The Bare(foot) Truth About Removing Shoes in Hawaii

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Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > The Bare(foot) Truth About Removing Shoes in Hawaii

A snowy Big Island winter and Five-0 actor Alex O’Loughlin would probably top the list of things visitors should know about Hawaii – especially during this time of year when Christmas is just around the corner and Five-0’s at its prime. While the two wouldn’t necessarily fall into the same category, they seem to be just as important for some as they are for others nose-deep into books about local traditions and customs.Slippers, shoes, flats, crocs. Leaving all footwear at the door is a must in Hawaii.

We’ve got the scoops on all those and more for Hawaii-bound visitors but especially want to make sure you’re prepared in the customs category. One custom visitors will notice when going to someone’s house – removing footwear before entering a home. Our blogger Cindy Scheopner told us WHERE you should remove your shoes. This post’s a little more about WHY we do it.

Neat rows of slippers and shoes outside of the front door or a rack lined with them can be telling signs for any newcomer unfamiliar with the custom. And if that’s not enough, a pretty ceramic sign hanging eye-level (which have become popular items sold at local craft fairs) spell it out: “Please remove your shoes. Mahalo!”

For locals, it’s become as natural as pointing and laughing at those who forget to take off their footwear. It shows respect to the host by keeping their home clean and not tracking germs inside. We often consider our floor a comfy place to sit or lie down, and if there’s a baby crawling around, this rule gets heavily enforced. Funny and probably only in Hawaii, but even the repair man knows to take off his shoes!

The custom came from the Japanese during the plantation days, when immigrants brought customs to Hawaii from their home country – no matter how weird people perceived them to be. The tradition caught on and today, slippers and shoes outside of a front door not only serve as respectful reminders but as a telling sign as to whether the party’s rocking or not. More pairs means more fun to be had! Any Hawaii get-together may have rows upon rows of footwear, each guest quickly kicking them off to join in on the action.

Just be sure to follow the number one rule of the slipper rule: go home in the same pair you came in!

Photo Credit: Noa Myers


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