Protect Your Feet This Summer with the 6 Best Water Shoes

Updated: Aug. 01, 2023

Make walking in water safe and easy with the best water shoes for beach days and outdoor adventures.

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Protect Your Feet This Summer With The 6 Best Water ShoesVIA MERCHANT

“Water” and “shoes” are two words that don’t sound like they belong together. Shoes are supposed to keep your feet dry, aren’t they? But if you spend a lot of time around the water, walking on the beach, clamoring over river rocks, strolling on a boat dock or doing water aerobics, there are advantages to having feet protection and support.

The best water shoes offer functionality with designs and materials that drain well and dry quickly. They provide a fit that’s easy to pull on but not so loose they’ll slip off, plus arch support to protect your feet. The bottoms should be skid-proof to keep you safe on wet surfaces, especially around pools, rocks and water equipment. Some are even stylish enough to go from the beach straight into a cafe for lunch. So, let’s dive in (pun intended)!

The Best Water Shoes

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Quick Drying Water Shoes
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Best Overall Water Shoes

Quick Drying Water Shoes

These quick-drying water shoes have it all. The breathability of the ultra-light mesh fabric and the holes designed into the soles allow these aqua water shoes to drain easily and dry quickly. The rubber soles are flexible and anti-slip and the elastic straps tighten with a cord clip. And since they’re full shoes instead of sandals, they offer more protection for your feet.

Five-star reviewer Tyler writes, “Bought two pairs for a trip to Cozumel (beaches have a lot of reef rock there). We had no issues walking on the uneven rocks. On top of that, these shoes are comfortable enough to wear all day, even when you’re not in the water. They look just like regular sneakers, so you won’t feel dorky walking around in them. Highly recommended!”


  • Mesh fabric uppers dry quickly
  • Anti-slip soles with holes
  • Flexible soles for easy movement
  • Thick enough to protect against jagged rocks and broken shells


  • Holes in the soles can catch sand and small rocks

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Barefoot Sock Style Slip Ons
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Best Bargain Water Shoes

Barefoot Sock-Style Slip-Ons

Coming in under $20, these quick-dry sock-style slip-ons are cheap enough to buy several pairs. And since the foot opening is snug but comfortable, it doesn’t cause chafing. Additionally, the soles have a pebble design perfect for water sports like surfing or paddle boarding. The stretchy fabric uppers are flexible and come in 44 styles and sizes for men, women and kids.


  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Stretchy uppers made from quick-drying fabric
  • Available in various color options and sizes


  • Not durable enough for rocky terrain

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Speedo Women’s Tidal Cruiser
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Best Water Shoes for Water Aerobics

Speedo Women’s Tidal Cruiser

Water athletics classes are very popular at aquatic centers and gyms with pools. In shallow-water classes, you need arch support and a sole with a good grip so you don’t slip, just like any athletic shoe. These tidal cruisers have a neoprene collar around the opening for a good fit, quick-drying mesh uppers and non-skid rubber soles.


  • Hold up well against chlorine
  • Loops on both sides of the collar to pull them when wet
  • Ventilating mesh for faster drying time
  • Securely stitched neoprene collar keeps them snug


  • Not available in half sizes or wide sizes

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Keen Newport H2 Water Sandals
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Best Water Shoes for Outdoor Adventures

Keen Newport H2 Water Sandals

If you cross a hiking shoe with a water shoe, you’ll get water sandals. Heavy-duty with adjustable straps, these closed-toe water sandals are built to handle terrain that’s wet and rocky while protecting and ventilating your feet. Keen’s sturdy version features a tough rubber toe covering, strong straps, bungee laces for a tight fit and multi-directional grooves that cut into the rubber soles for added stability.


  • Toe bumper prevents injuries
  • Machine washable
  • Available in 30 color combinations
  • Anti-odor technology


  • Sizing runs small

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Bigib Non Slip Water Shoes
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Best Water Shoes for Kids

Bigib Non-Slip Water Shoes

Water shoes for kids need to be light enough for splashing and playing but sturdy enough to protect against hot sand and broken shells. These non-slip water shoes are ideal for beach play and come in various fun colors and aquatic designs. Moreover, the smooth neck design also prevents scratching during wear.

“Got these for my grandson to wear on our deck while he plays in the water,” writes verified purchaser Lunice A. Clay. “The deck gets very slippery to bare feet, but these grip very well! Easy to put on, and he loves how colorful they are.”


  • Available in infant, toddler and kid sizes
  • Fabric uppers fit snugly
  • Quick-drying flexible fabric cuts down on smells
  • Soles are flexible and skid-resistant


  • Soft fit isn’t made for rugged terrain

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Sea Star Beachcomber Espadrilles
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Most Stylish Water Shoes

Sea Star Beachcomber Espadrilles

You’ve got to come out of the sun sometime, and these Beachcomber espadrilles are designed to go from the water to dry land without issue. They combine the classic rope-edged espadrille design with quick-drying, water-ready neoprene uppers. Furthermore, these espadrilles are snug for swimming or wading in the surf but dry quickly to transition for a beachfront lunch date. We can’t think of a better accessory to pack in your weekend bag.


  • Available in multiple colors and designs
  • Non-skid rubber soles
  • Snug fit for swimming
  • Neoprene uppers


  • Not as comfortable as typical water shoes

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What to Consider When Buying Water Shoes

Fit and arch support are key to any good shoe, but with water shoes, you also need to consider the possible water conditions. For pools and water exercise classes, you’ll want shoes that are light enough that they aren’t cumbersome in the water with a tight fit, so you aren’t fighting to keep them on your feet. If you’re into hiking, fishing and fording rocky rivers, get something that can protect your feet and soles with plenty of grip. As a bonus, consider materials like neoprene that dry quickly or airy designs that let water drain when you step back on land.

Types of Water Shoes

  • Shoes: Typically, these look like workout shoes with mesh uppers that drain and dry quickly. Plus, they have rubber soles with plenty of grip for wet and slippery surfaces.
  • Socks: Usually made from soft, flexible neoprene fabric, water socks have a sturdy collar around the opening to fit snugly on your foot.
  • Sandals: Water sandals are ideal for hiking with a rubber toe cover to protect from rocks. Lighter versions work well on boat decks or water sports equipment like paddle boards.

How We Found the Best Water Shoes

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject-matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.


What are water shoes called?

They are sometimes called aqua shoes or aqua socks.

What shoes are good for walking in water?

All water shoes are good for walking in water as long as they have good treads on the soles.

Are water shoes meant for swimming?

Yes, as long as they fit snugly and have flexible soles that allow for good movement. More structured footwear like water sandals might be too heavy for swimming.

Should water shoes be tight or loose?

They should be tight. If they’re too loose, they can cause blisters or let your shoe fill with sand or small rocks.