The question is not whether to remove your shoes, but WHERE when your here on a Hawaii Vacation. Most people think of leaving shoes behind for slippers (flip flops) on the beach but they might not realize that it is unusual to wear even these indoors.
Locals automatically shed slippers or other footwear at the door. Most homes have a shoe rack just inside or outside the door to hold their shoes. Since these are often full (I know ours is), guests leave shoes in a line or a pile at the welcome mat. At my first “local” dinner, I arrived with other newcomers to the islands. We noticed a line of shoes along the hallway leading to the front door and guessed we should add our own. I did have a passing wonder if the shoes would still be there when we returned, since it was a condo/apartment building. When we got inside, we saw that those more familiar with local customs had produced a pile of slippers just inside the entry.
Hawaii hotels, restaurants and other public places don’t expect guests to remove their shoes at the door. However, I just had the very great pleasure of a massage at a Waikiki spa and was not surprised that they indicated where I should leave my slippers: just beyond the lobby but before the changing room. On the mainland, shoes would have gone in the locker with the rest of my clothing.
A local Christmas commercial shows a happy family inside a home celebrating the holidays, seen through the windows from outside. The camera shows candy canes in the yard and reindeer on the roof – so far, a scene not too far removed from other places (except for the lack of snow). But when it reaches the front door, a pile of slippers in all sizes (adults and children) is on the welcome mat. Yep, that’s Hawaii.