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billabong sandals

The Billabong Kai Flip Flop complement any beach day nicely. Photo: Rebecca Parsons


The Inertia

Wherever you are in the world, a good pair of sandals are a vital piece of equipment. Especially when the weather is warm, having something quick, light, and comfortable to slip your feet into makes a world of difference. And while they’re not vital to your surfing, you’re likely slipping on a pair of shoes or sandals every time you head to the coast. For long treks to the beach, strolls around town, campground hangs, and navigating toasty parking lot pavement, here are our favorite beach sandals for women. For more detailed info, be sure to check out our Comparison Table, Ratings Chart, and Buyer’s Guide.

The Best Beach Sandals for Women

Best Overall: Birkenstock Arizona
Runner Up: Rainbow Single Layer Leather Sandal
Most Stylish: Billabong Kai Flip Flop
Most Affordable: Havaianas Brazil Flip Flops
Most Versatile: Teva Midform Universal Sandal


Best Overall Sandals

Birkenstock Arizona ($145)

Pros: Ultra durable and comfortable. Adjustable.
Cons: Expensive.

For a long time, we were anti-Birkenstock because spending upwards of $100 on a pair of sandals seemed absurd. But then we tried them and now we’re believers in the Birk. The Arizona features a contoured cork-latex footbed for custom support, a synthetic leather upper, a suede footbed lining, and an EV sole that is flexible and lightweight. Two adjustable straps allow for a custom fit and add a bit of style, resulting in a timeless, laid back aesthetic. Incredibly and durable and comfortable, the Birkenstock Arizona is a winner.

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Runner Up Sandals

Rainbow Single Layer Leather Sandal ($70)

Pros: Incredibly comfortable. Stylish.
Cons: Must be broken in.

Rainbows are a sandal that improve with time. They won’t be quite as comfortable when you first get them, but give them a week or two and they’ll become the most comfortable sandals you’ve ever worn as the layers of memory foam and leather mold to your feet. And it just keeps on getting better from there. These sandals last forever, and are backed by Rainbow’s guarantee if they break before you wear through the sole. They’re the epitome of comfortable and durable, and the classic leather has some style points to boot. They finished runner up as Birkenstocks are slightly more comfortable and durable, but it was a close call.

The one-inch strap is certainly the most comfortable option, but for a more feminine-looking sandal check out the half-strap option here.

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Most Stylish

Billabong Kai Flip Flop

billabong kai sandals

Pros: Stylish, lightweight, and comfortable.
Cons: Not great for long walks or technical terrain.

Billabong has been a favorite surf brand for years and like most of their products, the Kai Flip Flop deliver style and comfort. While we’re all about utilitarian shoes, it’s nice for them to have a cute, feminine flair as well — these sandals nicely couple function and fashion. Available in six different colorways, the Kai Flip Flops feature a squishy EVA footbed and a vegan-friendly faux leather strap. In Hawaiian kai translates to sea, so you know these ultra-lightweight and comfortable flip flops are meant to be at the beach. While these sandals aren’t the best option for long treks, they are comfortable for strolls to the beach and a fun addition to any outfit.

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Most Affordable

Havaianas Brazil Flip Flops ($26)

havainas sandals

Pros: Affordable, multiple color options.
Cons: Not the most comfortable option.

Nothing says “beach vibes” louder than Havaianas. These Brazilian-made sandals may not be the ones you’d reach for to hike the Na Pali Coast, but for lounging around the beach parking lot and lookin’ good, they pass with flying colors. The good looks do sacrifice a bit of comfort, but at a fraction of the cost of other ‘flops on this list, and with plenty of fun colorways to choose from, Havaianas make us question whether or not comfort is the end-all-be-all we make it out to be.

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Most Versatile

Teva Midform Universal SandalTeva Surf Sandals

Pros: Durable and versatile. Eva midsole provides solid cushioning.
Cons: A little dorky, but making a comeback.

As kids, we always thought of Tevas as “dorky hiking sandals” (thanks mom). But as an adult, we’re in love with them. They’re comfortable, durable, and in regards to style, we’ll be so bold to say that they’re even kind of cool. Thoughtful features include a hook-and-loop closure for easy entry and exit, an EVA midsole that provides extra cushioning, and a rubber sole for traction on both wet and dry surfaces. Made with the planet in mind, these sandals include polyester webbing that is made from recycled bottles and the rest of the materials are synthetic and/or plant based. While they aren’t the most stylish sandals, Teva’s Midform Sandals are comfortable and durable enough to withstand any and every adventure.

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Best of the Rest

Chaco Wayfarer Post Sandal ($95)

Pros: Comfortable, secure fit. Soft and durable suede footbed.
Cons: Pricey.

Chaco’s Wayfarer Post Sandals are designed with adventure and comfort in mind. The leather upper allows for a secure fit, the suede footbed is soft and durable, the Luvseat midsole offers comfortable arch support, and the ChacoGrip rubber allows for secure footing on slippery surfaces. The combination of support and comfort makes the Wayfarer Post Sandals well suited for longer walks to the beach and the strappy design ensures they won’t fall off en route. Although the price is a little steep, these sandals have everything you’d want in a pair of slides with style points to boot. If you’re looking for a more durable sandal, we also loved the Lowdown Slide Sandals as well as the Townes Sandals.

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Sanuk Cosmic Calypso Sandal ($73)

Pros: Soft and cushy Cosmic Yoga Mat footbed. Cute, strappy design.
Cons: Pricey.

Combining style and comfort, Sanuk’s Cosmic Calypso Sandal are a great option to slip into on a hot summer day. Available in two color options, these sandals sport a full grain leather lined molded Cosmic Yoga Mat footbed featuring 20% certified organic soybean polyol with heel cupping and arch support. Additionally, the non-marking rubber outsole is made from 50% recycled rubber and offers great traction on slippery surfaces. These sandals feel soft and cushy and the strappy design offers fun style points.

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OluKai ‘Aukai Sandals ($90)Olukai Surf Sandals

Pros: Stylish. PU footbed offers generous support.
Cons: Must be broken in.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better pair of sandals than OluKai’s ‘Aukai sandals. Designed for all-around comfort, these sandals are made from full-grain leather uppers, breathable microfiber lining, and nylon toeposts. The PU footbeds offer solid support for longer treks to the beach and a traction pad on the base offers additional footing for navigating slippery surfaces. The ‘Aukai sandals are well made, durable, and comfortable, but they do take a little while to break in.

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Vans La Costa Slide-On Sandal ($59)Vans Surf Sandals

Pros: Lightweight and flexible. Stylish.
Cons: Foot slips around a bit.

When it comes to regular shoes, Vans has been our pick for years. The La Costa Slide-On sandals deliver the Vans style you know and love, with all the benefits of a sandal. Featuring a soft, synthetic strap, stretch textile lining, and waffle outsoles, theses sandals are lightweight, flexible, comfortable, and hold up well in water. While they’re beyond comfortable for short distances, they lost a few points on longer treks because we found our feet tended to slip out easily. When it comes to chilling, though, Vans’ Slip-Ons are our go-to for a good shoe/sandal hybrid option.

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The North Face Base Camp Slide III Sandal ($30)

the north face sandals

Pros: Textured rubber soles, lightweight.
Cons: Wide.

The North Face Base Camp Slide III is a classic pair of slides that are easy to slip on and off. The material is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about getting them wet post session. The TPU strap is lined with a recycled polyester that is comfortable against the foot and dries quickly. These slides are super lightweight and have plenty of cushion underfoot. The Base Camp Slides are definitely on the wide side, which does allow narrower feet to slide around a bit, but they’re plenty big to wear with socks if that’s your thing. The textured rubber soles provide ample traction on wet surfaces, which is a huge plus in a beach sandal.

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Astral Webber Sandals ($110)

astral webber sandals

Pros: Made form recycled materials, zero-drop design.
Cons: Takes a little work to adjust.

Typically, our go to beach sandal is something we can easily slip our feet in and out of. But, sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra support, especially for longer treks to the beach. The Astral Webber Sandals are one of the more durable and supportive sandals on our list. The webbing and adjustable straps are made from Astral’s durable PFDs and the PFD-grade buckles are super strong. The sandals sport a zero-drop design for a healthy stride and the outsoles offer great traction on trails and slippery surfaces. The footbed has little bumps on it which we weren’t sure about at first, but after getting the sandals wet we appreciated this feature for the added traction is provides. While these sandals are adjustable, they take a little more work to get fitted than a velcro style sandal, but once you’ve got it figured out the fit is secure.

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Merrel Hydro Moc Shoes ($60)

merrel sandals

Pros: Hold up well in water, lightweight.
Cons: Not the most stylish.

You won’t earn many style points with the Merrel Hydro Moc Shoes, but if comfort is what you’re after these shoes deliver. Made from EVA foam, these shoes are ultra lightweight and easy to slide on and off. The Hdryo Mocs were specifically designed with watersports in mind and the foam holds up well in water and the holes throughout provide excellent drainage. While these shoes have a minimalistic design, the contoured arches provide some support (although we wouldn’t recommend them for long treks). $60 seems a little steep for these shoes, but they are well made, durable, and perform well in water.

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Hoka Ora 3 Recovery Slides ($60)

hoka recovery sandals

Pros: Lots of support, 19 color options.
Cons: Not the coolest, kind of bulky.

If you spent a lot of time on your feet, the Hoka Ora 3 Recovery Slides could be the sandals you’ve been looking for. These slides feature dual-layer construction with cushioned, oversize midsoles and soft EVA top layers, delivering an ultra comfortable sandal that feels good on the feet. The Recovery Slides have EVA footbeds made mainly from sugarcane and injection-molded outsoles. Although these unisex sandals aren’t the coolest looks wise, they provide lots of support and are comfortable and durable. Available in 19 different colors, there’s a style for everyone.

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Comparison Table

Sandals Cost Adjustable? Sustainable Features?
Birkenstock Arizona  $145 Yes No
Rainbow Single Layer Leather Sandal $70 No No
Billabong Kai Flip Flop $30 No No
Chaco Wayfarer Post Sandal $95 No No
Sanuk Cosmic Calypso Sandal $73 No Yes
OluKai ‘Aukai Sandals $90 No No
Vans La Costa Slide-On $59 No No
Teva Midform Universal Sandal $42 Yes Yes
Havaianas Brazil Flip Flops $26 No No
The North Face Base Camp Slide III Sandal $30 No Yes
Astral Webber Sandals $110 Yes Yes
Merrel Hydro Moc Shoes $60 No No
Hoka Ora 3 Recovery Slides $60 No Yes

Buyer’s Guide

best beach sandals

Well-used equals well-tested. Photo: Rebecca Parsons.

What Makes a Good Pair of Sandals?

When I’m looking for a new pair of slides there are a few things I take into consideration. Key factors for me include comfort, durability, and style.

Comfort
If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time in your sandals: strolling through town, trekking to surf breaks, or just walking the dog around the block. We want our shoes to be comfortable, so they’re able to keep up with all of our adventures. Above all else, comfort is our top priority when purchasing a new pair of beach sandals.

vans sandals

The Vans La Costa Slide-On are equal parts stylish and comfortable. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Durability
Our thought when buying a new pair of slides is to spend a little extra in hopes that our shoes will last for years to come. We want sandals that can withstand long and frequent walks, getting wet, and lots and lots of sand. We don’t want sandals where the strap rips off after a couple of wears or the bottoms wear down quickly.

Style
Although cheap Old Navy sandals will get the job done, we want a pair of sandals that look good. We plan on wearing my sandals to the beach as well as to taco Tuesdays and beachside dinners so yeah, we want them to be cool.

Best Overall Women's Sandals
Best Overall Women's Sandals

The Birkenstock Arizona is the ultimate sandal. Durable, lightweight, comfortable, and stylish, it’s the only pair of sandals you’ll need.

Price: $145

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Beach Sandals Ratings Chart

Beach Sandals Comfort Durability Style Overall
Birkenstock Arizona  10 10 8 9.3
Rainbow Single Layer Leather Sandal 10 10 8 9.3
Billabong Kai Flip Flop 8 8 10 8.7
Chaco Wayfarer Post Sandal 9 9 8 8.7
Sanuk Cosmic Calypso Sandal 10 7 9 8.5
OluKai ‘Aukai Sandals 8 8 9 8.3
Vans La Costa Slide-On 8 7 9 8
Teva Midform Universal Sandal 10 8 6 8
Havaianas Brazil Flip Flops 6 6 6 6
The North Face Base Camp Slide III Sandal 9 8 8 8.3
Astral Webber Sandals 9 9 8 8.7
Merrel Hydro Moc Shoes 10 8 6 8
Hoka Ora 3 Recovery Slides 9 9 6 8

What Else Should I Look for in a Pair of Beach Sandals?

Versatility
Ideally, sandals are fashionable and functional. When we’re in the market for a new pair of slides, we look for something that is equal parts cute and comfortable. Additionally, we want our sandals to have a decent amount of grip for the times when we ask for a little more out of my footwear. Finally, we want shoes that fair well in water, because with our lifestyles, it’s only a matter of time until they get wet.

Traction

When it comes to beach sandals, traction isn’t as important as say hiking sandals, but it’s still something to consider. If you wear your sandals to the beach, they’ll likely get wet, so you’ll want something that performs well on wet and slippery surfaces. Additionally, if you’re someone who regularly treks to their surf spot and must navigate some trails in order to get there, then you’ll want some traction to help you get there. If you simply park in the parking lot at your local surf spot and paddle straight out, then traction may not be as high on your priority list when purchasing a new pair of slides.

astral sandals

The adjustable straps on the Astral Webber Sandals allow you to customize a secure fit. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Adjustable

Some sandals are fixed, where others have straps that allow you to adjust them and customize your fit. If I’m doing easy and short walks, we typically prefer fixed sandals, as they’re easier to slip in an out of. But, if you plan on navigating some trickier or slippery terrain, adjustable sandals can come and handy as you can really get them fitted to your foot and don’t have to worry about them slipping off.

Sustainable Features

Like most gear, we give major bonus points to anything that is sustainably made. Recycled and repurposed materials are awesome as they cut down on waste that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. It’s also worth noting that a more durable shoe is more sustainable as it will require less new shoes if they can withstand the test of time.

women's beach sandals

Multiple sandals on our list have sustainable features. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Cost
You know the adage: you get what you pay for. A good pair of sandals doesn’t come cheap. That being said, a good pair of sandals shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. We want sandals that are well-made, but come at a reasonable price.

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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