This article is part of it Spring Fashion Month, where we analyze the must pieces of spring fashion. From denim jackets to comfy sandals, we ask editors, influencers and experts about the hottest pieces they’re wearing from spring and beyond.
Whether you’re blessed enough to live in a tropical climate year-round or can only break out your summer shoes a few months a year, we can all agree on one thing: It’s pretty hard to find the perfect pair of waterproof shoes that will stay dry. on all your water adventures while keeping your feet pain-free. Luckily, we asked the most outdoorsy people we know about their waterproof (and *very* waterproof) sandals so we can hit the beach with confidence. From Birkenstock to Teva and Merrell to Prada, here are the top brands our pros recommend.
When streetwear meets beachwear, you have this super versatile waterproof slide. “They seem to sell out often, but Merrell’s Hydro Slide has my vote for best waterproof sandal,” says Kevin Cortez, trade editor and hiker. “They have the wild streetwear style I crave from its Hydro Moc siblings, but with easier access thanks to the lack of support. They are super light and super comfortable, with extra thick EVA foam that feels firm yet supportive. They’re as good for lounging as they are for days at the beach or fishing in small creeks, and they don’t smell or mold when they dry.”
“I’m a big fan of Teva sandals for any outdoor excursion, but for a truly waterproof option, I like the Hurricane Drift,” says Kristine Thomason, a Long Beach-based health and lifestyle journalist and certified personal trainer. “These ultra-lightweight sandals are literally designed for water activities and stay secure as you wade through the water (they even float, which can definitely come in handy!). Made with recycled materials, these shoes are also incredibly comfortable and supportive to the feet. I personally like to wear them to the beach, kayaking, or on a light hike. They’re also great for travel, especially if you’re headed to a tropical location.”
For a lifeguard-approved pair of flip-flops that won’t slip off your feet when you’re running around (or, you know, saving lives), look no further than OluKai. “They have excellent traction and their name translates to ‘hurry, be fast and quick,'” says Charlie Ou Yang, senior lifeguard contractor. “They are designed specifically for lifeguards.”
If they’re good enough for a podiatrist, they’re good enough for us beach bums. “I love Freedom Moses,” says Ashley Mosseri, a Florida-based podiatrist and frequent beachgoer. “They are not expensive and extremely comfortable. They are definitely more supportive than the average Old Navy flip flop with their arch support and straps. They also come in lots of fun colors and designs!”
“After taking up kayaking last summer, I absolutely love my Tevas,” says Underscored outdoors editor Kai Burkhardt. “I got the basic sandals, which don’t offer much support, but are super light and packable, comfortable, and most importantly, actually stay on my feet when I’m swimming or wading through the mud to get to shore. “
If you’re looking to add a touch of luxury to your beach wardrobe, these pool slides are a solid entry point. “I like that these slides have a platform,” says Ally Cohen, a Florida-based surfer. “They’re the most comfortable shoes for the beach and the pool, and you never have to worry about them getting wet and staying wet because they’re made of rubber.”
“I’ve had the same pair of Chacos for nine years,” says Underscored beauty editor Sophie Shaw. “They’ve taken me on hikes, beach walks, city walks, and more, all over the world. They’re durable, comfortable, waterproof, and easy to clean. During the summer, they’re my go-to activity sandal. The straps it may take a while to adjust to your perfect fit, but once they do, your feet will be supported and ready for any terrain.”
Teva sandals have become synonymous with wet terrain, and luckily, these durable hook-and-loop sandals let you do it in style. “To me, Teva is the alpha and omega of outdoor performance sandals,” says Todd Plummer, author, avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. “The key is to find a sole that has a comfortable foam bottom, but also a sturdy rubber outsole so you can walk on even the most slippery surfaces with confidence.”
Forget those heavy Birkenstocks that take ages to break in and stay wet in the face of rain. This summer calls for their waterproof cousins. “They’re lightweight, super comfortable, good for the beach and water, and super easy to clean,” says flight attendant and frequent traveler Haley Grumet.
“Wearing sandals while swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding is a must in many places in San Diego and Los Angeles to avoid cuts and injuries,” says Mia Maguire, trade editor and beach enthusiast. “I also like to hike in different types of terrain, so finding a durable pair that can withstand slippery conditions is essential. I’ve owned the brand’s Hurricane sandals for over a year now and wear them non-stop in the spring and summer. When I visit Austin (my second home), I like to wear them swimming in Barton Springs Pool (a non-chlorinated natural spring water pool), which is dangerously slippery thanks to overgrowth of algae.”
For a water-friendly sandal you can dress up or down, these Nisolos with comfortable chunky straps are a great bet. “I absolutely love the waterproof Nisolo Go-To Flatform Sandal for beach days, dune hikes, and trail biking,” says Silvie Snow-Thomas, PR executive and frequent hiker.
“Granted, I bought them because I thought the style was cool, but when I realized it was also a practical purchase, my pending buyer’s remorse disappeared,” says Maguire. “Merrell’s Bravada Cord Wrap Sandals are great pool or beach day sandals that can withstand plenty of splashing. Because of my sweaty feet problem, slip-ons and slides aren’t really options for me, and these sandals securely keep me stable while the moisture-wicking sole keeps me comfortable all day long when I’m hiking in the heat”.
We love a chic summer sandal that’s a lot more durable than it looks. “Birks are back in style (as if they ever left!) and this is one of the brand’s most popular waterproof options,” says Amanda Oliver, trade editor and avid outdoorsman. “They’re equal parts stylish and functional, and are just as appropriate for a Saturday beach day as they are for Sunday morning brunch.”
“I can’t go through the summer without a few pairs of Teva sandals,” says Vanessa Powell, a Santa Monica-based fashion stylist and outdoor enthusiast. “Whether I’m biking to the beach, going for an easy hike, or standing all day doing a photo shoot, these Teva’s are my go-to shoes. I will be using Zymics more for support [and they] it feels like a soft sandal/sneaker hybrid that energizes my stride and supports my foot. Plus, they come in a ton of cute colors that make functional footwear feel cool and fresh.”
These trendy Princess Polly sandals are proof that waterproof gear can look simple and stylish. “I’m more of a slide girl than a flip-flop girl, and they’re so comfortable,” says beauty, health and wellness enthusiast Katherine Garbarino. “I also like that they have vents on the sides, so when the feet are wet, there’s somewhere for the water to go and dry.”
“OluKai sandals have been my go-to flip-flops for over a decade,” says Elizabeth Sneed, a body-positive surfer. “The Ohana shoe is the perfect choice for water people and sailors. They’re waterproof sandals that feel incredibly comfortable on the foot with a noticeably soft nylon sole that’s also great for traction once found. They also provide arch support! I have easily kept each of my OluKai sandals for over five years because of their comfort, quality and versatility.”
These bright and bold slides are a modern take on Crocs with their perforated details and easy, roomy fit. “Never in a million years did I think I’d start wearing shoes with perforated foam, but not only do I wear Merrell Hydro Mocs regularly, I wear them in neon pastel Pomelo yellow, so everyone who sees me walking on the beach knows I’ve evolved with a profound way from my twenties and thirties that I care,” says Marci Robin, a Florida-based writer and editor.
For an affordable take on a popular silhouette, choose these top-rated Target slides that come in both solid hues and funky patterns. “I bought them on the first day of my trip to Florida and haven’t taken them off since,” says Sara Goldberg, a frequent visitor to the pool.
You can’t go wrong with a sandal that stays put — and looks modern with water-resistant brass details and genuine leather uppers. “They basically just don’t get wet and won’t slide off in the sand because of the ankle strap,” says Elizabeth Weinberg, a Los Angeles-based photographer and frequent beachgoer.
I’ve taken many trips to the beach with these adorable colored Tevas and they improve the quality of my trips exponentially. Not only can they be fully submerged in water without getting wet, but they feel light enough on my feet to walk around for hours. I love them to anyone who will listen.
For a pair of slides, these Nikes don’t slip off my feet. They have a supportive sole similar to that of a sneaker, making them extremely comfortable for both long walks on the beach and around the house. I find a way to wear them every day whether it’s summer or winter.
Combining two popular trends – the cloud-like sole and Birkenstock-like adjustable strap – these Cushionaire slides with over 6,000 Amazon reviews have everything you could ever want in a waterproof sandal: they have a flexible sole and upper for all-day comfort, a 1.75-inch platform for subtle lift, and come in 21 eye-catching shades from blush to deep blue.