The 10 Best Women's Water Shoes to Buy in 2021

Protect your feet on all your upcoming water excursions

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TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown

Best Overall: Keen Newport at REI

"These closed-toe sandals have been a favorite of outdoor adventurers for years, thanks to their comfort and traction."

Best Budget: ANLUKE Water Shoes Barefoot Aqua Yoga Socks at Amazon

"These aqua socks slip on easily and stay snug on your feet while you’re splashing around."

Best for Hiking: Keen SOLR Sandal at REI

"Lightweight and gives good traction to help you keep your balance on wet, slippery surfaces."

Best Quick-Drying: Neoprene Beachcomber Espadrille Flat at Amazon

"Made from quick-drying neoprene uppers, they dry in 15 minutes."

Best Non-Slip: Merrell Waterpro Pandi 2 Water Shoes at Amazon

"You won't have to worry about losing them when the trail becomes a water crossing."

Best Lightweight: Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal at REI

"The shoe goes from the campsite shower to the festival grounds effortlessly."

Best for the Pool: Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 at Zappos

"This pair keeps the sand out very effectively, letting only the finest grains pass through."

Best Water Sock: Seavenger Zephyr 3mm Neoprene Socks at Walmart

"They have a snug, ankle-hugging fit with a traction-filled rubber sole to keep you steady."

Best Sandal: Chaco Women’s Odyssey Sandal at Backcountry

"They drain easily and dry quickly—also the fabric is soft and doesn't irritate the skin."

Best for Boating: Adidas Outdoor Women's Terrex Climacool Boat Sleek Water Shoe at Amazon

"These boat shoes are perfect for hanging out on deck or taking a dip off the side."

When you begin looking for the best women’s water shoes to buy, you want to be sure you’re getting a pair that's suited to your activities and preferences, whether you need a sleek pair for going from boat to bar; a rugged, sturdy option for crossing rocky, raging rivers; or something with grippy soles for paddleboarding. Luckily, design and function of water shoes have moved beyond the mesh-topped, slip-on ones of your camp days as a kid, and they're sold in multiple styles and price points. 

To make the search as easy as possible, we’ve scoured the web for the best options based on specific styles, activities, and key features. Here are the best water shoes for women.

Best Overall: Keen Newport H2

Keen Newport H2 Sandal
Courtesy of Amazon.com

These closed-toe sandals have been a favorite of outdoor adventurers for years, thanks to their comfort, traction, and range of styles and sizes. “I am a big fan of the versatile Keen Newports," says Rue Mapp, CEO & founder of Outdoor Afro. "They come in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes for the whole family. While crossing streams, basking in the spray of the waterfalls, or strolling through the woods, Newports protect your feet and take you from your adventure to your everyday activities.”

Best Budget: ANLUKE Water Shoes Barefoot Aqua Yoga Socks

Perfect for when you need to outfit the whole family—or just don’t hit the water much—these aqua socks slip on easily and stay snug on your feet while you’re splashing around. They’re great for stony beaches thanks to their flexible soles that protect your feet against sharp rock edges. (This writer packs her pair on almost every seaside vacation.)

Best for Hiking: Keen SOLR Sandal

Keen Solr Sandal

Courtesy of Keen

Keen is known for supportive shoes that give wearers excellent traction on surfaces that might not offer a ton of grip on their own—and this hiking sandal gets top marks from the outdoor experts. “I love that this shoe is lightweight, and it gives good traction to help you keep your balance on wet, slippery surfaces,” says Lauren Gay, founder of Outdoorsy Diva. “It also has a closed, reinforced toe that prevents you from stubbing your toes on rocks or tree roots.”

Best Quick-Drying: Sea Star Beachwear Women's Neoprene Beachcomber Espadrille Flat

These look like your favorite pair of throw-’em-on-and-go espadrilles, but they’re water shoes in stylish disguise. Made from quick-drying neoprene uppers, they dry in 15 minutes, giving you enough time to get out of the water, change, and then head up the boardwalk to lunch at the cafe. They go with pretty much anything, and we’re fans of having one less soggy thing to carry around in our beach bags.

Best Non-Slip: Merrell Waterpro Pandi 2 Water Shoes

Even the flimsiest water socks should do the trick for a beach stroll, but if you’re going to be doing any real hiking, you’re going to need a water shoe that’s substantial and durable. Keen’s Whisper Sandals have non-marking carbon rubber outsoles to maximize traction and durability. Plus, polyester webbing uppers help them fit comfortably and securely. These shoes dry quickly, with nylon mesh linings to best control moisture. Keen’s patented rubber toe guards protect feet in hiking environments with rocky or uneven terrain, and midsoles are meant to absorb shock and also support and cushion the feet. Elastic laces help hikers get these shoes on easily—even in wet conditions—and the cord locks keep them on securely, so you won't have to worry about losing them when the trail becomes a water crossing.

Best Lightweight: Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal

Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal

Courtesy of Zappos

If you love the timeless Teva sandal, you'll love this version of the classic that's been updated in festival-ready prints. The iconic style (which goes back over three decades) features an open toe and adjustable hook-and-loop straps that are made from 100 percent recycled plastic. It also has a foam-cushioned footbed that provides both arch support and traction. The textile upper and lining do just fine in the water, so the shoe goes from the campsite shower to the festival grounds effortlessly.

Best for the Pool: Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0

Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0

Courtesy of Zappos

If you're going to be doing a lot of walking on the beach, you’re going to want a water shoe that won’t fill with sand. This pair keeps the sand out very effectively, letting only the finest grains pass into the polyester and spandex upper. The breathable fabric is light and stretchy, so it’s flexible, comfortable, and compressible for packing. These come in a range of sizes for the whole family—so these are not only for women, but are also available for kids and men (up to extended size 13.5). Go for a versatile solid color (like black or grey), or up your visibility at the beach with bright colors (pink, green) or prints (including a starry sky or vibrant rainbow).

Best Water Sock: Seavenger Zephyr 3mm Neoprene Socks

Seavenger Zephyr 3mm Neoprene Socks

Courtesy of Walmart

As simple as their design is, all water socks are not created equally. Some are made out of low-quality materials that wear out after a couple of trips to the ocean or have liners that never seem to stay flat in the bottom of the shoe. Not so with these water socks: They have a snug, ankle-hugging fit with a traction-filled rubber sole to keep you steady on rocks, slippery docks, and other water-adjacent surfaces.

Best Sandal: Chaco Women’s Odyssey Sandal

Chaco Women’s Odyssey Sandal

Courtesy of Chaco

I like Chaco's Odyssey Sandal because it gives me the support I need for longer hikes, and the closed-toe style keeps my toes safe from getting stubbed on rocks,” says Nailah Blades Wylie, founder of Color Outside. “They drain easily and dry quickly—also the fabric is soft and doesn't rub against and irritate the skin like some water shoes.” Plus, the color combos—in rich shades like plum and sapphire, as well as a pastel medley and a cool all-black—are a long way from the usual rugged brown and gray you see on trail shoes.

Best for Boating: Adidas Outdoor Women's Terrex Climacool Boat Sleek Water Shoe

Terrex is Adidas’ line of lightweight, trail-ready hikers, and it includes this pair of Climacool boat-focused water shoes. Available in black or turquoise with the brand's signature three stripes, these boat shoes are perfect for hanging out on deck or taking a dip off the side. Plus, they’re stylish enough to pair with a sundress or shorts once you’re back on land. The Climacool comes in handy here for extra breathability and comfort, too.

Final Verdict

The quality, durability, and sturdiness of the Keen Newport H2 shoes (view at Keen) are three of the many reasons why it’s been a favorite of adventurers for years now—and they continue to hold up in our estimation. These all-purpose water shoes are great for a variety of outdoor activities. However, if your plans are to just lay out at the beach, a pair of budget-friendly water socks like the ANLUKE Water Shoes Barefoot Aqua Yoga Socks (view at Amazon) will do just fine.

What to Look for in Women’s Water Shoes

Breathability

The more breathable the water shoe, the more quickly it’ll dry out, allowing you to get on with the rest of your day (and eliminating one more soggy thing from your beach bag). Materials like neoprene let air flow in and out easily, meaning that your shoes dry out quickly as soon as you’re back on land. This material also keeps your feet cool when the sun’s beating down. 

Protection

One of the main reasons to wear water shoes is protection for your feet. It’s not just hot sand to look out for (though there is that!). You also want water shoes with a sturdy enough rubber bottom that you won’t feel the sharp edges of rocks, shells, or twigs on the beach. And, if you’re not going with a sandal-style, choose a pair with a top and sides that enclose the rest of your feet to keep them safe.

FAQs

How much should I spend on water shoes? 

The frequency with which you plan to wear water shoes should help you get an idea of the price point you want to aim for. The more you wear them—whether you’re out hiking along rivers a few times a week or always heading to the beach for a morning swim—the more you might want to spend on what’s going to be a frequently worn part of your wardrobe. Keep in mind that higher-quality shoes often cost a little more than budget ones, so even if you’re going on a one-off beach vacation, don’t let yourself compromise too much on what you really need from the shoes. 

Should I opt for sneakers, socks, or sandals? 

This really depends on what activity you’ll be doing in these shoes. Sandals might drag you down if you’re doing a water aerobics class; socks would be terrible to hike in. Think carefully about the purposes you intend for these shoes, and then build your choice around that. If you need something truly all-purpose, a snug pair of sneaker-style water shoes might be your best bet. Others prefer the airflow that comes with sandals for hiking, though they wouldn’t wear the hiking-style shoes to a bar after a boat ride. If you need to buy multiple pairs for different purposes, consider splashing out a bit more on the ones you’ll wear most often. 

Do water shoes keep sand out? 

It depends on the style of water shoe: A pair of chunky hiking sandals? Not so much. But sneakers with lacing uppers or water socks do a great job of forming a barrier between your skin so that grains can’t trickle in. Of course, you might have a bit of sand when you’re taking off the shoes, but a well-fitting pair of water shoes will go a long way toward keeping feet clean and sand-free.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

TripSavvy writers are experts in the topics they cover, and they are impartial in their assessments and selection of products and brands. In the course of researching roundups like this, Krystin Arneson sifted through dozens of consumer reviews, analyzed expert blogs, and considered her own first-hand experiences with the products as well.

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