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8 Best Water Shoes for Beach, Kayaking, and Any Water Activity

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Water shoes are a very versatile form of footwear. Although they are designed for water-based activities like kayaking, exploring rock pools at the beach, and scuba-diving, they can also be used for hiking, and even washing the car. Whatever kind of outdoor activity you enjoy, water shoes provide excellent protection for your feet.

Our pick

Speedo Womens Surfwalker

THE BEST WATER SHOES

Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2 Water shoes

Speedo has made a range of high-quality water shoes for men, women, and kids. Whatever kind of water-based outdoor activity you enjoy, these water shoes have everything you need: comfort, protection, and support. They are easy-wearing, stylish and more importantly, they are affordable.

Styles of Water Shoes

Water shoes are available in three styles: water shoes, water sandals, and water booties:

Water Shoes

Water shoes look similar to a sneaker, with thick rubber soles and mesh fabric that helps to ventilate the shoe. Although these shoes dry quickly in water, they are not designed to be fully submerged in water for too long as the water can make the shoe heavy.

Water Sandals

A water sandal has a "closed-in toe" and mesh-type material that covers most of your feet, with open sections or vents to expel water. Some water sandals are designed for children to look like a rubber sneaker with small perforations in the material to allow water to escape.

Water Booties

Water booties cover your entire foot like a streamlined rubber sock, and they are ideal for diving or snorkeling.

Seven Activities for a Water Shoe

Water shoes can be used for a wide range of outdoor activities.

1. Enjoying a weekend on your boat or yacht. Water shoes protect your feet while you get on and off the boat, while you are rigging the sail, or when you get caught in a squall.

2. Outdoor activities. Water shoes are also ideal for fishing or for walking alongside the pool, while you umpire your local school's carnival.

3. Underwater adventures. Water booties are ideal for snorkeling or diving. They can protect your feet from sharp rocks or coral that are submerged under the surface of the water.

4. Water Sports. Whether you enjoy whitewater rafting or wind surfing, water sandals can protect you from stubbing your toes and will give you better traction on slippery surfaces.

5. Hiking. Some water sandals have similar tread to hiking shoes, which provide excellent traction for hiking over uneven terrain or climbing over slippery surfaces. The “closed toe” section protects your toes from sharp objects and other kinds of debris, and the vents expel any water, while also allowing your feet to breath in hot weather.

6. Protect your Kid's Feet at the Beach. Protecting your child's feet while they build sandcastles, play in the water, or explore rock pools is even more important these days. You never know what can be hidden under the sand like toxic needles, broken glass, and sharp shells. Blue bottles or other stinging sea creatures can also lurk in the shallows where kids love to paddle. Water sandals keep them safe while they enjoy the beach.

7. Washing the Car. When we are washing the car, we can also end up getting our feet wet. Of course, you could wear thongs, but water shoes are a good idea as they can dry quickly, and protect your feet in case you drop anything on them or slip.

How to Choose the Best Water Shoes

1. Material

Water shoes are designed from strong, but lightweight mesh, which expels water, and helps to prevent mold build-up. The mesh, like the quick drying Climacool® open mesh fabric, allows your feet to breathe and can help to prevent any odor.

Water sandals can be made from flexible leather and synthetic uppers, or they can be made from rubber, or EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), which conforms to the shape of your foot.

Water booties are made from Neoprene, which is a very durable and stretchy material that is used to make wetsuits. Neoprene is well known for its insulation and ability to retain body warmth, and it can also protect your feet from cuts and abrasions. The downside of wearing water booties is that they may absorb and hold water, which can leave your feet feeling heavy when they are fully submerged in water. But if you love diving or snorkeling, water booties are more streamlined, so they are still an excellent choice.

2. Thick Sole, Traction, and Support

Having a thick sole on your water shoes is very necessary for when you are walking over uneven terrain or standing for long periods. Solid tread on your water shoes and sandals gives you good grip and traction on slippery and wet surfaces, like moss-covered rocks in rock pools.

Water booties have outsoles as well, but they can be quite thin, so they may not offer you very good protection on uneven or rocky surfaces.

Water sandals may provide you good inner sole support like the UniFly soft foam mid-sole, which has also been specifically treated with an antimicrobial treatment to reduce any odor causing bacteria.

3. Lightweight, Drainage, and Ventilation

Most water shoes are very lightweight as they are designed to drain away water efficiently, but if you are an avid backpacker and do not want to be weighed down with too much weight, look for a lightweight water sandal.

A good water shoe should have proper drainage to prevent long-term water absorption, and the material should dry quickly to prevent painful blisters.

Water sandals have neoprene panels that allow the shoe to breathe and let water escape, while still giving you enough material to protect your feet from scratches.

4. Toe Guard

Water shoes that look similar to a hiking shoe have toe guards that are made from thick rubber, which can protect your toes from falling objects or abrasions.

Handy Tips for Water Shoes

  • Water sandals can be used for hiking, but they are not designed for medium to heavy-grade hiking. They are only ideal for light-grade hiking trails and the occasional scramble over some rocks, but they would not last the distance on a longer hike as they lack the full support and padding of a hiking shoe or boot.
  • Even though water sandals are breathable and some of them have padding, there is still the possibility of blisters in hot weather, especially if your feet swell. If you want to use your water sandals for a day hike, try to keep your feet as dry as possible, or wear a well-padded waterproof hiking sock.
  • Even if your water shoes give you good traction, always use caution on wet, hard, or slippery surfaces.
  • Water shoes will fit most feet, but if you have narrow or extra wide feet (and this applies to children too), consult the shoe size chart provided by the manufacturer before you buy the shoes. This will help you find the best fit and minimize the possibility of blisters.
  • If sand gets into your shoes, use a garden hose, or a tap at the beach to rinse out the shoes.
  • Most water shoes can be cleaned in a washing machine, but if they are brightly colored, the color may run, so wash them in cold water. Here are some extra tips to keep your water shoes/sandals in great condition. 

8 Best Water Shoe Product Reviews

Water Shoes for Men/Unisex

1. Adidas Outdoor Unisex Climacool Water Shoes

Adidas Outdoor Unisex Climacool Water Shoes

These smart looking water shoes from Adidas are very versatile, and their lightweight and quick-dry construction makes them ideal for fishing, beach activities or even mowing your lawn. Your feet will have all-day comfort as the quick drying Climacool® open mesh fabric provides 360-degree cooling to ventilate the shoe and wick perspiration away from your skin.

The shoes fit snugly due to the EVA tongue top, and the heel insert stretches to conform to the shape of your foot. When you need to walk over rocky surfaces, the non-marking TRAXION™ rubber outsole lug pattern design gives you a good, secure grip and traction.

The Adidas water shoes are available in full and half sizes, from 7 to 13, which are also ideal for women, and you can choose from a wide range of attractive colors. Although the shoes can be too narrow for some feet, choose half a size up from your normal shoe size to get the best fit.

What we like:

  • Good quality
  • Good construction
  • Good grip
  • Versatile: Ideal for wet or dry conditions
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying
  • Stylish

What we don't like:

  • Sand is hard to remove
  • Outsole can slip on very wet surfaces
  • Not ideal for hiking
  • Can be narrow on some feet.

2. Sperry Top-Sider Men's Flex Deck Water Shoes

Sperry Top-sider

Whether you are officiating a school swimming carnival or chilling out on your spiffy new yacht, the Sperry Top-Sider Water Shoes offer you an excellent level of comfortability, while also looking great on your feet.

Sperry has drawn upon innovative technological design techniques to craft these durable water shoes. As well as the lightweight, breathable quick-drying mesh that keeps your feet fresh all day, the outsoles are firmly attached to the shoe's uppers using a vulcanized construction technique, which results in a more solid and reliable shoe.

The compression molded EVA footbed makes these shoes incredibly comfortable, and the shaft that measures approximately 2.25" from the arch gives you very good support. If you have high arches or just need some more support, the footbed can be removed and you can use orthopedic insoles.

If you need to walk on wet surfaces, the Molded Hydro Grip™ rubber outsole with Adaptive Wave-Siping™ evenly disperses water under the shoe to help reduce any slippage.

The shoes are very easy to put on and take off due to the bungee laces with toggle, which can also be adjusted to give you a secure fit. You can choose from five colors: Grey, Black, Blue, White, and Orange. If you have narrow feet or broad feet, choose half a size down or a size up depending on your standard shoe size.

What we like:

  • Very good value for money
  • Very comfortable
  • Stylish design
  • Breathable mesh
  • Good support
  • Very good grip
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to wear

What we don't like:

  • Noisy: shoes squeak when you walk
  • May not be ideal for people with broad or flat feet

3. Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Sieve Water Sandals

Merrel Men

Merrell has designed these sturdy and versatile water sandals with the air conditioning comfort of a sandal and the support and stability of a hiking shoe. The result is a resilient water sandal that will look good on your feet and can be used for a wide range of outdoor activities.

If you are planning a jungle adventure in wet and balmy conditions, the flexible leather and synthetic upper allows water to drain away easily, and the neoprene and Lycra collar ensure a snug and comfortable fit for all-day comfort.

For those tougher, uneven hiking trails, the Vibram® TC5+ outsole with hollowed 3mm lugs gives you good support and stability on most surfaces. The UniFly soft foam midsole has been specifically treated with Merrell's unique M Select Fresh antimicrobial treatment to keep any odor causing bacteria at bay, so your shoes will smell fresh, even after a long day's adventure in the sun and surf. The shoes are available for women also, and you can choose from a range of attractive designs.

Be careful when you are choosing a size as these water sandals are slightly bigger than the advertised size, so if possible, choose half a size down from your normal shoe size.

What we like:

  • Sturdy
  • Wide range of attractive designs
  • Good ankle protection
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Anti-bacterial treatment
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying
  • Easy to wear

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • Grip is not very good on smooth surfaces

4. NeoSport Paddle Low Top Water Boots

NeoSport Paddle Low Top Water Boots

Whether you love kayaking, white water rafting, or exploring underwater worlds, your feet will be kept safe and snug in these water boots from NeoSport. These durable boots are designed with a zipper-less design and combined with the premium neoprene material with a Lycra edge trim. They will stretch to fit your feet and keep you warm in cold conditions. The adjustable Velcro straps and ankle barrel cinch and Durable YKK side zippers make the boots very easy to put on and take off when you are in a hurry.

If you are embarking on a tough outdoor adventure like white-water rafting, the high quality, heavy-duty abrasion-resistant seams are strong, and the puncture resistant, high-traction sole provides very good protection on rough trails. Although the soles are thin and you can feel rocky terrain underneath your feet, you can reduce this discomfort by wearing waterproof socks underneath. These shoes are also ideal for women. To find your best fit, follow the size chart that has been supplied by the manufacturer. NeoSport also offers a one-year limited warranty.

What we like:

  • Good value for money
  • Good design
  • Durable
  • Very good insulation
  • Good traction
  • Secure fit

What we don't like:

  • Thin outer-sole
  • Boots can take in water

5. Chaco Women's Outcross Evo Free Sports Water Shoes

Chaco Womens Outcross Evo Free Sports Water Shoes

The Chaco water shoes for women are smart looking and very comfortable, and they are an excellent choice for a broad range of outdoor activities. The shoes have a sandal design, and they are made from sturdy mesh and synthetic leather uppers with Jacquard webbing, which will protect your feet in all kinds of trail conditions. If you are hiking in hot weather, the open sidewall construction provides ventilation so that your feet can breathe, and the Aegis® Microbe Shield treatment minimizes any nasty odors.

Chaco has designed these shoes with a woman's comfort in mind: the semi-collapsible heels, Luvseat polyurethane midsoles, barefoot construction with instant-comfort EVA layers, and nylon shanks all work together to give you a very good level of stability and support.

If you are hiking through the forest along rugged trails, the non-marking EcoTread compound outsoles are made from 75% rubber and 25%-recycled rubber, and the 3mm deep lugs with molded siping, provide very good traction.

The shoes are very quick drying, and the single-pull lacing system allows you to take the shoes off quickly. The shoes come in a range of funky colors, and to find your best fit, use the size chart provided by Chaco.

What we like:

  • Good value for money
  • Lightweight
  • Great for hiking and water adventures
  • Very comfortable
  • Good support
  • Quick drying
  • Anti-bacterial treatment

What we don't like:

  • Not ideal for people with high arches
  • Toe box is a bit narrow

6. Speedo Women's Surfwalker Pro 2 Amphibious Water Shoes

Speedo Womens Surfwalker

If you are looking for some foot candy that will give you a high level of comfortability and protection while you embark on your latest amphibious adventure, these water shoes from Speedo are an excellent choice.

The shoes are made from fully breathable Neoprene that will keep your feet fresh and prevent sand from entering the shoe. You can be assured of a snug fit as the Neoprene internal exoskeleton stretches to fit the shape of your foot. If you have to walk over slippery rocks while you are snorkeling, the S-TRAC TPR water traction outsole is designed to minimize resistance in water, which means the shoes have a very good grip.

The shoes have an elasticised closure and are relatively easy to put on and take off as there are no zippers or straps to fiddle with, but they can be a little hard to remove when they are wet. But the material is quick drying and very easy to clean.

For the fashion conscious, you can choose from four attractive colors: blue/black, black/glacier gray, blue/high rise, and flame/neutral gray. The shoes are also available for men and toddlers, so the Surfwalker is designed to fit the whole family.

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Good quality
  • Stylish
  • Very good protection
  • Very good traction
  • Keeps sand out
  • Quick drying
  • Easy to clean

What we don't like:

  • Hard to take off when wet
  • Sizes can be smaller than advertised

Water Shoes for Kids

7. Stride Rite Made 2 Play Liddie Sandals (Toddler/Little Kid)

Stride Rite Made 2 Play Liddie Sandals

The Stride Rite Water Sandals provide excellent protection for your little one's feet while their play on the beach, The sandal’s design combines the support of a sneaker with the air conditioned comfort of a sandal.

The Liddie sandals are made from high-quality leather, and there is a reinforced toe cover to protect your child’s toes. The mesh material is breathable, and there is an antimicrobial lining, so your child’s feet are left feeling dry and fresh, and odor free.

For extra support and traction on slippery surfaces, the outsole is made from thick rubber with non-marking soles.

Parents will also love that these shoes can be machine washed, while also keeping the mesh intact.

The sandals can be securely fastened, with a hook and loop, and there is a grip on the back of the sandal, so your child will be proud to put their own shoes on and take them off.

A great fashion choice, the sandals come in two bright colors, turquoise/cobalt, and pink, and they provide a great fit for most toddlers feet, aged 1-4 years.

What we like:

  • Very value for money
  • Perfect summer shoe for toddlers
  • Good support
  • Breathable
  • Reinforced toe cover
  • Anti-bacterial lining
  • Great fashion colors

What we don't like:

  • May not suit toddlers with very wide feet

8. Native Jefferson Slip-On Sneakers

Native Jefferson Slip-On Sneaker

If you are looking for functional waterproof footwear that can also double as fashionable sneakers for your kids, then these brightly colored sneakers/water shoes from Native are a very good choice. These high-quality sneakers are made from injection molded, flexible EVA ( ethylene-vinyl acetate ) that will fit comfortably on your child's feet. The upper material features all-over perforations to let water escape, and the shoes are odor resistant, and as the shoes dry quickly your child's feet will stay nice and fresh.

You do not have to worry about your child slipping and falling when they are playing as the thick rubber, shock-resistant soles have very good traction, and the rubber toe cap will protect their toes from any injuries.

For the environmentally-conscious parent, Native uses a low-emission manufacturing process, and the shoes have a PETA-Approved Vegan Footwear seal of approval, so no animal products have been used in the creation of these shoes.

You can easily keep the sneakers in tip-top condition by putting them in the washing machine, but it is a good idea to use cold water as the color may run.

One of the highlights of these super cool sneakers is that they are very comfortable to wear as there are no laces to fuss around with.

Your children will love the fantastic color range as there are 27 colors to choose from, for toddlers aged 1-4 years and Little Kids 4-8 years. The shoes are available for older children, aged 8-12, but they only come in two colors: Regatta Blue and Bone/Black White.

Native designs their shoes to fit most feet, but if your child has extra wide feet, consult the size chart before purchasing. The sneakers are ideal for playing on the beach, around the swimming pool, or for a day out on the family boat, but they are not recommended for swimming in or to be worn for long periods, as they do not offer a lot of support.

What we like:

  • Great price
  • High quality
  • Lightweight
  • Very comfortable
  • Shock resistant
  • Good grip
  • Odor control

What we don't like:

  • Can be tight on extra wide feet
  • Shoes do not offer a lot of support
  • Not ideal for long periods

Our pick

Speedo Womens Surfwalker

THE BEST WATER SHOE

Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2 Water shoes

Speedo has made a range of high-quality water shoes for men, women, and kids. Whatever kind of water-based outdoor activity you enjoy, these water shoes have everything you need: comfort, protection, and support. They are easy-wearing, stylish and more importantly, they are affordable.

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