Best Surf Shoes For Sea & Sand Reviewed
Do you live to ride the next big wave? Every surfer knows that their skills are measured by their ability to control their board. If you notice yourself struggling to find your footing it can negatively affect your performance and put you at a greater risk for injuries. If you’re in search of a way to improve your footing, the answer is simple —invest in a solid pair of surf shoes! Surf shoes can be made for use both in and out of the water. Surf shoes are made with features that help keep your feet cool, dry, and comfortable both on and off the board so you can ride the waves with ease.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
- BPS Storm
- Sanuk Chiba
- Olukai Ohana
- Speedo Surf Knit
- Vans Core Classics
- Seavenger Zephyr 3mm
- Volcom Recliner Sandal
- Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
- Quicksilver Molokai
- Reef Deckhand 2
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Surf Shoes
1. BPS Storm
Not For Asphalt Use
If you’ve not yet tried a pair of ‘smart socks’, the BPS Storm is a great introduction to the crossover world of functional socks from shoes. The BPS Storm is a flexible sock, insulated and adjustable to fit, with traction found in the patterned sole. Great for surfing, SUPs, even kayaking, you’ll keep a firm grip on your equipment or board in these! Not suited for wearing on asphalt, the neoprene keeps integrity best if you put these on when at the beach, lake, or river.Read more
With a unisex fit, you will find the ideal pair of BPS Storm socks to brave the next overhead wave session, without worrying that they’ll fall off. An adjustable elastic ankle strap helps to minimize water coming into the sock and pushing it off and firmly helps strap it to your foot. Insulation is found with the neoprene material the Storm is created from, so cold water won’t prevent you from catching that next set
Barefoot surfing is usually the way to go, but maybe you just want a little protection or insulation in the water, which is where the BPS Storm can be the perfect option for you. The sole of this sock allows for it to be flexible, making it feel like you’re surfing barefoot. Tacky grip at the base helps keep you upright and digs into the surface a bit for traction. And, the colors the BPS Storm are available in a range from more subtle blacks and greys, to patterned blues, pinks and yellows, so you can stand out if you choose!
Extremely budget friendly, the BPS Storm is a great alternative to barefoot surfing, if you want a bit of protection or need some insulation in colder waters. It’s grippy textured sole is flexible for a barefoot feel, but keeps you upright on the board. Ankle strap allows for a no-slip fit in the water, and color options range broadly so you can select the perfect one for your tastes and style! Well worth the purchase to try them out!
2. Sanuk Chiba
Overextended Rubber Outsole
The Sanuk Chiba Sidewalk Surfer is a laid-back slip-on shoe that features a molded EVA footbed and Happy U outsole. It's cool canvas upper boasts frayed seams for a distressed yet casual summer vibe. The Chiba is the ideal combination of coverage and comfort, giving the full protection of a loafer and the sheer comfort a sandal.Read more
EVA is a man-made foam resign that is ultra-lightweight and breathable making it a great choice of material for use in the manufacturing of footwear. These Sanuk shoes have a molded EVA midsole that’s flexible and move with the shape of your foot on every step.
Look Boho-chic as you stroll along the surf while the tips of the waves gently kiss the soles of your surf shoes. These neat-looking slip-on Sanuks offer a water-resistant rubber outsole and breathable canvas upper, along with frayed seams for a no-fuss look that is perfect for wear at the beach. While costing more than some of the other options on the list, this Sanuk shoe is still very affordable. It offers a superior style and edgy yet chill vibration that will have you looking your best while strolling along the sand in the evening light.
3. Olukai Ohana
Anatomical Drop-in ICEVA Footbed
Sizing Runs Small
Thong Strap Durability
No surf look is complete when you’re done riding for the day without a pair of flip-flops or sandals. Keeping true to the surfing spirit, the Olukai Ohana is a Hawaiian inspired pair of sandals that will have you thinking of Waimea Bay long after you’re finished and having a brew with your crew. With loads of cushioned softness ad anatomically designed footbed, this flip-flop is more than just a summer sandal for the beach.Read more
The Olukai Ohana keeps comfort maximized with this flip-flop style sandal, using an anatomical drop-in ICEVA footbed, which will have you feeling like you’re walking barefoot along the beach. Footbed cradles your foot with its design and helps promote proper gait when walking. A compression molded EVA midsole allows for support over time and helps maintain the sandal’s integrity.
Along with its great footbed, the Olukai Ohana also has a rubber outsole, which is non-marking, and a lug design that helps give ample traction, even when walking along the piers, rock piles, or reefs. Straps are made from water-resistant synthetic materials and have a great foot feel with soft material lining. Toe webbing keeps a soft nylon so you won’t have irritations from hard rubber. More expensive for a pair of flip-flops, the Olukai Ohana is still very much worth the investment. Its anatomical footbed will have you walking longer and feeling cushioned, while supportive EVA midsole helps add stability. Soft textile lining won’t rub your feet like other flip-flop styles. If you’re in search of something to remind you of the Hawaiian spirit for your surf footwear, consider this pair for purchasing!
4. Speedo Surf Knit
Hydrophobic Textile Upper
Large Around Ankle
Insole Lining Peels
The Surf Knit by Speedo is a popular pair of footwear for any kind of water activity. Whether you want something you can go surfing in, are looking for a pair of footwear that will protect the bottoms of your feet from rocky sea beds, or just want a shoe for your water-aerobics class, this is an overall good choice. It is one of the fastest drying pairs of footwear you can buy, and being made by a reputable company, it guarantees a good amount of comfort and durability.Read more
The upper of the Surf Knit is made from 100% textile that has an open knit that allows fresh air to go in, but moisture to go out as well. This knit fabric offers a higher level of flexibility than neoprene, without sacrificing support, so you can enjoy all types of activities wearing this pair of footwear. Additionally, the insoles are removable, which means you can customize the fit according to the type of sport you will be doing.
On the bottom of the Surf Knit, you will get all the benefits of Speedo’s S-Trac outsole that’s highly grippy and does great on all surfaces, including wet tile and slick rock. It will also help you grip the board, but will be comfortable enough for short beach walks as well. The pull tabs at the heel and instep allow for easier on and off. In terms of cost, this is an averagely priced product that’s an overall good investment for anyone looking for a versatile water shoe.
5. Vans Core Classics
Can Be Squeaky
Vans Core Classics is a versatile shoe that's great for more than a few occasions. These easy-wearing sneakers are stylish in design and provide total comfort for your entire foot. They feature a low-top structure and signature waffle outsole for the kind of grip you need while transitioning from surf side to city streets.Read more
Vans signature Ultracush footbed has extra padding that cushions and supports the underside of the foot. Enjoy a more pleasant walking experience thanks to the Ultracush's pillow-like softness that is firm enough to wear for hours on end despite the added plushness.
The Core Classics have a canvas upper unit that is breathable and allows for adequate airflow around the foot which prevents a build-up of sweat and odors. A synthetic outsole provides solid traction for a steady grip even on the slipperiest of surfaces and allows for better connection with the ground beneath you. These casual and comfy surf shoes are reasonably priced and offer a classic style that always looks cool. These shoes are infamous for a good reason and will have you looking your best no matter where you might choose to roam.
6. Seavenger Zephyr 3mm
Conserves Body Heat
4-Way Stretch Neoprene
No Protection from Rocks
These neoprene socks are the perfect accessory to have on hand when the water is slightly colder than you’d ideally want. While they weren’t originally designed for surfers, you’ll find that many people who enjoy the sport actually wear these. They’re made to provide users with a great fit, add warmth, and ensure slip-resistance on slick surfaces. They also come in a wide variety of prints and colors, allowing you to show off your personal style.Read more
If you want something that will keep your toes warm, but won’t affect your ability to grip the board, the Zephyr 3mm is a good choice. Made with a 4-way stretch material, it will perfectly mold to your foot, preventing bunching or bulking, and it was made with durability in mind, so you can enjoy the benefits for multiple uses.
The bottom of the Zephyr is covered in a dotted non-slip sole that does a great job on a multitude of surfaces. Lightweight and flexible, it won’t affect your performance, but will still provide you with the benefits you need. It’s available in seven sizes which are easy to choose thanks to the stretchy material used. As for cost, these are actually some of the least expensive pairs of shoes you can purchase for watersports.
7. Volcom Recliner Sandal
Flip Flop Sandal
Molded EVA Footbed
One of the best feelings in the world is walking barefoot through the sand, carrying your board, and checking on the waves early morning for some rides. Volcom wanted to recreate that cushioned soft feel, and the Recliner Sandal does just that. With each step, you’ll sink into the soft quilted sponge sole, feeling super cushioned and plush. With several color options and color combination that the Recliner Sandal comes in, you’re sure to find one you’ll love.Read more
Volcom kept is simple with the Recliner Sandal, keeping a thong style flip flop with thick textile fabric straps to have a soft feel on the top of the foot. A textured sole helps keep some traction, but the star of the Recliner Sandal is the footbed design. Quilted rubber sponge sole pads every single step with cushioned softness, making you feel like you’re walking on cloud nine. Molded EVA footbed also provides some structure so you can feel supported where you need it.
Along with the quilted softness of the Recliner Sandal, the color options available range from blacks to greys, whites, and red quilted footbed, and options for contrasting colors found on the thong straps of the flip-flop. If desired, the same contrast color on the thong straps covers the sole of the flip-flop as well. For a flip flop style sandal, it may seem somewhat pricey when compared to other flip-flops, but the Volcom Recliner Sandal has a unique footbed design you won’t find anywhere else. Quilted rubber pads your steps, plush and light, and can be purchased in several colors or color combinations. A great summer surf shoe to bring you back to barefoot walks on the beach.
8. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
S-Trac TPR Outsole
Stretchy Upper Unit
Narrow Entry Hole
Speedos' Surfwalker 3.0 lets you transition from the sea to shore with ease. It offers a stretch-fit pull-on design and a cushioned insole for added protection from shock and impact. Enhanced surface contact allows for better than ever traction so you won't have to worry about having sure footing.Read more
Speedo's signature new-and-improved S-Trac TPR outsole pushes water away from the shoe allowing for better surface contact. Connecting with the surface below you enhances traction and allows for maximum grip.
The Surfwalker 3.0 was designed with a long-lasting stretch upper unit that lets you slip in and out of these water shoes with ease. Its mesh inserts hug your foot for a perfectly secure fit every time, while their fast-drying materials mean less transition time once you're on the sand. The Surfwalker 3.0 from Speedo is a very affordable pair of water-appropriate footwear that will help you to reach your peak performance while you're on the board. These sleek shoes look great out of the water too! Forget about unstable footing and uncomfortable dismounts thanks to Speedos innovative Surfwalker 3.0 surf shoe.
9. Quicksilver Molokai
Rubber Thong Strap
Little Arch Support
Quicksilver is one of the top outdoor sports lifestyle companies in the world. They manufacture a huge variety of branded apparel, footwear, and related accessories that are geared to help the wearer achieve their best possible performance while maintaining a guaranteed level of comfort. Quicksilvers Molokai is the perfect pair of sandals to wear surf side thanks to their rubber slip-resistant sole and flexible easy-wearing feel.Read more
The Molokai has a three-point rubber strap and a man-made synthetic structure. It's a flexible rubber thong that's great for water activities and offers strong traction on any surface, including wet and slippery ones.
These stylish and casual thong flip-flops are an ideal surf shoe. They have a minimal build and zero heel-to-toe-drop for a more natural footfall, along with a flexible rubber strap that allows for a natural range of motion. These Quicksilver sandals are sold for a reasonably low price and offer a comforting and well-known design. Quicksilver is synonymous with summer footwear and the Molokai is a fine example of their minimalistic yet full-bodied designs.
10. Reef Deckhand 2
The Deckhand 2 has the same laidback feel of a sandal with the structure of a shoe. These simplistic surf shoes are modern and stylish while offering supportive and breathable wear. Reef is one of the leading brands in surf apparel and continuously produce quality shoes that never seem to go out of style.Read more
The Deckhand 2 has a breathable canvas upper unit and a non-slip rubber outsole that's waterproof for a dry and comfortable foot feel. These Clean and simplistic shoes offer a molded swellular traction sole that provides unparalleled grip even on wet surfaces.
The Deckhand 2 offers a traditional lace closure system which allows for a secure and custom fit every time along with an anti-slip outsole for sure footing on any terrain. You can walk assured in these shoes that provide a stable environment for secure footing. These laid-back shoes come at a casual price too. If you're looking for an affordable and low-key pair of surf shoes than these are perfect for you. Enjoy walking comfortably for a price you can afford.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Surf shoes need to properly acclimate to your environment and provide adequate protection from the elements. If you’re riding the waves then you want to have a shoe that will keep your feet dry despite taking heavy water head-on.
Wearing shoes while surfing is a good way to gain better board control but if your feet are wet inside the shoe it cancels out the benefits altogether. Wet feet tend to slide inside a shoe which limits control and foot feel making it harder to control your board than if you were barefoot. Rubber is an ideal choice of material for water-related activities because of it’s waterproofing and superior traction even on wet and slippery surfaces.
Odor/Moisture Control: Controlling moisture is a big aspect of footwear designed to wear in warmer weather. The best way to prevent sweaty feet is by wearing a pair of shoes that are made from a material that wicks moisture away from the skin preventing a build-up of bacteria. Bacteria that thrive in moist places are the main contributor to smelly feet and shoes which is why it’s so important to keep feet cool and dry.
Shoes that are made from leather, canvas, or mesh are ideal for keeping feet cool whereas heavy fabric materials should be avoided because they trap heat inside and lead to overheating. Canvas and leather are excellent at pulling moisture away from the skin and allowing for good airflow, while mesh provides an open-weave that is the best option for keeping feet cool during warmer temperatures.
Having good traction is a must-have for any shoe used for surfing. Both on and off the board you will want a pair of shoes with a solid anti-slip outsole, preferably made from rubber.
Rubber is not only water-resistant but also provides excellent slip-resistance on moist surfaces. When you on your board one slip can prove disastrous and while transitioning from the sea to shore you’re bound to have wet shoes which can cause accidental slips and falls if worn on the wrong surfaces. This is why traction was one of the deciding factors in the selection process for the shoes featured on this page.
For the best possible results, you need to consider the type of use you intend on getting out of your footwear. If you're only going to wear your shoes on dry land, you will do well with a simple rubber outsole. Slip-resistance is a big plus, and water shoes and sandals are a great choice.
If, however, you plan on surfing with your footwear on, we would recommend getting a lightweight, flexible outsole that doesn't bunch under your feet, but that is still highly grippy. If you opt for neoprene socks or booties, make sure they have an outsole that is suited for use with your board in order to prevent any accidents.
No one wants to wear a shoe that’s difficult to take off or put on which is why the wearability of each shoe on this page was taken into consideration during the selection process. Slip-on shoes are ideal for surfside fun including flip-flops and other sandals.
Loafers and boat shoes are popular among surfers for their easy on-and-off design, while shoes with too many laces are frowned upon. With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a few laces which can add an extra level of security and allow for a customized fit every time.
Because beach activities inevitably include moisture, it is crucial that you choose a pair of footwear that fits you well. When shopping, make sure you try on the footwear, and invest in a style that doesn't cause hot spots which could get worse in hot weather.
Surfers have a distinctive style about them and surfing is considered to be one of the most fashionable sports of summer. Surf culture has become a lifestyle many have chosen to adopt regardless of whether or not they actually surf and style, including footwear and apparel, is at its epicenter.
Surfers and those who are culturally-involved bystanders expect a certain threshold of style to be met by those who’ve chosen to immerse themselves in their way of life, which means that owning the right pair of surf shoes is of immense importance.
The shoes chosen for this list include options that embody several different styles frequently worn surf side. Some of the most popular choices of surf shoe styles are:
Comfort is a big deal in a pair of surf shoes whether they’re for use on or off the board. When you’re maneuvering a surfboard it’s hard on your feet which is exactly why you want a pair of shoes that are going to give you the comfort your feet are craving. As for when you’re off the board, you are going to want a pair of shoes that you can relax in and let your feet breathe and recover which is why comfort was taken into consideration while choosing the shoes best suited for this page. Some features to look for in a surf shoe that will make them all the more enjoyable are:
When it comes to padding the best kind for a surf shoe will be supple enough to soften the shock absorbed by the delicate underfoot area, yet also thin enough to allow for connection with the ground or surface beneath you, especially if you’re riding in them. A supportive shoe that protects the arch will prevent a slew of problems down the road including foot and leg pain, along with painful arches, while waterproofing will keep your feet dry even after hours spent splashing about in the surf. Traction is very important and prevents accidents from happening that could potentially be very dangerous, or at the very least quite embarrassing.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're curious to try out surfing, or perhaps have started your new endeavor with a few sessions, you've likely caught the bug for this unique water sport.
Heading to your local surf shop for lessons is a great idea for anyone starting out, or if you know a surf buddy who can show you the ropes too. Surfing requires balance, similar to snowboarding on a more volatile surface.
Practice getting up on the board on the beach first, then take it to the water for a try. Keeping your feet back a bit on the length of the board will help the nose from dipping into the water, and planting your feet with one more forward than the other (sideways on the board), will help you balance a bit better.
Depending on your level of ability, picking a wave right for you can seem a little intimidating. Something too big, and you may not be ready to handle it, something too small, and your ride may not go very far.
Waves come in sets usually, and rule of thumb is that the third wave is usually the best of the set, its up to you and your style of surfing which one you pick. Too steep of a wall, and the wave may dump you. Go for something with a more gentle sloped wall, and line yourself up on one side of the peak. The wave will break right or left from the peak, so make sure you line up accordingly.
Other Factors to Consider
While most surfers don’t wear shoes in the water, there are instances where you might want to have some extra protection or warmth. The list above features a wide variety of products that are often used by surf enthusiasts, from sandals you can wear around the beach and while getting to the ocean, to booties and neoprene socks that were designed to help keep you warm in cold conditions.
If you’re looking to maximize comfort, we suggest going with whatever works best for you - you may find that a pair of water shoes does a good enough job at protecting you, or you may prefer to go with something minimalistic. On the other hand, if you’re surfing in cold conditions, a thicker neoprene bootie may be required. As for those looking to achieve peak performance - the less you use, the better off you’ll be. Look for flexible, lightweight footwear for in-water use, and comfortable, breathable shoes for when you’re out of water.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are Vans Surf Shoes Waterproof
Vans shoes are not waterproof however they are made with water-resistant materials. This means that they offer a water-repellent but do not protect the foot from saturation.
q: Why are some skate shoes also called surf shoes?
If you look at skateboarding it’s rather similar to surfing only without the water which is why skate shoes are also popular among surfers as well. Many of the top brands in surf apparel also manufacture skate wear which is why we often see a cross-over between the two.
q: What brand makes the best surf shoes?
There is no one brand that makes the best surf shoes but rather a collection of front-running manufacturers who produce quality surf footwear time after time. Some of the biggest names in surf apparel are Vans, Speedo, Quicksilver, Reef, and Sanuk. These brands are actively involved in the surf community and sponsor events while continuing to make high-quality performance footwear and know how to design shoes that fit with the surfer image.
q: Are surf shoes expensive?
Actually, no. Surf shoes are available for a fairly reasonable price and you can find high-quality footwear for quite a low price-point. Brands like Reef and Speedo offer great surf shoes for a cheap price which is why they’re highly sought after brands.
q: Are surf shoes sized the same as normal shoes?
Yes, sizing for surf footwear is the same as normal shoes. Just keep in mind that depending on the style you may need to purchase a half-size larger, especially if the shoes are tight fitting spandex or neoprene material as it makes for a glove-like fit that some wearers find too tight.