The Best Water Shoes for Women (2022)

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The Best Water Shoes for Women (1)

Whether you're windsurfing, kayaking, or simply walking along the shore, you'll need sturdy footwear that's equipped to protect your feet from water, rocks, and everything in between, which is why water shoes are a must-have for these outdoor activities.

We chatted with Merrell product manager Jon Sanregret and designer Drew Engle for some insight into what to look for in a good pair of water shoes. "In water footwear, we often use terms like 'non-wicking' and 'hydrophobic' upper materials, meaning the top of the shoe will repel water," Sanregret says. "In the outsole, you often want flexible rubber material to help adapt to what you're standing on under the water and then 'siping' or 'razor siping' as an outsole feature to help provide added grip on wet surfaces."

If you're looking for a quality pair that'll meet all your needs, we recommend the Aleader Women's Quick-drying Aqua Water Shoes. These durable and breathable kicks are easy to pack thanks to their lightweight construction, while also remaining comfortable. If you're more interested in sandal- or sock-style water shoes, read on for our full list of the best water shoes.

T+L's Top Picks

Best Overall: Aleader Women's Quick-drying Aqua Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (2)

Why We Love It: These shoes have great traction for traversing various wet surfaces, they're easy to slip on and off, and they're very lightweight.

What to Consider: The unique hole-filled uppers may let tiny pieces of rocks and shells in.

It's hard to pinpoint the most impressive thing about these water shoes considering they're so lightweight, comfortable, flexible, and sturdy. You can wear them while rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, or even walking along sea cliffs because they have excellent grip capabilities and won't slip. Planning to wear them on an extra hot day? The quick-drying shoes are designed with a breathable mesh upper that encourages airflow and prevents your foot from overheating or the shoe from holding onto water. Your feet will stay comfortable for hours in these thanks to ample cushioning throughout the footbed. These water shoes are the whole package — they even come in 23 colors ranging from neutral black to minty teal. Jamie Hergenrader, Editorial Director of commerce content at T+L, has owned this pair for four years. "They're easy to slip on and off, and they're really comfortable," she says. "They don't rub or chafe when wet, and they're not too heavy to wear for a day spent going in and out of the water because the mesh upper allows water and sand to flow out easily." As a bonus, they look just like sneakers. When you're at the beach, simply throw on a swimsuit cover-up and these shoes, and you can easily transition from the beach to the bar, shopping, or other activity.

Sizes: 6 to 10 | Material: Mesh, polyethylene

Best Style: Sea Star Beachwear Slingback Espadrille Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (4)

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Why We Love It: You can wear them everywhere and they don't stand out as water shoes.

What to Consider: They're ideal mostly for walks on the beach or days by the pool — these aren't suitable for more intensive outdoor adventures.

These shoes combine the casual, vacation-worthy look of an espadrille and the functionality of a water shoe, so you can wear them just about everywhere on your next warm-weather trip from the beach to the pool to sailing. They're crafted from quick-drying fabric and feature an elastic slingback strap for a secure fit. They even provide an element of style thanks to their cross straps. They're also super lightweight, so they're the perfect shoes to pack in your luggage.

Sizes: 6 to 11 | Material: Neoprene, rubber

Most Versatile: Lands' End Women's Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (6)

Why We Love It: Pull tabs on the tongue make getting them on and off that much easier.

What to Consider: The fit is adjusted with velcro straps, which offer a less precise fit than laces would.

We love that these water shoes look a lot like your standard pair of sneakers, so you can wear them on and off the beach. The mesh upper will keep tiny stones and grains out while the cushioned insole offers plenty of comfort. Buyers will also appreciate the odor control of this pair, and the pull tabs on the tongues make for easy on-off. The shoes come in both regular and wide sizing.

Sizes: 6 to 11 | Material: Spandex, rubber

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Best Traction: Ryka Women's Hydro Sport Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (8)

View at Ryka ($100)

The Best Water Shoes for Women (9)

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Why We Love It: They look and feel more like waterproof sneakers than traditional, soft water shoes.

What to Consider: The sole has openings for water drainage, so small rocks may find their way inside.

Perfect for cross-training and water aerobics, these shoes are quick to dry and have a chlorine-resistant upper. However, they're durable enough to take on ocean and river water, too. The flexible-yet-sturdy soles feature a water drainage system and sticky rubber which offers superior traction on a variety of terrains. They also have a supportive, removable footbed, and are available in over a dozen colors and prints. This style also has ample toe protection, which "can be good in more rugged environments or where you plan to do more hiking," Merrell designer Drew Engle says.

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Material: Rubber, mesh, synthetic materials

Best Slingback: Keen Uneek Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (10)

Why We Love It: They're incredibly airy and breathable, so your feet won't overheat or sweat in them.

What to Consider: They require more breaking in than other pairs.

These lightweight, sandal-style water shoes feature a quick-drying braided upper with a bungee-lacing closure for a secure and comfy fit. The microfiber footbed offers excellent support, and the high-traction rubber soles deliver on stability regardless of the terrain. The slingback also ensures the shoes stay on your feet better than standard sandals. In fact, they're so versatile, stylish, and comfy, you'll likely find yourself wearing them on days when water activities aren't even on the agenda.

Sizes: 5 to 11 | Material: Polyester, nylon, rubber

Best Water Sock: Sand Socks Vincere Low-top Socks

The Best Water Shoes for Women (12)

Why We Love It: They offer a breezy, barefoot feel — but they also protect your feet from debris and hot sand.

What to Consider: They lack some of the support that you would get from a pair of shoes.

With these aqua socks, you can practice any beach sport without worrying about searing hot sand underfoot. But because they're made from durable, quick-drying fabric, they can also be worn as light protection in water. On particularly hot days, they'll keep your feet cool, and they don't restrict or hinder movement. Engle even notes that low-abrasion materials directly against the foot, as seen in Sand Socks, makes for a reliable pair of water shoes. For such a reasonable price, you might just want these in all 15 colors and prints.

Sizes: XXS to XXL | Material: Lycra, neoprene

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Best Sandal: Merrell Breakwater Strap Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (14)

Why We Love It: They're some of the most supportive sandals for both ankles and arches.

What to Consider: Velcro straps don't give you as precise or tight of a fit as laces can.

If you're looking for something more open and airy than a sneaker-style pair of water shoes, go for these cooling sandals from Merrell. While they expose the feet more than typical water shoes, the Breakwaters feature a thick, stable sole that's contoured to the shape of your feet. They offer impressive comfort and support thanks to sturdy ankle straps, ample arch support, and a foam footbed, and their velcro straps are made for quick, easy adjustment to the perfect fit.

Sizes: 5 to 11 | Material: Rubber, textile

Best Quick-drying: DLGJPA Women's Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (16)

Why We Love It: They're versatile and sturdy enough to wear for land activities as well as ones in the water.

What to Consider: Water drainage holes in the soles allow small rocks inside.

These lightweight water shoes are both comfortable on the feet and easy to pack. A mesh upper allows them to dry quickly and remain breathable, while an anti-slip rubber sole gives the wearer security on any surface. The shoes feature pull tabs on both the tongue and heel of each shoe, making them easy to slip on or off even when they're wet. Because of their support and durability, they work just as well for jogging and cycling as they do for water activities. They come in 28 colors ranging from neutrals to neons.

Sizes: 6 to 11 | Material: Rubber, mesh, elastic

Best Breathable: JBU Mermaid III Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (18)

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Why We Love It: They look sleek and stylish on the feet as opposed to large and bulky.

What to Consider: They don't offer much arch support as they're fairly minimal.

These sleek, slip-on shoes are the perfect accessory for all your favorite water sports. The shoes are treated with an antimicrobial coating, which prevents odors, and they have drainage ports in the footbed to allow excess water to escape and keep debris out. We especially love the single velcro strap, breathability, and sock-like appearance on the feet. They're available in four stylish colors, including teal and navy blue.

Sizes: 6 to 11 | Material: Vinyl, synthetic materials

Best Sporty: DOUSSPRT Women's Water Shoes

The Best Water Shoes for Women (20)

Why We Love It: They could double as running shoes if need be.

What to Consider: Rocks can get stuck in the holes in the outsole.

These mesh shoes look like your typical casual sneakers (and are available in a variety of fun colors), but they'll actually keep your feet impressively dry, whether you're on the beach, by the pool, or even just washing the car. They're durable yet airy and breathable, and they shed moisture quickly for your convenience. Plus, a drawstring closure provides a secure, adjustable fit.

Sizes: 5.5 to 11 | Material: Rubber, mesh

Tips for Buying Water Shoes

Drainage Is Key

Go for water shoes that don't hold onto water — it'll ensure they remain comfortable and lightweight throughout the day. As mentioned earlier, look for terms such as non-wicking and hydrophobic. "We've been doing studies around quick dry and drainage for our performance shoes, and one of the leading features we're focusing on is non-wicking materials [like cotton]," Sanregret says. "It sounds obvious, but if a shoe does a great job of not absorbing water, it often does a great job of drying quickly and staying lightweight after getting wet."

Shop for Your Adventure

You may be shopping for shoes to wear in the water as opposed to dry land, but that doesn't mean you should forget about your individual footwear requirements. "I would recommend shoppers assess what their day-to-day support and comfort needs are," Sanregret says. "Everyone has different levels of needs when it comes to footwear, so I would warn against 'unstructured' or minimal support in a water shoe if you're going to be on your feet all day and you typically don't wear that type of product in your day-to-day activities." In other words, if you're simply looking for a pair to wear to the beach or other leisurely setting, any comfortable pair will do just fine. If you need a pair for hiking, sports, or other physical activity that requires long-term comfort and support, you'll want to look for options that provide features like traction and ankle support.

Buy Multiple Pairs

If you spend a lot of time in or near water on your travels, it might be worth having multiple pairs — for example, a more durable, supportive pair for hikes, a more minimal pair for lounging on the beach, a sock for playing sand volleyball or other sports. "It's always enticing to purchase a 'do everything' shoe," Sanregret says, "but we've often talked about your footwear closet like a bag of golf clubs: each pair of shoes, sandals, or boots is like a specific golf club, all designed with different jobs depending on the scenario you find yourself in. The more specific we can get on performing a job well, the less likely that it will work for other things."

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure writers are travel and shopping experts who choose products for readers based on testing, customer recommendations, and their own personal experience. In this article, Dobrina Zhekova and Hillary Maglin researched dozens of water shoes and got professional insight from Merrell product manager Jon Sanregret and designer Drew Engle to compile a comprehensive list of the best water shoes for women.

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(Video) Top 5 Best Water Shoes For Women Review in 2022 - Worth Buying Today

FAQs

How do I choose the best water shoes? ›

Water shoes should fit snugly wet or dry. Submersion can do a number on the shoe materials. Water shoes need to fit well through repeated cycles of wetting and drying - that means being made of synthetics that don't absorb much water and don't deform significantly when wet.

What are water shoes for women? ›

Women's swim shoes are designed to be worn on land and in the water. They are made from materials that won't hold excess water, which means they stay lightweight while submerged, and dry out quickly once you leave the pond, ocean or pool. A rubber outsole provides maximum grip and protects against sharp objects.

Should water shoes be tight or loose? ›

If the shoes are too big, they might slip off your foot after they get wet. Choose a shoe with a snug fit to prevent uncomfortable experiences. It may also prevent feet irritation or chafing (soreness from friction).

Do you wear socks with water shoes? ›

Water shoes are fine for some applications, but when you have sand and grit and dirt constantly rubbing between wet shoes and your feet you're going to get blisters and irritation. So, the first thing you should invest in is a pair of neoprene socks.

Can you walk in water shoes? ›

Since these shoes fit like an athletic sneaker, they are comfortable for trail hiking, walking around the mall and many day-to-day uses that athletic shoes are used for. In short, water shoes are the most versatile footwear available for individuals who participate in active water sports.

Can you swim with water shoes on? ›

Foot Protection

However, because it is a water shoe, it can drain water far better than regular shoes! That means when you're swimming, you can enjoy the same protection a shoe offers while in the water. In addition to keeping your feet safe, water shoes can provide excellent support for your foot as well.

Why do people wear water shoes? ›

Water shoes are flexible and made with mesh material for enhanced breathability, which helps keep feet cool. This also allows for improved water flow when submerged and better drainage when out of the water. They also provide insulation, keeping feet warm in cold water.

What is the difference between water shoes and aqua shoes? ›

The primary difference between Aqua socks and Water shoes is that the latter usually includes rubber to provide grip when you're in the water. This article will cover the basic information about aqua socks and water shoes.

Do Crocs count as water shoes? ›

Crocs can be used as water shoes. However, Crocs may not be as stable, secure, or tight enough for fast-moving bodies of water and longer water crossings. Crocs can be used as water shoes if the hike includes smaller streams and fewer water crossings.

Are water shoes comfortable? ›

Comfort. Made from a breathable material, water shoes are designed to help keep your feet comfortable, even in hot conditions. The breathable design also allows for better water flow when submerged and ensures that the water drains quickly out of them back on dry land.

What are water shoes called? ›

Pool Shoes, Aqua Shoes, Sliders and Flip Flops | Sports Direct.

Does Nike make water shoes? ›

Nike Air Zoom AO sneakers

When it comes to water sports (or just a casual hike) best to be prepared. These Nike kicks come kitted out with thick rubber soles for maximum grip on rocks, dirt, boat decks, and wherever else your journeys take you.

Can I wear water shoes as regular shoes? ›

There is no general consensus on whether or not water shoes can be worn as regular shoes, as the shoes are designed specifically for aquatic use and may not be as durable or comfortable when used on land.

What size water socks do I need? ›

It is most advisable to buy a size that is exactly the size of your foot. These shoes have incredible traction on both wet and dry surfaces. Wearing a bigger size will cause you to slip in the shoe itself. This will happen when you become exposed to water or when your feet start to sweat.

Should you wear water shoes in the ocean? ›

Most water shoes cover the entire foot and have thick soles. These features are essential for protecting your feet from hot surfaces and sharp objects, such as rocks and shells. A quality ocean shoe is essential when treading through ocean floors with unpredictable water and rocky terrain.

Does Nike make water shoes? ›

Nike Air Zoom AO sneakers

When it comes to water sports (or just a casual hike) best to be prepared. These Nike kicks come kitted out with thick rubber soles for maximum grip on rocks, dirt, boat decks, and wherever else your journeys take you.

Can you wear Crocs as water shoes? ›

Shoes for Water

Looking for water shoes? Crocs™ is sure to have just the shoe that you're looking for, whether it be water sandals, clogs, flip flops, or slides. Swimming in lakes, rivers, or even the local watering hole can be rough on your feet.

What are water shoes called? ›

Pool Shoes, Aqua Shoes, Sliders and Flip Flops | Sports Direct.

Can you walk in water shoes? ›

Since these shoes fit like an athletic sneaker, they are comfortable for trail hiking, walking around the mall and many day-to-day uses that athletic shoes are used for. In short, water shoes are the most versatile footwear available for individuals who participate in active water sports.

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