The Best Pool Toys for Kids (2021) – Top 11 Picks
Isn’t it a great feeling when you first buy a pool and see the excited faces of your family? Sure it is, and when it comes to children, the first thing they want to do is buy pool toys for those glorious weekend afternoons.
Pool toys make an already fun experience of splashing around in a pool even better.
You can find a wide variety of pool toys and accessories, from high-end products to dollar store merchandise. But there’s simply too many of these products to sort through on your own. That’s why we decided to list the best pool toys for kids, according to a consensus of bloggers, reviewers, and best-selling products.
In this article, we’re going to review the best pool toys in several different categories and then determine which products work best for different age groups. By the end of our guide, you’re going to know what you need to start your backyard water theme park.
- 11 Best Pool Toys for Kids
- Melissa & Doug Spark Shark Fish Hunt
- Betheaces Water Guns
- GoFloats Unicorn Pool Float Party Tube Inflatable
- Swimways Baby Spring Float Activity Center
- SwimWays Finding Dory Dive and Catch Game
- Intex Pool Volleyball Game
- Swimline Giant Shootball Basketball Hoop
- COOP Hydro Lacrosse Game Set
- SwimWays Star Wars BB-8 Inflatable Pool Toy
- Intex Explorer 200
- Fin Fun Monofin Mermaid Tails for Swimming
- How to Keep Children Safe Around Pools
- Final Thoughts
11 Best Pool Toys for Kids
As we begin our reviews, notice that we’ve divided each review into three sections: what the toy does, the pros of buying the item, and possible cons.
These “cons” don’t mean anything is wrong with the product but could indicate a future issue. (For example, when the toy is age-specific) We’ve also included a direct link to the product for more details.
Melissa & Doug Spark Shark Fish Hunt
This toss and catch game has a fun shark theme that younger children will enjoy.
- Great for swimming practice, as the fish sink to the bottom of the pool
- Highly resistance to sun damage and chemical damage
- Easy to set up and pack
- Better for younger kids since older kids might prefer more sports-oriented activity
- Smaller parts and sinker pieces mean older children ages 6-8
- Fish do sick, so swimming is a prerequisite
Melissa & Doug Spark Shark Fish Hunt is a toss and catch game that sees players swim through the pool to scoop up six different sinkers. One to seven players can play at a time using two shark nets and six fish sinkers of two different colors, yellow and orange. This net game encourages children to develop gross motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
Fade-resistant materials are made to last and hold up to sunlight and chlorine, while polyester nets and plastic frame hold up under pressure. The Melissa and Doug Spark brand also has similar pool toys and characters for sale that children will love, such as Louie Lobster, Taffy Turtle, and Maritime Mates Boat Parade.
Betheaces Water Guns
Don’t bother bringing heavy water guns to the pool – use these blasters as a lighter, easier-to-shoot alternative.
Oops! Looks like this toy is sold out.
- Easier, faster, and lighter than using bulkier water guns
- Shoots up to 30 feet
- Eco-friendly foam material, safe and non-toxic
- The spray can be powerful, so may require supervision
- They’re not plastic but have plastic pieces; the toy can still tear with roughhousing
- May promote too much competition among children
How can you have a pool without water guns? The Betheaces water gun toy makes it easy for kids to spray their friends, thanks to foam material and a lightweight, easy-to-carry blaster piece. Unlike most water guns, these brightly colored shooters float in the water because of padding and ABS plastic pieces. Children will find them more comfortable to use than bulkier water guns.
The solid construction of Beatheaces blasters also prevents leaking problems. These blasters measure 14.8 x 24.8 x 1.77 and come in colors of yellow, green, and blue. Children can pump water quickly and fire away at a long distance, even for larger swimming pools.
Users “load” the water gun by dipping the nozzle directly into the water and then pulling the handle until it reaches the longest point. Push forward and fire away – up to thirty feet!
GoFloats Unicorn Pool Float Party Tube Inflatable
If you want to relax and float on the pool, you might as well ride a unicorn!
- Large float with sturdy quality material
- US company with a dedicated support line
- Can hold plus size children or adults
- Can pop if too over-filled
- A regular air compressor may not work
- No anchors; a floating piece only
The GoFloats Unicorn Pool Float Party Tube Inflatable is a fun and colorful toy that can help children learn to swim or simply float in a pool for hours of relaxation. The unicorn theme of the float keeps things fun since it comes with an almost horse-sized body, a rainbow-colored mane and tail, and a horn on top.
The toy’s exclusive rapid valve technology allows an inflation/deflation time of 10x faster than other similar floats. At 45 inches wide, three feet tall, and a 500 pound-rated base, anyone can enjoy a smooth float, and it only takes two minutes instead of a half-hour to fill it up.
The UV treated grade vinyl raft is also thicker than most other floats by 25x, meaning it’s great for a pool, though it can also float in a lake or river.
Swimways Baby Spring Float Activity Center
A tiny little octopus-themed swimming park for a young child not ready to swim.
- Innovative design, ideal for a young baby ages 9-24 months
- 360-degree rotating toys for fun and distraction
- Easy storage and mobility
- Stationary unit not for older children
- Canopy is not fully adjustable, though it is removable
- For shorter babies, water may come up closer to the head
Swimways Baby Spring Float Activity Center is not merely a “float” – it’s a complete activity center for a small child or baby. Your kid sits safely in the middle while a happy octopus rotates 360 degrees around, behind, to the side, and in front.
Each of the octopus’ arms holds separate toys for the baby to grab, such as a squeaker, rattle, ring, and star. The activity float center is large, measuring 34x30x20.5 and yet still easily folds up for storage.
Once you set up the center, the product’s safety valves, dual air chambers, and a unique inner-spring mechanism keep things safe. The canopy includes mesh sides, but also provides 50+ UPF protection against sunlight.
SwimWays Finding Dory Dive and Catch Game
This Finding Dory-themed catch/toss game brings to life characters from the Pixar cartoon.
- Great theme, tying in with the popular Disney franchise
- A challenging game with multiple characters, floating at different depths
- Children can learn how to practice swimming with these unique challenges
- Probably won’t appeal to older children who didn’t see the movie
- Smaller pieces to catch, so recommended for children five years and up
- Some children might prefer a tub to a pool if they can’t go too deep
The SwimWays Finding Dory Dive and Catch Game is going to be a favorite for any kid who loved the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory movies.
This Disney-themed dive and catch game features a net and toss challenge with characters baby Dory, Nemo, Sheldon, and others. Children swim and catch the Finding Nemo characters with the Mr. Ray net.
What’s neat about this set is that each character sinks and floats at different depths in the pool, making it more of a challenge, and great practice for swimming lessons. The collection comes with one net and five characters.
Intex Pool Volleyball Game
Bring your love of volleyball into the water safely, and with a much lighter beachball.
- Large cover area for a realistic volleyball game distance
- Anchor the float with grommeted pole bases
- Can work in a pool or even a lake
- Naturally, the beach ball doesn’t feel like a volleyball
- For older children, eight and up, because of more competitive sports
- The company doesn’t sell replacement nets
The Intex Pool Volleyball Game turns your pool into a water volleyball court, using a large and anchored set that’s still inflatable and lightweight. The inflatable set measures 94x25x36 and come with anchor bags to keep the float steady and in a fixed position. The set also includes a floating net and inflatable beach “volleyball,” as well as a repair kit and shelf box.
The material is 10-gauge vinyl (and a 7-gauge ball), meaning this is a durable quality of material and can take a pounding while still keeping air. Children over the age of eight and their parents can both enjoy this competitive game.
The grommeted pole bases can also carry added anchor weight in case you need secure positioning at the bottom of the pool.
Swimline Giant Shootball Basketball Hoop
Bring your love of basketball into the water, and don’t forget to keep score!
- Quality material thanks to heavy-gauge vinyl
- Points from 50 to 500
- Multiple users can shoot from all over the pool
- Beach basketball moves differently from a real basketball, so plan accordingly!
- A group of users will have to take turns with the ball or bring additional balls
- Like many other sports pool toys, will appeal to older children seven and up
The Swimline Giant Shootball Basketball Hoop takes a child’s love of basketball and throws it on top of the pool! The 36x45x36 float is sturdy and inflatable, constructed from heavy-gauge vinyl that ensures durability. The floating hoop also has multi-ports just in case a small group of children wants to play at the same time.
Numbers on the inflatable basketball hoop can range from 50 to 100 to 75 and 500. If your older children, ages seven and up, love basketball and swimming, then the Swimline Basketball Hoop is an ideal pool toy. The unit also includes an instruction manual that explains how to work the valve for maximum inflation.
COOP Hydro Lacrosse Game Set
Teach your children how to play lacrosse on water, a century’s old game reborn for swimming pools.
- Teaches kids about the century-old game lacrosse
- Multiple colors available
- The foam material is comfortable and won’t tear
- Recommended for slightly older children because of lacrosse rules
- The game set only includes two lacrosse sticks per set, which means you must buy more for a larger group
- The ball is hard and not a “beach ball”
The COOP Hydro Lacrosse Game Set gives your children the chance to learn the sport of lacrosse on water. Since the 17th century, we’ve been enjoying the game of lacrosse. Now players can catch, scoop, cradle, and throw the ball back and forth inside of a pool.
The set comes with two lacrosse sticks, available in a few colors of red, blue, and green, as well as a softball. Each lacrosse stick is a durable foam piece that’s comfortable to hold and built to last. Lacrosse is easy to learn, and this particular COOP game set will appeal to children ages five and up.
SwimWays Star Wars BB-8 Inflatable Pool Toy
Star Wars droid-themed float that young fans of the new movies will enjoy.
- Star Wars-themed toy will go over well with kids who like the movies and the BB-8 droid
- PVC material means the float is durable and stabilized
- Moves just like the movie character, slightly angled
- Non-Star Wars fans won’t see the big deal
- Instructions sometimes confusing
- Requires an extra chore of filling the float cavity with water
If you’re going to get a pool toy for the kids, how can you not tribute Star Wars? Kids today love Star Wars, just like you did back when Yoda was first, well, green! Besides, if your children keep up with the newest trilogy, they will immediately recognize the BB-8 droid.
This droid raft is made from PVC inflatable material and is water weighted to ensure stability, even when you’re playing with the raft. To stabilize the float with water weight, simply fill the water cavity before inflating the float unit with air. This 28x28x36 toy is okay for children ages five and up.
The droid float moves like the character in the movies, floating on its side, and is a life-size recreation fun for the whole family.
Intex Explorer 200
The Explorer is a pool-sized version of a larger boat to take out on the lake. Get your child excited about boating early on.
- Will appeal to younger and older children since it’s similar to white water rafting and canoeing
- Welded on oar locks
- Has bow rope to easily pull the boat
- Oars not included
- Best left for pools and smaller bodies of water
- Takes a while to inflate
The Intex Explorer 200 is not only a fun pool toy for older kids, but it’s also a great “starter” gift, just as fun to use in a pool as it is to take out to a small lake. The two-person boat has two air chambers with double valves, plastic parts for durability, and an inflatable floor for a rigid base.
Using a set of oars, you can race against other explorers or cruise around your pool at your own leisurely pace. The explorer 200 has plastic parts as well as oarlocks that come welded on for extra security. There’s even a grab rope on the bow of the boat.
Fin Fun Monofin Mermaid Tails for Swimming
If you got to go for a swim, you might as well do it like a mermaid!
Oops! Looks like this toy is sold out.
- A fun theme for pretending, and yet a helpful piece for swim practice
- Reinforced tail and Monofin technologies keep the outfits durable and easy to use
- Quality fabric that holds up against all elements
- The suit is durable but not indestructible; stay cautious about tearing near the fin
- Not all children will like the mermaid theme
- Check the measurements and various sizes before ordering, so you don’t accidentally get a tail that is too short
Monofin Fin Fun Mermaid Tails come in both adult and children’s sizes, but kids will love it even more than their parents – especially if they’re a fan of Disney and the Little Mermaid! These mermaid tails are not only fun to try but safe, comfortable, and also a helpful swimming accessory.
Swim faster and with enhanced protection thanks to a reinforced tail, so powerful it’s backed by a warranty. The Monofin technology lets you glide through the pool naturally and smoothly. Simply remove the tail with a slight pull and kick. Kids ages six and up can enjoy these tails made from quality fabric that can hold up in saltwater, or in the sun, or chlorine.
How to Keep Children Safe Around Pools
Just because these pool toys have age recommendations doesn’t mean a risk of injury doesn’t exist. Statistically speaking, over 7,000 water injuries occur every year. Most of the age guidelines exist because of small parts or challenging to manage equipment.
Common sense and a cautious attitude from parents can help prevent pool injuries. Emphasize to your entire family the rules about pools and pool toys, including:
- Always have an adult nearby when kids play, preferably one that knows how to swim and knows CPR
- Ban running around the pool and wrestling or roughhousing inside the pool
- Put pool toys away after playing, to avoid tripping hazards
- Barricade the pool, with a fence of at least four feet tall; lock access to the pool unless you let visitors inside
- Explain the pool rules to children and make sure they see you sticking to the same rules
- Check the water depth to make sure diving doesn’t cause injury
- Make sure everyone in the pool can swim or at least has a life jacket if they swim to the deeper side of the pool
- Ban alcohol or drug consumption before swimming
- Consider investing in a pool alarm that automatically lets you know if someone falls inside
- Wear sunscreen and tell others to do the same
Encourage children to keep fit and have fun this summer with swimming pool sports and other toys that offer a challenge. We’ve reviewed some of the best pool products for kids so that you can fast-forward to the most exciting toys.
Younger kids that can’t swim on their own will love some of these toys that invite them to the party. Older children want something fun and competitive to do in the water, something that encourages them to show off their swimming skills.
Treasure your family time together this summer and remember to take some GoPro video footage to remember these precious moments.