Summer…it has begun. You can’t go outside without sunglasses anymore, and you can’t walk out the door without breaking a sweat that only gets heavier as high noon approaches. Opening the windows lets a breeze in, but it’s not enough. Cold lemonade offers relief, but it’s only temporary. As the temps continue to rise, we will seek more sustaining measures for cooling off: I’m talking full. body. water. immersion. Nothing else will do.

But whether your local splash-source is a public pool or the Pacific Ocean, your body ain’t gonna float itself! We present to you: The best water floaties for premium-style summer sea-hangs. No matter your budget, functionality requirements, or chillness parameters, you too can chill on a recreational flotation device!

Pool Noodles (The OG)

Illustrations by Isabel.

Illustrations by Isabel.

When it comes to floaties, pool noodles are very back-to-basics, but they are the building blocks of aquatic play! You can sit on one, playground-swing style, OR you can use one to prop up your arms and another to float your feet! They’re like a Sleep Number bed in the way you can customize your level of comfort and support. (“I’m a Three-Noodle!”) You can also use them to lovingly whack your friends and loved ones because of their squishy, low-impact foam. AND, if you have the kind of pool noodle with a hollow core, you can spit water through the noodle like it’s a whale’s blowhole, to the delight of literally no one around you, except maybe babies. Disclaimer: Do not attempt this trick with gross duck-poop lake water, please!

Single-Person Raft (The Mature Choice)


Of all floaties, the simple recline-friendly, single-person inflatable raft is the most elegant, adult option of the bunch. It’s practical and easily portable (just keep a folded one in your bag and blow it up at the beach!). Using one requires a level of resigned passivity because it is, primarily, a buoyant surface for laying down, and you must surrender to the high-beams of the sun while you enjoy its floaty comforts. If you’re about the relaxing me-time life while magically levitating on a body of water, this is your vibe.

Ring Island (The Squad Spot)


This type of floatie, which is made of connected floating rings, is made for ultimate squad bonding. A flotilla of your homies, kickin’ it at sea? A ring for you, and a ring for me? Sounds like another perfect day on ring island.

Food-Themed Floaties (Snacks of the Sea)


There is a veritable pantry of food-themed floaties on the market these days, friends. Got a sweet tooth? Might I suggest a donut floatie ring like this one? What about an ice-cream sandwich lounger, if you’re feeling more recumbent? Make it meta and eat an ice-cream sammie while you float away, slowly waving bye-bye to your haters. I love the posse-potential of this pizza slice floatie: Imagine a whole pizza pie of floating friendship! This adorable fruit slice inflatable island could fit a few bodies, and looks as cute and refreshing as a lime garnish floating on the pool’s glassy surface.

Floating Oasis (Your Own Private Island)


A floating island, such as this, is a clubhouse on the water, providing shade while keeping you and two to five other people afloat. If you were the keeper of such an island, you would be a popular person. I would want an invite. Please, can I come chill on your island? I’ll bring you a soda!

Giant Inflatable Swan (The Floatie of Queens)


“Let me glide into your pool party on my SWAN. Swim to the side, commoners!” Swans, such as this, are so large in scale that one must be truly secure in their lack of giving-a-crap if they roll up with this beast. But what a beautiful beast it is! Perfect for: floating off into the general direction of a sunset, completely owning the beach, displaying one’s elegance.

Color-Changing Raft (The Party of One)


RAVE RAFT, COMING THROUGH, *unkst unkst unkst*. Floaties like this contain electric color-changing lights, which I find slightly sus despite promises of waterproof-ness (never trust the man!). However: What I can tell you is that it looks very cool, and depending on the body of water you’re gracing, you might have a little school of party fish wagging their fins below you. Sea life at da club!

Round Floating Chair (aka the Condom Chair)


OK, they’re not really called condom chairs—but come on. Just look at one. These are the types of floaties that, say, your parents might gravitate toward—not cute, not fun, but certainly ergonomic. I’ll go so far as to say that they’re on to something! They’re much steadier than your standard floating ring, plus they provide great support for your upper back and neck during extended periods of buoyancy. I would certainly recommend this floatie, but I would also probably laugh every time I looked at it, because, seriously, guys, it looks like a condom.

Inflatable Killer Whale (Not Here to Make Friends)


Floatie whales are the rocking horses of the sea. While floating atop one, you are active and mobile, but you’re also not really going anywhere. That’s no problem, though. You’re just trying to float, not migrate. But that doesn’t mean that an inflatable killer whale can’t hang with…

Inflatable Alpaca (The Most Glorious Inflatable Toy of Them All)


Why is there an alpaca at the beach? I don’t know. I don’t decide these things! It’s not technically a floatie—it’s a cool-looking toy that happens to float—but I won’t turn this lost barn-dude away! All are welcome at the beach. ♦