After testing these shoes in as many situations as our creative minds could think of, the clear winner came from a classic company.

Nostalgic and reminiscent of childhood, the Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 truly shines.

You may not think you need water shoes, but if you plan on being around the deep blue for extended periods of time or like to hike in a region with tumultuous rainfall, you really do. To help you find the best shoes for your location and needs, we strapped (or slipped) on all of the top-level water shoes out there, selecting only ones Aquaman would be proud to wear. Sorry Superman, not your territory.

You can use water shoes for multiple reasons, such as hiking, boating, swimming, or going to the beach. We ranked shoes that we feel are best suited for each of these activities. Here at RAVE Reviews, we got you. Rest assured that the hard work is already done.

We not only came up with the 10 best water shoes out there, we also came up with honorable mentions to cover all the bases. Better to have lots of options than none at all, right?

The Water Shoes We RAVE About

Best for Hiking: Merrell Capra Rapid

Have you ever wanted to start a new hobby taking on the outdoors? You need a good shoe for it. The Merrell Capra Rapid offers the flexibility, support, and grip you need to navigate various terrains in unpredictable weather.

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Shop Merrell Capra Rapid

Best for Boating: Columbia Bahama Vent PFG

Boating and class go together like peanut butter and jelly. Look fresh and practical by slipping on a pair of Columbia Bahama Vent PFGs.

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Shop Columbia Bahama Vent PFG

Best Overall: Speedo Surfwalker 3.0

Wearing our best overall winner feels like walking on water, with a high level of comfort and breathability. The Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 checks all the boxes for a high-quality water shoe.

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Shop Speedo Surfwalker 3.0

If you are planning a trip to the beach, thinking of going kayaking along the river, or swimming in a lake, water shoes will come in handy. Get your sneakers wet while you try cliff diving, and swimming back up will feel like army training. In an effort to provide you with a lighter, more practical, and comfortable option, we scouted the best water shoes on the market to cover a variety of needs.

But first, what are water shoes? They are footwear designed to provide a safe experience in rough terrains by the water. Cutting your foot on rocks can ruin your trip to the lake, river, or beach. Water shoes are here to provide the traction and support you need to move along such areas safely. 

It doesn’t stop there: Anybody who makes the mistake of going in the water with running shoes knows they absorb water like a sponge. Not only that, but wet running shoes take forever to dry and can have a lingering smell that puts skunks to shame. It will be there for weeks, and all your friends will remind you every time they smell it.

So what exactly do water shoes offer?

Quick drying and lightweight

Water shoes are designed to be lightweight and quick drying, so you can swim but also take comfort knowing your car will smell fine on the way home. You can wear water shoes both underwater and on dry land, so they’re far better equipped than your standard running shoe.

Water shoes feature siped outsoles to assist moving water out of the shoe, adding traction with the same method you would find on your car tires. A standard shoe just absorbs water, which can give you blisters and create a squishy sound reminiscent of a ‘70s waterbed.

Warm and comfy

A quality water shoe, rather than a knockoff you buy from a questionable salesperson on the street, has well-ventilated material and many drainage points. Water shoes are also designed to be flexible, made with a mesh material for maximum breathability to keep your feet at an ideal temperature.

With better insulation than standard shoes, water shoes keep your feet warm and cozy in cold waters. Since your feet are key temperature regulators, wearing insulated water shoes help keep the rest of your body warm, improving blood circulation and potentially your safety while you swim.

If you don’t plan on swimming the entire time you wear your shoes, search for a pair with better heel cushioning. They work well for other activities such as boating, sailing, and channeling your inner Jack Sparrow.

Protection for your feet

Going to beaches, rock climbing, and cliff jumping can potentially lead to accidents. To spare you a trip to the hospital and avoid endless tears, invest in a good pair of water shoes.

Wearing a pair of closed water shoes protects your feet from any glass, shells, or rocks you or your child may encounter while you swim in the water and enjoy the surrounding areas.

What are they good for?

There is a wide variety of water shoes today, with various designs that allow for just about any situation, such as:

  • Fishing
  • Hiking muddy and wet trails
  • Tubing
  • Boating
  • Water sports
  • Swimming

Designed with enough grip to handle wet and uneven surfaces, durability to stand up to long days on your feet, and lightness to improve performance, a good pair of water shoes can stand up to any activity near water.

Methodology

There is more to water shoes than meets the eye, or in this case, the water. They have to keep your feet cozy, provide a nice grip for various terrains, and not soak up water and drown you as you swim. We based our ranking of the 10 best water shoes on the following criteria:

  • Versatility: Good water shoes can be used for multiple things, ranging from boating and scuba diving to hiking and surfing. The more versatile, the better.
  • Outsole: Even though you might wish for your shoes to fit snugly like a pair of winter socks, you still need a firm outsole. A thicker sole with sufficient grip points and water drainage is priceless if you find yourself hiking through rough and wet areas. But, if you plan to spend most of your time on water, flexibility is more important. We looked for water shoes with both types of soles.
  • Insole: Surprisingly, water shoes are not designed to be waterproof. Instead, they are made to allow water in and release the excess. The most effective water shoe insoles are flexible, breathable, and cushioned. We scored shoes with all of these features higher.
  • Material: Typically, water shoes are made of neoprene or a synthetic mesh, which is ideal for activities such as hiking, boating, swimming, the beach, and paddle sports. In our ranking, we included water shoes made from a variety of materials to cover a wide range of activities.
  • Durability: Water shoes are designed to withstand wipeouts while surfing and slide outs while hiking. We’re not quite sure how they handle shark attacks though, and not willing to get that information for you either. We looked for shoes that are durable enough to last you a long time.
  • Comfort: You don’t want water shoes that feel like you’re walking on pins and needles –– they should be comfortable whether they’re wet or dry. We considered shoes made of comfortable materials, with features such as rubber outsoles, heel padding, and tabs to pull them on and off easily.
  • Breathability: As water shoes are usually made with mesh, your feet will feel great both in and out of the water. The shoes in our ranking will keep your feet cool and dry this summer.
  • Size: Keep it snug as a bug. Not only is having the right fit safer, but it helps prevent chafing as well, which is as nasty as it sounds. Most shoe manufacturers produce the standard sizes, but some offer wide and slim sizes as well. The more custom the fit, the better. 

The Best Water Shoes

  1. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0

    Price: $37.82

    Our best overall water shoes tick more boxes than the rest while looking fabulous in a simple but sleek design. The Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 may cost a bit more than the others, but it has long been the go-to pick for water shoes. 

    With a leather exterior and synthetic sole, the Surfwalker 3.0 offers both durability and sublime water-shedding ability. This shoe was developed by hikers, and you can tell how much expertise is put into its construction. With smooth, elastic uppers for easy entry and removal, these shoes are comfortable enough to hike cliffs, searching for the perfect view. Hiking back down is no issue either, as the S-TRAC outsole provides a sturdy and dependable grip.

    This shoe is a hybrid of the strong points of various types of shoes. They can be used for both entertainment and serious training, in case you want to test your endurance in an Iron Man or triathlon.

    Pros
    • True to size
    • Good traction and stability
    • Lightweight and comfortable
    • Dry quickly
    Cons
    • Slippery poolside
    • Not very supportive
    Shop Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
  2. Columbia Bahama Vent PFG

    Price: $36.95

    If you’re living the good life and have a boat, first of all, well done. Second of all, consider the Columbia Bahama Vent PFG, because not only does it look sexy, but it feels that way, too. The ventilation lives up to the name, keeping things light and practical.

    Whether you’re boating, fishing, or spending a day at the beach, these leather and canvas shoes provide affordable comfort. With an Omni-Grip razor-siped rubber outsole, these boat shoes are worthy of touring the seas, handling slippery surfaces with ease. They feel secure, even in turbulent waters.

    All in all, the Bahama Vent PFG offers a great balance between aesthetics and functionality, something not often found in water shoes. 

    Pros
    • Stylish
    • Solid traction
    • Comfortable and supportive
    • Very breathable
    Cons
    • Limited selection
    • Not true to size
    Shop Columbia Bahama Vent PFG
  3. Vifuur Barefoot Water shoes

    Price: $13.68

    With 27 sleek styles, the Vifuur Barefoot quick-dry water shoe is the clear winner of variety and fashion sense. But how does it perform? The lightweight, low design may trick you into forgetting you actually have it on. In the end, this shoe feels more like an airy sock than any shoe we’ve worn before. This shoe is perfect for yoga, swimming, boating, surfing, scuba, cycling, you name it. You can perform any beach activity without concern.

    The anti-slip rubber sole, combined with a shock-absorbing cushion and protective toe guard offers effective grip and safety. Constructed of stretchy polyester and spandex, these shoes fit snugly and prevent too much debris from entering. Sand gets everywhere –– there’s no stopping it –– but these water shoes keep it to a minimum. 

    The only thing we would have liked is a fixed sole, as it can shift during strenuous activity. Other than that, the strengths of the Vifuur far outweigh the weaknesses, making this shoe one of our top recommendations for beach wear.

    Pros
    • Flexible rubber sole
    • Lightweight 
    • Dries quickly
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • May fit too tightly
    • Weak toe area
    Shop Vifuur Barefoot Water shoes
  4. Merrell Capra Rapid Hiking Shoe

    Price: $61.89

    Even though the Merrell Capra Rapid is ultimately for hiking, it’s not clumsy or suffocating. Covered in mesh, this shoe is comfortable, breathable, and quick-drying, keeping your feet from becoming too sweaty.

    If you’re channeling your inner nature lover and hiking through the mountains, you need a shoe with enough grip to climb up and down those massive hills. Luckily, the Capra Rapid has got you covered in both dry and wet terrains, and you won’t have any issues walking around in any weather.

    Despite being so light and comfortable, especially for hiking footwear, these shoes are durable. Slide them on for a weekend outdoors, exploring nature.

    Pros
    • Amazing traction
    • Comfortable
    • Provide good protection
    • Quick-drying
    Cons
    • Lacing may break
    • Average durability
    • Mediocre design
    Shop Merrell Capra Rapid Hiking Shoe
  5. Dreamcity Lightweight Water Shoes

    Price: $19.95

    For a ridiculously low price, the Dreamcity Lightweight Water Shoes rank so high up on our list because of the high-quality mesh construction and breathability.

    Not only that, but wearing this shoe is a euphoric experience, with a feather light Solyte midsole. Your strides remain smooth with bouncy cushioning, and a water grip outsole keeps you on the ground with traction that holds well in the wettest conditions.

    The ComforDry sockliner keeps your feet dry, comfortable, and ready for any situation.

    Pros
    • Extremely comfortable
    • Good traction
    • Great support
    Cons
    • Difficult sizing
    • Doesn’t keep out debris
    Shop Dreamcity Lightweight Water Shoes
  6. Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw 2 Water Shoe

    Price: $64.95

    When we first saw these shoes, we thought they were pretty basic. Looks can be deceiving though, because the Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw 2 Water Shoes are more comfortable than pillow cushions on your feet, and very good quality.

    When you go to the beach, sand gets in your hair, up your nose, into your bloodstream…but these shoes have no holes or lacing, making it virtually impossible for sand to creep in them. 

    On top of that, they work well for swimming. Whether you’re the next Michael Phelps or you just doggy paddle, you won’t get tired swimming in these lightweight water shoes. That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks: The sole isn’t fixed and can slip around. Besides that, this shoe is hard to beat.

    Pros
    • Amazing arch support
    • Durable and flexible
    • Great cooling properties
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Unfixed insole
    • May cause blisters
    Shop Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw 2 Water Shoe
  7. Promate 3mm Beach Dog Sports Boots Water Shoes

    Price:

    We took one look at these shoes and instantly knew the traction was going to be unreal. The Promate 3mm Beach Dog Sports Boot’s grippy rubber sole is no joke, making this shoe a virtual safety net for even the most accident-prone wearer.

    These shoes are for you if you are planning a trip to the islands, looking to test your skills on the waves of Thailand or Costa Rica. They not only help you stay on the board, but they help you safely navigate through the steep and sharp rocks you may encounter during water sports.

    Luckily, the task isn’t so daunting with these shoes, which are surprisingly comfortable, supportive, and protective. They do have a higher design than others on this list, but they’re made for water sports and provide extra coverage for your ankles.

    Pros
    • Thick, sturdy sole
    • Amazing traction
    • Great for water sports
    Cons
    • Not true to size
    • Water can stay in shoe
    • Limited selection
    Shop Promate 3mm Beach Dog Sports Boots Water Shoes
  8. CIOR Barefoot Quick Dry Shoes

    Price:

    For a ridiculously low price, the CIOR Barefoot Quick Dry Shoes are great for pool and beach activities. With several different styles, you can buy a pair for your immediate family, cousins, and in-laws, knowing you got them all a pair that’s smooth and chafe-free.

    With seven quick-drying drainage holes on the bottom, water flows out at a rapid pace, keeping your feet cool and comfortable. These water shoes are so flexible, they move seamlessly with your feet, allowing you to coast through any water polo class. Now you just have to worry about your cardio.

    These shoes may appear thinner than paper, but the soles have a decent amount of protection, defending your feet from pointy pebbles. They feel so comfortable you may forget you’re wearing them, but they can also be used on land for activities like volleyball, walking, and yoga.

    Pros
    • Flexible and comfortable
    • Versatile
    • Machine washable
    Cons
    • Not true to size
    • Not meant for rocky terrain
    • Wrong size may cause blisters
    Shop CIOR Barefoot Quick Dry Shoes
  9. L-RUN Unisex Barefoot Water Shoes

    Price:

    The L-RUN Unisex Barefoot Water Shoes just missed out on a higher ranking by a grain of sand, but they’re definitely worth a look. With 45 selections to choose from, you could go six weeks without having to wear the same style twice.

    Easy to slip on and off, the L-RUN Barefoot Water Shoe is breathable with a blend of durable material and thin fabric to protect your feet and toes. 

    With rubber soles, these shoes have enough traction to keep you safe on slippery surfaces, such as around a pool. With this price, we definitely recommend getting these shoes if you’re looking for casual swimwear.

    Pros
    • Affordable 
    • Comfortable and supportive
    • Multiple styles available
    Cons
    • Not true to size
    • Stitching can be loose
    • Loose soles
    Shop L-RUN Unisex Barefoot Water Shoes
  10. MOHEM Poseidon Sneaker

    Price:

    If you’re looking for something casual, fashionable, and comfortable, MOHEM has your back. The MOHEM Poseidon Sneaker sticks out above the rest on appearance alone, offering a premium handmade suede exterior. MOHEM must have taken a lesson from Italian shoemakers with all the love put into this shoe.

    With excellent traction and lightweight comfort, these water shoes are ideal for boating, meeting all of the demands needed to survive a boat. 

    MOHEM aspires to promote a healthy, comfortable lifestyle. These shoes seem like they should be priced higher, but we’re not complaining: They provide a slice of luxury footwear at an affordable price.

    Pros
    • Comfortable and breathable
    • Stylish
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Limited water use
    • Poor arch support
    • Not very durable
    Shop MOHEM Poseidon Sneaker

When do I need water shoes?

Actually, you can wear water shoes on basically any outdoor adventure. With various designs and materials, you can use them both on dry land and in the water. Since they’re lightweight and breathable, water shoes can provide you with comfort in just about any activity.

Check and see which shoe best suits the activities you do most often. For example, if you’re going to be in the mountains, get a water shoe designed for hiking, rather than one for the beach or surfing. Like anything else, make sure you know what limitations the shoe may have before you buy.

A common misconception is that water shoes are just used for leisurely activity. They are actually quite durable, and many athletes use them for watersports and other activities such as water polo, windsurfing, tubing, and beach running. So, test them to their limit.

However, mesh doesn’t work in cold weather, and water shoes don’t provide much insulation against the cold wind. Consider wearing regular sneakers instead of water shoes in the winter.

Will my feet get wet wearing water shoes?

Water shoes are designed specifically for wet situations, but your feet won’t stay completely dry once they are exposed to water. The shoes are meant to be water-resistant, not completely waterproof. Overall, water shoes are made with mesh, which is light and breathable. Full waterproof clothing is made of dense materials, like rubber.

How wet your feet get depends on what you do and the type of shoe you own. For example, you won’t encounter nearly as much water when you’re hiking as you would surfing. The shoes designed for those activities have different levels of absorption.

Ultimately, how quickly water shoes dry is what matters most. Your standard shoe requires days to become completely dry again, not to mention there will be a lingering odor that isn’t easy to get rid of.

Water shoes dry considerably quicker and smell much fresher, so you won’t have to spend hours spraying them with freshener and trying every old school trick your mom recommends. Instead, you’ll feel confident wearing them again the next day.

How long do water shoes last?

Like any shoe, there will be wear and tear. How you use them determines how well they hold up over time. A pair of water shoes that’s left untreated won’t age as well as a pair that receives constant TLC.

To keep your water shoes in good shape, dry them in an area that receives a lot of fresh air, and remove the soles. Never put them in the dryer, but water shoes are typically machine-washable.

If you hike regularly, water shoes typically last about six months, so it is wise to always have a second pair. If you mostly wear your water shoes on the beach, it’s slightly more difficult to determine how long they last. 

For example, if you only visit the water on family trips or social gatherings, they can last for years. But, if you use them multiple times a week throughout spring and summer, buy at least one pair per year.

What types of water shoes are there?

There are four main types of water shoes: classic, wet shoes that do well in rain, boat shoes, and water sandals. Each has their own specialty.

Boat shoes are best for boating and not much else. With less traction than other types, they aren’t particularly good for walking along a slippery shore. Essentially, they are quick-drying moccasins with traction. If you plan on rafting or kayaking, it’s best to leave them at home.

Water sandals are ideal for summer activities that don’t require much physical effort. Some people claim they’re more comfortable than water shoes, but they sacrifice protection for your feet. Ultimately, whether or not you buy water sandals depends on if you plan on swimming at the beach.

Classic water shoes come in many different styles to suit just about anyone. They are especially beneficial for hikers and canoeists, since classic water shoes provide more protection than other types.

With enough insulation to handle colder weather, wet shoes work well in the winter. Designed to be used on the water, wet shoes are beneficial for sea and lake kayakers, but their thin soles make walking along boats and rough terrains painful.

What are the best water shoes?

The Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 is the best on the market, especially for swimming. Fashionable, lightweight, and versatile with excellent traction and protection, these shoes can be worn all day at the beach. With the no-slip S-TRAC design, you will feel confident walking on slippery rocks along the water. Speedo has been making shoes for decades, and their reputation and quality truly shine with this shoe.

RAVE Recommends

  • Epoch Making Full Face Snorkel Mask ($30): With a more futuristic look than other snorkels, the Epoch Making Full Face Snorkel Mask is as effective as it is stylish. Look professional wearing this snorkel during your next leisurely dive.
  • Skywoo Trunks ($18): You can’t go to the beach without swim trunks. With a five-star rating and quick-drying, lightweight, comfortable material, these Skywoo trunks are likely to cause a stir on the beach scene.
  • Athletic One Piece ($30): Looking for the perfect one-piece to train for your next race? With adjustable shoulder straps for a custom fit and streamlined design, the Baleaf Women’s Athletic One Piece is an excellent option.  
  • Sunscreen ($17): Since just about all water sports are outside, invest in a good form of sun protection. Coppertone Sport provides that all-important barrier against the sun.
  • Sunglasses ($25): It wouldn’t seem right to be outdoors without a solid pair of sunglasses. Teise Bircen polarized sunglasses look sleek and come in just about any color to suit your look.

About The Author

Randy Brangman is a Licensed Physical Therapist and Exercise Therapist and a former long distance runner. He is the founder and Lead Exercise Instructor at Trinity of Wellness. Spending more time in running shoes that flip flops, he travels the world while going through pair after pair. He is currently writing a book about joint therapy.

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