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If you plan to take a beach trip this summer, you’ll likely want to pack a few essentials before leaving the house. But while bathing suits and towels might be at the top of your checklist, you also don’t want to forget quality footwear—and we’re not talking about flip-flops. The best beach sandals, according to podiatrists, are pairs that offer plenty of support.

When shopping, you’ll want to look out for sandals with traction, curved arches, and maybe even ankle straps, ensuring you feel secure as you walk along the water.

Best Beach Sandals at a Glance

What to Look for in Beach Sandals

If you’re wondering what to look for in beach sandals, you’ll want to follow a quick checklist provided by Dr. Elizabeth Daughtry, DPM, FACFAS.

“The footbed should be supportive, offer a delve at the end of the shoe for your toes to rest in, and assist with traction for your toes to avoid tripping or the shoes too easily sliding off the feet,” she tells StyleCaster over email. “The sole of the shoe should have some good traction, especially if you’re planning to wear them in a wet environment such as a gym shower or public pool. Avoid any thin, flat-soled flip flops, and look for ones that have good arch support and fit your foot well.”

Are Sandals Good for the Beach?

Sandals are good for the beach in more ways than one. They’re breathable, easy to slip on and off, and won’t fill up with sand the same way that sneakers would. They’re also more secure and supportive than a pair of flimsy flip flops.

“Many times, you will be walking a significant distance from the car to the beach, and sandals would be a good choice to transition from asphalt to the beach,” says Dr. Timothy Oldani, DPM, FACFAS. “Also, most sandals will have a fastening system that attaches to the foot at multiple points, which is helpful when walking on a loose sandy surface.”

Dr. Daughtry agrees.

“Sandals are a good option for the beach as long as the sandal offers good arch support and an anatomic footbed with some cushioning for shock absorption,” she adds. “The material that the sandal is made of is very important to consider when choosing a shoe for the beach. Due to the potential for getting sandy and wet, the ease of cleaning the shoes should be considered.”

If you have no other option, flip flops are “safer than going barefoot,” notes Dr. Daughtry, but they should be used “sparingly and for the appropriate activity.”

“We must protect our feet, especially outside and in public places,” she warns. “As with many things, it is important to remember to wear them in moderation and for the appropriate activity. If overworn, they will not offer enough protection in some circumstances—think hiking in the woods, playing sports, or working in the garden—or [offer] arch support to avoid potential issues such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis.”

What Are the Most Comfortable Beach Shoes?

“The most comfortable beach shoes are sandals that have a strap around the heel, which will not only keep from your feet sliding around, but your toes from curling to grip the sandal, which can lead to issues like bunions or hammertoes” Dr. Alissa Kuizinas, DPM tells StyleCaster. “I don’t recommend flip-flops for this reason. Sandals don’t necessarily need to have cushioning, but it helps to have a bit of protection from the sand and shells on the beach. That’s why barefoot-style sandals are a good option.”

If you’re walking close to the water, Maurice Verhagen, owner and certified podiatrist at Netherlands-based Penninx Schoenen, also says to check out hiking shoes.

“This may seem like an unusual choice for the beach, but semi-high hiking shoes are great for long walks on firmer sand surfaces,” he writes via email. “They prevent sand from getting into the shoes and provide excellent stability and support, ideal for those taking long beach walks.”

Ahead, check out our list of the best beach sandals for 2024, all of which come with glowing reviews from these experts.

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