Inspecting tidal pools for critters and heading out on a kayak adventure is all the more enjoyable when nobody’s complaining about soggy sneakers and sore feet. Enter the water shoe—the go-anywhere footwear with great traction to keep you from slipping, and plenty of openings to let water flow in and out. With options for kids and parents alike, read on for our water shoe picks to make the most of your family’s just-add-water adventures.
1. KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal
They’re not the lightest-weight water shoe on the market, but this highly functional sandal from KEEN stands up to the test—whether you’re traipsing with the kids across lava rock on a cruise ship shore excursion in the Galapagos or just padding across the hot beach parking lot pavement post-swim. The rubber soles are extra sturdy (you’ll have these for years) and the elastic pull-style laces make these shoes easy to slip on and off in a hurry.
2. Native Jefferson Slip-On Sneaker
Every kid needs a pair of these Native slip-on sneakers to take them from the splash pad to the playground with no change of footwear. Perforations all over the shoe allow water to flow in and out (although if your little one gets a serious sopping, you may have to pull off the shoes to completely drain the water). Sizes range from babies up to kids 8 years old, and there’s a huge range of bright and cheerful colors to satisfy young fashionistas’ tastes.
3. Teva Tidepool Sports Sandal
In addition to being comfortable, the hook and loop straps on these Teva water shoes for kids make them exceptionally speedy and easy to get on and off your water babies. Do note that the synthetic material on the shoes’ upper portion is rather flexible and soft, so the shoes are best used in pools and other obstacle-free environments where your kids’ feet aren’t likely to take much of a beating. Kids’ sizes range from toddlers up to age 12.
4. Barerun Barefoot Water Sports Shoe
Barerun makes an excellent and inexpensive unisex water shoe for mom and dad that can take you seamlessly from poolside yoga to a SUP outing with the kids. The upper portion of the Barefun Barefoot water shoe is made of a breathable and stretchy polyester material that’s easy to pull on and off and fits like a jogging sock. And you can choose from fun patterns (think black and grey stars and stripes and candy-colored hues) that stand out from the crowd.
5. Moerdeng Water Shoe
Another great unisex option for parents, the Moerdeng Water Shoe fits and wears like a water shoe, but looks more like a jogging sneaker. The anti-slip sole is thick enough for a light jog on land and to protect your feet from sharp objects in the water. And the breathable, stretchy fabric of the upper part of the shoe paired with the cinch-down elastic laces make them easy to pull on and off. For both style and function, these fun shoes are a winner.
6. Speedo Kids Surfwalker
Tell your kids they’re “Surfwalkers” and not watershoes and see if that makes them want to slip on these babies to protect their feet. The quick-drying Speedo Kids Surfwalker is a good bet for taking along on snorkeling outings, canoe trips and any place else your kids are bound to be barefoot and wet. The air-mesh panel built into the shoe’s upper portion allows water to flow in and out with ease, and the rubber sole is nice and thick for padding comfortably across rocky beaches and trails.
7. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
A water shoe that refers to itself as a sieve better be pretty darn good at keeping your wet feet mostly dry, and these men’s and women’s shoes by Merrell live up to their name. The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe is the kind of shoe that can take you from walking along a rugged beach to hiking a nearby mountain trail with no change of shoes. A downside is that they’re not the lightest compared to all-mesh varieties (the Merrells weigh around 1.5 pounds). But when you need an all-terrain shoe for an adventurous trip with the family, these cover the bases. The leather and fabric upper is nice and sturdy to protect your feet, too, in case you find yourself forging a creek with a cranky toddler on your back.
8. Vivobarefoot Water Shoes
With great options for kids and parents alike, the unisex Vivobarefoot Water Shoes can be on the pricier side, but have some great features that make water time all the more comfortable. For starters, the shoes are light and foot-hugging, with an ultra-thin sole that manages to be mostly puncture-resistant at the same time. The upper part of the shoe is covered with perforations to encourage quick draining and drying, and some varieties are made with sustainable materials such as harvested algae to lessen your carbon footprint. Parents love that the shoes stay on snug on wiggly kids feet, even when they get wet. They’re perfect for traipsing around a water park, cruise ship deck, or the community pool.
9. Crocs Swiftwater Wave Water Sandal
When it comes to waterproof footwear for the whole family, you know you can count on Crocs! Neither plastic nor rubber, Crocs are made from a proprietary foam resin that helps eliminate odors—always appreciated when you’re traveling with wet shoes in tow. For your toddlers between the ages of one and four, look no further than the Crocs Swiftwater Wave Water Sandal, available in all the favorite neon hues (Neon Magenta! Volt Green!) and natural colors such as grey, black and navy, too. An adjustable Velcro closure on the side of the shoe makes these easy to pull on and off tiny feet. Keep in mind that sizing options are whole numbers only, so if your feet fall between sizes, be sure to order up.
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