the world but are especially popular during the summer months.

Palapa vs Gazebo: Differences

Materials Used

Wooden gazebos are a classic choice and can provide a natural look for your backyard oasis. Vinyl gazebos are a more low-maintenance option, while aluminum gazebos are known for being lightweight and durable.

Palapas are a popular choice for beachfront properties or any outdoor space where you want to create a tropical vibe. Also, it is traditionally made from dried palm leaves, which give them their distinct thatched roof look.


The cost of a gazebo can vary greatly depending on the design and materials used. A basic backyard gazebo can be as low as $5358, while a more elaborate gazebo can cost thousands of dollars. Such as those that come in a kit form with pre-made designs. Some accessories can all add several hundred dollars to the total cost.

There are many companies in the market selling different sizes of palapas to their customers, but according to my experience and research, Palapa Kings is the better option for buying a palapa. 

You can find Palapa King’s palapa kits’ average prices ranging from \$749.00 to \$3,699. But the good thing about them is that the quality they provide at these prices is worth it and you will not regret buying it.


When it comes to durability, Gazebos are the most preferred choice as compared to Palapas. Gazebos are made of stronger and more weather-resistant materials such as wood, vinyl, or aluminum, which makes them more durable than Palapas. 

As I told you earlier, Palapas are made of dried palm leaves, and they don’t have the ability to hold up against the strong wind and heavy rainfall compared to Gazebos.

The old saying goes, “Quality comes at a price,” and the same is true for Gazebos. They are more expensive than Palapas because of their durability. I would recommend you build Gazebos for yourself if you want your shelter to be used for long years without any damage.

Purpose of Use

According to my deep research, gazebos were first used in ancient times as a place for meditation and relaxation. In search of inner peace, devotees would use them in temples where they could find tranquility without outside noise or people’s distractions.

Nowadays, gazebos are used for a variety of purposes, whether you’re looking for protection from the elements, wanting to spend some time with family or hosting small outdoor meetings. You can even turn your gazebo into an outdoor room if you have a smart imagination. There is no end in terms to using Gazebos for your needs.

The umbrella-like big structure of the palapa provides excellent protection against harmful rays and heavy rain. If you purchase a good quality palapa, you can benefit from its massive framework. 

For example, I have seen people using palapas as barbecue stations, kitchens, and storage sheds. The usage of palapas can achieve many other purposes like these.


I have seen many Gazebos owners regularly seal and paint their Gazebos. The main reason for this is because Gazebos are made out of wood or metal, and over time, these materials will start to deteriorate if not properly taken care of. 

On the other hand, Palapas are much easier to maintain because they are usually made from thatched palm fronds.

Even though Gazebos are more expensive to maintain, many people still choose to have them because of their classic look.


As far as shapes go, gazebos come in all sorts of different designs. You can choose any design, but the most selling ones are six-sided, eight-sided, rounded, oblong, square, and rectangular. 

All these shapes are great for backyards, but it all depends on your garden or backyard plan. You can pick any shape that compliments your style the most. Functionality is not compromised in any way, regardless of the shape you choose.

As compared to Gazebos, Palapas are mainly distinguished by their thatched roofs. You will commonly find them in 2 different varieties, one is the single pole support, and the other is with four poles.

Palapas vs Gazebos: Conclusion

So, what’s the difference between a palapa and a gazebo? Palapas are also typically thatched with palm leaves, while gazebos can be made of any number of materials, including wood, metal, or vinyl.

Finally, palapas are often used for dining and relaxing, while gazebos may have benches around the outside for seating or even contain interior rooms. Have you decided which type of outdoor structure is right for you? If not, hopefully, this article has helped clear up some of the differences so you can make an informed decision.


What does a palapa look like?

Palapa sitting on the beach

It is typically made from dried palm leaves and has a conical or triangular shape. Palapas are usually quite small, but they can be made larger by adding more frames or extending the thatch.

Can a gazebo withstand wind?

Most gazebos are designed in a way that they can withstand heavy and strong winds. However, it is always important to check the anchor points of your gazebo before a storm hits, just to be safe. 

If your gazebo is not properly anchored, high winds can cause it to collapse. By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure that your gazebo will withstand any wind condition and provide years of enjoyment.

Do gazebos protect from rain?

When it comes to protection from the rain, most gazebos can withstand light rain or moderate weather conditions, but you must take some precautions to keep your gazebo in good condition. For instance, consider adding a waterproof cover or tarp to the roof and sides to protect against heavy rainfall.

How long does a palm leaf roof last?

It is a very rare chance for a palm leaf to live 20 years or more. Usually, a palm leaf will only last for ten years, but it will only happen when the palm leaf is properly cared for. 

The key to making a palm leaf last long is to keep it clean, free of debris, and trim any dead or dying leaves. These leaves can cause the palm leaf to decompose and rot if not taken care of.

How do you decorate a palapa?

There are a lot of ideas if you are looking to decorate your palapa. One popular way to do so is by stringing lights around the perimeter, which gives off a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for entertaining guests. Another option is to hang colorful banners or flags from the roof beams. 

This is an excellent method to include a festive touch to any gathering. Additionally, greenery can be used as decoration for your palapas, such as potted plants or hanging vines. This will give your outdoor space a touch of nature.

Allen Campbell with Master Canopies

Allen Campbell

Allen is a full time writer at and enjoys traveling around the United States and exploring nature. He enjoys writing about canopies as he believes they are extremely crucial in having a successful camping trip whether it be a trip to the beach, mountains, or the open plains.

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