Whether you like spending time on the beach or hiking over rough terrain, walking on sandy surfaces can do damage to the feet without the right shoes.
The best shoes for walking on sand are usually lightweight and flexible. Depending on where you’re walking, you might also need waterproofing or extra ankle support.
We’ve chosen the Astral Loyak Water Shoes as our top choice. They feature a hydrophobic canvas upper, a Flex-Gripoutsole, and have drainage holes at the heel and toe.
Here’s the full list of the shoes to consider if you spend a lot of time walking on sand.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Astral Loyak Water Shoes
Ryka Hydro Sport Water Shoe
Merrell Hydro Moc
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1. Astral Loyak Water Shoes (Men)
These shoes are the ideal type of shoes for walking on sand comfortably and safely.
They’re equipped with a hydrophobic canvas upper to keep your feet as dry as possible wherever you’re wearing them. Even the laces are water-resistant.
The upper and tongue feature breathable and stretchable mesh for airflow and comfort.
The canvas is attached directly to the outsole using recessed stitching, which also helps prevent water from getting in. If some water does get in, the shoe features drainage holes in the toe and heel, as well as along the midfoot.
The Flex-Grip outsole is 7mm thick, made from closed-cell EVA foam and offers light cushion but high flexibility.
The low-profile G.15 rubber tread has 3mm lugs for excellent grip even on wet and slippery surfaces. Flex grooves also increase flexibility, allowing you to move comfortably over uneven surfaces like sand.
- Hydrophobic canvas upper
- Flex-Grip outsole
- Drainage holes at toe and heel
- Low-profile rubber tread
- Some people may find that the shoe is difficult to get on as the tongue doesn’t stretch that much
2. Ryka Hydro Sport Water Shoe (Women)
This shoe, like the one above, is specifically made for water activities. They’re also designed for women in particular.
The Ryka Hydro Sport is quick-drying, stylish, and well-cushioned. It can be used for a wide variety of different activities.
The mesh upper stretches to provide a foot-hugging fit. A web-cage around the midfoot offers extra support, especially as it’s integrated with the lacing system. It helps to achieve a comfortable but tight fit. Overlays at the heel and toe provide protection against scuffing and injury to the toes.
In the midsole, CMEVA—compression-molded EVA foam—absorbs shock on every step but is still lightweight and durable. It features drainage ports to allow water to seep out easily so your feet don’t stay wet.
At the same time, the Nitracel insole prevents debris from entering the shoe through the drainage ports and wicks moisture away from the foot. It’s also an extra layer of cushion for shock-absorption.
The sticky rubber outsole provides the same traction on both dry and wet surfaces. Although this is not a minimalist shoe, the outsole does have some flexibility, allowing natural foot movement when walking on sand.
- Mesh upper
- Webbing midfoot cage
- Compression EVA midsole
- Sticky rubber outsole
- Some may find that the heel isn’t well padded and it may chafe
Best In Water
3. Merrell Hydro Moc
Do you spend a lot of time in the water, doing water sports, or just getting your feet wet on trails or hikes?
The Merrell Hydro Moc is fully waterproof, being made entirely from single-density EVA with cutouts for easy drainage.
It’s been shaped to provide good arch support and protect and stabilize the heel. A heel strap gives extra stability. The men’s and women’s models are slightly differently shaped in the bridge of the foot, but that’s the only difference.
2mm lugs underneath the shoe give good traction to keep you safe in wet environments.
These shoes are slightly heavy, at 14 or 15 ounces, and they also run a bit large so you may have to order a half-size down.
- Cut-out design for drainage
- Made from single-density injected EVA
- Arch support contours to your foot
- Lug depth of 2 mm
- These can run large and one should order a half-size down
4. Merrell Waterpro Maipo 2
If you’re spending a lot of time in environments that are wet, you need to have a shoe with good traction. Although sand is often sticky underfoot, rocks and other smooth surfaces nearby can be a slipping hazard.
The mesh and synthetic upper in this shoe is reinforced with overlays to provide support across the midfoot. There’s a padded collar that contours to the ankle and a pull tab for easy removal. The laces use an integrated webbing system which adds more support to the shoe.
A compression-molded EVA foam midsole and a Kinetic Fit Base insole offer lightweight but effective cushioning. The insole also adds arch support and is perforated for breathability and drainage.
But the real showstopper is the Vibram TC5+ outsole. It features 3.5 mm lugs for great grip on rugged surfaces, and will keep you safe and steady on your feet on all surfaces, wet or dry. The lug design allows for quick drainage so the sole doesn’t stay wet.
- Water-friendly upper
- Kinetic Fit Base insole
- Vibram TC5+ outsole with 3.5 mm lugs
- EVA midsole cushioning
- Runs large so you may need to order a half-size down
Top Barefoot Style
5. Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail 2.0
These shoes might look strange, but they’re close-fitting, extremely flexible, and as close to barefoot as you can get.
Walking barefoot on sand can actually strengthen your feet, so choosing a barefoot shoe can have benefits. However, it’s not for everyone and some people may feel that these shoes lack support and comfort.
Some might also find the five-toed design to be uncomfortable on their feet. But it allows the toes to splay naturally and prevents a lot of problems that traditional toe boxes can create.
The wraparound upper is made from 3D Cocoon mesh. It has water-repellent properties and is stitched directly to the outsole. If the foot swells, the material can stretch to accommodate them.
There’s a 2mm EVA insole for cushioning, which gives a light layer of support and comfort without breaking the barefoot feeling of this shoe. To protect the bottom of the foot and help one to stay sure-footed, a full-length Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with a triangular tread pattern offers excellent grip.
The thin but effective outsole and minimal insole allow the foot to flex through a full range of motion as you walk over sand or other surfaces.
- 3D Cocoon mesh upper
- 2 mm thick EVA footbed
- Vibram V-Trail rubber outsole
- Printed overlays protect the toes
- Some people may feel that these shoes lack support and comfort
6. Crocs Swiftwater Mesh Deck Sandal (Men)
If you’re a Crocs fan, these ones are designed for use in watery environments. They feature mesh uppers that are breathable and stretch with your foot, with a hook-and-loop adjustable strap to customize their fit.
Open ports along the sole prevent water from pooling inside the shoe and causing discomfort or allowing a moist space for bacteria to grow.
Croslite foam cushioning not only provides impact-resistance, but also has massage pods on the footbed that provide a comfortable and pleasant sensation as one walks.
The outsoles are also made of Croslite and have a herringbone pattern that creates good traction on slippery and wet surfaces.
- Stretch-mesh upper
- Croslite footbed and outsole
- Wide drainage ports
- Non-marking outsole
- People with small feet may find that the back strap falls down easily if it’s not tight against their Achilles
7. Crocs Swiftwater Mary Jane Flat (Women)
The women’s Crocs Swiftwater Mary Jane Flats also feature a soft mesh upper, although it’s less water-resistant than the men’s.
It has a stretchy gore strap across the bridge of the foot, and one can slip their foot easily into and out of the shoe without any problems.
Like the men’s, they’re equipped with a Croslite footbed that has impressive arch support. The non-marking sole has less rugged tread than the men’s.
These shoes don’t come in half sizes, so if you fall in between sizes you would need to decide if you want to go up or down.
- Soft mesh upper
- Croslite footbed
- Stretch gore foot strap
- Non-marking outsole
- These shoes don’t come in half sizes
8. Adidas Terrex Boat S.RDY (Men)
These shoes are designed for use around water. The mesh upper is lightweight and keeps the feet cool in warm weather. ClimaCool technology allows for all-around cooling, increasing comfort, especially in the heat.
You’ll find Adidas’ perforated drainage system in the sole of this shoe, which lets you walk over sand and through water without leaving your feet sitting in a puddle inside the shoe. You can see the drainage holes clearly underneath the shoe.
The Traxion rubber outsole is robust and durable, with triangular tread that offers traction on many different surfaces, including wet ones. It’s non-marking as well.
A stretchy heel insert helps provide more support and comfort in the area that takes the most impact on every step.
- Mesh upper with Climacool technology
- Midsole and outsole drainage
- Stretchable heel inserts
- Traxion rubber outsole
- Some people may find that they can’t wear these shoes without socks as the seams may cause chafing
9. Adidas Climacool Boat Sleek (Women)
The women’s version of Adidas’ boat shoe has a lightweight textile upper with a lacing system that works with textile overlays for a good fit. The shoe itself is a women-specific fit, to keep ladies’ feet comfortable for many hours in potentially slippery environments.
The upper, which is reinforced with ClimaCool technology for ventilation, is made from recycled ocean plastic.
The thin Traxion outsole would be ideal for walking over sand as it’s flexible and light. It features raised rubber squares for traction, each of which has a drainage hole in it for water to escape the foot chamber.
- Women’s-specific fit
- Breathable knit upper
- Non-marking Traxion outsoles
- Made from recycled materials
- Run a bit large so order half a size smaller
10. KEEN Clearwater CNX (Men)
Men who like wearing sandals when doing sand or water-based activities would benefit from these shoes. They have excellent toe reinforcement to protect the toes from injury, but they’re very open and breathable just like regular sandals.
The sandals use a bungee lacing design to achieve a close and secure fit. This allows you to get the best benefit from the contoured arch support and metatarsal ridge, which support the foot when walking over uneven surfaces like sand. You’ll also get support from the TPU stability shank in the EVA midsole.
The upper is made from polyester, which is washable so if sand gets stuck to it, it’s easy to clean. A mesh lining is soft and breathable against the skin, as well as being hydrophobic.
The rubber outsole is non-marking and durable, and gives good protection against slipping. Its thickness and integrated flex grooves make it very flexible, which is perfect for walking on sand.
- Polyester webbing upper
- Hydrophobic lining
- Bungee lacing system
- Added midfoot support
- These sandals run small and you may want to order a half-size larger
11. KEEN Whisper (Women)
The Keen Whisper is a women’s sandal that is excellent for walking on sand.
The polyester upper has an open, breathable, and drainable design and can be washed easily. A mesh inner lining is hydrophobic, repelling water as much as possible.
To keep you safe on slippery surfaces, the rubber outsole has a multi-directional tread pattern for extra good grip.
The Metatomical EVA footbed has been created to hug the arch and support your foot where it’s most needed. It also provides stability thanks to a TPU shank in the midsole.
Other innovative features include the secure-fit bungee lacing system, a women-specific fit, and Cleansport NXT to control odor.
- Women’s specific fit
- Metatomical EVA footbed
- Cleansport NXT odor control
- TPU stability shank
- The sizing of these shoes may be inconsistent
12. OluKai ‘Ālapa Lī (Men)
If you like wearing closed shoes but your feet overheat, you may appreciate the OluKai ‘Ālapa Lī. They sport a highly breathable mesh upper that covers about two-thirds of the shoe. The heel is made of waterproof leather. Inside, a textile lining is sweat-wicking and antimicrobial.
The laces are elasticated and the Drop-In Heel makes it a convenient shoe to take on and off. Should one wish to wear it as a slide-in shoe around the house, that’s possible thanks to the heel design.
The anatomical PU footbed is paired with an EVA midsole for good shock absorption. Underneath this, a Wet Grip Rubber outsole offers good traction whatever surface you’re on.
The thin, flexible sole allows for easy and natural walking over sand and sandy surfaces.
- Breathable mesh upper
- Fold-down heel counter
- Molded EVA midsole
- Wet Grip Rubber outsole
- They don’t come in half sizes so may not fit some individuals
13. OluKai Hale’Iwa (Women)
These slip-on shoes consist of mostly soft, breathable mesh, except in the heel, which is synthetic and can be folded down to create a slide-in shoe. The gorings allow for a comfortable fit that’s easy to put on and take off.
The dual-density, anatomically-designed footbed has a gel insert in it for extra comfort and impact-absorption. Like the men’s, it has a compression-molded EVA midsole and a Wet Grip rubber outsole with a pod design for traction.
They weigh just 8 ounces and have a light and flexible sole that’s ideal for walking over sand.
- Breathable, knit mesh upper
- Dual-density PU footbed
- Microfiber footbed cover
- Outsole with a pod design
- These shoes run narrow and you may need to order a larger size for a comfortable fit
14. Body Glove AEON Knit Water Shoes
These shoes fit the foot like a glove fits the hand, as their name suggests. They’re seamless to prevent any chafing and have a streamlined bootie design.
The upper is made from tight knit mesh, which hugs the foot and is flexible. It also allows for the foot to move naturally.
An elasticated ankle collar prevents sand from getting into the shoe and causing chafing or discomfort. A high-traction outsole made of grippy rubber allows one good grip on any surface, helping to keep one safe and stable. The Integrated Drainage System gets rid of water that ends up in the shoe.
There’s not a lot of cushioning underfoot, but the sole is highly flexible and lightweight, which is the ideal kind of sole for walking on sand.
- Hydro knit upper
- Elastic collar
- Integrated Drainage System
- Ultra-grip rubber outsole
- Some people may feel that the bootie construction doesn’t offer enough ankle support
What features are important?
Whether you’re walking on the beach, hiking in a sandy spot, or doing outdoor activities that have you standing or walking on sand, your feet will need to be ventilated.
Good airflow through your shoes is important for foot health and will keep your feet cool and dry while you’re wearing your shoes.
The most common materials to find on shoes are mesh, synthetic textile and leather on the upper, foam in the midsole, and rubber on the outsole.
While mesh is the most breathable, leather, suede, and canvas are structurally stable, durable and can help to protect your feet from stones or rocks.
Stiff soles don’t allow for natural foot movement. A flexible outsole is ideal for walking on sand as it allows the feet to flex naturally. This is especially helpful for surfaces such as sand that are constantly moving underfoot.
The thinner the sole, the more flexible it usually is. Also, the addition of flex grooves helps the forefoot to move more naturally.
Cushion provides comfort and shock-absorption. Too much cushion in the shoe can result in a sole that isn’t very flexible. But a thin sole often doesn’t contain much cushion.
There should be a light cushioning insole and a rubber outsole to absorb shock.
When walking through sand, you will be fighting against the sand itself. You don’t want a heavy shoe to add to the tension on your feet.
A lightweight shoe will be easy on your feet and help you to move through the sand as quickly and easily as possible.
Sandals consist of an outsole, a midsole—sometimes these two are a single piece—and an open upper made from straps that go over the bridge of the foot and around the heel to lock the foot in.
Water shoes—also known as boat shoes—are lightweight and flexible. They are designed for use in wet and slippery environments.
They are lightly protective, cushioned enough for long hours of wearing, and have a rubber outsole with an excellent grip in both wet and dry conditions.
They usually have a closed upper design but are more sock-like than robust.
Fishermen’s sandals are like a hybrid of a sandal and a closed shoe. They look like a running shoe or sneaker with large gaps in the upper near the base of the shoe, which allows for airflow as well as water drainage.
They have a closed-toe design for protection and support and a durable rubber outsole that offers effective traction on wet and dry surfaces.