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The best pool toys and games you can buy

The best ball for the pool

The best ball for the pool
The Watermelon Ball does everything a basketball can do, but underwater.

What looks like a watermelon, acts like a watermelon, but can't be eaten like a watermelon? Why, the Watermelon Ball, of course! This all-sorts-of-fun pool toy inflates with water from a garden hose, not air, so you can play a multitude of underwater games without it bobbing to the surface.

You can pass it up to 10-feet underwater, dribble it on the bottom of the pool, dive for it, play tag or keep-away. This ball might just be the most played-with toy in your pool this summer, and believe us, it's not only going to be the kids fighting over whose turn is next.

With nearly 400 reviews on Amazon, the Watermelon Ball has a 4.7-star average (out of 5 stars). One buyer wrote, "It's made out of a very thick material, seems very sturdy."

Pros: Very versatile toy that can be used for many different games, and enjoyed by all ages

Cons: A few buyers complained they did not receive directions or attachment for filling the ball with water

Buy the Watermelon Ball on Amazon for $24.99
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The best pool toy for diving

The best pool toy for diving
Keep your kids busy for hours diving and playing with the SwimWays Toypedo Bandits.

Shaped like mini-submarines, the SwimWays Toypedo Bandits glide up to 20 feet through the water after a simple toss into the pool. They don't just sink to the bottom, either. Instead, they zip forward while slowly descending.

One child can have fun chasing and catching the little missiles, or two or more kids can race each other, play relays, or come up with a variety of games with the toys.

Pros: Versatile toys, encourage kids to improve diving and underwater swimming skills

Cons: Only a pack of four, so if you have lots of kids in the pool, you'll need more than one pack to avoid arguments

Buy the SwimWays Toypedo Bandits on Amazon for $4.99
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The best mermaid tail

The best mermaid tail
If you've ever fantasized about being a mermaid, the Fin Fun Mermaid Tail lets you live the dream.

Mermaid or merman, if you, your kids, your significant other, or anyone else taking a dip in your swimming pool want to experience the joys and the challenges of life as half-human/half-fish, you need the Fin Fun Mermaid Tail.

This beauty isn't a cheap-looking costume — It's made of sturdy fabric that sits somewhere between a bathing suit and thin wetsuit. The tail comes in several bright colors and has a "scale" pattern that looks almost 3-D when wet.

Nor does the Fin Fun Mermaid Tail limit you to just looking pretty on the side of the pool, or posing for Instagram selfies. The tail comes with a flipper-like monofin that helps you glide through the water just like the Little Mermaid, although it should be stressed that this is not a lifesaving device, a flotation device for kids who don't know how to swim, or even easy to swim in without at least a little bit of practice.

Amazon buyers praised the tail's looks and fun, but several commented that the fabric tears easily if dragged along a rough pool bottom, and some say that it does take a little practice to use for swimming.

The Fin Fun Mermaid Tail comes in several sizes for children and adults, along with nine different colors.

Pros: Very pretty, stretchy fabric fits most bodies, range of sizes, fun for children and adults, great for Instagram

Cons: Fabric might rip if it rubs on rough ground, expensive

Buy the Fin Fun Mermaid Tale on Amazon for $69.95 to $84.95 depending on size and color
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The best pool toy for all ages

The best pool toy for all ages
Go ahead and channel your inner cowboy on the Intex Inflat-A-Bull. It's sure to be the center of your next pool rodeo, er, party.

Forget about the honkytonk western bar. Now you can channel your inner urban cowboy right in your very own swimming pool. Just climb aboard the Intex Inflat-A-Bull, get your friends or family to start the float rocking and rolling, and hold on for as long as you can.

This is a big float; it measures 96 x 77 x 32 inches so it'll take up a fair amount of your swimming pool. It's made of heavy-gauge vinyl and has three air chambers for durability. You'll definitely want some sort of pump to blow this bull up, though — forget about using lung power alone.

On the downside, some owners complained it was hard to get onto the bull, and others said their bull ripped during use.

Pros: Tons of fun for all ages, unique pool game

Cons: Large, not easy for everyone to mount, might rip if treated roughly

Buy the Intex Inflat-A-Bull on Amazon for $47.89
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The best pool volleyball set

The best pool volleyball set
Spike, set, serve, and stay cool with the Intex Pool Volleyball Set.

A good game of volleyball is fun for kids and adults. It's even more fun when the game takes place in a swimming pool, where cooling off requires nothing more than dunking your head underwater. The Intex Pool Volleyball Set includes everything you need for your game, including an inflatable ball, floating base with net, and two anchors to keep your game from drifting across the water.

Whether your volleyball players are highly competitive or just having fun batting the ball back and forth, this game will provide lots of fun throughout the summer. Both float and ball are made of sturdy-gauge vinyl, and the set includes a patch kit in case your serve proves mightier than the ball.

The more than 1,000 Amazon customer reviews include phrases such as, "easy to assemble and fun to play," "kids love it," "good exercise," and "hours of fun." On the downside, however, some buyers complained the set is flimsy and doesn't stay in place, even with the anchors.

Pros: Easy to set up and fun for a wide range of ages, very inexpensive

Cons: Might not stay in place, some complaints of flimsy construction

Buy the Intex Pool Volleyball Set on Amazon for $10.99
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The best pool toy for kids

The best pool toy for kids
Your little swimmers will have a blast catching fishes with SwimWays Gobble Gobble Guppies.

If you want to keep your youngest children happy and busy over the summer, just set them loose in the pool — of course, you'll be right there with them the whole time — along with the SwimWays Gobble Gobble Guppies, and watch the fun begin.

A gentle squeeze of the shark's tail opens his mouth wide so he can gobble up the floating guppies. Simple though that might be, it's endlessly entertaining to the preschool set. Each colorful guppy has a different number on its side, so you can play counting games with your child, as well. And when the summer is over, just bring the shark and guppies into the bathtub for continued play.

A few Amazon buyers warned that the guppies are small enough to fit into a child's mouth, so pay attention to the 2-and-up age recommended for the toy.

Pros: Lots of fun for young kids, a great way to work on numbers and colors

Cons: Might be a choking hazard for very young children

Buy the SwimWays Gobble Gobble Guppies on Amazon for $7.99
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The best fun drink holder

The best fun drink holder
When thirst strikes, there's no need to get out of the pool when you have a well-stocked Jasonwell Floating Drink Holder drifting nearby.

Whether you're involved in a fierce game of volleyball, or just lazing on a pool float, spending time in the sun means thirst. Usually, that requires climbing out of the water in search of refreshment, but not when you've thought ahead and filled up your Jasonwell Floating Drink Holder with your favorite beverages and small snacks. It's like having your very own swim-up bar.

The rainbow design not only looks fun, it also makes it very easy to spot the float wherever it drifts. The center of the float is shaped like a well, so you can fill it with ice to keep snacks or drinks chilled. Five cup holders around the float's edges hold cans or bottles right where they're easy to grab.

Pros: Sturdy and stable, center compartment holds ice to keep drinks cold, five cup holders

Cons: None to speak of

Buy the Jasonwell Floating Drink Holder on Amazon for $13.99
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The best pool lights

The best pool lights
With their ever-changing colors, the Mood Light Floating LED Balls turn your pool party into your own little backyard light show.

Just because the sun's gone down doesn't mean your pool party has to come to an end. In fact, if you have a mostly adult guest list, the fun may just be starting. That's when you'll really appreciate the Mood Light Floating LED Balls.

You get a set of a dozen small balls — each is around the size of a softball — that glow steadily in one of seven colors or slowly transition through the rainbow while drifting around your pool. You can set off a riot of color or match all the balls to a specific color theme.

The batteries last for a surprisingly long time, and you even get an extra set, so your light show can last as long as you do. While the balls are water-resistant, it's best to remove them from your pool in between uses and let them dry out.

Owners love the way the balls add color to the pool at night, but a few buyers said the balls leaked water and stopped working. The manufacturer stands behind the product and guarantees your satisfaction or your money will be refunded without questions.

Pros: Colorful LED lights add a big dose of wow to your pool party

Cons: Some buyers had problems with water getting into the batteries, expensive

Buy a set of 12 Mood Light Floating LED Balls on Amazon for $79.95
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The best pool toy for adults

The best pool toy for adults
The GoPong Beer Pong Float is beer pong for your swimming pool. What's not to love?

There are lots of variations on beer pong, but basically, you gather up a bunch of your buddies, divide into teams of two, fill up the cups with your favorite beer, and let the games begin! Each player takes turns tossing his or her ball towards the other team's filled cups. If the ball lands in a cup, the opponent drinks the beer in that cup and removes it from the float. Once a team loses their last cup, they lose the game.

With the GoPong Beer Pong Float, you get all the fun of beer pong combined with the fun of a pool party. The large float has cup holders arranged in the traditional 10-per-side beer pong triangles, along with an additional eight cup holders along the float's edges, and a large built-in cooler for your extra beer.

The game includes the float and six pong balls. You'll need to supply the cups and your favorite beer or other beverage. Once you have everything in place, the fun supplies itself.

Pros: Great party game for adults, or just use the float for lounging in the pool

Cons: A few buyers complained that the float popped or tore easily

Buy the GoPong Beer Pong Float on Amazon for $41.42 (originally $44.99)
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The best pool toy for the whole family

The best pool toy for the whole family
Battle it out while keeping your balance on the floating logs of the Swimline Log Flume Joust Set.

We'll say it up front: A fairly high percentage of buyers of the Swimline Log Flume Joust Set complain that it's really hard to balance on the inflatable logs, and most players simply flip over into the pool. But for those who master the trick of staying astride the inflatable "logs," there are lots of laughs to be had slugging it out with the inflatable log boppers.

Even many of those who can't keep their balance, say it's a lot of fun trying, but it's even more fun to watch friends struggling in vain to stay upright. You'll get two inflatable logs and two boppers in each set.

Pros: Tons of fun if you can manage to stay upright

Cons: A major challenge to your balance

Buy the Swimline Log Flume Joust Set on Amazon for $45.09
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Check out our guide to the best pool floats

Check out our guide to the best pool floats
The best pool floats you can buy

Ah, summer and the living is easy. And what better way to celebrate those bright and balmy days than lazily drifting in your swimming pool or on the lake, drink in hand and sunscreen slathered on your nose? With the Kelsyus Chaise Lounger, you'll be weightless on the water without a care in the world.

Sure, you can enjoy the water on a ho-hum rectangular raft — I spent seemingly endless hours of my childhood doing just that, back in the long-ago days before pool floats got creative — but why not up your summer game?

Today, there's a whole wide world of pool floats out there that put the "fun" in functional, and look great while doing it — or at least, give you the opportunity to take some Instagram-worthy selfies.

There are a lot of floats out there, so we've done the hard work for you, and whittled the choices down to the best ones for pool, beach, or lake.

Here are our top choices:

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