Having the right shoes for traveling can be a trick. How durable are they? Will they work on the beach and for kicking around town? Can I wear them all day? While not an expert, I have travelled quite a bit and hit my fair share of beaches.
I grew up about an hour east of San Francisco and went to college in Santa Barbara, so we went to the beach a lot. I find there are two pretty distinct types of beaches on the West Coast - soft sand and little rocky sand beaches - but I think it's a pretty universal description for general purposes. Depending on what you are doing and the type of beach you are on - it can make a huge difference in your footwear choices.
I want to share some of my challenges (and some of the staffs' experiences) and what I think worked - and what really didn't....
The Stereotypical California Beach (Soft Sand)
While there are tons of unique beaches up and down the West Coast - the stereotypical looking soft sand beach pops into your mind. So flip flop, thongs - whatever it is that you call them, it seems like it has earned it's place as the signature beach shoe. Have you tried to walk in the sand in those?? Maybe I'm super uncoordinated, but it's awful. I can't keep my shoes on and they are always full of sand. I hate it. I usually end up pulling them off the minute I hit the sand. Of course, the heat of the sand may come into some serious play: don't want to burn the soles of your feet. I can wear them from the car to the edge of the sand - then it's all over.
The Rocky Beach
This beach requires a little more serious footwear. Land on a rock wrong and your whole day is ruined. Sometimes with bigger rocks - like on the beach shown - but there are some beaches that have micro-pebbles (like peppercorn size) and that's the sand. That sand chews your feet up if you don't have shoes on. So make sure you have what you need for the kind of beach that will be there. In this day and age you can Google just about anything. No so sure about where you're going? Find Out! Imagine my surprise when we got to the tip of Greece (little awesome town called Kyparissea) and there were wasn't that stereotypical beach they pull out for Greece brochures. Not really much soft sand - more the micro pebble beach and big rocks. Did we have the right shoes? - not even close.
Flip Flops / Thongs
While great for knocking around on flat surfaces, not so hot on uneven and rocky surfaces, Now there are 100's of brands out there and everyone has their favorites, but you need to look at comfort and functionality to really make a good decision. Do they have enough arch for you? Can they get wet? Can they withstand heat? Are they well made? All questions you need to ask.
We carry a variety of thongs in synthetics and leathers, brands such as, Birkenstock, Vionic, Aetrex and Oofos. Depending on your needs - I'm sure we can locate one that will fit the trip.
Slides give you more control over your foot and may give you a style that may be more versatile for the rest of time that you're not on the beach. There are so many styles - this gives you so many more options. We have brands - Naot, Aetrex, Vionic and of course, Birkenstocks - that have many slide sandal style options that can work.
Now don't get me wrong - I LOVE my Birkenstocks - but I have found that sandals that have a footbed lip tend to collect A LOT of sand. And it doesn't come out all that easily. Plus many of these shoes are not meant to get wet - but can still be on the beach easily. So make sure you know what will damage yours.
Why, you ask, is the Birkenstock Gizeh shown as a slide? The difference between standard thongs and this style of thong is the pressure points. This style grabs your instep. It doesn't have just the one point of contact by your toes. These kind of "thongs" really hold your foot and I would consider more of a slide style. Many other "thong" style sandals would qualify as long as they have something over the instep to give you more control.
If your going on a trip - usually you're in some cute little town (like Capitola, CA) near the beach. Fun shopping, restaurants and galleries - which all requires a ton of walking. So make sure your shoes are comfortable and functional. Sometimes the shoes you brought aren't really up to the job!
Last, but not least, are your back strap styles. Where to start?? Of course - super versatile and so many options. You can have water sandals brands like Chaco (great arch) but definitely really casual and outdoorsy. Work great in water and out - but a definite look.
Or you can get something a little more cute, with leather or synthetic uppers. Again, anything you decide to bring with you needs to have functionality as well as good support. There are many brands that have shoes that would work well for casual wear and also can go out to the beach if necessary.
The Vionic Amber can get a little wet, it won't hurt them. These have the benefit of amazing support and a cute look. The uppers are synthetic and have a microfiber liner, but I wouldn't advise walking into the waves with them. They won't look so cute anymore.
Dansko has a new water friendly sandal
called the Racquel. It has a really nice arch and
a tennis shoe bottom so you can walk all day.
You still need to take care of them on the beach though.
WARNING: Salt water is bad for everything!! Even your water shoes need to be rinsed off to get the salt off after wear in the ocean. Sand (or as this shows from my trip to Puerto Penasco - mini rock beach!) can also be a killer. It can get into every nook and cranny of your shoes (just like your swimsuit) and you need to brush it out so that the sand doesn't grind in and damage the footbed or your foot.
While, Yes, this is a shameless plug, for shoes that we currently carry or will have again in the Spring of 2023, there is still extremely valuable information to be had. I find most shoe related topics are not rocket science - but most people don't really pay that much attention to their feet until it's too late. Traveling to the beach or beach resorts may take a little more planning - but it will pay off!
Happy Beach Travels!!