Inspecting tidal pools for critters and heading out into the ocean is more enjoyable when nobody’s complaining about sore feet. Enter the water shoe—the go-anywhere footwear with great traction to keep you from slipping, and plenty of openings to let water flow in and out. With options for kids and parents alike, read on for our water shoe picks for the beach.
1. KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal
They’re not the lightest-weight water shoe on the market, but this highly functional sandal from KEEN stands up to the test—whether you’re traipsing across lava rock on a cruise ship shore excursion in the Galapagos or just padding across the hot beach parking lot pavement post-swim. The rubber soles are extra sturdy (you’ll have these for years) and the elastic pull-style laces make these shoes easy to slip on and off in a hurry.
2. Native Jefferson Slip-On Sneaker
Every kid needs a pair of these Native slip-on sneakers to take them from the ocean to the boardwalk with no change of footwear. Perforations all over the shoe allow water to flow in and out (although if your little one gets a serious sopping, you may have to pull off the shoes to completely drain the water). Sizes range from babies up to kids 8 years old, and there’s a huge range of bright and cheerful colors to satisfy young fashionistas’ tastes.
3. ALEADER Kids Youth Sport Water Hiking Sandals
Good water shoes for kids, the ALEADER Kids Youth Sport Water Hiking Sandals double as sandals for walking and hiking, with a rubber sole and secure fit. They’re available in seven different colors.
4. Barerun Barefoot Water Sports Shoe
Barerun makes an excellent and inexpensive unisex water shoe for mom and dad that can take you seamlessly from poolside yoga to a SUP outing with the kids. The upper portion of the Barefun Barefoot water shoe is made of a breathable and stretchy polyester material that’s easy to pull on and off and fits like a jogging sock. And you can choose from fun patterns (think black and grey stars and stripes and candy-colored hues) that stand out from the crowd.
5. Mishansha Mens Womens Water Shoes
Designed for both men and women, the Mishansha Water Shoes feature a rubber sole for good traction and are quick-drying. We also love the elastic straps that allow you to easily tighten or loosen them, and that they’re easy to slide on and off thanks to a pull tab at the ankle. They’re available in more than two dozen variations.
6. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
A water shoe that refers to itself as a sieve better be pretty darn good at keeping your wet feet mostly dry, and these men’s and women’s shoes by Merrell live up to their name. The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe is the kind of shoe that can take you from walking along a rugged beach to hiking a nearby mountain trail with no change of shoes. A downside is that they’re not the lightest compared to all-mesh varieties (the Merrells weigh around 1.5 pounds). But when you need an all-terrain shoe for an adventurous trip with the family, these cover the bases. The leather and fabric upper is nice and sturdy to protect your feet, too, in case you find yourself forging a creek with a cranky toddler on your back.
7. Zhuanglin Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Walking shoes or water shoes? They’re both! The Zhuanglin Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes are lightweight and breathable, with features including a water grip outsole for wet conditions and a ComforDry sock liner that provides cushioning and protection from the elements.
8. Crocs Swiftwater Wave Water Sandal
When it comes to waterproof footwear for the whole family, you know you can count on Crocs! Neither plastic nor rubber, Crocs are made from a proprietary foam resin that helps eliminate odors—always appreciated when you’re traveling with wet shoes in tow. For your toddlers between the ages of one and four, look no further than the Crocs Swiftwater Wave Water Sandal, available in all the favorite neon hues (Neon Magenta! Volt Green!) and natural colors such as grey, black and navy, too. An adjustable Velcroclosure on the side of the shoe makes these easy to pull on and off tiny feet. Keep in mind that sizing options are whole numbers only, so if your feet fall between sizes, be sure to size up.