The 6 Best Pool Toys of 2021

Score the best floats for summer fun

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Did someone say pool party? You’d be nuts to turn down an invitation to a pool party, especially if it’s made all-the-more fun with a selection of pool toys. From floaties to kids’ mermaid tails to everything in between, pool toys are not only fun, but they’re practical. They keep kids entertained and allow adults to lay back and relax.

Whether you’re a lounge-in-the-water-type or get revved up for a friendly round of pool volleyball, we rounded up the best pool toys, no matter your age or interests. Be sure to look for toys that are age appropriate (if kids will be playing with them) and made of quality vinyl (to spare yourself from patching them).  

To prepare for the best summer ever, here are the best pool toys on the market.

Our Top Picks
A game that both kids and adults will be obsessed with.
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These mini rafts are buoyant and will hold your drinks without tipping.
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A raft and interactive play station that has child safety valves.
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The mermaid tails feature colorful designs and a shiny scale texture.
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This pack comes with 12 different balls, each one with a different emoji.
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A spacious lounger with a built-in backrest so you can cruise in comfort.
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Best Overall: Intex Pool Volleyball Game

Intex Pool Volleyball Set

The Intex Pool Volleyball Set takes our best overall spot because it’s not just an amazing addition to your party—this is the party. It’s rare that you’ll find something that both kids and adults will be obsessed with, but this 94" x 25" x 36" volleyball set will be just as popular with your kiddos (ages 6+!) as it will with your friends.

The pole bases come equipped with anchor weights to keep them in place during play, while the inflatable net will float in your pool. It comes complete with an inflatable volleyball, as well as a box to store it on your shelf, and a repair kit, in case of any unexpected mishaps. Set it up and watch the good times roll.

Best for Adults: GoFloats Inflatable Pool Drink Holders (3 Pack)

GoFloats Inflatable Pool Drink Holders (3 Pack)

Not only is this pool toy an inflatable drink holder (trust us, a party game-changer), it’s also a flamingo. Say no more, right? But it gets even better—for an affordable price you will get a set of three, so it’s definitely budget-friendly. The mini rafts are buoyant and cradle drinks snuggly, so you don’t have to worry about your drink tipping over unexpectedly.

Nothing kills a party vibe like spilled drinks, so you can be assured these GoFloats flamingos will keep everything secure. Not only are they great for the pool, but you can also use them in the hot tub, lake, and even the ocean. If flamingos aren’t your jam, you can choose from a variety of different styles, including palm trees, dragons, and cheeseburgers.

Best for Toddlers: SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center with Canopy

 SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center

When buying a pool toy for your toddler, you want to make sure they’re both safe and entertained. That’s why the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center is your best bet. It is a raft and interactive play station in one. It features child safety valves, and an innerspring to give your baby extra stability in the water. The canopy helps keep the sun off their face, and it folds up for easy storage. Octopus or lobster arms in the activity center hold toys your baby or toddler can play with a squeaker, rattle, stacking rings, and a soft-touch star. It’ll give your baby an introduction to the water, and it will provide parents with peace of mind while their child is in the water. This toy is ideal for ages 9-24 months.

Best for Kids: Fin Fun Mermaid Tails for Swimming with Monofin

Fin Fun Mermaid Tail Set

If your kiddos are obsessed with mermaids (or even if they’re not, to be honest), they’re going to flip for this. The mermaid tails feature colorful designs and a shiny scale texture, so it feels like the real deal. This model is great because you don’t have to strap your feet into the monofin, instead, it stays securely on your feet, and can be easily released in the water. It features fade-resistant premium fabric that stretches four ways, and you can choose from a myriad of color options.

But it doesn’t just look pretty—these mermaid tails will actually help you swim faster in the pool or ocean, and they mimic a natural mermaid motion. Jealous? We don’t blame you, but good news—this one also comes in adult sizes!

Best Game: Kangaroo Emoji Universe: 12-Inch Emoji Inflatable Beach Balls

Emoji Universe

If fun in the sun for you means getting active and playing games, you need to add these Kangaroos Emoji inflatable beach balls to your pool toys collection. Trust us, you won’t regret it. Beach balls are classic, but these adorable 12” balls take them to a totally different level. This pack comes with 12 different balls, each one with a different classic emoji, from heart eyes to sunglasses. If you can’t text without sending emojis, these are going to be the ultimate addition to your summer pool party.

These balls are inflatable, so they’re safe to use in the pool, and they’re recommended for ages 3 and up. They’re cute, colorful, and totally full of personality. Another way to use them? They’d be a totally fun addition to a pool party favor bag.

Best Lounger: Intex River Run I Sport Lounge, Inflatable Water Float

Intex River Run I Sport Lounge, Inflatable Water Float

Games are cool and floats are fun, but if relaxation is the name of your game, you need a pool lounger, and the Intex River Run is the best of the best. It’s super spacious with a 53” diameter, and it’s designed with a built-in backrest so you can cruise in absolute comfort. A mesh bottom keeps you cool in the summer heat, and it’s also got two heavy-duty handles, which will come in handy if you choose to use this in the ocean or river, as well. The best part? It’s got two built-in cup holders, because what is relaxation without a drink (or two) in hand.

This model comes in blue/gray, and it also has a grab rope, making it even easier to use. Make sure you keep this one away from your toddlers, though, because it’s only recommended for those ages 8 and up.

What to Look for When Buying Pool Toys

Recommended Age

Whether your kiddos are just getting used to putting their toes in the water or are experienced swimmers, safety always comes first. Pool toys that are too big, too heavy, or too complicated for little ones can pose a safety risk. Keep an eye on the recommended age range of the pool toy you’re considering to ensure it’s a good fit for the kids in your life, so you can rest a little easier come pool party time.


Pool toys get put through the wringer. They’re jumped on, inflated, delated, and thrown around both in and out of the water. The occasional hole or rip is inevitable, but to stave off the sadness of watching your pool toy deflate in front of your eyes, buy one made of durable, thick vinyl. Read plenty of reviews before clicking “add to cart” to ensure it’s made from quality material.

Repair Kits

As mentioned above, there’s always an imminent threat of rips when it comes to pool toys. To spare yourself the hassle of another pool toy biting the dust, purchase one with backup patches or a repair kit—or have the forethought to purchase these things separately. That way no pool party is ruined. 

  • How do you inflate pool toys?

    Do yourself a favor and purchase a pump—it’ll save you serious time (that could be spent in a pool!) and energy. An air compressor also works to inflate pool toys, but only manually blow into the air inlet if the toy is very small or it’s a last resort option. Otherwise, you’ll be too out of breath to go for a swim. 

  • How do you repair inflatable pool toys?

    Sometimes floaties include patches, sometimes a full repair kit, and sometimes neither. If the case is “neither” pick up a couple backup patches in case of a floatie deflating emergency, which is bound to happen sooner or later. Duct tape can also work, as well as a strong adhesive, like a shoe glue; just make sure whatever you use is waterproof.

  • Where do you store pool toys?

    As the summer season comes to an end, you should start thinking about where and how you’ll store your pool toys. First, wash them with warm water and dish soap, then let them sit out in the sun to completely dry. Next, deflate all of the air out of them, then fold gently so you can stack and store them in airtight containers, like vacuum-sealed bags. (They’ll help keep mold, mildew, and pests from ruining your floaties.) Then store away, whether in a garage, basement, or storage closet, until next summer. 

  • What are the must-have pool accessories?

    The best pool accessories are equally as practical as they are fun. For instance, a floating pool speaker, inflatable drink holders, and a pool toy storage bin. Pool noodles are both classic and useful, while a pool volleyball set is a fun addition if you host plenty of backyard shindigs. And, of course, floaties. Lots of floaties. 

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written and researched by Sierra Livermore, a product reviewer for The Spruce who covers everything from travel, home decor, fashion, beauty, and toys. Additional research was done by Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with over 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.

Updated by
Megan McCarty
Megan McCarty
Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er, with over 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as MyDomaine, Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.
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