The idea that visitors to Hawaii need only to throw a swimsuit and a pair of flip-flops into a carry-on bag is perhaps the greatest packing myth of all time.
It pays homage to the iconic, long stretches of white sand, to luxury resorts and a laidback style, but it does little to prepare the visitor to explore all that the islands have to offer: the mountain hikes and pristine golf courses, horseback trails and coral reefs.
To really experience the islands, you'll need much more diverse footwear.
Oahu: Dress Shoes
You could use a pair of dress shoes for a night out in Honolulu, where world-class shopping, dance clubs, restaurants and art galleries combine to make this the most fashionable stop in the islands.
By day, flip-flops—or "slippers" as the shoes are known in Hawaii—would be the perfect fit at the beaches in Waikiki, where protected shorelines offer perfect swimming holes for keiki (children), beginner-sized waves entice novice surfers and a beachside hula performance marks sunset.
For a more rustic feel—and dramatic landscapes—drive along the mostly coastal roads that connect the famed Diamond Head Crater to the North Shore. The route will carry you past the surfing spots, the snorkeling and diving haven of Hanauma Bay, as well as Sea Life Park and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Kauai: Hiking Boots
You won't find very much nightlife on the Garden Isle, but Waimea Canyon, an abundance of waterfalls and the Na Pali Coast combine to create a landscape that more than compensates.
You'll want your hiking boots here, whether you're exploring the red dirt trails of Waimea Canyon or tackling the arduous Kalalau, an 11-mile trek that extends along the Na Pali Coast and offers experienced hikers some of the best backpacking in Hawaii. A day-hike off the Kalalau Trail leads to a waterfall, perfect for visitors wanting just a taste of the journey.
If moleskin and water purification tablets aren't part of your normal repertoire, head to the harbor at Port Allen on the West Side and book a boat tour. Most Na Pali Coast tours will take you to the base of the same cliffs that the Kalalau hikers walk, while offering the added thrill of sea caves, spinner dolphins and a catered lunch.
And if you're more comfortable in golf shoes, visit Poipu Bay Golf Course on the island's South Shore, where Tiger Woods won the PGA Grand Slam six times.
The Big Island: Fins
You'll want fins on the Big Island, where waters off the Kona side offer snorkelers and divers a clear view of aquatic life. Visit Kahaluu Beach Park to snorkel with convict fish, eels and turtles in their natural habitat. Or schedule a night dive among the manta rays.
The western shores offer dry weather and the largest concentration of activities, ranging from golf to boogie boarding and horseback riding. Head south to explore the beaches that line the coast, but keep moving: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park awaits.
Most people arrive late in the day so they can view the smoldering earth in darkness, but Kilauea is worth more than a cursory hike. Lava tubes, petroglyphs, steaming hills and an ever-changing landscape tempt motorists who travel through the park to stop and spend the day—or two.
Maui, Lanai, Molokai: Golf Shoes
Visit Maui during late winter or spring for the height of whale season, and wear whatever shoes you want. The humpback makes an appearance here, and you don't want to miss it, whether you hoist your binoculars on the shoreline or on the deck of an official whale-watching boat.
The island is an adrenaline junkie's paradise: Parasailing, kite boarding, snorkeling and the best wind surfing in the world get the heart pumping, as does a hike over dry, rocky slopes to Haleakala Crater.
A trip to Hilo can calm the pulse, as can visits to the islands of Lanai and Molokai, two small sanctuaries that are also part of Maui County.
A short ferry ride from the shops and restaurants of Lahaina links you to the privately owned shores of Lanai. The curve of land that rings Manele Bay offers steep, striated cliffs and that iconic white beach, a perfect departure point for snorkeling. A golf course follows the cliffs farther up the coast.
If you pack the right footwear, you can enjoy it all.