This article is part of Spring Fashion Month, where we’re breaking down your must-have spring fashion pieces. From denim jackets to comfy sandals, we’re asking editors, influencers and experts about the go-to pieces they wear through spring and beyond.
Whether you’re blessed enough to live in a tropical climate year-round or only get to whip out your summery footwear a couple months a year, we can all agree on one thing: It’s pretty tough to find the perfect pair of waterproof shoes that’ll stay dry throughout your aquatic adventures while keeping your feet pain-free. Luckily, we asked the most outdoorsy people we know about their go-to waterproof (and *highly* water-resistant) sandals so we can head into beach season with confidence. From Birkenstock to Teva and Merrell to Prada, here are the top brands our pros recommend.
When streetwear meets beachwear, you get this highly versatile waterproof slide. “It feels like they sell out often, but Merrell’s Hydro Slide has my vote for best waterproof sandal,” says Kevin Cortez, a commerce editor and hiker. “They’ve got the wild streetwear style that I crave from its brethren, the Hydro Moc, but with easier access thanks to its lack of backing. They’re ultra-light and super comfy, with an extra thick EVA foam that feels squishy yet supportive. They’re as good for lounging as they are for beach days or small creek fishing, and they don’t smell or get moldy when they dry out.”
“I’m a big fan of Teva sandals for any outdoor excursion, but for a truly waterproof option, I love 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 aquatic activities, and stay secure as you wade through water (they even float, which can certainly come in handy!). Made with recycled materials, these shoes are also incredibly comfortable and supportive on the feet. I personally like wearing these to the beach, kayaking or for a light hike. They’re also great for travel, especially if you’re headed to a tropical locale.”
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 great traction, and their name translates to ‘hurry, be quick and swift’,” says Charlie Ou Yang, a senior lifeguard contractor. “They’re 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’re not expensive and super comfy. They’re definitely more supportive than your average Old Navy flip flop with their arch support and straps. They also come in a lot of fun colors and patterns!”
“After getting into kayaking last summer, I absolutely adore my Tevas,” Underscored outdoors editor Kai Burkhardt says. “I got the basic sandals, which don’t offer a ton of support but they’re 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 dose of luxury to your beach wardrobe, these pool slides are a solid entrypoint. “I like that these slides have a platform,” says Ally Cohen, a Florida-based beachgoer. “They’re the most comfortable shoes for the beach and pool and you never need to worry about them getting and staying wet because they’re made of rubber.”
“I’ve had the same pair of Chacos for nine years,” says Underscored associate beauty editor Sophie Shaw. “They’ve taken me on hikes, beach walks, city strolls and more, across the world. They’re sturdy, comfortable, waterproof and easy to clean. During the summertime, they’re my go-to activity sandal. The straps can take some time 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 weathering wet terrain, and thankfully, these durable hook-and-loop sandals allow you to do it in style. “For me, Teva is the alpha and omega of outdoor performance sandals,” says Todd Plummer, a writer, avid traveler and outdoors enthusiast. “The key is to find a sole that has a comfortable foam footbed, but also a rugged rubber outsole so you can walk in even the slipperiest environments with confidence.”
Forget those heavy Birkenstocks that take years to break in and stay wet at the mere sight of rain. This summer calls for their waterproof cousins. “They’re lightweight, super comfortable, good for being on the beach and in the water and very easy to clean,” says Haley Grumet, a flight attendant and frequent traveler.
“Wearing sandals while swimming, snorkeling and boogie-boarding, is essential in many San Diego and Los Angeles spots to prevent cuts and injuries,” says Mia Maguire, a commerce editor and beach enthusiast. “I also love to hike in various 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 I wear them non-stop during the spring and summer. When I visit Austin (my second home), I love to wear them swimming at the Barton Springs pool (a non-chlorinated natural spring water pool), which is dangerously slippery thanks to the overgrowth of algae.”
For a water-friendly sandal you can dress up or down, these Nisolos featuring comfortably thick straps are a great bet. “I really love the water-resistant Nisolo Go-To Flatform Sandal for beach days, dune hikes and biking on the boardwalk,” says Silvie Snow-Thomas, a public relations executive and frequent hiker.
“Admittedly, I bought these because I thought the style was cool, but when I realized they were 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 foot sweating problem, slip-ons and slides are not really options for me, and these securely-fastened sandals keep me stable while the moisture-absorbing footbed keeps me comfortable all day long when hiking in the heat.”
We love a dainty summery sandal that’s far 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, a commerce editor and avid outdoorswoman. “They’re equal parts stylish and functional, and as appropriate for a Saturday beach day as they are for Sunday morning brunch.”
“I can’t go through summer without a few pairs of Teva sandals,” says Vanessa Powell, a Santa Monica-based fashion stylist and outdoors enthusiast. “Whether I’m biking to the beach, going for an easy hike or on my feet all day styling a photoshoot, these Tevas are my go-to footwear. I’ll use the Zymics more for support [and they] feel like a cushy sandal/sneaker hybrid that energizes my steps and supports my tread. Plus, they come in a ton of cute color combos making functional footwear feel cool and fresh.”
These on-trend Princess Polly sandals are proof waterproof gear can look simple and chic. “I’m more of a slide girl than a flip flop girl and these are super comfortable,” says Katherine Garbarino, a beauty, health and wellness enthusiast. “I also love that they have openings on the sides so when the feet are wet, there’s somewhere for the water to go and dry from.”
“OluKai sandals have been my favorite flip flop for over a decade,” says Elizabeth Sneed, a body positive surfer. “The Ohana shoe is the perfect choice for water people and beachgoers. They’re water-resistant sandals that feel incredibly comfortable on the foot with a noticeably soft nylon sole, which is also great for traction once they’re wet. They also provide arch support! I easily keep 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 on-and-off roomy fit. “Never in a million years did I think I’d start wearing perforated foam shoes, but I not only wear the Merrell Hydro Mocs regularly, I wear them in neon-pastel Pomelo yellow, so everyone who sees me walking along the beach knows that I have evolved in a profound way since my caring-too-much twenties and thirties,” says Marci Robin, a Florida-based writer and editor.
For an affordable take on a popular silhouette, opt for these highly rated Target slides available in both solid hues and funky patterns. “I bought them on day one of my Florida trip and haven’t taken them off since,” says Sara Goldberg, a frequent pool-goer.
You can’t go wrong with a sandal that stays put — and looks fashionable with its rust-proof brass details and genuine leather upper. “They basically just don’t get wet and won’t slip off in the sand because of the ankle strap,” says Elizabeth Weinberg, a Los Angeles-based photographer and frequent beachgoer.
I’ve taken several beach trips with these adorable color-blocked Tevas in tow, and they enhance the quality of my travels exponentially. Not only can they fully submerge in water without staying wet, but they feel light enough on my feet to walk in for hours. I rave about them to anyone who will listen.
For a pair of slides, these Nikes do not slide off my feet. They boast a supportive contoured footbed akin to that of a sneaker, making them super 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.
Fusing two popular trends — the cloud-like sole and the Birkenstock-like adjustable strap — these Cushionaire slides with over 6,000 Amazon reviews feature everything you could ever want in a waterproof sandal: they’ve got a flexible sole and upper for all-day comfort, a 1.75-inch platform for a subtle lift, and come in 21 stunning colorways from blush to bright blue.