Best Beach Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Comfort

A day at the beach means an afternoon filled with sun, sand, and water, but what are the ideal shoes for an environment that combines a multitude of elements?

Last Updated: July 6, 2018
By Carmen Landrum:

The latest update for this list includes removal of five beach shoes that no longer fit our criteria, revision of the pros and cons for each product for clarity, and informative bulletpoints added to the evaluation criteria.

Beach shoes are numerous in style as well as brand, and a lot of what makes a beach shoe the best comes down to personal taste. In order to give you the best idea of what is available, we will look at the top 15 beach shoes based on different styles.  From inexpensive and simple flip-flops to socks, to fancy athletic water shoes there are so many choices for you to make. What we looked for in bringing you the best beach shoes were comfort, ability to go in the water, and enough protection to keep your feet safe from the hot and sometimes sharp rocky beach.

Featured Recommendations

Crocs Crocband
  • Crocs Crocband
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Extremely Comfortable
  • Water Friendly
  • Price: See Here
Teva Verra
  • Teva Verra
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High Shock Absorption
  • Spider Rubber for Traction
  • Price: See Here
Aleader Mesh Slip On
  • Aleader Mesh Slip On
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathable Mesh
  • ComforDry Sock Liner
  • Price: See Here

So let’s take a look at 15 different beach shoe styles and the number one shoe on the market that matches the category. No matter what you style or preference, with such a wide mix you are bound to find something that suits your needs.

 

10 Best Beach Shoes

 

1. Crocs Crocband

The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they think beach shoes is the obvious choice of flip-flops. Cheap, easy to put on, extremely lightweight and water friendly they are the ideal shoe for those who love relaxing at the beach and enjoying some fun in the sun.

Of all the flip-flops on the market, the Crocabands are one of the highest rated and best quality while still sticking to the fairly cheap nature that makes flip flops great. Quick and easy to take on and off, these shoes can walk across the sand as well as keep your soles safe in the water. The variety of color options make these both a fun and smart choice for comfortable and durable beach shoes.
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Water Friendly and Buoyant
Made out of Crocs original Crocslite foam, these flip flops are extremely comfortable and cushioned, while still weight only a few ounces. The lightness of the shoe makes it buoyant, meaning it will float above the water in the cases where it comes off your foot. The Crocslite material is also completely water friendly, meaning you can go from the car to the beach, to the water without changing shoes.

Massage Pod Footbed
What adds to the comfort of these flip flops is the ribbed and bumpy footbed, which presses gently into the bottom of your foot to help relieve pressure and give you a feeling of relaxation. Combined with the spongy nature of the shoe, these should feel comfortable for all feet types, including individuals who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis.

Cost and Value
Compared with other shoes on our list, these are one of the cheapest options available. While they will cost you more than generic foam flip flops from dollar stores or mass market retailers, they offer more comfort and support than the other flip-flops on the market. While generic flip flops rarely last an entire season, these Crocabands will last you for years to come.
Pros

Buoyant

Odor resistant

TPU upper strap

Massage pod footbed

Water friendly construction

Cons

Sizing runs small

Light activity only

Strap wears down

2. Teva Verra

A comfortable and weather proof walking flat, Teva makes a long line of shoes and sandals that are comfortable and durable. With multiple velcro straps, the Teva Style Sandal is securely attached to your foot, so you can walk and even hike comfortably in them. The open toe and top of foot design are breezy, keeping your feet nice and cool in the summer heat. What makes this beach shoe style stand out is that it is versatile, meaning you can wear it in the water, for walks along the sand, or for climbing trails to scope out hidden watering holes. With good traction created by Teva's unique spider rubber, these shoes are a great choice to accompany you on all of your summer travels.
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Polyester Webbing
The upper part of the shoe is made out of a polyester webbing which is comfortable as well as great for wearing in the water. These shoes will dry very quickly after getting wet, so after spending some time in the water you can be sure you won't have soggy feet for the remainder of the day. This material is also strong and durable, so any pressure put on the straps from walking won't wear them out or cause any breakage.

Shoc Pad
Using a unique blend of materials, Teva's patented Shoc Pad technology will evenly transfer any energy emitted every time you step down. Carefully cupping the heel, shock impact will travel away from the heel and down the footbed leaving you with a gentler feeling step as well as extra bounce. On rougher terrains, this Shoc Pad will keep your knees and feet safer and you will have less chance of injury from impact and shock.

Cost and Value
These shoes are durable and versatile, meaning you are going to spend a bit more compared to say a pair of flip-flops. Value wise you are getting a lot from these shoes, so if you are an avid outdoors person who wants a sandal that can keep up then these are easily worth the money. For those who are just looking for shoes to throw on while they lay by the pool, these might be priced higher than you'd want to spend and you may not get as much out of them value wise.
Pros

Cushioned shoc pad

Spider rubber outsole

Stabilizing nylon shank

Arch support EVA footbed

Odor preventing technology

Waterproof polyester webbing

Cons

Uncomfortable straps

Not fashionably attractive

3. Aleader Mesh Slip On

Mesh shoes are exactly what they sound like, a slip-on shoe that is crafted mostly out of mesh material to make them great for warm weather and water. Since mesh is extremely durable, shoes made from it will be less likely to develop mold or bacteria over time as they dry quickly and do not retain any moisture. Not only is the material breathable, but it is also very lightweight, so mesh shoes won't be heavy either in the water or out of it.

The mesh slip on's by ALEADER are made from a durable material and have a rubber outsole so that your foot as traction and support on land. The outsole is also designed with a water grain surface so that after getting wet they are still able to provide you with strong traction. With around 30 color options, there is a design and pattern for everyone, making these eye-catching as well as versatile and useful.
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FluidFlow Technology
With hydrophobic mesh, water will be repelled from these shoes, keeping them moisture free and allowing them to dry extra quickly. The breathability will also allow your foot to dry out, without having to remove your shoes. The unique FluidFlow Technology forces water to run down the shoes, providing you with excellent drainage that takes no effort from you.

Traction
These mesh slip on's have incredible traction thanks to the rubber pods that are strategically built into the sole of the shoe. Placed in areas that experience the highest wear, these pods are not only durable but they provide a high level of traction on any terrain. With contrast stitching to give you additional support, your feet will feel secure whether you're swimming in the water or hiking a mountain.

Cost and Value
Not only are these one of the lowest priced shoes on our list, but they are also versatile and great for all types of outdoor adventuring. These can be worn on the beach, while hiking, rafting, climbing, or any other place you can imagine. The value on these is incredible and anyone looking for an absolute bargain of a shoe should pick up a pair or two.
Pros

Breathable mesh

Amphibious shoe

Hydrophobic mesh

Rubber pod traction

ComforDry sockliner

FluidFlow technology

Supportive lateral stitching

Cons

Not true sizing

Is not adjustable

Mesh collects sand

4. Seavenger Shoe Sock

4. Seavenger Shoe Sock
Love the idea of running barefoot on the beach, but don't want to be burned by the hot sand? Love swimming in the water but don't like the feeling of rocks or seaweed on your bare feet?
Water socks give you the feeling of not wearing shoes, while still protecting your feet and providing some cushion and comfort. Made of Neoprene, water socks can be fully submerged in the water without getting your feet wet, and they have traction on the bottom to help give you some grip.

The water socks by Seavenger come in a variety of colors and are great at protecting your feet from hot sand and uncomfortable rocks. They can also be used as a liner for shoes, or if you dive and wear fins. Stretchy and smooth you can enjoy your day at the beach without the weight of shoes.
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3mm Neoprene
Neoprene is a stretchy and smooth material that will keep your feet both protected and warm. With 3mm thickness, you will have some padding on the bottom of your feet so that rocks or shells won't hurt and cold water won't be an issue. The material and thickness are designed to keep your feet warm, so if the water is chilly your feet won't be. For those who like to spend their beach days partaking in water sports like paddle boarding, diving, snorkeling, or kayaking these socks will keep your feet dry and warm the entire time.

Comfortable Seams
No one wants their regular socks chaffing their feet or ankles, so why would you want your water socks doing it? These water socks have durable seams that will be long-lasting, and they are smoothed down so that you won't feel them against you. While the seams keep the sock nice and fitted, the stretchy nature of them will allow you to slip them on and off with ease while preventing any roll down when they're on.

Cost and Value
At under $15 a pair, these are a very inexpensive way to protect your feet when you're at the beach. They can't be used for other outdoor activities, but when it comes to water sports they are very handy to have. Watersport participants and people who want to cover their feet at the beach or pool will find that for the price there is no reason not to pick up a pair.
Pros

Extra heel, toe room

Adjustable fitting straps

Multiple wearing options

Reduces blistering, chafing

Flexible, elastic construction

Cons

Wears out easily

Frequent readjusting

Frequent washing required

5. Fila Skele-Toes Ez Slide

5. Fila Skele-Toes Ez Slide
Similar in concept to water socks, Skele Toe shoes are slim and form fitting but the difference is that the toes are separated. This separation allows for you to have more control and grip while wearing them, allowing you to navigate rocky waters and muddy lakes with ease. This design offers a lot more flexibility for the foot and can be great for people who want to have a more natural movement when they walk.

The Fila Skele-Toes EZ Slide is a great choice for those who want to move through the water with sturdy comfort, and they can also protect your feet from the hot sand. You should feel like you're not wearing shoes at all, while still getting all of the benefits such as added support and cushioning.
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Four Way Stretch
No one wants to struggle to get their shoes on and off, which is why Fila has built these with four-way stretch. Easy to pull on and off, you don't have to worry about lacing them up or undoing any zippers. The velcro straps allow you to tighten them as you see fit, giving you a secure and easy shoe that takes no time to put on.

Ez Slide
Getting each toe into its individual compartment can be a bit of a daunting task, especially when it comes to your smallest toes. To help speed up the process and make it more convenient, these shoes have a singular slot for your two smallest toes. This will allow you to slide the shoes on quicker, while still giving you the freedom and flexibility of skeletoed shoes.

Cost and Value
These are a mid-range shoe, running you around $50 per pair. The unique construction plus the usefulness of these makes the price reasonable. If you spend a lot of time in the water and want to make sure your feet are comfortable and secure then these are worth investing in; no other type of shoe will give you as much flexibility, grip, and control as these.
Pros

Ez slide feature

Four way stretch

Pull-on bungee cord

Rock, sand protection

Adjustable velcro straps

Lightweight nylon material

Omnidirectional sole traction

Cons

Sole is stiff

Very tight fit

Stuck rocks in sole

6. Keen Newport H2

6. Keen Newport H2
For more adventurous and active beachgoers, the above-listed shoes may not offer exactly when you're after, so you may want to consider purchasing a pair of sport sandals. These are shoes that are designed for high-intensity activities like hiking, rock climbing, or other daring adventures. Athletic sandals will allow you to go to the beach in full comfort while making sure your feet are properly protected and secure.

The Newport H2's by KEEN is a very sporty sandal, with a thick rubber sole and ghillie lacing. These will give you a very secure fit, and ensure that you have great traction on any type of terrain. The mesh material is hydrophobic so you can wear these in and out of the water. With numerous patterns and colors, there is a pair of these for every personality and style.
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Metatomical Foot Bed
To make sure these fit each person perfectly, the footbed will conform to your exact foot shape, giving you comfort and support wherever you need it. The footbed is also easily removed, so you can replace it with custom insoles if you so, please. With breathable mesh, these shoes offer top-notch comfort and breathability, while remaining flexible and sturdy.

Multi Directional Lug Pattern
Since these are made to explore the world, they feature a lug pattern on the sole which gives you great traction and security. Effective in both wet and dry conditions, you can tackle any type of terrain with these sandals. With a secure, tight fit your foot will be stable as you climb over rocks, bound uphill, or push through rivers and lakes.

Cost and Value
For such a versatile and sturdy shoe you would expect the price to be quite high, but fortunately, these aren't that expensive and you grab yourself a pair for under $100. Given that these will last a long time, the value speaks for itself and makes these well worth the money spent.
Pros

Odor control lining

Non marking soles

Rubber toe bumper

Multi directional lugs

Secure Ghillie lacing

Breathable upper design

Hydrophobic mesh material

Cons

Sizing runs small

Pinches wider feet

Lacking arch support

7. Cior Aqua Shoes

7. Cior Aqua Shoes
If you love the concept of a water sock, but want something that will give you a bit more protection and comfort then an aqua shoe might be the ideal purchase for you. Easy to slip on and off, these shoes are designed for wear in the water so you can take them to the pool or beach. With a rubber sole, you will have the added protection necessary to avoid sharp rocks and shells but the upper material gives you flexibility and softness.

These aqua shoes by CIOR are great for any water-based activity and will drain quickly and easily allowing for easy and fast drying after use. The rubber soles are added to with a thick, foam arch support so you have extra comfort while you wear them. The fabric is smooth and breathable so your feet won't get hot while wearing them, and it will help reduce the chance of odors.
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Drainage Sole
With 14 drainage holes embedded into the sole, these will empty of water in no time at all. Once you're out of the water they will begin to dry immediately so you don't have to worry about soggy feet. The drainage holes are also made to have secure traction, so you won't slip and fall while wearing them. Wet or dry the anti-slip rubber soles will keep you sturdy and secure.

Easy Entry
Don't worry about laces or straps, and instead simply pull these aqua shoes on and off. There is a loop on the back to help you slide your foot in easily, and the stretchy material will then conform to your foot for a tight fit. The fabric is well ventilated and extremely stretchy, so you will find they fit well from wide to narrow feet.

Cost and Value
At under $20 a pair, these are an absolute steal and if you don't like being barefoot at the pool or beach then these are a must-have. Inexpensive and simple to use, these will make your beach trips less stressful and more enjoyable. With over 35 colors to choose from, these are well worth the low price.
Pros

Flexible material

14 drainage holes

Protective thick sole

Supportive arch foam

Comfortable stretchy fit

Lightweight and compressible

Cons

Sizing runs large

Sole may separate

Stitching rubs ankle

10. Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0

10. Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0
Speedo is unquestionably known as one of the biggest water sports equipment supplier in the market. The quality of their equipment goes undoubted, and the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0 is no less. A quick-drying approach keeps your feet dry and fresh at the same time, mostly thanks to its open-air mesh paneling. Great athletic styling combined with a relaxed lifestyle wear for the beach make this shoe an ideal choice.
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Non-marking rubber outsole
A quality water shoe is always accompanied by a quality sole. The Hydro Comfort 4.0 counts with a slip-resistant and non-marking sole construction that helps you stay on your feet. Aside from its original gripping design, an improvement on the outsole pattern provides you with one more layer of slippage prevention. The rubber sole is highly durable and doesn’t increase its weight when exposed to water.

Lightweight midsole
Shoes can hardly get any lighter than the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0; its midsole barely adds any weight to the build. But this doesn’t mean that there are no goods within it, as its highly compressible profile and responsive bounce make it suitable for performance. As if that wasn’t enough, an integrated drainage port is located within the midsole to allow both air and water to flow optimally.

Cost
The Hydro Comfort 4.0 by Speedo is not too far from the best value on the list. It’s below the average cost while still offering a very decent degree of performance-enhancing technologies. Its lightweight approach is not to be misunderstood; this shoe is highly durable despite its nearly weightless build. For the features it counts with, we believe it holds a pretty accessible cost.
Pros

Suitable for everybody

Highly comfortable footbed

Versatile CrosLite compound

Professional and recreational use

Cons

No half sizes
Sole lacks flexibility
Ocean water incompatibility

9. Vibram Signa

9. Vibram Signa
So far we’ve seen all type of five-finger shoes from Vibram, but for most, this is the first five-finger water shoe they’ve seen. Vibram’s top technologies are present in this release, including their exclusive Wave Grip compound for wet surfaces. This shoe comes in a very lightweight manner, still counting with enough structure to deliver an optimal level of performance. Resistant materials make this shoe durable enough for most activities you can perform at the beach.
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Wave Grip outsole
The Wave Grip compound is one of the most iconic Vibram technologies, and it’s not for nothing. Its adherent qualities enhance the grip on most surfaces, reducing the chance of slippage even when both the shoe and the surface is wet. The 3mm layer of the material allows the foot to feel the surface that’s being grasped, thus obtaining a much better grip.

Stretch polyester upper
When a layer of mesh just doesn’t cut it, polyester reinforcement does the job pretty neatly. The polyester-based upper build counts with every quality present in an air mesh upper, except it’s more resistant. A highly breathable approach allows your feet to breath while the shoe drains, keeping the foot fresh in heated circumstances. The compound is easily stretched by your foot, developing an optimal fit for your particular foot anatomy.

Cost
The cost of the Vibram Signa is something that would normally alarm users looking for beach shoes. Its price tag is considerably above the average cost of the items in this list, but that’s because it’s far from being just a water shoe. Think of the Vibram Signa as a professional performance shoe that is compatible with the beach – but never mistake it for some sort of beach sandal. This shoe is worth its cost hands down.
Pros

Drainage holes

Cold water washable

Expanding polyester mesh

Comfortable polyester insole

Cons

Difficult to put on

Size up for wide feet

Irregular toe structure discomfort

8. Crocs Swiftwater

8. Crocs Swiftwater
Croc is a brand that needs no introduction; we’ve all had a pair of them at some point in our lives, or at least have seen them somewhere. The quickly-growing footwear designer for adults and children came up with an approach specifically for water. The Swiftwater Sandal is soft, lightweight, comfortable, and extremely water-friendly. A versatile design works in combination with Crocs proprietary technology to deliver maximum water efficiency.
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CrosLite cushioning
Crocs footwear isn’t crocs footwear if they lack CrosLite cushioning. This technology is possibly the most emblematic feature in any Crocs shoe. The closed-cell resin represents a pretty big improvement in the way we wear clogs and sandals. This material does everything from improving grip, prevent marking and skidding, to providing softness, comfort, and preventing odor. Thanks to this technology, Crocs shoes are compatible with the beach, the pool, the boat, and an extremely large variety of other activities.

Massaging footbed
It’s hard to be uncomfortable in this pair of water sandals when there’s a massaging footbed design under your feet. Small massaging balls are located all across the footbed of the inner build, comforting your feet as you walk and reducing stress off key areas of the underfoot. The massaging footbed design also works as an inner traction enhancer, preventing your feet from slipping all over the inner sandal.

Cost
In comparison to most water shoes, the Crocs Swiftwater Sandal may look expensive at first sight. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not just a beach shoe and that it has a very large variety of other possible uses. It’s suitable for the beach, but it’s much more than just a beach sandal. Plus, there are very few Crocs users who have ever been disappointed by their product.
Pros

For water sports

For beach running

Non-marking outsole

Slip-resistant outsole

Built-in midsole drainage

Cons

No half sizes

Sole lacks flexibility

Ocean water incompatibility

With so many different options when it comes to footwear for the beach, it is a very personal decision for what will be right for you. There are sandals for those who like to be very active and explore, and there are other options for people who want to look stylish or just simply be comfortable. No matter what your ideal beach day looks like, there is certainly a pair of beach shoes that will make the day comfortable and fun.

 

Criteria for Evaluating the Best Beach Shoes

Drainage

When you’re going to the beach (or any other environment involved mostly with water) you want to count on shoes that allow water to exit. You’ll inevitably get some water in your shoes regardless of what you’re doing on the beach. Two things can happen: it stays in both of your shoes clogging them or it exits.

Long story short, shoes suck when they’re filled with water. You’ll lose every sense of the grip, the sensibility of the underfoot when walking, support, and internal traction. It’s just a mess. The best beach shoes are those that count with an effective draining system that removes most of the water once they’re not submerged anymore.

This can be done in a variety of ways. For instance, the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0 counts with a built-in drainage port within the midsole. This channel allows the water to flow freely in and out the shoe. It’s important to note the height of any drainage ports in the shoe; if they’re too high, the accumulated water below the channel won’t be able to exit.

At the same time, openings and other perforations contribute to the drainage. Basically, the more openings there are, the easier the shoe will drain. A mesh upper build is a big contribution to easy drainage, whether it counts with mesh panels on the lower portion or just made entirely from mesh.

For this guide, we evaluated the ability of a shoe to drain based on two criteria: efficiency and speed.

  • Beach shoes need to allow drainage of any water collected in the shoes.
  • Good beach shoes should have an effective drainage system usually located within the soles.
  • Drainage ports that are too high will not be able to release water below the port channels.
  • Mesh construction helps to contribute to water drainage.
  • The drainage needs to be quick and efficient.
Efficiency

Normally, something is called efficient when all of its components work together in an optimal way. However, to differ it from speed, we’ll refer to efficiency as the ability of the shoe to drain out most of the water. A shoe that doesn’t manage to drain most of the water would be inefficient under this criterion, and the other way around.

What makes a drainage system efficient is the number of ports there are available for water flow. If there’s just one draining channel, water won’t exit as fluidly as you would need to partially dry the shoe. But it’s not all about the number of channels; their location is a key factor in determining the efficiency.

As mentioned before, you should avoid any shoe that focuses on the upper portion of drainage. You want any ports to be located as low as possible to ensure that there won’t be any remaining coats of water within the shoe. At the same time, the best beach shoes count with other drainage methods located in different regions of the shoe.

If you were to put to drainage ports one next to the other, water still wouldn’t flow out as optimally as it could. Get two openings on each side of the shoe, however, and water will make its way out before you notice.

  • Efficient drainage refers to the shoes ability to do so.
  • The more drainage ports, the more water that gets released.
  • Location of drainage ports contribute to the efficiency of drainage.
  • The best drainage ports are located low and throughout the shoes.
  • Make sure the drainage ports are on both sides of the shoes and not one-sided or super close.
Draining speed

For normal users who are just going to the beach to relax or do recreational activities, the draining speed is not a paramount feature. However, sports that involve getting in the water and back out a call for a faster draining speed. This is because any water within the shoe will obstruct your feet in any sort of performance outside the water.

The sooner the water exits the shoe, the better. Once most of the water leaves the shoe, you’ll regain inner traction, stability, and all the other abilities you lose when your shoes are full of water. As the sport gets more competitive, you’ll want the water to leave even faster – as soon as possible.

To achieve this, you should opt for bigger drainage systems. However, every other aspect of drainage contributes to its speed really. Just like with the draining efficiency, increasing the number of openings will also translate into a faster drainage. Drainage speed and efficiency go hand in hand; they’re determined by nearly the same factors.

  • For light and easy water activities, drainage speed is not the most important feature.
  • Water activities that are very active, hard and sports-like need quick moving drainage.
  • The larger the drainage system, the faster the drainage.

Breathability

Some users make the mistake of thinking their feet won’t heat on the beach because they’re near water. Don’t get it wrong, heat will have an impact on your feet wherever you are if your shoes are not adequately equipped. Although water is a great refresher, you shouldn’t depend on it to help your feet cool.

Our body produces its own heat, and it increases the more we move. This includes our feet. When moving or playing on the beach, our feet will start to generate heat. If they’re trapped by closed shoes, heat will start to accumulate. At the same time, this will cause our feet to generate even more heat themselves and so on until you get in the water.

Some may think that it’s unlikely to come across a shoe meant for the beach that isn’t breathable, but you’d be surprised by how many there are. Breathability and drainage also go hand in hand because of a very simple reason; water and air will mostly flow through the same channels and openings in the shoe.

A shoe that lacks a proper drainage system is likely to lack breathability too, but this is not always the case. Breathability and drainage have a lot of things in common, including the features required to optimize their flow. However, air is easier to handle when it comes to footwear because it will flow through any opening regardless of its position or height.

Mesh upper builds guarantee the breathability of the shoe. The upper build plays a massive role in the breathability of a shoe – some would even argue it’s the most important role in it. This is simply because the upper is normally the biggest (or largest) portion of the shoe. If it’s closed, air will lose most of the space through which it can flow freely.

  • Breathability is important in beach shoes as your feet will generate heat when wearing beach shoes.
  • Breathability and drainage ability overlap each other in many ways.
  • The air flow of the beach shoe will use the same channels the water drainage uses.
  • Mesh upper builds of beach shoes give the best breathability.
Targeted breathability

Air will flow through the shoe regardless of where it enters from. However, this doesn’t mean that one flowing channel is enough to make a shoe breathable. Certain zones of our feet suffer more when exposed to concentrated heat. This is not necessarily because they’re more delicate, but because they undergo many other things at the same time.

For instance, our heel isn’t particularly delicate, it’s the hardest spot on the foot in fact. However, it has a role in many natural processes like shock absorption that put stress on it. If on top of the stress generated by other things, the heel starts to suffer from overheating, bad news are certain.

The best beach shoes count with strategically located breathing panels (when they’re not breathable all around, that is). We advise going for shoes that count with targeted breathability around the Achilles tendon, the upper foot, and the sides of the shoe (for the arch). Irritation around any of these areas will result in your performance and comfort going downhill.

  • If you can, choose beach shoes that are breathable all the way around the shoes.
  • If not possible, choose beach shoes that have smartly placed breathing panels.
  • Breathing panels located around the sides of the shoe (arch), the upper foot, and the Achilles tendon provide the best performance and comfort.

Grip

The more slippery the environment, the tougher the grip on your shoe should be. The beach isn’t particularly slippery, but things will change once both your shoes and feet are wet. Don’t underestimate the beach, though, there are a lot of bodies such as rocks that can be much more slippery than you think.

If you’re planning a short beach vacation to stay in the sand, the grip isn’t really a paramount feature. However, if you intend to move on surfaces other than sand and water, then the grip is a critical factor to consider. Regardless of what the purpose of your visit to the beach is, we recommend choosing a shoe with a decent grip.

Chances are you’ll encounter some surfaces that are not sand. Whether its stairs, wood, or any other surface, it’s pretty likely that you leave the sand at some point. When that happens, you’ll want to count with a grip on which you can rely. The last thing you want is to slip, hurt yourself, and ruin the beach experience.

The grip is a delicate topic when it comes to water shoes. It’s not just grasping the surface anymore, as there’s one obstacle that isn’t present in normal shoes; a wet outsole. The best beach shoes are equipped with a carefully designed outsole material and pattern that are specifically aimed at preventing slippage.

Another feature that you should look for in beach shoes is lugged outsoles. You obviously don’t need the overly thick lugs used in hiking boots, but rather thin and short ones. Bodies that stand out from the outsole contribute to a better traction, and even more to prevent slippage.

Keep in mind that no matter what your shoe is made of, there is always a chance to slip. The most important factor in the grip of a shoe is actually a human evaluation of the environment. A grippy shoe won’t help you if you’re walking on rocks that clearly have slippery mildew all over them.

  • Beaches can be a slippery environment once your shoes and feet are wet so you need a strong grip.
  • Sand only interaction doesn’t require a lot of grip but any water interaction and interaction with other surfaces require a great grip.
  • Beach shoes should have specially designed outsoles with patterns that help to reduce slippage.
  • Lugged outsoles on beach shoes can give a better traction to reduce slippage.
  • Regardless of your beach shoe, your awareness and decision making makes the best slip prevention.
Outsole material

The outsole is in most cases the only element of the shoe that is related to the quality of the grip. It’s the only portion that is in actual contact with the surface, and it’s generally one of the thinnest elements too (although this may not be true under certain circumstances).

First things first; the material of the outsole. You can directly judge the grip a shoe based on the material of its outsole. In fact, it’s the material that will deliver the gripping qualities of the sole. Get the material wrong and everything else will fall apart. But we’re not just going to tell you to get a good material – you already know that.

In this era of synthetization and new compounds, rubber is falling behind pretty quickly. Don’t get us wrong; rubber has always been and still is a good material for outsoles and midsoles. But there are better. While you may opt for the traditional rubber sole, we recommend exploring newer materials.

Even rubber has its synthetic variations, such as vulcanized rubber. This type of rubber construction counts with very similar features, except it’s slightly stickier for example. It’s the compound that Vans uses on their shoes to improve the grip on the skating board. It’s not totally synthetic, but rather traditional rubber that has been treated with a vulcanization process.

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVA) are some of the newest compounds used in the shoe industry. These materials are created to enhance certain qualities while decreasing others for convenience. For instance, a material can be made much more compressible to increase responsiveness (bounce-back) and less dense so it weighs less in relation to its size.

  • The outsole material will determine how qualified the grip will be.
  • Rubber can be useful but synthetic materials are sometimes the best outsole option.
  • If you do prefer a rubber outsole, choose a vulcanized rubber as it has a stickier grip.
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVA) outsoles are a good choice and can enhance grip without adding weight or reducing responsiveness.
Slippage prevention

The gripping qualities of an outsole have a clear impact on its ability to prevent slippage. However, the original purpose of the grip is to provide a firm grasp of the surface you’re stepping on, which is completely different from specific features aimed at slippage prevention. These specific features are normally unrelated to the grip, they are specially designed with the only purpose of restraining unwanted movement.

One example would be outsole patterns. These patterns are the most ignored part of a shoe, but in the case of high-end shoes, they have a pretty important role to play. The pattern of an outsole can determine the smoothness of the friction in a specific direction. Arrow-like patterns pointing forward make it harder to drag your feet backward, thus reducing the chances of slippage.

The example feature we just explained would have no real impact on the grip itself. Such arrows wouldn’t improve the contact between the shoe and the surface. Its only purpose is restraining forceful movements that may cause slippage or injury. Depending on the pattern, the shoe may restrain motions in certain directions or in all directions at the same time.

This is also very useful for those who practice beach sports. Based on the activity you want to perform, you may opt for different outsole patterns. For example, sports that involve a board normally focus on a firm and static grip. But, if you’re looking forward to some tricks, an intuitive outsole pattern may help you move the board around without slipping.

  • There are other slippage-prevention features in addition to the outsole grip.
  • One slippage-prevention feature that is very common is the outsole pattern.
  • Outsole patterns can determine the friction smoothness depending on direction.
  • These patterns can prevent unnecessary, slip causing movements in a few directions or all directions.

Performance Features

Two things can be understood by performance features; the basic qualities that are required for any shoe to function properly, and the features related to a specific sport or performance. In either case, performance features are things that should always be present in your shoe, no matter how vague their original purpose is.

When looking for the best beach shoes, you should keep in mind the things you’ll use it for. If you are likely to practice a beach sport, examine the shoe to see if its qualities meet the requirements of your sport. For example, if you’re planning to do some running on the beach, your shoe should count with a shock-absorbing, flexible midsole.

It’s important to remember that neutral beach shoes aren’t meant for any specific sport really. Thus, you’ll get much more out of your performance by buying a pair of shoes specialized in such activity.  But we understand that for most users it’s not practical (nor affordable) to have a bunch of shoes laying around for each activity they perform.

Don’t get it wrong, though. Beach shoes are perfectly capable of delivering performance features. The Vibram five-finger by Signa is an ideal example of our previous statement. It’s not originally designed as a shoe for the beach, but neither are most shoes that are actually the best choice for the beach.

Like we mentioned before, there are features that should be present in every shoe. We’ll provide you with insight on each of the basic abilities that should be present in a beach shoe for it to function properly and comfortably. Keep in mind that, for specific activities, these features may increase, decrease, or simply not be present in that type of shoe. For instance, all shoes should be flexible; but rock climbing shoes count with a stiff, non-bending sole.

Remember that there are a huge variety of shoes compatible with the beach. The Zhuanglin Aqua and the Easy USA Wave are both beach shoes, but one resembles a running shoe and the other a surfing one, respectively. In general, the best beach shoes count with the following performance aspects:

  • Performance features help shoes to function properly.
  • Depending on sport or activity, shoes can have specialized performance features.
  • Keep in mind of what kind of activity you want to use your shoes for to determine which performance features to choose.
Flexibility

Unless the circumstances of a specific sport say otherwise, a shoe must always feature certain extent of flexibility. Without a flexible sole, we won’t be able to perform some of the most basic human motions correctly, like walking. It’s not an option, and in the case of neutral footwear it’s just not up for debate – our feet are naturally meant to flex and bend as we walk.

A shoe that prevents our feet from moving naturally is no good. If the sole is not flexible, the foot will be confined to the space within the inner build. This space is generally just big enough to fit our foot in there, but certainly not big enough to flex or arch.

Our arches can suffer a lot of tension from the lack of flexibility in a shoe; even worse if the shoe lacks support at the same time. Being one of the softest spots in the foot, it’d be unwise to expose your arches to the stress caused by an unnatural walking form. Realistically speaking, walking without bending your feet is just abnormal – even if it’s physically possible.

  • The beach shoe needs to be flexible to provide natural movement of the feet.
  • In beach shoes, your feet need to be able to bend and flex.
  • The less flexibility, the more your arches will suffer.
Support

Support is also one of the most ignored (or unknown) performance aspect of shoes. The support of a shoe may not play a vital role in performance, but it does take a very useful task. Its purpose is to hold our steadily in a natural position when possible; this prevents the foot from assuming an irregular stance and potentially hurt itself.

The most known support element is the arch support. It’s a small bulge on the side of the insole that allows our arch to rest. Depending on your anatomy, you may need a higher or lower arch support, but it’s utterly important that it’s present in the shoe. If not, the arch will be in a tense position throughout the day. Knowing that delicate tendons run near our arch, it wouldn’t be wise to leave it exposed.

But support is not limited to the arch. Support is the compression of the materials against your foot, think of it as the feature that locks the fit. A good shoe should support the foot from all directions, this includes the ankle, the heel, the upper, and the sides. Any element that brings the shoe and the foot together is contributing to the general support.

When we tie our laces, for example, we’re bringing the materials together around the foot. Not only that, but we also add pressure to the tongue in a manner that it compresses the upperfoot.

  • Support is beach shoes is very useful and much needed.
  • Support elements in beach shoes help to give us a natural, balanced stance.
  • Support for the arch is the best known and will help to reduce tension and protect the foot tendons.
  • A quality beach shoe should support the complete foot and help to give a snug but comfortable fit.
Shock absorption

Some users think of shock absorption as a feature needed just in running shoes and high impact activities. This is partially true; the more impact there’s involved in your activity, the greater shock absorption should be in the shoe. However, this feature is not limited to high impact activities. In reality, we suffer stress from impact during nearly every task we do.

Something as simple as walking generates an impact, as small as it may be. It’s barely noticeable if you take a couple of steps because a small portion of stress won’t bother feet. After walking for a full day, however, your heel can be exposed to quite a deal of stress and shock. Each little impact will add up at the end of the day.

If on top of that we add those scenarios in which we run or jump casually at the beach, we may be talking about even greater amounts of stress. Because of this, it’s important to feature at least a minimal extent of shock absorption. Keep in mind that so far it’s impossible for a shoe to absorb all impact; residual shock will always make it to your foot and beyond. The idea is to minimalize as much of it as possible.

  • Regardless of activity, your feet suffer from stress and shock.
  • Little activity impacts build up throughout the day.
  • Your feet can take in even more stress and shock at the beach since you are more likely to be active.
  • Shock and stress will never be completely eliminated from your feet but a good beach shoe should minimize it as much of it as it can.

Durability

Who likes buying shoes that come apart way before they’re worth the money you put into them? Nobody. You already know this, of course. However, what most normal footwear users don’t know is how to approximately determine the durability of a shoe.

Do keep in mind that the durability of a shoe is unpredictable, as there is a huge amount of influencing factors. Something as simple as exposing your shoes to the sun while letting them dry may affect the properties of the materials and thus their durability. Not to mention that no matter how good a shoe is, you may simply have an accident and break them. The thing is how many accidents can the shoe sustain?

Most crappy shoes can be easily avoided by a thorough examination. You’d be surprised by the number of defects you’ll find in footwear by taking a close look. Before purchasing any shoe (or upon delivery), inspect it completely; touch everything you feel like touching and look all around it.

A lot of shoes come with issues on the stitching and the sole gluing. Make sure it’s not threaded irregularly and the sole is properly glued. The most common signs of a cheap shoe are low-quality, uneven stitching and glue marks around the midsole. The best beach shoes are put together with quality materials.

Don’t think buying a shoe from a big brand makes you immune to defects. Adidas, Nike, Puma, and all other footwear titans make defective products every once in a while. If by luck you picked one of those defective items, examining it will save you from a pretty unfortunate experience.

When it comes to the functional aspects of the shoe, these are the features to keep in mind while evaluating the best beach shoes:

  • The durability of any shoe is unpredictable and many different factors can contribute to the breakdown of a shoe’s durability.
  • Prior to purchasing or right after receiving via delivery, inspect the shoe with great detail.
  • Stitching and sole gluing are the two biggest problems with shoe durability.
  • Low-quality shoes have uneven stitching and glue marks visible along the midsole.Even brand name shoes suffer from defects and durability problems.
Material resistance

It’s a no-brainer; the materials from which the shoe is made have a direct impact on its durability. Buy crappy materials and you’ll get a crappy shoe. You’re obviously not going to pick materials that you know are bad. However, some users aren’t able to determine which materials are the right choice for beach shoes.

For instance, mesh is an extremely popular option amongst beach shoes. No wonder why; it’s breathable, it allows water to drain and whatnot. However, mesh alone isn’t a good material for the construction of an upper build. Materials like air mesh are really thin and fragile, and thus very likely to rip or break upon the first few abrasions.

Air mesh certainly is cheaper, but it lasts way less alone. Try to get your hands on beach shoes that reinforce their mesh with another compound. The Vibram Signa, for example, makes use of a stretchy polyester compound as upper build mesh. The shoe breathes, drains, and more importantly, won’t break so easily.

Lastly, make sure you’re getting beach shoes when purchasing. Certain water shoes that are meant for the pool or fresh water are not suitable for the beach. This is because the sodium chloride and other compounds found in saline water may affect the properties of certain materials. Ask if the shoe materials are suitable for salt water.

  • Shoe materials help to determine shoe durability.
  • While popular for beach shoes due to its breathability, mesh construction is thin and fragile (that’s why it’s mainly upper build only).
  • Reinforced mesh (mesh combined with another compound) can be much stronger and provide better durability.
  • Pool shoes or fresh water shoes are usually not the best choice for the beach as the salt will easily break their materials down.
User care

In an overall look, there are two main things that determine the durability of a shoe. The first one is the quality of the shoe itself and how it’s put together. The second one is the attention that the user gives their shoes, and how they use them. The cheapest of shoes can be durable in the right hands, just like top-notch shoes can break on the first use when used incorrectly.

The first step to proper usage is knowing what your shoe is capable of. If the upper build is entirely made from air mesh, then you know you’re not going anywhere near rough environments. You may get away with using a shoe for another activity different from the original purpose of the shoe, but know that your footwear is at risk depending on what you do.

Washing shoes is a big role in the durability of a shoe. Normally, washing them won’t really make them last longer, but it does help make the shoe look newer. Although looks aren’t related to performance, we all take them into consideration when buying shoes. Don’t wash them and you’ll have the opposite; new shoes that look old.

But, once again, the beach is a different environment. It’s important that you clean your shoes with fresh water once you’re done at the beach. Regardless of what the shoe is made of, it’s not ideal to leave all the salts and compounds from the beach sitting on your shoe. Wash away as much saline water as you can, and take advantage of the opportunity to clean the sand as well.

  • Most importantly, how you care for your shoes determines their durability too.
  • Knowing your shoe is knowing its material and construction. You’re less likely to make unfortunate mistakes in the shoe’s wear.
  • Keeping shoes wash doesn’t necessarily improve durability but will keep their looks up to date.
  • Always rinse or wash your shoes after time at the beach. The salt and sand will eat away at the shoe’s material compounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How to wash beach shoes?
A:
There are two scenarios in which you should wash your shoes. The first one is as soon as you leave the beach; soak your shoes in fresh water and keep them exposed until most of the saline water has left the material of the build. Leaving salts and sand sitting on your beach shoe is no good.

If your shoe is just dirty, then you may proceed to use warm water to wipe the dirt off. If it’s holding onto the shoe, add soap to the water and then apply the mixture to the spot or dirt. Let it sit for a minute or two and then wipe the mixture off. If the dirt fades but doesn’t come off, repeat the process.

Q: How should shoes for the beach fit?
A:
That really depends on what you’ll be doing at the beach. A beach shoe meant for chilling and relaxing on the sand and water aren’t really supposed to have a determined fit. They’re just chilling shoes. However, a little of support is always good to help your foot stay together with the shoe.

In the case you’re performing any sports at the beach, you should worry more about the fit. Like any performance shoe, it should fit slightly tight and with a decent level of support. Needless to stay, the shoe should be true to your size, not bigger, not smaller.

Q: Where to buy beach shoes?
A:
Just like with any other footwear, beach shoes can be obtained from retail stores and online shopping platforms. We personally recommend Amazon, as we’ve already taken the time to evaluate the best prices from the most trustworthy sellers for each of the items. This not only guarantees a better price, but also the authenticity of the products.

Additionally, you’re much more likely to find what you’re looking for through online platforms. When it comes to the internet, the variety of products is nearly infinite, as opposed to retail stores that depend on a specific stock.

Q: What are good beach shoes?
A:
Good beach shoes are those that meet most of the criteria we’ve explained in this guide. However, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the shoe makes you feel good. Everyone has different tastes, so get a shoe that works and that you like at the same time.

A good beach shoe should count with materials that are breathable, drainable, durable, and protective. In case any sports are involved, make sure the shoe includes the features required to perform the sport optimally.

Q: Can I use beach shoes for the pool and likewise?
A:
It really depends on the shoe, the materials, and its construction. Normally, there shouldn’t be any problem if you use a pool shoe for the beach, except the pool shoe may lack protection as it’s meant for a controlled pool environment.

However, beach shoes are not always compatible with the pool. Keep in mind that most pools use chlorine and other chemicals to clean the water. The materials of the shoe may react to this chemicals, fading in color or staining.

Q: What else can I use beach shoes for?
A:
Shoes specifically made for the beach aren’t really common, except those designed for beach sports. In reality, the best beach shoes are just water shoes or other footwear that happens to be compatible with the environment of the beach. Very little shoes are actually meant to be specifically for the beach.

For instance, you may use the Vibram Signa to explore rivers and mountains that aren’t too rough. The Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0 is suitable for the beach while being suitable for running as well. The Crocs Swiftwater Sandal can be used for boating side from the beach.

Q: Can these shoes be machine washed?
A:
It may be possible to wash them in the machine, but we don’t recommend it. Unless the manufacturer recommends machine washing the shoes, you should always clean them yourself. When shoes are tossed in the washer, all they do is bounce around hitting the drum, affecting both the shoe and the washing machine.

In the case you’re machine washing the shoes, you should throw some towels or pillowcases in the washer to reduce the damage the shoe receives. Additionally, you must be very careful with the cleaning products that you use in the machine while washing the shoes – permanent stains can happen.

Q: How do I prevent the laces of my beach shoe from untying?
A:
There’s a variety of ways to prevent this. For starters, the first solution would be shortening the laces by cutting a segment off the farthest extremity and reattaching the tip. In most cases, shoes become untied because of the laces being too long, hanging over the sides of the shoe and losing tension on the knot.

Alternatively, after tying the laces you can insert the residual portion under the laces that cover the tongue. This way, the laces are restrained and are much more unlikely to move or become untied.

Q: Can I use beach shoes to walk over rocks and rivers?
A:
You certainly can, as long as the shoe is properly equipped for it. Normally, a beach shoe counts with a certain level of sole stiffness and protection, as rocks and other sharp or uneven objects are abundant at the beach. Do check your shoes to make sure they meet the protection and resistance to endure a river walk.

Going into a rocky river with the wrong shoes may result in permanent damage to the footwear if the materials are inadequate. Depending on what river and its intensity, you may need a specialized shoe rather than a beach shoe for both safety and performance purposes.

Q: Can I toss beach shoes in the dryer machine?
A:
You shouldn’t. The best option is, in most cases, to leave your shoes hanging in the open air so the breeze dries them. It’s important that you try to avoid exposing the footwear to the sun as it dries, as direct sunlight may affect the properties and the color of the materials.

Tossing them in the dryer is similar to the washer; it’ll just bounce all around damaging itself. Furthermore, the dryer machine works at a forced temperature that can be harmful to the elements of the shoe, particularly the gluing and other heat-sensitive additions.


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