Best Kids’ Beach Shoes – protecting little feet at the beach

2 pairs of blue and pink water shoes for kids on a beach

A family trip to the beach is full of endless, exciting possibilities and memories for you and your children to create and share.  There are so many opportunities to run and explore in the sand and water, and if you’re like me, you want to make sure that your children’s feet are protected. 

However, which water shoes are best for kids? Toddlers?  We’ve wondered the same things ourselves, which is why we’ve compiled a list of beach shoes for kids that will help you find that perfect pair for your little one to enable hours of fun in the sun and give you some peace of mind.

This post is part of our tried and tested essential family travel product reviews series

What to look for in a good pair of kids’ beach shoes

You might be wondering why water shoes for kids and toddlers are necessary if they’re going to be playing mainly in a well-groomed, sandy area.  Well,  many excursions to different beaches and pools with my own bubs have taught me several things:

  • Despite best efforts, trash is left behind on the beach and can cut your child’s foot if they step on it
  • Rockier beaches can also bruise and cut the tender areas on your child’s feet
  • When snorkeling they can prevent fins from rubbing feet and cuts from coral and rocks
  • If it is an unusually hot day, you’ll want that added barrier between bub’s toes and the sand
  • Kids beach shoes can easily be rinsed off and worn to and from your vehicle, saving on an extra pair of footwear
  • Swimming shoes can provide extra traction in slippery areas

All things considered, a quality pair of beach shoes is an inexpensive way to add some extra protection that allows your child to build sandcastles and splish-splash to their heart’s content.

Water Shoes vs. Water Sandals vs. Water Socks

Beach shoes for kids come in a variety of styles, and some are suited more for older kids while others work better for toddlers and babies. 

Older children are much more active and will require a more durable swim shoe.  Water shoes for toddlers and babies aren’t necessarily going to endure as much wear and tear. All of them offer some measure of protection in the water and sand, and they share similar qualities and materials. 

We look for the following qualities in a good beach shoe:

Lightweight Material

Kids’ swim shoes need to be constructed out of a quick-drying, flexible material such as neoprene that won’t weigh your bub’s feet down while they’re playing in the water.  A short drying time also means that you can either quickly toss them into your beach bag without worrying about soaking the rest of the contents. 

Secure Fit

There is nothing worse than doctoring heel blisters on your little one due to ill-fitting shoes, so you’ll want to find swimming shoes that fit securely on your child’s feet..  Many different styles of kids aqua shoes have straps to keep them in place and prevent unwanted rubbing.

Anti-Slip Grip

Water shoes for kids will ideally have a cushioned sole with traction to prevent slipping and injuries from sharp rocks and objects.  It’s not as essential for babies and toddlers just learning to walk, but is definitely important for older kids.

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Cleaning and Care

The best thing about many water shoes for toddlers is that they can easily be rinsed and wiped down to be used again.  Some are even machine washable, which is convenient in case you have an unusually messy outing. 

Best Kids Water Shoes

Stride Rite Made2PlayWater ShoeInfant to 12 years
Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2.0Water ShoeSize 4 Toddler to 11 Little Kid
UBFEN Water ShoesWater ShoeSize 11.5 Little Kid to 3.5 Big Kid
KEEN Unisex Kid Newport H2 SandalWater SandalSize 4 Little Kid to Size 5 Big Kid
HOBIKEAR Water ShoesToddler SandalSize 4.5 Toddler to 13.5 Little Kid
Merrell Unisex Hydro SandalWater SandalSize 11 Little kid to 5 Big Kid + wide fittings
JIASUQI Aqua SocksWater SocksSize 3 Toddler to 4.5 Big Kid
Bigib Kids Swim Water ShoeWater SocksSize 3 Toddler to 13 Little Kid
L-RUN Kids Barefoot Aqua SocksWater SocksSize 3 Toddler to 4.5 Big Kids

Best All-Terrain Water Shoe for Kids: Stride Rite Made2Play Phibian Water Shoe

We love that these fun shoes come in so many different sizes and bright colors, making them a perfect choice from Infant all the way up to Big Kid sizes.  They have a slip-resistant, synthetic sole along with an additional strap to keep everything securely in place.  In addition to scuff-proof technology, these kids’ beach shoes are made from a lightweight, ventilated material that is machine washable or can easily be wiped clean. 

Not only are the Stride Rite Made2Play Phibians easy to clean, but they also come with Aegis and Biome lining with antimicrobial treatment, which works to reduce odour in between washes.  This is always a good thing for busy little feet! 

We do recommend just using these for shorter periods of time, as prolonged wear can sometimes result in blisters. 

Best Water Shoes for Toddlers: Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2.0 Water Shoes

If you’re specifically looking for water shoes for toddlers, these are an excellent option.  The Speedo Surfwalker has a soft, neoprene upper  with a comfortable mesh panel for accelerated drying time.  The strap closure makes them easy to take on and off, and the unique outsole is designed for optimal water management and flow dispersion.  The sole’s s-trac thermoplastic material also protects your bub’s feet from hot sand and sharp objects. 

These swim shoes are also a breeze to clean.  Simply toss them in the washing machine and they’re as good as new.  They do tend to run large, however, so consider sizing down. 

UBFEN Water Shoes for Kids

These lightweight and breathable water shoes for kids are both stylish and sporty.  They have soft and comfortable material that is flexible and quick-drying.  The durable, non-slip rubber soles have a thickening insole to protect your child’s feet and an anti-collision design to protect little toes. 

While these shoes do have an upgraded rubber sole, they are more suited for sandy areas as opposed to rockier beaches.  The sizing can also be an issue, as they tend to run somewhat large. 

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Water Sandals

Best Kids Water Sandals: KEEN Unisex Newport H2 Sandal

If you’re looking for durable water sandals for your child, the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is sure to last.  We just love the solid construction and color variety of this sandal, which makes it ideal for boys and girls alike.  The webbed upper part of the shoe is a lightweight and breathable polyester material, and it has a trademark KEEN.PROTECT toe bumper. 

One of the key benefits of the KEEN sandal is the metatomical footbed, which is specifically engineered to provide arch support for growing feet.  This provides additional support and stability for those early walkers, which is always a plus.

They are a little pricier than other brands but extremely good quality, we recommend them as a small kids summer hiking shoe too – you can see the full KEEN footwear range here – we love that their extensive range covers down to toddler size 4.

Best Toddler Water Sandal: HOBIBEAR Unisex Water Shoes

If you’re looking for inexpensive water shoes for toddlers, these closed-toe sandals are cute and very reasonably priced.  They’re easy to slip on and off, and the hook-and-loop closure helps to secure them in place.  The synthetic sole is both flexible and durable, and it has an anti-slip design for safety.  The breathable fabric of the uppers dries rapidly so that your child won’t experience discomfort while walking to and from your vehicle. 

While these toddler water shoes are a great option, they are not as well-suited for wide feet.  The sizing can also be a little tricky, so it’s best to refer to the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer.

Merrell Unisex-Child Hydro Sandal

While the Merrell Hydro Sandal does have some available toddler sizes, it has a wider range of styles and colors in both Little Kid and Big Kid sizes, as well as wider fittings.  Merrell has built a reputation for quality, long-lasting footwear, and these are no exception.

They have a durable rubber outsole and M Select GRIP for added traction, as well as a cushioned footbed for added comfort.  These beach shoes for kids are also suited for a wide range of activities that make them a versatile option, and they are machine washable. 

We have a complete comparison guide for durable kids hiking sandals over here.

Water Socks

Water socks differ from water shoes and sandals in that they are essentially just socks for the water.  Instead of heavy cotton or wool meant to keep feet warm, they are made from moisture-wicking neoprene, polyester, or a similar material. 

Best Water Socks for Kids: JIASUQI Kids Summer Athletic Aqua Socks

Perhaps the number one reason why we love these kids’ water socks so much is the variety of design and colors available.  You’re sure to find a pair that fits your child’s individual personality. 

These water socks are made with an ultra-thin polyester and spandex blend that wicks away moisture and dries quickly.  They do have a textured rubber outsole for added traction, and the upper strap secures them in place.  Your little ones can swim for hours in these comfortable, highly portable water socks. 

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Given that these water socks are not as solidly constructed as water shoes or sandals, they do tend to wear out faster, especially if worn often. 

Best Water Socks for Toddlers: Bigib Toddler Swim Water Shoes

These toddler water socks come up a bit higher on the ankle, which is perfect, being that many toddlers seem to have an obsession with removing their socks whenever possible.  The smooth neck design of the socks also prevents rubbing, and the tab makes them easy to remove when wet.  The upper material is quick-drying, and they have a slip-resistant rubber sole to protect your little one’s feet. 

While these water socks for toddlers are designed to fit a bit snug, it’s best to order a size up. 

L-RUN Kids Swim Water Shoes Barefoot Aqua Socks

Made from a breathable diving material, these water socks for kids are extremely portable and quick-drying.  You can also easily remove the insole to wash them.  We like the added strap, as socks can sometimes tend to slip down after a while.  These kids water socks have an anti-collision toe design as well as a cushioned heel for added protection. 

Toddlers are busy little people, so these water socks may wear out more quickly than water shoes due to their more lightweight construction. 

A pair of comfortable water shoes, in whatever form suits your child best, will allow for hours of play, both in the water and out.  Here’s to your next memorable beach adventure!

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purple beach shoes on a rocky beach - best kids beach shoes

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