Jumping into a deep tidal pool in Maui in KEEN water sandals
Jumping into a deep tidal pool in Maui in KEEN water sandals

FAQ: Which Water Sandals for Hawaii?

For many beach destinations, you could throw a pair of flip-flops or strappy sandals in your carry-on and be good to go. But in the land of volcanoes, hidden beaches, and lush rainforests (and even snow in the mountains!), having more traction and toe protection will give you the freedom to explore it all.

Fun fact: On this small island chain, you can experience 10 of the world's 14 climates. (!!!) It must be why we get asked about sandals or shoes to wear to Hawaii more than any other destination BY FAR.

If you are getting ready to say “aloha” to the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, or Oahu, here are 4 great reasons to bring closed-toe sandals with you to paradise:

1. Stubbed Toes Are a H-U-U-U-GE Vacation Downer

Also, lava rock can be sharp. That’s where the protection of a closed-toe sandal comes in. You can still feel the wind in your toes while avoiding cuts and abrasions. After all, who wants to sit out a day on the water because of an open wound (bacteria, sharks, bacteria...)? With its iconic KEEN toe bumper, our Newport adventure sandal was born to protect toes, and we’ve created lots more closed-toe sandal options ever since. (We even make flip-flops with toe protection.) You can choose waterproof leather or quick-dry webbing, and a more rugged or lower-profile outsole, depending on what feels best to you and your feet.

Navigating rocky beaches in Hawaii in KEEN water sandals

Navigating rocky beaches in Hawaii in KEEN water sandals
Worry-free exploring in kids' Seacamp II and men's Newport sandals.

2. “Aloha Attire” Is About as Dressy as Hawaii Gets

Island style is all about going directly from the beach to grabbing a bite to eat in a coverup. For luaus and fancier dinners out, wearing a Hawaiian shirt or floral dress (aka aloha attire) is the way to go. And, guess what? Those black or brightly colored sandals fit right in.

walking in Hawaii in KEEN water sandals

Water sandals fit into Aloha attire
With our new tropical prints, it's like wearing a Hawaiian shirt on your feet.

3. The Best Beaches Don’t Always Have Parking

There are beautiful beaches right next to your resort, Airbnb, or beach hut. But there are also some pretty spectacular secluded green and black sand beaches to be discovered, especially on the Big Island. But, because of Hawaii’s rocky terrain, accessing them can be a challenge, even in 4x4 vehicles. Hiking in with a higher-traction outsole, toe protection, and arch support can make the trek a lot more comfortable. Plus, wearing sandals sure beats putting sandy, wet feet into socks and sneakers when it’s time to hike out.

Hiking to Hawaiian beaches in KEEN water sandals

4. There Are Waterfalls to Find (and Plunge Into)

Rainforests by nature are hot, humid, and wet. Hiking boots can feel bulky, and you probably won’t need the additional support for short hikes on well-maintained trails. KEEN all-terrain water sandals are also made to grip wet surfaces, cross streams, and plunge into that refreshing swimming hole at the end.

Hiking to Hawaiian waterfalls in KEEN water sandals

Swimming in Hawaiian waterfalls in KEEN water sandals


The Sandals We Pack
(or wear on the plane with socks to pack even lighter):

Newport or women's Whisper sandals for a luggier hiker/water shoe hybrid.

Clearwater CNX sandals for men and women if you prefer something a little lighter and lower profile.

Kids' Seacamp II CNX sandals when the kids sneak into the suitcase.

(And if you still throw a pair of flip-flops in your bag, make it one with toe protection, like the Waimea.)


The Places We Go:

River SUPing in Kauai

Kid-friendly adventures on the Big Island

Finding hidden swimming holes in Maui

The Oahu landscape and water sandals to traverse it


With so many sandal styles, it can be hard to know which one is THE ONE. If you need help narrowing down your options, chat with a KEEN Expert for personalized recommendations at http://www.keenfootwear.com/contact-us/. We love connecting fans with their new favorite shoes.

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