Can You Wear Water Shoes With Fins?

When it comes to snorkeling and dive gear, water shoes and fins are important. Water shoes protect your feet in and out of the water and fins provide locomotion during your activities. A lot of beginners might wonder if they can wear fins and water shoes at the same time.

Full-foot fins can’t be worn with water shoes; they are designed to be worn bare feet and are most suitable for warm water snorkeling or diving. Open-heel fins, on the other hand, can be worn with water shoes and dive boots. Sock can be worn with both. 

If you are new to snorkeling or diving, you’ll want to understand the difference between different types of fins and their accessories. To help you make an informed purchasing decision, I’ll discuss the different styles of fins, how to wear them and how they can improve your dive. Let’s dive right in.

Which Fins Can You Wear With Water Shoes?

If you’re new to snorkeling or diving, shopping for gear can be a lot like pulling teeth. Apart from choosing from a plethora of brands which all tout themselves as the best, you’ll have to choose between two styles and then types within each style. And if you have no clue what the different styles of fins do, you’ll have an even harder time narrowing down your search.

So, what are the different types of diving fins and how do they differ? There are two primary types of diving fins – open-heel fins and full-foot fins. The primary difference between these two styles of fins is their design. Let’s take a closer look.

Open-Heel Fins

As the name suggests, this style of fins don’t cover the entire heel. As a result, you can’t wear them on their own. Open-heel fins are designed to be worn with either water shoes or dive boots. They feature adjustable straps that not only hold your foot in place but also provide additional comfort. My family uses open-heel fins exclusively and with short dive boots. Boot give you protection and make walking around shore, rocky areas and wet boat decks easier.

Open-heel fins are good for cold water diving. Thanks to their adjustable straps, you can wear different sizes or thicknesses of diving boots with the fins to increase warm and comfort. And because you can wear this style of fins with diving boots or water shoes, they are excellent for rocky shore dives since they offer additional protection and traction.

Full-Foot Fins

Full-foot fins, on the other hand, cover the entire foot and are designed to be worn bare feet. Most divers prefer this type of fins due to their simplicity. Almost all snorkeling is done with full foot fins. To wear them, all you need to do is slide your foot into the fins and the molded foot pocket will keep your feet in place throughout the dive. 

These types of fins are best for warm water diving because you can’t wear boots or water shoes to increase warmth and comfort. They’re also a less preferred option because it’s challenging to find the right fit. An ill-fitting pair of full-foot fins can cause blisters and cuts due to the excessive pressure applied on the foot. You can wear water socks with full-foot fins to help with that.

The table below summarizes the differences between open-heel fins and full-foot fins.

Open-Heel FinsFull-Foot Fins
Worn with water shoes or socksWorn barefoot
Adjustable hence offering a custom fitProper fit is critical
Offer thermal protectionDoesn’t offer thermal protection
Best for cold water divingBest for warm water diving
Slightly bulkier and harder to put onEasy to put on and remove
More expensive, especially when you factor in the additional cost of water shoes or bootiesPocket-friendly since you don’t need to buy water shoes or boots
Not travel friendlyTravel friendly

Source: Sport Diver

Which Fins Should You Choose?

The choice between open-heel fins and full-foot fins will depend on what kind of diver you are. If you prefer warm water diving, and you travel a lot, full-foot fins would be the best option for you. They are travel friendly and very light. However, you’d need to be careful when selecting full-foot fins because improper fit can easily cause injury. 

Also, consider buying your own full-foot fins instead of renting. This way, you can ensure you have the right fit. You may also be interested in reading my guide to buying scuba equipment for beginners.

However, if you’re an avid cold water diver, safety and warmth should be your priority. Hence, you should opt for open-heel fins. This type of fins allows you to wear diving boots or water shoes and socks. In addition, you get better traction, which is essential for if you’re diving in rocky shores. Besides, these fins provide a custom fit, which is worth paying the extra coins for.

All in all, whichever fins you decide to go for, comfort should be your priority. (Source: Dive Zone)

Fin and boot catalogs

ScubaPro Open Heel Fins

ScubaPro Full Foot Fins

House of Scuba All Fins

Leisure Pro Boots and Socks

ScubaPro Boots

Do You Wear Water Shoes with Socks?

Water shoes can be worn with bare feet. However, it’s advisable to wear socks for several reasons. These include:

  • To prevent blisters and cuts: If you’re walking on the beach sand and gravel can enter the shoes through the vents. When these rub against your feet, you may get blisters and cuts.
  • To prevent fungi: Wearing water shoes in hot climate increases sweating in your feet. These wet conditions can promote fungi growth inside the shoes.
  • For warmth: If you’re diving in very cold water, it’s crucial to wear water shoes with socks to prevent cold feet.
  • To prevent odor: Sweaty feet can cause a bad odor to develop in your water shoes. You can prevent this by wearing socks with your shoes.
  • For comfort: Diving or walking in water shoes without socks can be uncomfortable, especially when gravel, rocks, or water gets inside your shoes. Socks help prevent this from happening.

However, you need to choose the right type of socks depending on the activity you’re participating in. If you’re planning to dive, neoprene socks are the best. Since water shoes have vents that allow water to get into the shoes, neoprene socks ensure your feet remain dry throughout the dive. Not to mention, they don’t absorb water. Therefore, you won’t have trouble with heavy feet while diving.

The following neoprene socks are worth the investment according to customer ratings:

You can only wear cotton socks with water shoes if you’re not going to get into contact with water; for instance, if you’re walking around the mall or running errands. Cotton socks won’t work under water because they absorb too much water. As a result, you’ll not only have to deal with cold and wet feet but also additional weight on your feet due to the socks. This will not only be uncomfortable but also make your movements harder. 

Source: Shoe Adviser

Final thoughts

If you were wondering if you can wear water shoes with fins, now you know. To recap, it depends on the type of fins you have. Open-heel fins are the best for wearing with water shoes because they have an open heel and straps to hold your shoe in place. Not to mention, the adjustable straps allow you to wear different sizes and thickness of shoes depending on how much warmth you need.

On the other hand, full-foot fins are meant to be worn without boots or water shoes. However, you can wear both fins with socks for additional warmth. Just ensure you go for neoprene socks because they don’t absorb water, thereby keeping your feet dry and warm throughout the dive.


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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