‘Tis the season for planning all things water. Water parks, lakeside picnics, beach romps—summer is getting ready for its time in the spotlight, and if there are children in your life, we bet they're already asking when they can blow the winter dust off their swimsuits. However, while planning for a beach or pool trip is pretty straightforward when it’s just you and your adult friends, packing for young children is a different story. It requires a heightened sense of, well, everything, from safety to sun protection to food to activities that don’t leave them bored and asking for more. Sunscreen and rash guards may already be on your shopping list, but we urge you not to forget water shoes.
They tend to be an afterthought, but the best water shoes are versatile enough for water and dry land, offering protection from all the little things that can irritate your little one’s skin or cause injury. Water, be it in a pool or the ocean, can be particularly hazardous because you don’t always have a clear view of what you’re swimming or walking around. And if there are a lot of other feet moving around, it’s almost impossible to see anything below the surface. The best water shoes eliminate those worries and allow everyone to concentrate on the most important task at hand: having fun!
How We Found The Best Kids Water Shoes
To make your summer planning even more seamless, we found the best water shoes for kids thanks to our ultra-smart and unbiased algorithm. This proprietary tool identifies products by analyzing data across a wide spectrum of sources, including parenting expert recommendations, reviews, and social media word-of-mouth. Our top winners, ahead.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Toddler Swimsuits. Opening image: @nativeshoes
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
L.L.Bean Kids' Rafters Hilo Strap Water Shoes
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Ease of wear and secure fit are two of the most important factors for kids shoes. This pair checks off both boxes with its adjustable strap and solid rubber sole for ample protection.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Consult the size chart for the best fit—these only come in whole sizes.
Columbia Youth Bahama PFG Water Shoes
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Headed near water but not exactly jumping into the deep end? These nautical-themed shoes are made of canvas and leather to keep feet secure while also giving them breathing room. Plus, they’re pretty darn cute.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: These have the brand’s trademarked Omni-Grip, a non-marking rubber sole that helps with traction.
Merrell Kids' Bare Steps H20 Water Shoes
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: This bestseller is known as the “superhero of water shoes" thanks to its easy closure, spacious toe box, and lightweight, environmentally friendly materials. The outsole is also rounded to support your little one’s foot development.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: The sole of this shoe features multidirectional grooves for a grip that’s sturdy and supportive of wobbly legs.
All In Motion Kids' Delta Slip-On Apparel Water Shoes
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Suitable for both water and other outdoor activities, this pair of water shoes comes with drainage holes, a removable sock liner, and a pull-on tab for kids who want to put their shoes on without help.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: These are available in five different colors and patterns.
Ubfen Water Shoes For Kids
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Here’s a pair that you can fold and put in a small bag when you’re low on packing space. Its flexible rubber sole comes with plenty of traction grooves, while a thickening insole provides further protection from sharp objects and more. The fabric is also quick-drying, so they can wear them from the beach to dinner without leaving a wet trail.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Enjoy the ease of a pull-on tab, whether it’s you or your kiddo putting them on.
Keen Little Kids' Stingray Sandal
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: If the child you’re shopping for doesn’t like wearing water shoes, they might enjoy the open structure of this pair. They’re breathable and lightweight yet still offer a secure fit with a closure tab and hook-and-loop straps.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: The fabric is water abrasion-resistant and has built-in odor control.
Teva Psyclone XLT Sport Sandal
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Should you prefer open-toe water shoes, this pair is just that. The foam midsole adds extra cushion while the outer rubber sole provides traction and protection.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Plus, the fabric is a vegan material that you can recycle once your child outgrows them.
Cior Kids Boys & Girls Water Shoes
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: A cushiony insole. Traction-friendly rubber outsole. Durable, shock-absorbent material. What else could you want in a water shoe? Oh, maybe a spacious and sturdy toe cap and ample color options. Need we say more?
SHOPPER REVIEW: “Easy for kids to get on, they stay on, and they're comfortable for water adventures or just walking. We bought three pairs of different colors and sizes for our three kids to take on a long camping road trip this summer. All sizes fit well and none of the kids complained about comfort. Sturdy enough that one of my sons still wears them to school on occasion or to karate because they’re so easy to get on and off quickly. Would recommend and would definitely purchase again.”
Keen Newport H2 Water And Hiking Sandals
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: A hybrid between sandals and water shoes, this pair is strong enough for the mountains and lightweight enough for a pool party. The bungee-style ties allow you to easily adjust the fit according to activities, while the EVA insole offers comfy arch support against the thick outer sole.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW: The entire shoe is machine washable.
Native Shoes Jefferson Water Friendly Slip-On Vegan Sneaker
WHY PEOPLE LOVE THEM: Kids can be rough on shoes but of all the pairs on this list, parents are obsessed with the ultra-resilient Native shoes. The 100% recyclable EVA material is hand washable and breathable, while the rubber toe and sole is shock-absorbent without feeling super heavy. It also doesn’t hurt that the shoe is odor-resistant, especially after a long day in the great outdoors.
SHOPPER REVIEW: “I absolutely love Natives! I just purchased two new pairs for my four-year-old. I have ordered them every spring in the next size up, for three years now.