Really hoping someone else may be able to help me. I am very allergic to neoprene and am looking for some shoes to wear in water and in the pool. Almost all the shoes have neoprene in them -- so frustrating!
Buy canvas sneakers or tennis shoes, or even those flat soled kungfu shoe style slippers.
Leather boat shoes.
One summer job, I needed shoes to walk on a rocky beach, sometimes in the water, for 5 to 10 miles per day all summer. Stretchy neoprene shoes were terrible for this- no traction and no support.
So I used regular sneakers. I chose a pair of cross country racing flats. The model I used are no longer made, but were made by New Balance. The uppers were extremely well ventilated polyester, so they drained very quickly, and the thin material dried much faster than a padded sandal, and certainly much faster than a regular sneaker of leather or cotton would. There are probably other minimalist sneakers that would be equally good.
The thing to look for is thin fabric that attaches directly to the sole, with no rubber rim that would keep the water from draining. Running shoes in general will be good because those tend to be very well ventilated, and minimalist shoes will be best because there will be very little padding to hold extra water.