Many of us take our daily run in the city. But there is something special about going on vacation, waking up early, and taking a run on the beach.
Not only is the sea air good for your lungs and your mind, but there are also some health benefits to running on the beach that you cannot get running on roads or trails.
Now, you can run barefoot on the beach. But you run the risk of twisting an ankle due to lack of stability. Stepping on things like driftwood, hard rocks, shells, or even a crab adds an extra challenge.
We recommend choosing a pair of the best shoes for running on the beach so your feet stay protected. Barefoot running shoes or minimalist shoes are ideal.
Our best overall choice is the New Balance Minimus TR, as they’re well-cushioned, have a rubber outsole for excellent traction, and provide great protection for your feet.
We’ve reviewed five shoes that would be ideal for your next vacation.
1. New Balance Minimus TR
These sneaker-type shoes are stylish and light, but equipped with enough cushioning and support to have a great run on an uneven beach.
Their mesh upper allows for good airflow to keep your feet cool while you’re moving, and the lace closure lets you tighten them properly so that no sand can get in.
You’ll find synthetic overlays on the upper, which give some extra support to the foot. The rubber and synthetic sole give good grip on any surface, wet or dry.
The midsole rubber not only cushions your foot while you’re running on the beach, but it comes up the sides of the foot to offer additional support.
The shoes have a 4mm drop, which is low enough to be close to a natural barefoot position but high enough to give a bit of forward propulsion. At 7 ounces, they’re light enough to not weigh you down when you’re already fighting sand.
The premium liner allows you to run comfortably without wearing socks for as close to a barefoot experience as possible. Some individuals may find that the forefoot feels slightly narrow.
- Premium liners
- 4 mm heel-toe drop
- Mesh upper with synthetic overlays
- Cushioned midsole
- Some runners may find that the forefoot is narrow even in a wide
2. Xero Shoes Z-Trail
Running sandals could be the closest thing to running barefoot as you get most of the sensation, like sand on your toes. They provide a little more protection, especially underneath your foot, than you would have if you were running barefoot.
The ⅜-inch, zero-drop FeelLite sole of this sandal consists of three different layers. On top, the BareFoam layer is smooth and comfortable for your bare feet to be on.
The middle layer, TrailFoam, absorbs impact while still remaining rigid enough to prevent you from turning an ankle in the sand. Underneath, FeelTrue rubber offers just the right amount of traction.
All of those elements provide a high-quality, protective sole that still retains enough flexibility for a natural ground-feeling under your feet. It also has a comfortable heel cup that locks your foot in so there’s no unnecessary movement of the foot.
Comfortable tubular webbing wraps around your foot in a Z-shape to give you the best fit. The clasps are made of nylon so they’re sturdy and won’t rust if they get wet.
A men’s shoe weighs just 5.4 ounces, so you will hardly feel them on your feet. They also come with a 5000-mile sole warranty.
- TrailFoam midsole
- FeelTrue rubber outsole
- Quick-drying webbing upper
- BareFoam top layer
- The sandal’s straps are not covered by the warranty
3. Merrell Bare Access XTR
If you need a stability shoe but want as close to a barefoot feel as you can get, the Merrell Bare Access could be the right shoe for you.
The upper is light but protective and is made from a combination of mesh and TPU. This allows it to be breathable and lightweight. A traditional lace-up closure lets you get the perfect fit that’s comfortable on your foot.
The zero-drop platform is one of the features that makes wearing these shoes feel close to barefoot running. In the midsole, you’ll find FLEXconnect dual-directional flex-groove EVA foam, which is light but flexible and allows for quick and safe movement on uneven terrain.
The Hyperlock TPU film heel counter keeps your heel safe and secure and in place. A Vibram TC5+ outsole is highly durable and stable, keeping you stable on your feet when running over uneven beach terrain.
These shoes run narrow and you may need to buy a size or half a size larger
- Vibram TC5+ outsole
- Dual directional flex-groove
- 0 mm heel-to-toe offset
- Hyperlock TPU film heel counter
- These shoes can run narrow
4. Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2
The Arc’teryx Norvan SL has a TPU mesh upper, which is extremely breathable and will keep your feet cool and ventilated during your run.
Even if you’re running on the beach in the height of summer, these shoes will provide protection but keep your feet cool at the same time. It’s also hydrophobic material, which repels water and also drains quickly.
Printed overlays help to maintain the structural integrity of the upper and prevent side-to-side movement. Combined with the classic lace-up system, this helps to keep your foot locked in place and stable.
The collar is thin, which adds to the minimalist feel of the shoe. Some individuals may find that the collar pinches slightly, creating a small gap where sand can get in.
A light EVA foam midsole offers adequate cushioning while being lightweight. There is a TPU plate in the forefoot between the midsole and outsole. It adds structure and helps protect against rocks or other hazards.
The outsole is made of Vibram Megagrip rubber compound and features well-spaced lugs which offer a good grip on any surface.
- Thin, form-fitting upper
- TPU plate in the forefoot
- EVA foam midsole
- Vibram Megagrip outsole
- Some runners may find that the thin collar bunches, creating a hole where sand can get in
Best Toe Shoes
5. Vibram FiveFingers V-Run
If you don’t mind running with material between your toes, then the Vibram FiveFingers V-Run shoes may be something you’ll like. They may look strange, but if you find them comfortable you will have a very natural-feeling running experience.
The upper is a combination of polyester microfiber and polyester-lycra stretch mesh. These offer some structural stability and plenty of breathability. It’s also quick-drying, so they won’t stay wet for long after a run on the beach.
The soft inner lining feels comfortable on your foot, allowing you to wear these shoes without socks. A bungee lacing system allows you to get a tight fit with minimal stress.
The Vi-Lite midsole is a 4 mm EVA foam layer, which is thin enough to maintain a natural ground feel underfoot. On top of this, a 2mm insole adds to the comfort.
The Vibram rubber outsole has a variety of technologies built into it. Vibram VI-LITE offers impact absorption and energy conservation. Vibram XS Run technology provides good grip on all surfaces and the Vibram MONT compound is used in mountain climbing, so the grip is extreme.
They run large and you should get a larger size so you have a snug fit.
- Polyester Lycra Stretch Mesh and Polyester Microfiber upper
- Vi-Lite midsole technology
- Vibram Run rubber and XS Run technology
- Vibram Mont compound
- These shoes run large and you’d need to get a size smaller
Should I start running on a beach?
Running on the beach offers a harder workout than running on a road or even on a trail. If you live near a beach and you want to try a new form of running that will challenge you, then running on the beach is worth trying.
Your body has to work harder when running on sand because its uneven and unpredictable nature means your muscles use more energy to keep you stable on your feet.
Whether you are wearing barefoot shoes or running without shoes, running on the beach can strengthen your arches and ankles. Because you are working harder to keep your balance on an unstable surface, it’s often also a better core workout than running on other surfaces.
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, chronic ankle sprains, or Achilles tendonitis, running barefoot on the beach or in shoes that don’t offer enough support can cause the pain to worsen.
But if you choose the right pair of shoes, you can still get a good run on the beach without pain.
What type of shoes should I wear running on a beach?
You can run on the beach in your normal running shoes. But if you are going to be doing it often, a pair of barefoot shoes or minimalist shoes would be a better choice. These kinds of shoes offer light protection against sand and water and light support.
They are also usually very lightweight, quick-drying, and breathable. They usually offer a more raw ground feeling under your feet.
What are barefoot shoes?
Barefoot shoes are a type of running shoe designed to be contoured to the natural curve of the foot and let them move completely naturally. They are much more lightweight than normal running shoes, and don’t have nearly as much technology incorporated into them.
Usually, barefoot should have just a thin protective layer between your feet and the ground. But this does have its benefits. All of the muscles in your foot get stronger and it can help bring your foot back to a neutral position and align properly.
Should I wear barefoot shoes?
You can try barefoot shoes if you are looking for a shoe that provides some protection but allows you to feel like you’re running barefoot on the ground. For some individuals, barefoot shoes can reduce pain thanks to their zero-drop and non-restrictive nature.
When you can feel the ground more acutely beneath your feet, your proprioception improves. This means you become more aware of your own body and how it moves, which can help you to become aware of and work on small issues in your running form.
Is running on the beach better for your joints?
Running on the beach does not jar your joints like running on a hard surface does.
You do need to be careful not to twist a joint—ankle or knee—due to the uneven and shifting nature of the beach.
Tips for beach running
If you are new to beach running, start with short runs so that your body can adjust and you can slowly build strength in your feet. A 15 to 20-minute run is a good starting point. As your feet and body adapt, you can increase the distance you run.
To run effectively, you may also need to reduce your usual road or trail pace. Running on sand can be difficult and if you’re expecting to keep your same pace you may be disappointed. Slowing down your pace will help you to run smoothly and effectively on a tougher surface.
Your feet may move slightly differently to normal, which means you may be susceptible to blisters when you first start beach running. Invest in non-chafing running socks or rub a non-chafing cream on your feet before running.
Individuals who are new to running on the beach could try the “Zig Zag Method”. Run for two minutes on the softer sand and then move over to the harder, more packed sand for two minutes to give your feet a rest.