By Vicky Anscombe on 11 May 2015

The debate has raged for decades; it's as divisive as brown sauce (waning in popularity, but still a breakfast staple for many) or Gogglebox (funny or frighteningly dull? The jury is still out).

The beach and the pool both have a lot going for them - obviously - but if you're holidaying as a family, you'll find that preferences may be split and you may not always agree on where to spend the day. To make matters easier, we've compiled this handy breakdown of pros and cons which you can print out, laminate, and refer to when there appears to be dissension in the ranks.

The pool:


  • The cleanliness. We're not saying the sea is unhygienic - clearly, it's not - but pools are chlorinated and salt-free, which can be much better for people with sensitive skin and younger swimmers.
  • Eating and drinking. Although you won't be hard-pressed to find somewhere to eat and drink at the beach, we're betting that the pool will have closer amenities. We won't bother discussing the merits of a poolside bar; we believe they speak for themselves.
  • You won't have to go far to get back home. Need a nap, or something from the apartment? You won't need to go the distance. Literally. 
  • Safety. Remember what happened to Dick Van Dyke when he fell asleep on his surfboard? There's no guarantee that a pod of porpoises will save you - just remember that. There is little to no danger of this happening in a pool.
  • Rogue inflatables. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a little me-time on a spare lilo or rubber ring; most hotel pools can't move for inflatable toys left behind my other guests. You just have to ask.


  • Splashing. If you've got loungers near to the water, it is a given that your paperbacks and dry clothes will get soaked by the afternoon.
  • Proximity to other guests. If you have embarrassed yourself the night before, the pool is the place where you'll be scrutinised by ten of curious, gossip-hungry eyes. If you want anonymity, go to the beach.
  • Family japes. Have you ever been deliciously warm and half-asleep on a sun lounger, then, without warning, hoisted into the air and thrown into a cold pool? Isn't it great? This is what happens at pools.
  • Other peoples' conversations. Pools are the places where noise gets amplified, so if you're sat near to someone who insists on droning on and on, you're in for the long haul. Oh, and don't even try and have a disagreement with your better half by the pool - everyone might look like they're innocently reading, but they are silently judging you. Save your rows for your hotel room.


The beach:


  • The sea. Not only will you have access to a neverending wave machine, but there are also fish and crabs to play with. Need a comedy wig? Use seaweed. Want to amuse yourself for hours? Grab a mask and snorkel and take a look at all the marine life. Don't breathe through your nose and don't touch anything. Fish hate to be touched.
  • The space. The issue with pools is how busy they get - within limits, you've got all the space you'll need in the sea. Don't like the people near you? That's cool - just swim away.
  • Sand. What is it with children and sand? They love the stuff. It's the ultimate toy, and it tends to be found everywhere on the beach.
  • Exfoliation. Have you ever examined your feet after a barefoot walk on the beach? All that sand and salt water will leave them looking lush - no more hard skin and dirty toenails for you.
  • Less noise. Have you ever noticed how the noise of other peoples' children playing reverberates around a pool? Somehow, the sound is muted on the beach.
  • Pests and the like. Due to more wind, there are fewer insects at the beach. If you want to play 'Let's find a wasp and anger it by denying it our sugary drinks', the pool is a good place to start.


  • Sand. No, we're not being hypocrites - but have you ever tried to remove the sand from a suncream-smeared toddler before heading back to your apartment? They make a noise like a hoover that's at the end of its life.
  • Windy weather. Pools are, as a rule, pretty sheltered. If the wind picks up when you're on the beach, you're in for a pretty miserable time.
  • People selling things. If you're in the market for a massage, a knock-off Rolex or some cheap sunglasses, you're in luck. Otherwise, you may find that you're pestered all day long.
  • Horrors of the deep. The sea often harbours creatures that don't tend to get on with people. Creatures like urchins. Have you ever trodden on an urchin? It's an unforgettable experience.

We bet you haven't embarrassed yourself like these unlucky fliers.

Behave yourself on planes or you'll be shamed online.

Image credit: Flickr and Rajarshi MITRA and Sarah_Ackerman

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