Fishing, surfing, swimming, and boating make summer what it is. But there's no denying that it always poses a challenge with footwear.
Even if you want to be barefoot in the water, you have to cross sand (or gravel, or grass) to reach the water, and not all of those surfaces are safe and comfortable.
Not all shoes can protect your feet, get wet, get sandy or dirty, and live to be worn another day.
|L-RUN Athletic Hiking Water Shoes|
|Women's Swiftwater Sandal|
|Men's Swiftwater Wave Sandal|
|Ning Meng Men’s & Women’s Water Shoes|
|Men's Original Universal Sandal|
|Women's Original Universal Sandal|
|Speedo Women's Water Shoe|
|Speedo Men's Water Shoe|
- What to Look for in Sand and Water Shoes
- 5 Best Shoes for Sand and Water
- L-RUN Athletic Hiking Water Shoes
- Crocs Swiftwater: Women's Swiftwater Sandal, Men's Swiftwater Wave Sandal
- Ning Meng Men’s & Women’s Water Shoes
- Tevas: Men's Original Universal Sandal, Women's Original Universal Sandal
- Speedo Surfwalker: Speedo Women's Water Shoe, Speedo Men's Water Shoe
- Did you find the best shoes for sand and water to meet your needs?
What to Look for in Sand and Water Shoes
It goes without saying that shoes for the beach should be able to resist water and protect the feet from hot sand and sharp objects. But there are a few more options and features you may want to consider.
Sandals or Shoes?
Sandals are the most breathable footwear, naturally allowing water to drain away from the feet and dry quickly.
Because they are nearly barefoot, they are natural beachwear, when the feet may alternate quickly between water and sand, wet and dry.
However, sandals generally don't protect the sides of the feet, so they may not be a good choice for rocky or gravely beaches.
Sandals are also not ideal for fully underwater activities, like swimming or surfing, because they increase drag when under the water.
Water shoes can go in and out of the water, and are designed to provide foot protection while draining quickly and resisting water damage.
They are great for water activities where both fit and traction are important to prevent slipping, like surfing.
Many people also wear water shoes for non-beach activities like yoga, where they provide traction and breathability without impairing the full range of motion of the foot.
How Big a Shoe?
For gravely, rocky, sandy conditions, you may need a shoe for sand and water that has a substantial sole that really protects the foot.
These shoes should provide protection with a secure, non-slip fit. They also usually have a more comfortable, contoured footbed, and offer more arch and heel support for regular activities like walking.
However, many water shoes are extremely small, flexible, and light, more like socks than shoes.
These are a great option for portability and travel – they can be tucked into a beach bag, a backpack, or a picnic basket, and be used when they are needed.
Small water shoes are ideal for travel and beach holidays because they don't take up space in your luggage, dry quickly, and allow you to be more spontaneous with your beachwear.
How to Size a Unisex Shoe
While some of the best shoes for sand and water have men's and women's versions, some of them are also unisex. They also often have a fit that is tighter and closer to the foot.
For these reasons, you may not be able to order your regular shoe size and get an accurate fit. Instead, it is better to measure your feet and order by your measurements. To measure your feet at home:
- Use a hard surface like a vinyl or wood floor, rather than a soft surface like carpet.
- Tape a piece of standard-sized copy paper to the floor
- Trace the outline of your foot on the paper. This is best done when standing, so that your weight compresses the foot and gives you a more accurate tracing, but you can sit in a chair if it is easier. Trace the entire outline of your foot.
- Place your traced foot outline on a table or desk.
- Use a ruler to draw a square around the outside edge of your foot. Draw parallel lines that are the exact width of the tracing of your foot, and parallel lines that are even with the top of your big toe (or longest toe) and the lowest point in your heel.
- Measure the length of your foot. Use a ruler to measure the distance from the bottom of your heel to the top of your longest toe. Write down that measurement.
- Measure the width of your foot. Measure across the widest point of your foot and write down that measurement.
- Subtract 3/16ths of an inch from each measurement. This accounts for the distance between the pencil line and the outside of your actual foot.
- You may need to repeat this for each foot, if you notice that your feet are very different sizes. Some people have one foot that is larger than the other, in which case you should order the larger of the two shoe sizes.
Knowing your foot measurements will help you get a more accurate fit in any shoe, not just beach shoes, so it's worth doing.
5 Best Shoes for Sand and Water
These unisex shoes have a super flexible, comfortable, “barefoot” feel, with extremely lightweight construction.
The non-slip outsole is wear-resistant, with slight cushioning at the heel, for great comfort and stability on any surface. The rubber soles also have drainage holes that allow water to quickly escape and let your feet dry naturally.
The mesh Lycra upper is breathable to keep you cool and prevent odors or allow the shoes to dry quickly if they get wet. The stretchable, quick-adjustable fit is comfortable for a wide range of foot shapes, fitting more like socks than shoes.
These shoes are so light and flexible they can easily be folded up, so they are perfect for a picnic basket, gym bag, travel, or anywhere you want to go.
The L-RUN Athletic Hiking Water Shoes come in a huge range of colors and patterns to fit any style, and are a great choice for all kinds of sports and activities.
Crocs Swiftwater: Women's Swiftwater Sandal, Men's Swiftwater Wave Sandal
Crocs are legendary for being comfortable, waterproof, and easy to wear anywhere. These sandals have the same Croc comfort and durability, but with a more streamlined, beach-friendly style.
They are made of waterproof Croslite foam, with open sides that allow water to quickly drain away, and material that won't break down or be damaged by saltwater.
They are lightweight, flexible, and breathable for great comfort. The outsoles channel water away for improved traction and have light cushioning for great protection from hot sand and sharp objects, but also comfort and impact protection for simply walking around town.
These water-friendly shoes slip on and are comfortable and fashionable enough to wear anywhere.
The Crocs Women's and Men's Swiftwater Sandals come in a wide range of solid colors to suit any summer style.
These unisex water shoes are more like water socks, with a flexible, breathable upper and lightweight, flexible sole.
They are incredibly comfortable, and perfect for water, hot sand, and activities like swimming, surfing, and water sports. They are great amphibious shoes.
The Ning Meng Men’s and Women’s Water Shoes are incredibly lightweight and flexible, with a smooth, breathable, quick-dry fabric that stretches and conforms to the feet.
They slip on and off easily, and can be folded, twisted, or tucked away for convenient portability.
The light rubber sole has traction to protect from slipping or skidding and protects your feet from sharp objects or hot surfaces. They are available in a huge range of colors and patterns for every preference.
Tevas are the classic beach sandal, because they are so durable, even under harsh beach conditions. They have a contoured EVA footbed and sole, for natural comfort against the foot, and non-slip traction on any surface.
The footbed has a zinc-based antimicrobial surface treatment that prevents odor, and the open design allows water to drain away while providing ultimate breathability.
The strap system securely holds the sandal in place, with multiple adjustment points for an excellent fit on all kinds of feet.
Hook-and-loop closure holds the sandal against the foot and prevents heel flapping, and there is extra cushioning on the heel strap to prevent rubbing and discomfort.
Teva sandals have been worn around the world, in any environment, for nearly every outdoor activity. They are known for being durable and comfortable, with a barely there barefoot fit. They are available in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Speedo Surfwalker: Speedo Women's Water Shoe, Speedo Men's Water Shoe
Speedo is famous for their water gear, so it's natural that they would make a great water shoe.
The Surfwalker shoe is made of neoprene, famous for its use in wetsuits and waders. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that does not break down in water or saltwater and provides insulation from cold temperatures.
The Speedo Surfwalker shoe has a stretchy upper that allows the shoes to flex open when slipping on, but still securely grip the feet. The mesh panels provide breathability and allow the shoes to dry quickly.
The outsole has a non-slip grip for security and stability in and out of the water, with an S-tread that directs water away from the sole. The shoes have a cushioned insole for comfort and impact protection.
The Speedo Surfwalker shoes come with a few different color options.
Did you find the best shoes for sand and water to meet your needs?
Every time you encounter water and sand, it's best to use shoes that are designed for those conditions.
With the right water shoes, you prevent sand from getting into your regular shoes, prevent your regular shoes from sustaining water damage, and allow your feet to dry out more quickly.
Our favorite sand and water shoes provide great protection from hot temperatures or sharp objects that may be buried in the sand and can also be worn in the water and dry quickly.
The best beach shoes are also fashionable, comfortable, portable, and durable, so you can wear them all summer long and enjoy every kind of water activity.