How to Choose the Water Shoes for Snorkeling

The Coastal Side is supported by readers and some links on this website are affiliate links. We may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you click through our links and make a purchase from one of our partners.

Snorkeling can be one of the most enjoyable things to do during the summer months, but keeping your feet warm and safe on wet surfaces and sharp and slippery rocks is imperative.

Good aqua shoes can also protect you from the hot sand. As with all water sports, you need to have great gear to maximize your time on the beach. 

I’ll give you a rundown of the best shoes that have worked for me, saved my feet from cuts and scratches, and kept me secure in wet and slippery conditions.

Follow this guide to choose the best water shoes for snorkeling. I’ll also review why you need great reef shoes when you’re out in tricky terrain, why you need to understand the difference between general water sports and snorkeling shoes, and how to figure out which aqua shoes are right for you. 

Reasons To Wear Water Shoes When Snorkeling

Water shoes reasons

Before I get into what constitutes the best water shoes for snorkeling, it’s essential to understand the “why.” Great aqua shoes can enhance your experience in different ways, and you can use them for snorkeling and other water sports.

Premium aqua shoes generally have good traction, which helps you maintain your balance on slippery surfaces and wet conditions.

Water shoes can also help prevent stings or unpleasant encounters with sea creatures on the ocean floor, especially if you’re snorkeling near a reef. There’s a good chance that you might not even see the danger until it’s too late and you get stung. Water boots or shoes with a vulcanized rubber sole can protect you and even save you a trip to the hospital.

Good water shoes are essential in snorkeling spots where there might be a lot of jellyfish. Often, jellyfish are virtually invisible in the water, and you can run afoul of them without even really knowing. As such, you need snorkeling shoes that can prevent stings and accidental brushes. Therefore, having them is an essential component of your snorkeling gear for both you and the kids.

Beach shoes are a great idea if you want to avoid burning your feet on the hot sand and are a must-have for your snorkeling trip. Since the hot sand can’t get inside, beach shoes are a more effective and safer option than flip-flops.

Plus, water shoes offer you a better grip on dry and wet terrains. Many have a non-slip resistance for maximum traction, and snorkeling water shoes should be lightweight, so you won’t even know that you’re wearing them.

The best snorkeling water shoes will have a sensation as if you’re walking on air with a cushioned insole, snug fit, rubber sole, and lightweight construction.

You also need good water shoes for snorkeling that won’t bog your feet down. Many of the best shoe makes will have an integrated drainage system and drainage holes built right into them. These quality materials will keep seawater out of your shoes while protecting you from sharp objects in the ocean.

Different Types of Watersports/Snorkeling Shoes

Water shoes different types

Most excellent snorkeling shoes have a slip-on design that’s easy to get on and off. Many come with a hook and loop closure for maximum snugness too. Although snorkeling shoes should have a snug fit, they also have excellent air permeability, which means that your feet will breathe in them during your snorkeling tour.

Some snorkeling shoes are very basic, more like water socks than shoes. Others are much more sophisticated with arch support, mesh insets, and a neoprene collar. These versions are great for scuba divers and snorkelers because they offer tons of protection and a good grip and secure fit.

Most of the best water shoes for snorkeling have a durable rubber sole or synthetic sole to protect your feet from sharp objects. Look for shoes with drainage holes, breathable mesh, and a no-slip grip if you’re planning on snorkeling around reefs or if you’re going to be in the water for a long time.

The rubber material will keep your feet warm, and the open mesh upper portion will help them breathe for an extended period.

Determining Which Style Is Best for You Based on Activity

Determining which style

Your activity level and how often you’re going to be using your snorkeling water shoe should dictate what kind of shoes you buy.

If you’re not going to snorkel around tricky areas or use the shoes for scuba diving, there’s no reason to pay the extra cost for premium shoes. Instead, think about what you really need. 

Ultimately, you’ll want shoes with velcro straps and plenty of arch support that provides a non-slip, secure fit, but there are plenty of different options beyond that.

The number-one thing that you have to think about when selecting the best water shoes for snorkeling is how they protect your feet. Your ideal water shoe should keep your feet free of sunburns, keep you safe on slippery rocks, and ward off stings. 

No matter where you’re snorkeling, you’ll want to find water shoes that accomplish these three goals.

If you’re walking to and from your snorkeling site over scalding sand, you will also need shoes with a thick outer sole and a secure fit. If you’re going to be in and out of the water throughout the day, consider getting quick drying shoes with a velcro strap that makes them easy to take on and off.

Also, think about if you’re going to use fins. Full foot fins, or snorkeling fins, are great for deeper water snorkeling but might not be appropriate for places like rock pools or tight areas. Some of the best water shoes are super versatile, and you can use them with fins or without.

If you’re using your water shoes for other water sports, like scuba diving, you will want to make sure that they consist of fine stretch material and smooth fabrics with a flexible twist for easy access to tight spots, like reefs and wrecks. 

In addition, the best water shoes for both scuba diving and snorkeling are quick drying, have an anti-slip outsole, smooth neck design, and can work both independently and with snorkeling fins.

Snorkeling Water Shoes Buying Guide

Water shoes buying guide

Not all water shoes are created equal. This guide will help you understand the different types of materials you’ll find in your average water shoe and select the right one for you. 

All water shoes aim to help you walk on wet surfaces and enjoy water sports to the fullest, but understanding the materials and function of each type can help enhance your experience.

Materials

Different types of water shoes have varying materials, many of them being completely breathable. You’ll find that many shoes for snorkeling are cotton, mesh, or polyester with a rubber sole to protect you against the sand. 

Look for these sorts of materials, plus a snug fit so that your shoes don’t come off while you’re exploring different parts of the sea.

Drying Features

Find quick drying snorkeling water shoes if you don’t want to be sitting around in soggy shoes. Quick drying shoes are breathable and warm, but they dry in a flash once you’re back on the land. 

Most premium snorkeling shoes are quick drying, so it should be pretty easy to locate them. Don’t be afraid to ask the retail assistant or supplier if you have any questions. The quick drying feature is easily one of the most critical aspects of shoes for snorkeling.

Sizing

Look for water shoes that are the right size. Wearing too-tight or too-lose water shoes can get uncomfortable throughout the day and lead to blisters or other problems. If you can, consider buying your water shoes from a brick-and-mortar store, where you can try them on.

Wrap Up

Having the right snorkeling shoes can enhance your snorkeling and scuba diving experience in tangible ways. The right shoes can shield your feet from hot or wet surfaces, keep you safe on slippery rocks, and allow you to have a better experience overall. 

The best shoes are breathable, light as air, and quick to dry.

If you’ve been putting off buying snorkeling shoes, what are you waiting for? It’s a small investment that will help you enjoy your time out on the sea and make your summer months much more enjoyable.

About the Writer

Share this article

More to Explore

a couple snorkeling together in the ocean
Snorkeling Guides

How Can I Stop Being Scared of Snorkeling?

If you’re going snorkeling soon for the first time, or even if you’ve tried it before but had a bad …

Read Article
Snorkeling Guides

What is a Dry Snorkel?

I love snorkeling, it’s one of my favorite hobbies. However, when I first began snorkeling I was terrified of water …

Read Article
Snorkeling Guides

How Dangerous Is Snorkeling?

I love snorkeling. A snorkeling trip is a fun way to explore an entirely different world to the one I …

Read Article