as far as the whole kook thing goes, if i saw someone wearing booties (or anything out of the norm for that matter) in the lineup i honestly wouldn't care a bit. probably be happy to see someone who wasn't so damn self conscious when surfing all the time. the amount of thought people put into their "image" these days is ridiculous. locals however, might think differently. i've never been to maui so i have no idea what it's like there, but in puerto rico i have seen locals wear reef boots, not very often though. people there won't give a **** what you wear as long as you don't drop in on them, the people are just way too colorful to pay attention to every little detail of someone's getup. the reefs there are probably just as sharp, maybe sharper (not to mention the unfortunate abundance of sea urchins). i've been cut a few times, but i could have avoided most of them by not letting my feet down after bailing. the biggest problem there is usually paddling over coral because unless you're in the right keyhole, you can find yourself stuck in extremely shallow water. that's one of the reasons there are so many body boarders, they can just zip right out by kicking with their fins.
i guess if you have to literally walk on top of the coral to get out to the lineup, then having boots would make sense, but other than that you should be okay. get them just in case and see if you like them, if not at least you have them if you do end up cutting your foot on the reef.
They may look kooky but I wish I had them on in el Salvador when I kicked the rocks after a minor fall. This was over 3 months ago and not even over a coral reef. The scar and marks are still there and it actually still hurts if you touch it. I hit the rocks with my thigh also and I have scars and some minor pain still. There is some nasty crap in that tropical water. Not sure if that warrants wearing them but if I did I wouldn't still be hurting, at least on my feet.
I hear that, I pulled some dumb ass shiznet in PR last winter, ended up filleting a section of my heal off with my bud's razor sharp carbon slater fin set. Ended up traipsing around downtown afterwards with flip-flops. By the last day my vein was running, and I could no longer bear weight on my right leg.
I needed a set of reef boots, and a football helmet.
Here's what you do:
Walk and then paddle out into the lineup with your reef booties, bring an inflatable float, some rope and a heavy rock. Take off reef booties and attach to rope along with the float at one end and the rock at the other. Drop the rock--it will act as an anchor and the float will let you know where it is. Surf all day and retrieve your stuff when you are ready to go in.
This could also work in higher crime areas if you have a dry bag to keep valuables in.
We use this system when bottom fishing offshore to mark a reef, wreck or to leave the anchor in one spot if we want to troll around but still not lose our position when returning to bottom fishing.
cant hurt to have a pair. they are pretty cheap. i bought a pair like 10 years ago and brought them on every trip i went that had some kind of reef break. never wore them once until i went to the mentawais last year. started the trip wearing them on and off depending on the shallowness of the reef. got confident and took them off for a couple of days and almost ended my trip on day 4 with a laceration that went along the entire length of my foot. for the rest of the trip i wore them as did the rest of the guys on the boat.
Hi, I'm heading to Maui this september and was wondering if I'll look like a dork if I buy a pair of surf boots. I surf both coasts on the mainland and have very little experience with coral reefs and the one time i surfed Kona, i have to admit the sharp reef at my toes did freak me out.
You probably won't "need" them but might be nice to have a pair along just in case. I live in Kona and always have a half-healed cut on my feet somewhere. Most of the cuts happen on the entry and exit as there's not a whole lot of sand here just coral and lava rock. I wear reef shoes at only one spot as it requires a 20ft wade out over rock/coral. Maui (west maui/lahaina) seemed to have a lot more sand so easier in/out. Just remember to fall flat and make every effort to not contact the bottom with any part of your body once you leave the sand.