In the height of summer it is advisable to protect your feet on the beach, from both the scorching heat of the sand and the possibility of rocks or other sharp obstacles. While the heel of the foot tends to be tough and fairly resistant to heat and hard surfaces, the toes and the middle part of the foot are very sensitive and can easily be burned or cut.
Beach shoes come in a variety of styles and materials:
Sandals often have leather straps and a soft leather insole, with a metal or plastic buckle or a velcro binding. They are ideal for all-round footwear in hot climates, since they are comfortable and prevent the feet from getting too hot. At the smarter end of the spectrum, fine Italian leather sandals are perfectly acceptable shoes for evenings out as well for daytime wear, although you may want to avoid ruining them by overexposure to sand, saltwater and the blazing midday sun.
Walking sandals are ideal if you intend to spend a lot of time trekking on beaches and sandy terrain. These are made from rubber, plastic or Gore-tex, with a velcro fastening that is easy to adjust for comfort. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that beach shoes with too many straps and elaborate bindings could prove very uncomfortable indeed when sand gets in between the skin and the material. Even highly salty water can leave an itchy residue on the foot, which rubs against the skin as you walk. If you do intend to do a great deal of walking on a sandy terrain, it may well be better to buy a lightweight pair of walking shoes rather than sandals.
Jelly shoes are very casual and not necessarily the most stylish beach shoes, but are extremely practical for children and adults alike. Jelly shoes are made of rubber and have a small metal or plastic buckle. The fact that they are so lightweight and flexible makes them very comfortable and easy to walk in. They are excellent for children playing in the sand and even for swimming in the sea, since they avoid cuts and scrapes on stones and shells, and stings by stonefish and other malignant sea-bed creatures.
There is a great deal to be said for the humble flip flop. Flip flops have considerably fewer straps and bindings than sandals and jelly shoes, which makes them less likely to trap sand and cause you discomfort. They are ridiculously easy to slip on and off, and are usually completely waterproof. Cheap, springy, comfortable and light, flip flops have also become acceptable streetwear during the summer months. They are no good at all for walks or difficult terrain, but are the ideal footwear for going to the beach.