Best Beach Shoes

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best beach shoes are, then I recommend the Crocs Men’s Swiftwater as the best pair for men and the vibdiv Women’s Water Shoes as the best pair for women.

person walking on the beach

Heading to the beach can be frustrating when wearing regular shoes. They get full of sand and bogged down when wet and sandy. Did you know there are specialist shoes to combat this?

I’ve found some of the best beach shoes money can buy. Perhaps you should consider a pair for your next beach visit.

Here are the best beach shoes of 2020:

Why You Need Beach Shoes

The beach offers tons of variety—dry sand, wet sand and shell-covered areas. They can be tough to navigate and deal with in regular shoes, so shoes optimized for the beach may help you enjoy your beach experience.

Sand

This stuff gets everywhere. It can ruin your regular shoes, sticks to the sole and gets inside and wriggles its way even when you’ve been super careful. It could also get embedded in the material, but not with beach shoes.

Beach shoes are the best shoes for walking in sand and dealing with it. They’re made of materials that sand won’t stick to or have no deep cracks that sand can hide in.

Shells

People often like to go barefoot on the beach, including in the water. But what about those underwater areas that are littered with shells? It’s like stepping on Legos!

So you don’t have to deal with pointy shells and rocks, consider a pair of beach shoes. The shoes should protect you, letting you run, walk and swim without fear.

Other Debris

I’m being optimistic when talking about shells and rocks being the only beach debris. Sadly, people litter on the beach, too. A pair of decent beach shoes can protect you from that. You never know where potentially damaging debris could be lurking.

The Water

I’m sure most people swim barefoot, but then I point you back to shells, so you might consider keeping your shoes on if you’re not going in too deep. 

Unfortunately, shoes can get water-clogged easily unless they’re completely waterproof. However, waterproof shoes can be made of heavy materials, making them unsafe when swimming or walking in the current.

However, shoes optimized for the beach should be able to handle water and remain light.

What’s in the Best Beach Shoes?

Hopefully not sand.

In all seriousness, shoes that perform well at the beach have some unique features. For example, in most shoes you’ll, want them to be waterproof. With beach shoes, it’s more about drainage.

Here are things to look for in beach shoes:

  • Drainage.
  • Breathability.
  • Durability.

Drainage

With the sand and sea, something’s going to get into your shoes, and they need to be prepared for when it happens. So would you rather sit in soggy shoes, or have it trickle out?

I’m going to guess it’s the latter. Wet shoes feel awful, and they can make everything harder. I bet you’d rather not chase your kids along the sand and have your soaked shoes fly off behind you.

So, openings in the shoe are almost essential. Whether it’s slits, holes, mesh or an open toe, the water needs to be free.

You probably don’t want it to take forever, either, so the more drainage, the better. Bigger holes or just wearing flip flops can help you achieve the fast-draining feat. Draining ports lower down on the shoe will also speed things along. Gravity exists, after all.

Breathability

There’s nothing like a blazing sun during a fun beach day. That is, until your feet start to sweat! A stench in your shoe may be harder to get rid of than sand and can have repercussions on your feet. Nobody likes athlete’s foot, which thrives in moist, warm areas.

Letting your feet breathe may help prevent them from overheating and sweating up a storm. Breathability may also help dry your feet faster after a quick jog along the shore. Let the sun dry what hasn’t drained.

Durability

The beach is covered in pointy shells and rocks, so your shoes should be made to withstand them.

To make sure you’re getting highly durable beach shoes, pay attention to the materials. 

Mesh is often used in beach shoes and is usually strong if reinforced. If the mesh on the shoes looks too see-through and thinly spaced, it’s probably a good idea to buy a different pair.

Polymer is a strong reinforcer to basic mesh. You usually can’t see through it because it’s thicker, but it’s still stretchy and breathable.

Also, keep in mind that some materials won’t be receptive to salt water and may break down. Make sure your shoes specify they’re suitable for use on the beach!

The Five Best Beach Shoes

I’m going to save you the trouble of researching by presenting you with some of the best beach shoes money can buy. Instead, you can spend those extra hours packing for your trip. Don’t forget to bring your new shoes along!

1. Vibdiv Women’s Water Shoes

Vibdiv’s sneaker-like shoes are a closed but breathable shoe with a mesh-like polyester upper. This breathable, reinforced material should keep you cool and withstand anything mild you throw at it.

The soles of the shoes are full of holes, which is a nightmare in most shoes. However, in these, it’s the perfect drainage system. Water trickles out every time you take a step, so you’re walking your way to dry feet.

The soles are non-slip, which is excellent if you decide to take the shoes beyond the beach—boating, the swimming pool or a water park, as examples.

A convenient shoelace design makes these easy to get on and off at a moment’s notice. So, if you want to dive into the sea barefoot, you can shed them and go. The shoes are tightened by elastic laces you pull to tighten and loosen.

They’re available in sizes 7–11.

Pros

  • Closed design protecting you from sunburn and debris.
  • Breathable.
  • Excellent drainage system.
  • Secure yet easy to get on and off quickly.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • They sometimes run large.

2. Crocs Men’s Swiftwater

Ah, good old Crocs. Younger people tend to see them as a crime against fashion. I see them as an incredible, classic type of shoe that works great on the beach.

Crocs are made from a special type of foam that absorbs shock, is durable and is comfortable. They’re full of holes, so they’re also breathable with excellent drainage down low and on the upper.

Some crocs easily slip off your feet if you run, but this pair has a band that goes behind your heel, keeping you in securely whether you run, walk or swim. These may be the perfect beach shoe for someone looking to go back to basics and stay strapped in while enjoying the sand.

Crocs are light and won’t get clogged with water, so you could swim in them. They’re not just great for the beach but could be utilized by the pool or in waterparks, too. The soles, which have incredible traction, make them a go-to for a whole host of waterside activities.

They’re available in sizes 7–13.

Pros

  • Heel strap.
  • Breathable.
  • Easy water drainage.
  • Comfortable and shock absorbing.

Cons

  • Smaller pebbles may get in through the drainage holes.
  • Might make your kids go insane and be embarrassed by you.

3. Adidas Performance Men’s Adilette Comfort

If you’ve bought tourist-style sandals, you know how poor they are on the beach. These adidas sandals are a far cry from that poor quality.

The flexible rubber sole and synthetic materials are fused well. Since adidas is a well-known brand, its shoes need to be high-quality, or else the reputation will be ruined. For example, the upper strap is designed to fit snugly, so your feet don’t slip out easily while on the beach.

Since sandals are primarily open, you don’t have to worry about drainage. Any water and sand that runs in will run out just as quickly. These sandals are also lightweight and cushioned, so you should be comfortable in that regard, too.

Available sizes run from a 4 to an 18.

Pros

  • Open—breathable with extensive drainage.
  • Flexible rubber sole.
  • Cloudfoam footbed.

Cons

  • No heel strap—may slip off when running.

4. Teva Women’s Original Universal Sandal 

The straps on these Teva sandals are made of a sturdy polyester yarn atop an EVA-cushioned footbed. They should be comfortable on your feet while staying clipped closed, secure and durable.

As they’re open sandals, you don’t have to worry about draining or breathability. Your feet are strapped in but free. The straps themselves are quick-drying, so any moisture that could be locked in is kept at bay.

Something I love about these sandals is that the straps are made of recycled materials. They’re also vegan—great shoes for the eco-conscious beach-goers, I think.

They’re available in sizes 5–11, with a narrow option available for size 8.

Pros

  • Durable.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Open and breathable.
  • Fast-drying straps.
  • Cushioned footbed with visible arch support.

Cons

  • The straps may dig into the pinky toe for some people, causing pain.

5. L-Run Athletic Hiking Water Shoes

If you prefer closed shoes over sandals and didn’t like the first pair, here’s another. 

These shoes are ultra-light, stretchy shoes made of breathable fabric. The fabric itself is mesh and lycra. The latter is often used in swimwear, so you know they should handle water well. They should also be as durable as swimwear tends to be.

These shoes are quite fitted, and you can adjust the fit by tugging on the elastic laces. Because of this and the material used, there are no drainage holes. Instead, the material absorbs the water and dries out without trapping the water inside the shoe.

The rubber soles have excellent traction. In my opinion, this makes them great for water sports, like windsurfing. One-up your barefoot competition by staying on your board with help.

Because they’re so light, these shoes are also excellent for swimming. They’re basically a bathing suit for your feet.

They run in sizes 4–16.5 for women and 2.5–14.5 for men.

Pros

  • Enormous visual variety.
  • Incredible traction for running, surfing, boating, etc.
  • Lycra, like your bathing suit.
  • Breathable, moisture-absorbing.
  • Tightly fitted and elasticated.

Cons

  • They tend to run a size small.

The Greatest Wave

Beach and sand shoes

In my opinion, the vibdiv Women’s Water Shoes are the best for the ladies. The closed design keeps pebbles and shells out of your shoes. They’re also durable, so when debris scrapes against them, there’s no damage.

Despite the closed design and durability, the shoes remain breathable, so there should be no sweat. Only sea water that drains back out.

For the men, I saved the best for last. As controversial among the kids as they are, the Crocs Swiftwater may be the best beach shoes for men I’ve come across. They’re simple and full of holes for breathability and drainage.

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