If you're wondering what the difference between a cabana and a gazebo is, the answer is rather simple. Gazebos are open on all sides. A cabana (from the Spanish word for hut) has three lightweight "walls," with one open wall facing a pool. The walls don't have to be permanent; in fact, they can be fabric curtains, drapes or shades, intended to block sunlight.
Both provide shelter from the sun and a place to relax during an afternoon of swimming.
If you have ever gone to one of those Las Vegas hotels, you may have seen poolside cabanas that are intended for private parties and all sorts of shenanigans. That way, those sitting by the pool don't have to lie on a chaise lounge with the rest of the peons. Either that or they were up partying the night before and are sleeping it off in the cabana the next day.
A cabana is also handy for changing in and out of a swimsuit, which is especially nice if you remember to draw the curtains closed, even on the poolside.
Not Just for Poolside
Cabanas make great gazebos, what with their curtained "walls" and all. Cabana roofs are usually made of outdoor fabric, wood, metal, or thatch for a tropical vibe. A curtained cabana makes a great outdoor stage for children (or adults) to perform impromptu concerts or plays in the summer. It also makes a casual place in your backyard in which to escape or a nice romantic retreat.
Cabanas are what resort areas call those collapsible, tent-like structures on beaches, near lakes, or by pools. In years past, they were favored by families who desired privacy, wanted to stay out of the sun for part of the day, needed a place in which to change into their modest swimsuits or maybe needed a quiet place to house sleeping younger children while other family members played in the water.