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OluKai Ki‘ihele water shoe review: a shoe that’s ready for summer fun

These slip-on OluKai Ki‘ihele water shoes are great for easy-going aquatic adventures

OluKai Ki‘ihele water shoes
(Image: © Olukai)

Our Verdict

An easy-going and comfortable pair of warm-weather water shoes for messing about on boats, bikes, beaches and bars.

For

  • Morph from shoes to slides
  • Comfortable with or without socks

Against

  • Not suitable for hardcore adventures

OluKai Ki’ihele water shoe: first impressions

A cross between a meshy espadrille and a sneaker, OluKai Ki‘ihele water shoes are breathable, easy to get into and ready for summer fun.

The upper is a breathable lined mesh designed to keep out sand and to give feet some protection, with a drop heel that folds down turning the shoe into a slide. The mesh pairs with lightweight canvas and sueded microfiber. Stretchy elastic panels on both sides make getting it on and off a hands-free affair. All features that helped place them in our best water shoes buying guide.

The dual-density polyurethane footbed is built around a cushy, shock-absorbing gel insert that runs the length of the insole. That insole overlays a fatigue-busting midsole. 

The Ki‘ihele’s non-marking, wet-grip rubber sole won’t slip on boat decks, beach rocks or anything else . And they’re a shoe that gives back. For every pair purchased, OluKai donates a portion of proceeds to the Ama OluKai foundation honoring those who preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage and Aloha spirit of Hawaii.

Specifications

RRP: $100 (US) / £100 (UK)
Gender specificity: Women’s 
Weight (women’s US size 10): 11oz / 312g 
Colors: Black / Bright White / Rose Dust 
Compatibility: Best for hybrid land and water pursuits as opposed to rugged, full-submersion adventures 

OluKai Ki‘ihele water shoe in the field

The Ki’ihele has quickly become one of my favorite everyday summer shoes, whether I am cruiser biking to the farmer’s market, heading for dockside drinks or hoisting a sail while crossing Lake Champlain. 

The cushy midsole puts spring in my step, whether I am on the boardwalk or sidewalk. I often wear these shoes from morning coffee until bedtime because they paired with shorts and a swimsuit as well as a sundress and jeans. And they were able to handle every trail to a hidden beach I could find, so they should help you prevent blisters and avoid chafing.

They aren’t my first choice for constant submersion during more hardcore aquatic adventures, but they are a great pair of get-’em-wet summer kicks that can easily get sandy and submersed, then shake clean and dry (they certainly fit our definition of What are water shoes?). They also always feel good to put on. And, when they get smelly, the insoles pull out for easy washing.