When I packed for my first trip to Hawaii, I had no idea what shoes to bring. This is not just a girl thing, so guys don’t stop reading. I was going to a business conference, so I brought a pair of dress shoes and I figured sandals would be good for a warm climate. I bought a new pair because I didn’t really wear sandals in Colorado. I brought my flip flops (called “slippers” in Hawaii) for the beach. Every one of those decisions was wrong.

I wasn’t alone. I remember watching other conference participants slog along the Honolulu beach-walk from conference sessions in one hotel to another in closed-toe shoes. Flip flops were too casual for the meetings but dress shoes were inappropriate on the beach. After the first session, I gave up on dress shoes and wore sandals. That was a reasonable compromise for the meetings. But they were new and I walked a lot more than I thought I would at a conference. My first stop on the second day was at an ABC store for band-aids for blisters on both feet.

The weather was so perfect and the scenery so beautiful that I wanted to walk a lot, both around Honolulu and later on a bus around Oahu. But blisters, and inappropriate footwear, made that unpleasant. I wasn’t even hiking, just exploring the island on foot. Dress shoes were not good for walking long distances or on the beach. Same for the sandals, which were also too new to be comfortable. The flip flops might have worked but they had a closed toe that is very good for not stubbing your toe on rocks in Colorado. However, sand got stuck in the toe when I wore them on the beach making them uncomfortable and impossible to clean.

NOW this is what I would bring for any trip to Hawaii, whether business or pleasure: one pair of comfortable walking shoes that are really broken in. That’s it. They would work for most conferences — even business conferences are more casual in Hawaii than on the mainland. They are also essential for some attractions (such as visiting Pearl Harbor) that involve standing or walking. And they make it possible to experience an impromptu hike on one of Hawaii’s many enticing trails.

I would buy slippers for the beach after I got here, either a cheap pair to use and discard (sold at every convenience store) or a better pair to take home as a souvenir (I now have an expensive pair with arch support that I have worn pretty much every day for a year without a single blister.) After all, who knows slippers better than Hawaii?


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