Despite what Instagram would lead you to believe, the best pool float is neither a swan nor a flamingo, a pineapple nor a drink-holding palm tree. It’s actually a giant, rideable bull, and I’d argue it’s the best thing that’s happened to pool parties since the pool itself.
Most summer weekends, my husband and I escape the city for my in-laws’ house on Long Island. Although they’re within two miles of the beach, we usually spend the weekend in the backyard hanging by the pool. And no matter which friends or family members are there, the biggest hit is always the bull, which entered our lives last summer when my sister-in-law bought it for her best friend’s bachelorette party. It’s a natural pick for a bachelorette party since, really, it’s not a far cry from its sleazier cousin, the hypersexualized mechanical bull. In practice, though, it’s proven to be a very different, and much more wholesome, beast.
We’ve had friends and family of all ages eager to see how long they can stay on board the bull as it bobs and bounces in the water. A successful bull ride requires balance, finesse, good water conditions, and a little bit of luck. A considerable amount of core and upper body strength is needed to mount it from the water, so the best — and most fun — method is jumping on the bull from outside. It’s the kind of thing that seems easy until you try it and immediately topple — and then you need to try it again. Even people who don’t usually go in the water can’t resist the bull. I’m typically in the reading or sunbathing camp myself, but even I have to test out my skills on the bull whenever it comes out.
Besides being just plain fun, part of the bull’s appeal, of course, is that it’s a counterpoint to the overexposed cutesy floats that have saturated Instagram. If you must document the bull on social media though, I highly recommend snapping a Boomerang video of someone leaping onto it (bonus if they fail).
More Strat-approved summer favorites
For a more traditional float, this unicorn style topped our list of the best-reviewed pool floats on Amazon.
If you’re throwing a pool party, stock up on these affordable towels for guests. They were our pick for the best budget beach towels on Amazon.
Or go with a standout, and very on-trend, roundie.
These chairs come from the oldest American beach-chair manufacturer, and have been reported to last a decade or longer.
We’ve declared this World War II–era umbrella your best option for the beach because it’s totally resistant to wind and water damage, and blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
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