Are you planning to go snorkeling for the first time and wondering what equipment to bring? Many people focus on finding the best mask and snorkel, which is certainly essential, but they forget about protecting their feet.
Bare feet can be fine when snorkeling, but there are several things to think about when deciding whether or not to wear water shoes.
Do You Need Water Shoes for Snorkeling?
Water shoes are necessary if you’re snorkeling in the heat of the mid-afternoon or on a rocky beach. Compared to barefoot, water shoes can provide better protection against hot temperatures and debris.
If you decide to purchase water shoes, there are several different types available, including water socks, pull-on water shoes, athletic water shoes, water sneakers, and fins. The kind of water shoe you select depends solely on your activity level, your budget, and your style preferences.
You might not need water shoes at all if you are snorkeling in a sandy area in the early morning. Alternatively, water socks can provide minimal protection while still giving you almost the same feeling as bare feet.
Fins can enhance your experience by increasing your speed in the water, but if you struggle with aching feet, more athletic styles of water shoes can keep you from having to end your excursion early due to foot pain.
With all this in mind, if you keep your safety and comfort as your top priority, you are sure to select the best footwear (or lack thereof) for your snorkeling trip.
Related: Best Water Shoes for Snorkeling
Best Water Shoes for Snorkeling
With so many options, choosing the right water shoes can be daunting. That is why it is so crucial to plan ahead regarding your activities, your comfort level while swimming and the location of the snorkeling.
Above all, consider your individual needs when it comes to the style and feel of the shoe. Below are our recommendation on water shoes and fins for snorkeling.
VIFUUR Water Shoes
- Recommended 1: CONVENIENCE - Smooth neck design prevents chafing when wearing...
- Recommended 2: COMFORTABLE FIT -- Breathable and smooth fabrics with fine...
- Recommended 3: RUBBER OUTSOLE & FOOT SAFETY -- Wearable and top-quality rubber...
- Recommended 4: OCCASION - Yoga Training, beach, swimming, pool, weight training,...
This is a very comfortable swim sock or slipper. Its sole is very thin and doesn’t extend up the bottom of the foot. The sole of these shoes is not designed to protect the front of the toe, nor the heel or the inner arch.
During our trip to Mexico, we saw coral and rock formations off the beach. These were very light and protected my feet for a week.
SIMARI Water Shoes
- COMFORTABLE: Upper fabric is smooth and elastic that made of a diving material...
- PROTECTIVE: The sole’s texture design inspiration is from mango, and it’s...
- PORTABILITY: SIMARI water shoes is lightweight and compressible, really...
- VARIOUS STYLE AND SIZE: SIMARI water shoes is a variety of styles like multiple...
I bought these to protect my feet from the sand, the material is light and comfortable. The sole is thick to protect the feet from the hot sand.
These are great for minimizing slip and falling on the rocks while fishing from the jetties. Although sand can get into these, the smaller size is better than the big ones to keep sand out.
Although they’re comfortable, I think these shoes are a little too big for most people. If you’re planning on wearing them outside, I highly recommend trying on a size lower.
BARERUN Barefoot Aqua Socks
These are ultra-light and breathable uppers with fine stretch. These socks are flexible and comfortable.
I got these for snorkeling and they are light and are reasonably cheap. You can use these for various water activities like snorkeling, swimming, sailing, and beach volleyball.
The shoes were comfortable to walk in and protect my feet from the debris. The only negative was that there is a small liner inside the sole.
Mishansha Water Shoes
- PERFECT MATERIAL:Upper with salt resistance wear resistance stretch breathable...
- UNIQUE SOLES : The new updated unique and top-quality anti slip rubber sole,...
- Easy On and Off: Our water shoes are easily carry, The pull tap at the heel and...
- ELASTIC STRAPS:According to the width of the foot quickly adjust the shoes...
The ground around my pool gets very hot in the summer and I wear these while I swim. These are great for snorkeling or walking on hot beaches.
They provide great traction while swimming, especially if you don’t have plaster surfaces. However, they can get a bit slicker as they are designed to prevent slipping and fall.
These were incredibly comfortable and easy to wear while snorkeling. I would highly recommend these shoes to anyone.
UBFEN Water Shoes
- STRETCHY MATERIALS:The smooth fabrics with fine stretch on uppers are easy to...
- DURABLE SOLE:The new updated sole features great wearing resistance and�...
- FLEXIBLE TWIST AND LOOP:Our swim shoes are easily carry, no matter you go to...
- SPECIAL FEATURES:These fishing shoes walk like normal shoes with several holes...
I had these for snorkeling during our hawaii trip. The sole is super comfy and the upper is so cozy. They were very easy to remove and take off with the elastic laces. These are much better value than the ones I had before.
Before I bought this, I saw some reviews stating that the lace broke, so I ordered lock laces. The rubber lining comes up around the toe, which is great if you’re in water or walking.
hiitave Water Shoes
- MINIMALIST BAREFOOT FEEL: Wide toe design makes for barefoot feel but still easy...
- EASY ON: Adjustable shocklace system allows for an easy slip on entry while...
- DESIGNED FOR WATER: Flexible, breathable and lightweight water shoe makes it...
- QUICK DRY WITH DRAINAGE: Made with quick dry materials and Integrated Drainage...
Wide toe design allows for barefoot feel while still providing maximum traction. This flexible and lightweight water shoe can be used for various activities such as swimming, surfing, and paddle boarding.
These shoes are equipped with a quick dry system that allows air and water to move freely.
These were my first pair of water shoes and they were very comfortable and fit true to size. They are very comfortable to wear and are easy to clean. The draw string keeps them in place and the sand doesn’t cling to your feet as you walk.
CAPAS Snorkel Fins
- Adjustable Open Heel Design, Good for Sharing - The open-heel design means each...
- Wears Comfortably, Support Various Way to Put On - Carefully select high quality...
- Compact Size, Perfect for Travelling - This short fins is an excellent choice...
- Quick and Easy to Try it On and Adjust Size Up or Down - Soft heel straps with...
These fins are designed to support various ways to put on, while protecting your feet from the cold and blisters. These are smaller sized fins that are great for snorkeling and travel.
I love these as they are soft and flexible flippers that are great for keeping your feet cool. However, they can get a bit unstable when worn with the plastic clasp.
Getting a pair of fins like these is a great way to save money on rentals and equipment. It’s also a great way to travel with.
BPS Snorkel Fins
- HIGH-QUALITY SNORKEL FINS - The BPS Swim Fins featuring anti-slip soles, maximum...
- ANTI-SLIP & DURABLE - Created with long-lasting Polypropylene (PP) and...
- LIGHTWEIGHT, COMFORTABLE & ADJUSTABLE - Featuring an open-heel design and...
- E-GUIDE INCLUDED - Each pair comes with an E-Guide that will come to you via...
Theese swim fins feature anti-slip soles that will allow you to swim, dive, and snorkel like never before. They are also designed to have a mesh bag for non-scratch storage.
This item is made with a durable and long-lasting polypropylene and polyester sole that’s designed to protect both feet while letting them explore the most stunning places.
I bought these fins for my trip to the Cayman Islands, and they were the most comfortable fins I have used. They didn’t feel like they were being stretched or pinched, and they’re powerful enough to keep you balanced.
The fins arrived as expected and were neatly packed. The only downside is if you have smaller feet, the adjustment may not be comfortable.
FINIS Long Floating Fins
- LONG BLADE DESIGN FOR ELONGATED KICK: Provides greater resistance in the water...
- FLOATS IN FRESH AND SALTWATER: Buoyancy from the fins lifts legs to the surface,...
- GREAT FOR ALL AGES AND ABILITIES: Designed to increase leg strength and speed,...
- SOFT, NATURAL RUBBER: Provides secure and comfortable fit compared to other...
These fins allow swimmers to keep their bodies aligned with the water’s surface. This design also helps improve joint stability and speed.
Snorkeling fans can use these shoes to improve their kicking technique while also providing greater resistance in the water.
These should be worn with a pair of thin socks to avoid getting blisters. They’re also lightweight and can keep you from getting tired after a long swim.
They’re also a bit lighter than I expected, so I cut 3 inches off the heel to prevent them from pushing my foot too fast.
Two years after I bought these shoes, they are still holding up well. I bought them again and I’ll definitely use them again.
Types of Water Shoes
With the increase in the ease and popularity of traveling during the past few decades, there are now many different kinds of water shoes to choose from when going on a snorkeling trip.
People used to only have one primary style of water shoe to select, but now there are water socks, pull-on water shoes, athletic water shoes, water sneakers and fins. Below is a table with the primary benefit and downside to each type of water shoe:
|Water Socks||Flexible||Less Protection|
|Pull-on Water Shoes||Sleek Shape||Low Arch Support|
|Athletic Water Shoes||Traction||Heavier|
These are made of a thinner, more flexible material than most other shoes, so they provide the closest feeling to swimming barefoot. That also means that they are easier to swim in because they do not have an awkward, clunky shape. On the other hand, because the material is thinner, your feet have less of a barrier between them and sharp objects.
Pull-on water shoes
These strike a great balance between a lighter and heavier type of water shoe. They have a streamlined shape that is not too heavy, while still providing adequate protection against any painful rocks. The only downside to this type of water shoe is that it is fairly flat and does not provide enough arch support for people with high arches.
Athletic water shoes
Athletic water shoes are perfect for rockier beaches or snorkeling spots where hiking or climbing are involved. They provide a high level of traction and protection and decent arch support. However, if you are primarily looking for a shoe to use in the water, these are heavier than the previous types of water shoes and may be more awkward to swim in.
Water sneakers have all the benefits of athletic water shoes, but they are even thicker and heavier. These would be the ideal type for the most rugged snorkeling terrain and hiking, but they would slow you down considerably if you are using them to swim for a long period of time.
Lastly, fins are the first choice of many seasoned snorkelers. They are the most aerodynamic, and they give you a considerable amount of power, helping you move through the water much faster and more effortlessly. This is a major advantage if you are new to snorkeling or plan to snorkel for a long time because they will keep you from getting exhausted too quickly and help you keep up with the beautiful fish. The only disadvantage is the possibility of blisters.
How Much Should You Spend on Water Shoes?
When you are deciding which water shoes to purchase, it is important to not only consider the type of beach you are going to and what you will do, but also how much you would like to spend.
Because they have a thinner material, water socks are fairly inexpensive, with popular brands starting at as low as $8.99. This makes water socks one of the most cost-effective options.
Pull-on water shoes are the next step up in both protection and price. Most basic pull-on water shoes are priced around $12–$13, but the category is wide enough that there are more rugged models ranging up to $30.
Decent athletic water shoes start at approximately $20. Considering the high amount of protection and traction that this type of water shoe offers, the price is still very reasonable. Because they offer similar features, water sneakers are comparable in price to athletic water shoes.
Fins have the highest degree of variation in price, as there are very basic fins available from $20 or less, and fins suitable for more intense aquatic sports such as diving that cost up to $70. However, for snorkeling, fins in the $20 range are more than adequate.
Here are 3 tips to choose water shoes:
Tip #1: Research whether or not you might be hiking to your snorkeling location and how rocky the area is by reading through forums on websites such as Tripadvisor.
Tip #2: Consider the shape of your foot and your history with foot pain, if any—if you have high arches or frequent aches in your feet, a water shoe type with excellent support is crucial.
Tip #3: Think about how long you would like to snorkel and your level of stamina and experience with swimming—choose water socks or fins if you do not want a water shoe model that will slow you down.
Bare Feet Vs Water Shoes
Many people are more comfortable in their bare feet, but there are important factors to consider when doing an outdoor activity such as snorkeling barefoot. Here is a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of water shoes:
One of the most essential functions of water shoes is protection. Water shoes keep you from getting stubbed toes or painful cuts from sharp rocks and coral on the beach and in the water. In tropical destinations where sea urchins are prevalent, water shoes also protect you from poisonous stings.
Even if you prefer to snorkel barefoot, you might want shoes to wear on the beach until you get to the water, especially if you have to hike or climb through caves or other rocky terrain to get to the snorkeling location. If that is the case, then water shoes also provide the necessary traction to keep you from slipping on wet or sandy rocks.
The time of day is also crucial to consider. Sand can get surprisingly and unbearably hot in the mid-afternoon, and water shoes protect your feet from burns that will sting even more once you get into saltwater.
Lastly, if you have high arches or recurring foot pain, doing a high level of activity barefoot can aggravate this problem. Water shoes give your feet the crucial support they need during walking and snorkeling.
Related: Top 10 Best Running Shoes for High Arches
However, with all these benefits in mind, there are a few disadvantages to wearing water shoes. They can be awkward and slow to swim in, causing you to exert more effort while snorkeling. If you pick a model that is not made in the most efficient way, it can easily become heavy and water-logged.
Even more importantly, water shoes often make people feel safe enough that they do not pay as much attention to where their feet are landing.
Even though your feet will be protected, coral is fragile and can be damaged by water shoes easily, hurting the fish and other aquatic life that live in the coral and need it to survive. Thus, if you choose to wear water shoes, it is crucial to still avoid stepping on any coral or rocks that you would not step on with bare feet.
Austin is the author of loveatfirstfit.com and a personal trainer with extensive knowledge in nutrition. Austin is passionate about helping others to find a suitable healthy lifestyle and feel good about themselves. Austin’s goal is to help people push their limits and achieve their physical performance.
Last update on 2023-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API