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The 4 Best Shoes to Wear to the Beach That Aren't Flip-Flops

Podiatrists and stylists recommend these sandals for beach days.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

While picking out your swimsuit and packing your sunscreen may be top of mind when you're planning a beach day, don't overlook the importance of choosing footwear. The right shoes can not only pull your whole outfit together, but they can also keep your feet comfortable and help you to avoid any potential injuries. After all, it's safe to say blisters aren't exactly the souvenir you're looking to take home from your oceanside afternoon. Ultimately, support is vital when it comes to the best shoes to wear to the beach, says Brianna Craigie, an exercise physiologist and director at Prosper Exercise Physiology.

"One might immediately think of flip-flops due to their ease of use and quick drying abilities—but they lack the necessary support and protection for prolonged beach activities," she explains.

Fortunately, podiatrists and stylists say you don't need to sacrifice style for the sake of comfort. Whether you plan to take a stroll along the surf, play some beach volleyball, or just lounge on your chair and bask in the sun's rays, here are some expert-recommended shoes to consider for your next beach day.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Tips for Wearing Flip-Flops If You're Over 60, According to Stylists and Podiatrists.

The 4 Best Shoes to Wear to the Beach

1. Birkenstocks

Woman in an off-white dress stands near the ocean holding beige Birkenstock sandals
valeriysurujiu / iStock

Josh Herbert, a stylist and founder of footwear blog Captain Creps, says you can't go wrong with a Birkenstock-style sandal at the beach. They're made with a contoured cork footbed that molds to the shape of your feet for optimal comfort. "These shoes offer good arch support and a secure fit, unlike flip-flops," he notes.

While several brands make their own version of this sandal, Herbert specifically recommends the Birkenstock Arizona sandal, which is made with high-shine synthetic patent straps that look extra sleek and are also super easy to clean. Plus, you can adjust the straps as needed for the perfect fit.

2. Ankle strap sandals

Young male crossed feets in blue flip-flop sandal sunbathing on sea beach
Igor Tichonow / Shutterstock

According to Bruce Pinker, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist, foot surgeon, and founder of Progressive Foot Care, sandals with ankle straps are preferable on the beach as they offer more support and stability for your ankles—as well as a better fit.

Hailey Rizzo, style expert and founder of the fashion and beauty blog Feeling Good as Hail, suggests gladiator sandals as a fashion-forward option. The multi-strap design not only adds some eye-catching edge to your look but also reduces friction and discomfort by preventing your feet from slipping around a lot inside the shoes.

"Heat is known for making your feet swell, which is why an adjustable fit is a must-have at the beach," she adds.

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3. Water shoes

Close up of a pair of turquoise blue water shoes on a rocky shore at the beach
betyarlaca / iStock

Planning on snorkeling, swimming, or paddleboarding? Then you'll definitely want to wear a pair of water shoes. Pinker notes that they're beneficial in terms of safety because they have extra-grippy soles and offer better traction on a variety of surfaces.

Water shoes may not have the best reputation in terms of fashion, but they've come a long way—nowadays, you can find a pair that works with just about any outfit and accommodates any style preferences.

You may even want to sport these waterproof shoes for walks along the beach to avoid pesky scrapes and cuts from seashells, rocks, and other objects. Since they drain water better and dry faster than other sandals and shoes, water shoes also minimize your risk of blisters.

Rizzo advises looking for a breathable slip-on pair, as they're more convenient to put on and take off.

READ THIS NEXT: 4 Types of Sandals You Should Never Wear After 60, Podiatrists and Stylists Say.

4. Espadrilles

View of woman's legs and feet in espadrille sandals lounging on the beach
Orbon Alija / iStock

"For a more stylish yet still practical option, consider espadrilles," says Craigie. "Made from natural materials like canvas and jute, these shoes are breathable and comfortable for long beach walks. They are easy to slip on and off, perfect for transitioning from the sandy beach to a nearby restaurant or bar."

Rizzo notes that espadrilles have a flexible yet sturdy sole that offers stability on sandy surfaces.

That said, espadrilles are often made with materials that don't tend to dry as fast—and if they have a high platform, they may not be practical for long walks. So, reserve this style for those laid-back beach days when you don't plan to be super active—and just want to soak up the sun with a good book and picnic lunch.

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more
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